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Fresno

Fresno, California

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  Summary  

Fresno is a city in central California, United States, the county seat of Fresno County. As of the 2010 census, the city's population was 510,365, making it the fifth largest city in California, the largest inland city in California, and the 34th largest in the nation. Fresno is located in the center of the San Joaquin Valley of Central California, approximately north of Los Angeles, and south of the state capital, Sacramento. Metropolitan Fresno has a population of 1,107,416. The name Fresno is the Spanish language word for the ash tree, and an ash leaf is featured on the city's flag.

  History  

The original inhabitants of the San Joaquin Valley region were the Yokut people, who engaged in trading with other California tribes of Native Americans including coastal peoples such as the Chumash of the Central California coast, with whom they are thought to have traded plant and animal products.

The County of Fresno was formed in 1856 after the California Gold Rush. It was named for the abundant mountain ash trees lining the San Joaquin River. Fresno is the Spanish word for white ash trees. The county was much larger than it is today as part of Tulare County, comprising its current area plus all of what became Madera County and parts of what are now San Benito, Kings, Inyo, and Mono counties.

Millerton, then on the banks of the free-flowing San Joaquin River and close to Fort Miller, became the county seat after becoming a focal point for settlers. Other early county settlements included Firebaugh's Ferry, Scottsburg and Elkhorn Springs.

The San Joaquin River flooded on December 24, 1867, inundating Millerton. Some residents rebuilt, others moved. Flooding also destroyed the town of Scottsburg that winter. Rebuilt on higher ground, Scottsburg was renamed Centerville.

In 1867, Anthony "McQeen" Easterby purchased land bounded by the present Chestnut, Belmont, Clovis and California avenues. Unable to grow wheat for lack of water, he hired Moses J. Church in 1871 to build an irrigation canal. Church then formed the Fresno Canal and Irrigation Company, a predecessor of the Fresno Irrigation District.

In 1872, the Central Pacific Railroad established a station near Easterby's farm for its new Southern Pacific line. Soon there was a store. Around the station and the store grew the town of Fresno Station, later called Fresno. Many Millerton residents, drawn by the convenience of the railroad and worried about flooding, moved to the new community. Fresno became an incorporated city in 1885.


Two years after the station was established, county residents voted to move the county seat from Millerton to Fresno. When the Friant Dam was completed in 1944, the site of Millerton became inundated by the waters of Millerton Lake. In extreme droughts, when the reservoir shrinks, ruins of the original county seat can still be observed.

In the nineteenth century, with so much wooden construction and in the absence of sophisticated firefighting resources, fires often ravaged American frontier towns. The greatest of Fresno's early-day fires, in 1882, destroyed an entire block of the city. Another devastating blaze struck in 1883.

In 1909, Fresno's first and oldest synagogue, Temple Beth Israel, was founded.

The population of Fresno proper soared in the second half of the 20th century. It entered the ranks of the 100 largest United States cities in 1960 census with a population of 134,000. In the 1990 census it moved up to 47th place with 354,000, and in the census of 2000 it achieved 37th place with 428,000, a 21 percent increase during the preceding decade.

The Fresno Municipal Sanitary Landfill was the first modern landfill in the United States, and incorporated several important innovations to waste disposal, including trenching, compacting, and the daily covering of trash with dirt. It was opened in 1937 and closed in 1987. Today, it has the unusual distinction of being a National Historic Landmark as well as a Superfund site.

Before World War II, Fresno had many ethnic neighborhoods, including Little Armenia, German Town, Little Italy, and Chinatown. (Incongruously, Chinatown was primarily a Japanese neighborhood and today Japanese-American businesses still remain). During 1942, Pinedale, in what is now North Fresno, was the site of the Pinedale Assembly Center, an interim facility for the relocation of Fresno area Japanese Americans to internment camps. The Fresno Fairgrounds was also utilized as an assembly center.

Row crops and orchards gave way to urban development particularly in the period after World War II; this transition was particularly vividly demonstrated in locations such as the Blackstone Avenue corridor.

In September 1958, Bank of America launched a new product called BankAmericard in Fresno. After a troubled gestation during which its creator resigned, BankAmericard went on to become the first successful credit card; that is, a financial instrument which was usable across a large number of merchants and also allowed cardholders to revolve a balance . In 1976, BankAmericard was renamed and spun off into a separate company known today as Visa Inc.

The dance style commonly known as popping evolved in Fresno in the 1970s.

In the 1970s the city was the subject of a song, Walking Into Fresno,' written by Hall Of Fame guitarist Bill Aken and recorded by Bob Gallion of the world-famous "WWVA Jamboree" radio and television show in Wheeling, West Virginia. Aken, adopted by Mexican movie actress Lupe Mayorga, grew up in the neighboring town of Madera and his song chronicled the hardships faced by the migrant farm workers he saw as a child. Aken also made his first TV appearance playing guitar on the old country-western show at The Fresno Barn.

Fictional residents of the town were portrayed in a 1986 comedic mini series titled "Fresno", featuring Carol Burnett, Dabney Coleman, Teri Garr and Charles Grodin, along with numerous other celebrities. The mini series was presented as a parody of the prime time soap operas popular in the 1980s.

In 1995, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Operation Rezone sting resulted in several prominent Fresno and Clovis politicians being charged in connection with taking bribes in return for rezoning farmland for housing developments. Before the sting brought a halt to it, housing developers could buy farmland cheaply, pay off council members to have it rezoned, and make a large profit building and selling inexpensive housing. Sixteen people were eventually convicted as a result of the sting.

In 2009 and 2010, Fresno was ranked last and third from last respectively in a study of the smartest cities in the United States.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Fresno (Californie)", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.