Modesto, California

Modesto, California
City of Modesto
—  City  —
Modesto Arch, including the city motto
Motto: Water Wealth Contentment Health
Location in Stanislaus County and the state of California
Coordinates: 37°39′41″N 120°59′40″W / 37.66139°N 120.99444°W / 37.66139; -120.99444Coordinates: 37°39′41″N 120°59′40″W / 37.66139°N 120.99444°W / 37.66139; -120.99444
Country  United States
State  California
County Stanislaus
Incorporated 1884
 - Type Council-Manager
 - City Council Mayor Jim Ridenour
Stephanie Burnside
Dave Geer
Brad Hawn
Dave Lopez
Garrad Marsh
Joe Muratore
 - City Attorney Susan Alcala Wood
 - City Auditor VACANT
 - City Clerk Stephanie Lopez
 - City Manager Greg Nyhoff
 - Total 37.092 sq mi (96.069 km2)
 - Land 36.867 sq mi (95.486 km2)
 - Water 0.225 sq mi (0.583 km2)  0.61%
Elevation 92 ft (28 m)
Population (2010)
 - Total 201,165
 - Rank 1st in Stanislaus County
18th in California
107th in the United States
 - Density 5,423.4/sq mi (2,094/km2)
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 - Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP codes 95350-95358
Area code(s) 209
FIPS code 06-48354
GNIS feature ID 0277609

Modesto is a city in, and is the county seat of, Stanislaus County, California. With a population of approximately 201,165 at the 2010 census, Modesto ranks as the 18th largest city in the state of California.

Modesto is located in Northern California, 90 miles north of Fresno, 92 miles east of San Francisco, 68 miles south of the state capital of Sacramento, and 66 miles west of Yosemite National Park. Modesto, a 29-time Tree City USA honoree,[2] is surrounded by rich farmland, lending to a ranking for the county as 6th among all California counties in farm production.[3] Led by milk, almonds, chickens, cattle, and walnuts, the county grossed nearly $2.5 billion in agricultural production in 2007.

Locally, Modesto is home to the critically acclaimed Gallo Center for the Arts, Prospect Theater Project, The Modesto Symphony Orchestra, The State Theater, the Modesto Nuts (a Colorado Rockies MLB affiliate) and the Amgen Tour of California. The Xclamation Festival (X-Fest), has become the city’s largest entertainment and cultural gathering, recently celebrating its 10th year. The event in 2009 had an estimated 16,000 attendees enjoy music and food on the streets of downtown Modesto. Modesto also encompasses various cultural and social diverse schools. Among the oldest are Modesto Junior Collage (MJC), Thomas Downey High School, Grace M. Davis High School, and Modesto High School (MHS), being the oldest high school in Modesto. Embodies a rigorous academic and physical curriculum for students such as the International Baccalaureate program, AVID, and more.

Modesto was immortalized in the 1973 George Lucas film American Graffiti. The award winning film captured the spirit of "cruising" and friendship, on 10th and 11th Streets in 1962 and lead to the world-wide revival of 1950's nostalgia leading to the TV show Happy Days and the other spin-offs. Ron Howard, Harrison Ford and Richard Dreyfuss starred in the film. The soundtrack was a huge success. Director George Lucas is a native of Modesto, graduating from Downey High School in 1962.

In February 2010, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which interviewed more than 353,000 participants and asked individuals to assess their jobs, finances, physical health, emotional state of mind and communities, ranked Modesto 161 out of the 162 cities surveyed.[4] In December 2009, Forbes ranked Modesto 48th out of 100 among "Best Bang-for-the-Buck Cities"; according to Forbes. In this ranking, Modesto ranked 8th in housing affordability and travel time but also ranked 86th in job forecast growth and 99th in foreclosures.[5] In variety of other past rankings, Modesto has scored in the top ten worst places to live due to its high cost of living, high unemployment, long commutes and high crime rate.[citation needed]



Modesto's 10th street in 1890.

Modesto, originally a stop on the railroad connecting Sacramento to Los Angeles, was founded in 1870 and was to be named for William C. Ralston, financier of many projects in early California. However, he declined the suggestion and a Spanish-speaking railroad worker at the naming ceremony said that Ralston was "Muy modesto" (very modest). Thus, the town was named Modesto.[citation needed] It is unknown at this time if this story is mere folklore or actual fact.

