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Nov 23

Celebrating 150 Years of Progress

Posted on November 23, 2020 at 8:59 AM by Thomas Reeves

The City of Modesto was founded in October 1870, when the first Central Pacific train rolled through downtown, the City’s original 640-acre layout. Since then, it has expanded considerably to nearly 30,000 acres (45 square miles) and is home to over 220,000 residents. This year, we celebrate the 150th anniversary of our home, Modesto.

Where We’ve Been
Modesto has been home to a number of firsts: The first delivery of auto parts by air freight was delivered to Modesto from San Francisco in 1920, the Beaty Building on 11th and J Street was the first electrically heated building in California in 1925, and the first city-wide collection of post-consumer recyclables in the US occurred on our streets in 1970.

Architects experimented with a new design called Central Valley Modernism to create a modernist look appropriate for the hot, dry summers and wet, dark winters. The Heckendorf House and the Stanislaus County Hall of Records are both examples of this style.

With the wide range of businesses and organizations in Modesto, these seemingly unrelated claims to fame stand out all the more so: We have been home to innovation of all kinds since the beginning.

Where We Are
The City is currently home to the largest family-owned winery in the world, the oldest olive oil press in the country, and the first grocery store company to partner with delivery robots in the United States.

As the City has changed and evolved, the public’s perception of the City is improving. We embrace our agricultural heritage and the significant impact agriculture has on our way of life and economy, in addition to new amenities that expand our perception from being “just” an ag town to a City with a strong downtown and much to offer.

Modesto’s 150th anniversary envisioned downtown lined with Modestan makers and builders like those mentioned above to celebrate our heritage and industry this past September. The event was planned for nearly two years by a committee of community members and staff but unfortunately was cancelled to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

At October City Council meetings, Modesto received a number of commendations from State leaders, including Governor Gavin Newsom, U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein, U.S. Congressman Josh Harder, State Senator Cathleen Galgiani, and Assembly Members Adam Gray and Heath Flora.

Where We’re Going
With our history in mind, Modesto will continue to strengthen and maximize its great qualities—a thriving downtown, great neighborhoods, family-friendly recreational and cultural amenities, and a supportive community. Small businesses are the backbone of any economy, and Modesto’s economy has been impacted less than most areas thanks to the generosity of our community. 

The City is reimagining Modesto’s future by completing a comprehensive General Plan update and launching a Smart Cities initiative to do more with what we have. Our railroad depot, which dates back a century, is being renovated in time for the arrival of the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE), making it more convenient for many residents to get to work.

We may not have been able to gather to celebrate our great City’s anniversary, but we can keep the spirit of the event alive by thanking our makers and builders for being an integral part of Modesto’s story.

Double your dollars with the RAD Card when shopping downtown local businesses, grab takeout from restaurants following the highest standards of safety on the MoCertified Restaurant program list, and take your family on a self-guided tour of historic landmarks in Modesto.

Our innovation is skyrocketing, and we couldn’t be more excited for the next 150 years.