The city was incorporated in 1884, at which time it had over 1000 people. With fields of grain and the proximity of the river (grain barges during the flood season) and railroad traffic, the town grew. Later, dams were installed in the foothills, irrigation water came, and irrigated fields of vegetables and fruit or nut trees prospered. By 1900, its population was over 4,500. During World War II, the area provided canned goods, powdered milk, and eggs for the US armed forces and allied forces. For the next few decades, Modesto's population grew at about two percent per year to over 100,000 in 1980, and over 200,000 in 2001.

Modesto's official slogan is "Water Wealth Contentment Health," which is emblazoned on a large downtown arch featured in local photographs and postcards. A contest was run in 1911 to determine the slogan. The original winning slogan was: "Nobody's got Modesto's goat". The second place entry was the final winner.


Modesto is known for the following tourist attractions and historical sites.

The McHenry Mansion.
  • McHenry Mansion Built by hand in the early 1880s by Robert McHenry, a local rancher and banker. The mansion is included on the National Register of Historic Places. Tours are given.
  • McHenry Museum Across the street from the McHenry Mansion. Filled with tidbits from Modesto's history.
  • George Lucas Plaza American Graffiti-inspired bronze statue made in the honor of Modesto filmmaker George Lucas, located at Five Points (the intersections of McHenry Avenue, "J" Street, 17th Street, Downey and Needham).
  • Gallo Center for the Arts, Center for performing arts recently opened and is located in downtown Modesto at 1000 "I" Street.
  • Downtown Modesto is known for having a variety of restaurants and night life. It also hosts a multi-venue Art Walk year around on the Third Thursday of the Month, free to view with maps available.
  • The State Theatre Dating back to the 1920s, it was recently renovated and serves as a local performance arts center and as a theater specializing in independent and foreign films.
  • John Thurman Field The stadium renovated several years ago, the home of the Modesto Nuts baseball team (single "A" affiliate of the Colorado Rockies MLB team).
  • Graceada Park Neighborhood an area of representative old homes (circa 1920s and earlier) with streets lined with large city planted shade trees and a series of parks, a bandshell and other amenities. The name Graceada is based on two old local ladies that helped promote the idea of a park, Grace and Ada.

The 1973 movie, American Graffiti, starring Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss and Cindy Williams was set in 1962 Modesto; however, the scenes of weekend cruising were actually filmed in Petaluma, California.


Modesto is served by one of the busiest rail corridors in the country. The Amtrak San Joaquins make ten daily stops on the route between Oakland and Bakersfield, and two stops daily on the route between Sacramento and Bakersfield.


Modesto is served by the Modesto City-County Airport that lies east of California State Route 99 within the city limits. SkyWest Airlines (operating as United Express) provides air service to San Francisco International Airport. The airport is used for manufacturing and the shipping industries throughout California and the United States.

Highways and roads

Interstate 5 and California State Route 99 provide major highway access to Modesto. California State Route 132 links the city to Interstate 580, providing commuter access to highways into the Bay Area. California State Route 108 connects to Oakdale, California and east to the foothills. The city has added many roundabouts in an effort to ease traffic congestion within the town with varying degrees of success.

Public transit

Three public transit systems serve Modesto: Modesto Area Express, START, and the San Joaquin Regional Transit District along the northern edge of the city on McHenry Avenue. MAX is the local system with additional connections to the Altamont Commuter Express train station in Lathrop and the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station. MAX also provides a paratransit "dial-a-ride" service which specifically caters to seniors and the disabled. It is open to the general public only during certain times.[6] StaRT connects Modesto to the county's other populated centers.Modesto will also serve the future California High Speed Rail.

The large industrial region south and east of the city is served by the Modesto and Empire Traction Railroad, a 5-mile (8.0 km) short line with a web of industry tracks and many customers.

At one time, Modesto was the operational center of the Tidewater Southern Railway, which had its main line down the center of Ninth Street, a major north-south street. A city ordinance passed by the city council kept electric power lines over this section of street activated long after the railroad had converted to steam power. In 2000, the last trains ran down Ninth Street. Now the railroad (owned by the Union Pacific Railroad since 1983) no longer passes through Modesto.


Modesto usually has cool winters and very hot, dry summers. Average January temperatures range from 54.0°F (12.2°C) in the day to 37.0°F (2.8°C) at night. Most of the rainfall occurs during the winter and averages 12.4 inches (31.5 cm) annually. Since the city does not have full storm sewer systems, many of the streets flood during the winter rain storms.

Average July temperatures range from 97°F (34.4°C) in the day to 64°F (14.4°C) at night. During the summer months there can be multiple days in a row with daily temperatures exceeding highs of 100.0°F (37.8°C). This can pose health risks for those with weak constitutions, or who ignore the dangers of heat stroke. Offshore breezes (locally known as the "delta breeze") moderate these high temperatures, with cooler air coming in sometime after 8 or 9 PM on summer nights, although this does not give much relief.


Although the city is located on the Tuolumne River and near the Stanislaus River, it has no operating port for oceangoing ships due to the shallow depths of these rivers, and also due to a small dam on the Tuolumne River near Highway 99. In Modesto there is also a small creek aptly named Dry Creek, which although badly polluted by agricultural runoff, is adjacent to several parks in Modesto. Most of the rivers and streams are otherwise not accessible to public use or view due to fences and private property rights. There are no public boat ramps or docks within the city limits. Although summertime brings high temperatures, swimming is prohibited by local ordinance in rivers, creeks, and the many irrigation canals. Rivers and lakes near Waterford are wide enough to be accessible for a kayak, or small motorboat, and there are several points of public access. This access was given as part of a government plan when hydroelectric power dams were installed upstream for valuable flood control, irrigation, and electric power generation. The nearest large open seaport is the Port of Stockton, which is used for oceangoing ships that transport goods, particularly cement, fertilizer, and agricultural products, from California to overseas.

Future expansion of State Route 132

[citation needed]

The city has had plans for decades to build an expressway that would expand State Route 132's expressway status from Interstate 580 to State Route 99. CalTrans purchased the land in the late 60's to build the new Highway 132, but the money was diverted to build the 120 bypass 18 miles north of Modesto on the outskirts of the city of Manteca, California. The planned expressway would parallel Kansas Avenue from the recently built Kansas-Needham Overpass and a planned new Hwy. 99 Interchange. The ramps were put in place decades ago, but never paved and the bridge for the off/on ramp never built. It is planned to later go out of Modesto and to Interstate 580. The city is also planning to add more ramps on the Central Modesto exit in SR 99 for less traffic coming in and out of downtown.



Modesto has a large agricultural industry which is based on the fertile farmland surrounding the city. Despite this the city has traditionally had above average unemployment rates. In July 2010, the Modesto Bee reported Modesto's unemployment rate at 17.3% while the rest of the U.S. was reporting an unemployment rate of 9.5%. Blue Diamond Growers, a nearby almond factory in Salida, is a major nut supplier. Modesto is also home to the largest winery in the world: E & J Gallo Winery. Founded in 1933 by brothers Ernest and Julio Gallo, the company continually revolutionizes the wine industry in America. The Gallo Glass Company, a company of Gallo Winery, is the largest wine bottle manufacturing company in the world. The company provides thousands of office and manufacturing jobs to Stanislaus County residents. Other major privately owned companies based in Modesto include Foster Farms Dairy, Royal Robbins, international award winner Fiscalini Cheese, Sciabica Olive Oil, Acme Construction, Aderholt Specialty, and 511 Tactical (formerly a part of Royal Robbins). A cannery downtown produces food which is usually shipped to Sacramento and Fresno for transfer to rail or ship. Ceres has a few cereal and snack factories in the area. Downtown there are several small steelworking companies. In mid-2008, a number of road projects were being constructed, repaved or repaired, with an estimated total cost of nearly $120,000,000.

Principal employers

Major manufacturing employers in the city include[7]:

# Employer # of Employees
1 E & J Gallo Winery 3,308
2 Seneca Foods 2,100
3 Foster Farms 1,813
4 Del Monte Foods 1,700
5 Stanislaus Food Products 1,500
6 Frito-Lay 700
7 Racor 700
8 Silgan Containers 440
9 Foster Farms Dairy 435
10 Pacific Southwest Containers 409

Other major employers are[7]:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Stanislaus County 4,764
2 Modesto City Schools 3,113
3 Memorial Medical Center 2,682
4 Doctors Medical Center 1,984
5 Modesto Junior College 1,643
6 Kaiser Permanente 1,500
7 City of Modesto 1,400
8 Walmart 1,244
9 AT&T 1,175
10 Sutter Gould Medical Foundation 1,100
11 Save Mart Supermarkets 927
11 Sylvan Union School District 739


Rates of both violent crimes and property crimes are higher in Modesto than the state average.[8] Of particular note is that Modesto ranks among the top car theft cities in the US. As of 2008 Modesto ranked number 1 for car theft rate per 100,000 people.[9] Modesto is also home to many street gangs. The Stanislaus County Gang Intelligence Task Force estimates there to be 7,000 to 10,000 gang members.[10]

Planning and environmental

In the late 1980s Modesto embarked on an update to the city's General Plan pursuant to requirements of the State of California. The result was a comprehensive evaluation of alternative population and land use projections along with associated environmental impact analysis. Some of the environmental factors technically assessed were air quality, water quality, environmental noise, soil contamination and visual impacts.

Much of the soils in Modesto are classified as part of the Hanford series: (HbpA) fine sandy loam, moderately deep over silt. These soils are well-drained, moderately coarse textured soils derived from alluvium from granitic rock. The Hanford soils are important for the production of a wide variety of irrigated orchard, field, and truck crops.

Vicinity watercourses include the Stanislaus River, the Tuolumne River and Dry Creek empties into the Tuolumne River. Area groundwater, which is the principal source of water supply in the city (Stanislaus, 1987), has been historically impaired in a fashion that is spatially variable. Water from the nearby Modesto Resovoir is now used to augment city water. In various parts of the city and its perimeter the following water pollutants have occurred from time to time: nitrates, dibromochloromethane, volatile organics, salinity, total dissolved solids and other pesticides. (Torrey, 1989) Each of these contaminants is not present citywide.

The E.P.A. rates air quality in Modesto, CA as a 23 on a scale to 100 (higher is better), making Modesto an unhealthy place to live for those with breathing difficulties. This is based on ozone alert days and number of pollutants in the air. In May 2010, Forbes Magazine, in association with the American Lung Association, indicated that Modesto was one of the top 25 most polluted cities in the U.S.[11]

Downtown revitalization

As of the 2000s, Downtown Modesto has been thoroughly modernized, including new attractions such as Gallo Center for the Arts and the new Downtown Plaza adjacent to Modesto Centre Plaza. Downtown Modesto has lost some of its old-time flavor with the loss of the Hotel Covell, The incredible art deco Strand Theatre, and the Sears building but it has improved traffic flow considerably. The projects under feasibility planning stages are:

  • 7-story condo/commercial tower at 10th and H Streets
  • 8-story condo tower at 14th and J Streets

Entertainment and culture

The Modesto Nuts Minor League Baseball Club of the class A California League is the main attraction for locals between Easter and Labor Day. The Nuts are the Single A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies and play 70 home games each season.

In the past 10 years, Modesto has hosted many music festivals such as SummerFest, the Downtown Summer Concert Series featuring Chris Isaak, Hootie & the Blowfish, The Doobie Brothers and Styx, and the most notorious of all, X-Fest.

X-Fest, deriving from its real name Xclamation Festival, is a 21 and over music festival in downtown Modesto. Starting in 2000, X-Fest has evolved into a large outdoor event stretching 15 blocks and featuring the Worlds Largest Disco which covers four blocks on its own. In 2008 X-Fest featured 50 bands and a crowd of 15,000 people. Much of the profits end up in local non-profit charities. Some business owners and citizens of Modesto complain of rowdy and often drunk Mardi Gras atmosphere exhibited at X-fest. Events like these may have helped propel Modesto to be ranked, in Feb. of 2010 by Men's Health Magazine, as the 12th drunkest city in America. Men's Health Magazine compiled its rating based on alcohol related deaths, DUI and other arrests.

Summers in Modesto are also marked by the revival of American Graffiti, the 1973 film and cult classic written and directed by Modesto native George Lucas. Lucas' film paid homage to teenage life in 1962 based on his own experiences growing up in the city of Modesto. The city council refused to let Lucas film Graffiti in Modesto so he was forced to make the film elsewhere. The City of Modesto has since realized the importance of our connection to the award winning film and the city is preparing new tourist attractions and events to welcome American Graffiti tourists. The Modesto Convention and Visitors bureau report that the leading request for information is American Graffiti related. The annual festival, Graffiti Summer, celebrates this event and lasts the entire month of June attracting thousands of visitors and car enthusiasts along with hundreds of classic and antique cars.

Located in downtown Modesto is the locally iconic State Theater, one of the many hot sports for music acts and independent films. Also located downtown is the Fat Cat Music House & Lounge, a nightclub dating back to the 1930s.[12]

Downtown Modesto hosts a monthly Art Walk with local artists displaying art for sale, artist demos, local gallery shows, in a multi-venue map self guided tour. Downtown Modesto Third Thursday Art Walk venues include local galleries, nonprofits, restaurants and other local businesses; each featuring local artists 5 to 9 PM. Some stops include musicians from Modesto's vibrant music scene. Maps can be picked up at local businesses, and Downtown Improvement District office.

Music and performing arts

The Modesto Symphony Orchestra, which finds its home at the Gallo Center, held their first performance when Modesto had a population of 17,000 in 1931 and continues to be a staple in the community.[13] Not to be outdone by the Symphony, MoBand (Modesto Band of Stanislaus County), established in 1919, is one of the oldest, continuously performing bands in the U.S.[14] The group performs a free 6-week summer concert-in-the-park series with its 130 volunteer musicians.

Modesto is also home to Townsend Opera, founded in 1983 by the late Modesto-born opera singer Buck Townsend, and Modesto Performing Arts, as well as the Gallo Center for the Arts.[15] Modesto is also home to the area's leading pre-professional ballet company, Central West Ballet. The company was founded by Gretchen Vogelzang, and is now run under the direction of Artistic Director Rene Daveluy and Ballet Mistress Leslie Ann Larson.[16]

Modesto shopping

Modesto offers more than 200 restaurants, cafes, coffee houses and other nightlife clubs. There is also a weekly farmer's market, located downtown on I & 15th Streets.

Vintage Faire Mall in Modesto is an enclosed 2-level shopping mall with space for 125 stores and five major department stores. Notable retailers include Forever 21, Macy’s, JC Penney, Sears, Apple, Coach, Foot Locker, Abercrombie & Fitch, Foot Action, Champs Sports, Sephora, American Eagle, and H&M.

Vintage Commons is a shopping center close to Vintage Faire Mall, and it contains retailers such as Target, Best Buy, Borders (now closed), and Bed, Bath, & Beyond. Costco also has it's Modesto location nearby, as well as Pier One Imports, and Cost Plus World Market, among others.

The Plaza Parkway area features many stores including Wal-Mart, Kohl's, WinCo Foods, FedEx Kinko's, and John’s Incredible Pizza.

McHenry Avenue, also known as California State Highway 108, is home to numerous local businesses and nationally known chain stores. Some of the better known names include Burlington Coat Factory, Barnes and Noble Booksellers, Sports Authority, Foot Locker, Marshall's, Ross, Target, and Walmart. In McHenry Village there are numerous retailers, such as organic grocer Sunflower Market, Village Baking Copmany, Paper Habit, Valley Sporting Goods, Bianca's Bridal and Yogafina. The northern portion of McHenry, locally known as Auto Row, features a series of car dealerships. Also, on nearby Kiernan Avenue there is a major regional automotive auction house.

Crows Landing Road in south Modesto, is known by locals as "Little Mexico". There one can find all sorts of authentic Mexican and Latin American foods, products, and spices. It plays home to Modesto's annual Cinco de Mayo parade, as well as the largest flea market in Stanislaus County.


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1880 1,693
1890 2,024 19.6%
1900 4,034 99.3%
1910 4,500 11.6%
1920 9,241 105.4%
1930 13,842 49.8%
1940 16,830 21.6%
1950 22,592 34.2%
1960 36,585 61.9%
1970 61,712 68.7%
1980 106,963 73.3%
1990 164,730 54.0%
2000 188,856 14.6%
2010 201,165 6.5%


The 2010 United States Census[17] reported that Modesto had a population of 201,165. The population density was 5,423.4 people per square mile (2,094.0/km²). The racial makeup of Modesto was 130,833 (65.0%) White, 8,396 (4.2%) African American, 2,494 (1.2%) Native American, 13,557 (6.7%) Asian, 1,924 (1.0%) Pacific Islander, 31,244 (15.5%) from other races, and 12,717 (6.3%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 71,381 persons (35.5%).

The Census reported that 198,210 people (98.5% of the population) lived in households, 1,189 (0.6%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 1,766 (0.9%) were institutionalized.

There were 69,107 households, out of which 27,152 (39.3%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 33,230 (48.1%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 10,774 (15.6%) had a female householder with no husband present, 4,904 (7.1%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 5,177 (7.5%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 599 (0.9%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 15,887 households (23.0%) were made up of individuals and 6,221 (9.0%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.87. There were 48,908 families (70.8% of all households); the average family size was 3.38.

The population was spread out with 54,012 people (26.8%) under the age of 18, 20,838 people (10.4%) aged 18 to 24, 53,116 people (26.4%) aged 25 to 44, 49,691 people (24.7%) aged 45 to 64, and 23,508 people (11.7%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34.2 years. For every 100 females there were 95.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.5 males.

There were 75,044 housing units at an average density of 2,023.2 per square mile (781.2/km²), of which 39,422 (57.0%) were owner-occupied, and 29,685 (43.0%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 2.8%; the rental vacancy rate was 9.1%. 112,065 people (55.7% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 86,145 people (42.8%) lived in rental housing units.


As of the census estimates of 2009, there were 210,294 people, 65,788 households, and 48,767 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,566.3 people per square mile (2,037.4/km²). There were 67,885 housing units at an average density of 1,771.6 per square mile (743.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 36.4% White, 50.8% Hispanic or Latino, 4.0% African American, 1.1% Native American, 7.2% Asian, 0.6% Pacific Islander. Spoken languages of the home were: 54.1 % spoke English, 40.2% Spanish as their first language, 3.0% Filipino, 0.8% Persian and 0.7% Armenian as their first language.


As of the census[18] of 2000, there were 188,856 people, 64,959 households, and 46,640 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,277.3 people per square mile (2,037.4/km²). There were 67,179 housing units at an average density of 1,877.2 per square mile (724.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 69.6% White, 25.6% Hispanic or Latino, 4.0% African American, 1.2% Native American, 6.0% Asian, 0.5% Pacific Islander.

There were 64,959 households out of which 38.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.5% were married couples living together, 14.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.2% were non-families. 22.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.86 and the average family size was 3.36.

In the city the population was spread out with 30.1% under the age of 18, 9.6% from 18 to 24, 28.9% from 25 to 44, 20.3% from 45 to 64, and 11.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 94.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $40,394, and the median income for a family was $45,681. Males had a median income of $38,595 versus $26,989 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,797. About 12.2% of families and 15.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.9% of those under age 18 and 7.4% of those age 65 or over.

In September 2010, the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research released a study indicating that 32% of the population was obese vs. a statewide average obesity rate of 22.7%. Poverty was one of the factors listed as contributing to the high obesity rates.

Unincorporated Islands

While the population of the city is officially 211,156 (as of April 2009), there are large unincorporated districts, locally known as unincorporated "islands" or "pockets", which are technically not part of the city but have Modesto mailing addresses. Statistics for these sections (population, income, education, crime, etc.) are included into Stanislaus County totals instead of Modesto. These areas, which include most of the Airport neighborhood in east Modesto, roughly a third of west Modesto, and most of south Modesto, are largely devoid of sidewalks, sewer service, parks, and until recently, street lights.

These neighborhoods were originally built in the 1930's and 40's to house Dust Bowl migrants on lands that were then beyond the edges of town. Due to the hopes of local officials that the housing would only be temporary, little oversight in the way of permits was the norm, and even today some homes have no foundation and many have septic tanks. These areas have since become permanent and today are populated largely by Latinos. Descendants of the original Dust Bowl migrants remain a small but sizable minority in these neighborhoods.

Incorporating these areas into the city of Modesto is thought not to be a priority of local government by many residents of these "islands" and has led to resentment by some. Making these places part of the city would require that services (city sewer) and infrastructure (sidewalks) be in place first, as well as approval by city residents in local elections. Efforts to incorporate some of these neighborhoods into the city have proved fruitless thus far.


Local government

Modesto is governed via the mayor-council system. The Mayor is elected by the entire City. The six members of the city council are elected from districts by the voters within the respective district.

According to the city’s most recent Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the city’s various funds had $325.7 million in Revenues, $268.0 million in expenditures, $1,126.9 million in total assets, $322.0 million in total liabilities, and $343.0 million in cash and investments.[19]

The structure of the management and coordination of city services is:[19]

City Department Director
City Manager Greg Nyhoff
Deputy City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley
Director Finance Gloriette Beck
Director of Human Resources VACANT
Chief Information Officer Bryan Sastokas
Director of Public Works Dennis Turner
Police Chief Michael Harden
Fire Chief Michael Kraus
Director of Parks, Recreation & Neighborhoods Julie Hannon
Director of Community & Economic Development Brent Sinclair
Director of Utility Planning & Projects Nick Pinhey


In the state legislature Modesto is located in the 12th and 14th Senate district, represented by Republicans Anthony Cannella and Tom Berryhill respectively, and in the 25th and 26th Assembly districts, represented by Republicans Kristin Olsen and Bill Berryhill respectively. Federally, Modesto is located in California's 18th and 19th congressional districts, which have Cook PVIs of D +4 and R +9[20] respectively and are represented by Democrat Dennis Cardoza and Republican Jeff Denham respectively.


City schools

Modesto City Schools was established for students in the community in 1871.The current enrollment is approximately 32,000 students. The district operates 23 elementary schools (K-6), four junior high schools (7-8), seven comprehensive high schools (9-12), and an alternative education program which includes an opportunity and continuation school, independent study and adult evening high school. The seventh comprehensive high school, Joseph Gregori High School, was recently completed. Modesto's oldest high school, Modesto High School, also offers an International Baccalaureate program, and is the only high school in Stanislaus County accredited for this program. There are other elementary school districts within and adjacent to the limits of Modesto City Schools that feed into the high schools. They include Sylvan Unified (serving the eastern portion of Modesto), Stanislaus Union and Hart-Ransom.

Higher education

  • Modesto Junior College is a two year junior college in Modesto and has over 20,000 students enrolled and 21 inter-collegiate sports teams.
  • Institute of Technology technical college in Modesto offering career training in a number of fields, including culinary arts, business, and health care.
  • Community Business College vocational college in Modesto providing vocational training and job placement services to the unemployed with non-profit tuition scholarships. Offers training in medical office, bookkeeping, property management, foreign languages, medical coding and solar technologies.
  • California State University, Stanislaus, a liberal arts university, and part of the 23-campus CSU system, is located in nearby Turlock and serves the Modesto area, is part of California State University system. As of March 2005, CSU Stanislaus reported a student population of 6,192 undergraduate students. The number rises to 7,858 when considering all students, including graduate students.


Television stations

As part of the Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto television market, Modesto is primarily served by stations that are based mainly in Sacramento, CA. They are listed below, with the city of license in bold:


FM Stations

  • KMPO 88.7: World Ethnic
  • KLOVE 89.7: AC Christian
  • KAMB 101.5 AC Christian
  • Air 1 90.7 Christian (Alternative/Pop)
  • KOSO 92.9: 90's and Now
  • KBBU 93.9: Regional Mexican
  • KHOP 95.1: Top 40 (CHR)
  • KMRQ 96.7: Rock
  • KWIN 98.3: Mainstream Urban
  • KQOD 100.1: Rhythmic Oldies
  • KMIX 100.9: Regional Mexican
  • KJSN 102.3: Adult Contemporary
  • KATM 103.3: Country
  • KHKK 104.1: Classic Rock
  • KHTN 104.7: Hip-Hop
  • KQRP-LP 106.1: Local Community Radio

AM stations

  • KESP 970: Sports
  • KFIV 1360: Talk Radio
  • KLOC 1390: Regional Mexican

Print Media

  • The Modesto Bee: Modesto's daily newspaper published by the McClatchy Company

Modesto Anarcho: the Valley's Insurectionary journal of Class Struggle

Notable residents

Sister cities

Modesto has five sister cities and one sister county:

These programs are run by Modesto Sister Cities International; a non-profit, community based, volunteer organization promoting international understanding, friendship, and peace between nations.[23]

In popular culture

The the film 1985 Murphy's Romance with Sally Field and James Garner, James Garner's character asks Sally Field where she was from and her response was "This time Modesto, Ca"

In the animated feature Monsters versus Aliens, the protagonist Susan Murphy comes from Modesto. Scenes of Modesto depicted in the movie bear no resemblance to the actual town. In the short film Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space, Susan says, "Modesto, why is it always Modesto?"

In Even Stevens a girl quotes her mom is from Modesto.

In The Glee Project, Lindsay Pearce is a contestant and runner-up from Modesto, won 2 episode arcs in Glee Season 3.

In the video game Destroy All Humans!, "Santa Modesto" is one of the playable locations.

In the video game series Wipeout, "Modesto Heights" is one of the race tracks in Wipeout Pure and Wipeout HD.

An episode of Bewitched, one of Darrin's clients frequently mentions growing up in Modesto.

Brooklyn-based indie rockers The Hold Steady refer to the city in the song "Modesto Is Not That Sweet."

In the 1963 movie It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World the truck driver played by Jonathan Winters refers to the load he is driving to Modesto.

The 1973 film American Graffiti is set in Modesto.

"Modesto" is the name of a song by Beck, from his Stereopathetic Soulmanure album.

"St. Modesto" is a song by Chris Walla from his Field Manual album.

The 2009 film Janky Promoters is set in Modesto.

In the 1992 film starring Christian Slater entitled Kuffs Slater's character mentions that he grew up in Modesto and went to the (in reality) fictional Fremont High School.

In the television show Sons of Anarchy, Season 3, Episode 7, Bobby Elvis asks Clay Morrow, "Where's Tig?" Clay responds, "Halfway to Modesto."

In the television show CSI, Season 5, Episode 10, Sara Sidle searches for the records of her mother's court case, which ultimately led to Sarah being put in foster care, from Modesto, CA.

On the Moshe Kasher album, "Everyone You Know is Going To Die, Then You Are," on the track, "An Open Letter to Modesto, California."

See also


  1. ^ U.S. Census
  2. ^ City of Modesto
  3. ^ California Farm Bureau Federation
  4. ^ Page, Susan (2010-02-15). "Western cities fare best in well-being index". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-05-13. 
  5. ^ Levy, Francesca (2009-11-30). "America's Best Bang-For-The-Buck Cities". Forbes. 
  6. ^ "Dial-A-Ride Information". Modesto Area Express. 
  7. ^ a b Largest Employers
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Gangs thriving in Modesto, Modesto Bee, Sep. 20, 2007.
  11. ^ "List: Worst Cities For Ozone Pollution". Forbes. 
  12. ^ "Official site". Fat Cat Music House & Lounge. Retrieved September 12, 2010. 
  13. ^ Modesto Symphony Official Web Site
  14. ^ MoBand Official Web Site
  15. ^ "Gallo Center for the Arts". 
  16. ^
  17. ^ All data are derived from the United States Census Bureau reports from the 2010 United States Census, and are accessible on-line here. The data on unmarried partnerships and same-sex married couples are from the Census report DEC_10_SF1_PCT15. All other housing and population data are from Census report DEC_10_DP_DPDP1. Both reports are viewable online or downloadable in a zip file containing a comma-delimited data file. The area data, from which densities are calculated, are available on-line here. Percentage totals may not add to 100% due to rounding. The Census Bureau defines families as a household containing one or more people related to the householder by birth, opposite-sex marriage, or adoption. People living in group quarters are tabulated by the Census Bureau as neither owners nor renters. For further details, see the text files accompanying the data files containing the Census reports mentioned above.
  18. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  19. ^ a b City of Modesto CAFR
  20. ^ Hinckley, Catie; Walker, John (November 1, 2006). "Will Gerrymandered Districts Stem the Wave of Voter Unrest?". Campaign Legal Center Blog. Retrieved 2008-02-10. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Mark Spitz". Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  23. ^ Modesto Sister Cities


  • Stanislaus County General Plan, (1987)
  • John Torrey, Paul Awosika et al., Expanded initial study, Boulder Creek subdivision, Stanislaus County, Earth Metrics, Report 7999: California State Clearinghouse, Sacramento, November, 1989.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Modesto (California) — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Modesto, California …   Wikipedia Español

  • West Modesto, California — Infobox Settlement official name = West Modesto, California other name = native name = nickname = settlement type = CDP motto = imagesize = image caption = flag size = image seal size = image shield = shield size = image blank emblem = blank… …   Wikipedia

  • Memorial Medical Center (Modesto, California) — Memorial Medical Center Sutter Health Geography Location 1700 Coffee Road,, Modesto, California, United States Organization Care system …   Wikipedia

  • Central Catholic High School (Modesto, California) — Central Catholic High School is a private, Roman Catholic high school in Modesto, California. It is located in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Stockton.BackgroundCentral Catholic was established in 1966. The first year of its existence had only a… …   Wikipedia

  • Modesto Nuts — Founded in 1946 Modesto, California Team Logo …   Wikipedia

  • Modesto and Empire Traction Company — Modesto and Empire Traction Reporting mark MET Locale Modesto Empire, California Dates of operation 1911–present …   Wikipedia

  • Modesto Maniax — Founded 2009 League Independent Women s Football League Team history Modesto Maniax (2009 present) Stadium …   Wikipedia

  • Modesto — Modesto, California Ubicación de California en los …   Wikipedia Español

  • Modesto High School — Address 18 H Street Modesto California Information School type Public Opened 1883 School district Modesto City Schools Principal …   Wikipedia

  • Modesto (Amtrak station) — Modesto Station statistics Address 1700 Held Drive Mod …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”