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August 8, 2014| Issue # 147

Vallejo will celebrate its 147th birthday this year and in an effort to commemorate this occasion, the
City of Vallejo wants to share its unique history with our readers on our 147th issue of Vallejo News.
Vallejo's History


Vallejo will celebrate its 147th birthday this year and in an effort to commemorate this occasion, the City of Vallejo wants to share its unique history with our readers on our 147th issue of Vallejo News.


Not many people know that Vallejo was the original home of California's state government prior to the Capitol being moved to 

General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo

Sacramento. In 1852, just two years after California was admitted to the Union as the 31st state, General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, a Mexican military officer and pioneer, donated 156 acres of his land in hopes of creating his dream of a thriving new state capitol.  


Unfortunately, members of the legislature were unhappy with the living and working conditions in Vallejo and moved the Capitol to Sacramento. After bouncing back to Vallejo, and then later to Benicia, the restless legislatures returned to Sacramento where the Capitol has resided ever since.  Once the legislature had left the town for good, Vallejo was on a downward slope until the United States Navy purchased Mare Island for the creation of the first naval installation on the West Coast in 1853, and Vallejo's future was bright once more. 


Vallejo was later incorporated in 1867, due in large part to the man regarded as the true founder of Vallejo, John B. Frisbie, who diligently lobbied for the City in Washington D.C.

Historic Vallejo
Mare Island Naval Shipyard


Mare Island is Vallejo's biggest claim to fame, gaining its name after General Vallejo's favorite horse saved herself by swimming to shore after her transport raft capsized. The mare was later found living on 

Historic Mare Island

the island. The land was the prime location for the West Coast naval needs and was purchased for $83,491 in January 1853.


The first ship, the USS Saginaw, was a four-gun, wooden-hulled, steam-driven, side-paddle-wheel gunboat launched in March 1859. The Saginaw would be the first of more than 500 ships to be built in the shipyard in the 142-year history. When Dry Dock #1 was built, it became the first permanent dry dock in the west, taking 19 years before finally being completed in 1891. In 1910, the first Navy aircraft landing deck, a wooden landing platform on the cruiser Pennsylvania, was crafted.

USS Sperry, ship that fires first shots to bring US into WWII in 1941 


The Mare Island Naval Shipyard saw many historical and influential ships. The USS Ward, built during World War I, fired the U.S.'s first shots of World War II when she sank a midget Japanese submarine just off the entrance of Pearl Harbor in the early morning hours on December 7, 1941.


During World War II, the Mare Island Naval Shipyard produced 17 submarines, 4 submarine tenders, 31 destroyer escorts, 33 small craft, 300 landing craft, repaired more than 1,200 ships, and employed more than 46,000 civilian and military personnel. Mare Island went atomic when the first nuclear submarine in the west was built in 1954 and continued to thrive until the base closed in the spring of 1996.

Actress Shirley Temple visiting Mare Island Hospital


Times have changed for Mare Island, and despite the closing of the naval base, the City of Vallejo is determined for the Island to succeed. With some of the more dangerous and dilapidated buildings being demolished to make way for new potential and the current buildings being sold or leased to major companies, job growth is expanding exponentially.  

Current Mare Island Dry Dock


Lennar Mare Island (LMI), the current developer, announced last week than more than 130 new full-time jobs have been added to Mare Island over the past s

ix months, according to LMI's June 2014 jobs survey. There are no

w more than 2,200 full-time jobs on Mare Island, ranging from maritime to manufacturing, and industrial to professional.

Vallejo's Historical Homes and Locations

In addition to the historical significance that Mare Island played, several homes in Vallejo showcase a lot of skill and sophistication. The Vallejo Heritage District features houses built between 1860 and 1890 that display an elegant style known as the "Working Man's Victorian." Many of the homes are carved out of wood and integrate 

Julia Morgan House, Capitol Street

the major styles of Queen Anne, Eastlake, Italiante and Stick, and used elements of several styles to create unique, elaborate and distinctive craftsmanship, some of which are still standing today.


"Old Town" starts from Georgia Street and goes through Capitol, York, Marin and Monterey Streets and has many beautiful homes on display. Although the homes are not open to the public, interested parties are able to go through a self-guided walking or driving tour to view the elegant Victorian homes.   


Victorian home in Vallejo Heritage District

St. Vincent's Hill Historic District also flaunts some beautiful homes in the 33-square block surrounding St. Vincent's Catholic Church. The area, bounded by Florida and Carolina Streets, Sonoma Boulevard, Tennessee Street and Mare Island Way, was known as the workingman's neighborhood with its close proximity to the Mare Island Naval Shipyard. These homes' architectural styles resemble Greek revival cottages of the 1850s and 1860s. Additional neighborhoods with historical architecture include Vista de Vallejo, Bay Terrace, Vallejo Heights and Washington Park.


Although Vallejo has seen many changes, many of the homes and buildings with memorable implications persevere on. The Empress Theatre recently celebrated its 100th birthday in 2012 and with the up-to-date renovations to the theater the Empress is now thriving, hosting weekly concerts and events.


Empress Theatre early years

Downtown Vallejo was on a decline until fresh, budding talent sought a location for artists and entertainers to flourish and shine and put their work on display. The restoration of the Historic Masonic Temple was specifically rehabilitated for resident artists and opened in August 2013. The Downtown Arts and Entertainment District now features numerous regular activities for vendors, crafters and patrons alike. Farmers' Market, festivals, culture and liveliness brings tens of thousands of Vallejoans and visitors to the waterfront every year.  


To read more about Vallejo's history, culture, and events visit the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum Blog, the  Vallejo Convention and Visitor's Bureau,  Vallejo Arts and Entertainment and the newest blog, This is Vallejo

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In This Issue
Vallejo's History
Mare Island Naval Shipyard
Vallejo's Historical Homes and Locations
Vallejo Fun Facts


Vallejo Fun Facts


Vallejo encompasses 53.58 square miles (29.94 of land and 23.64 of water) with a population of 115,942 (2010 Census).


Vallejo was founded in 1851 and incorporated as a City in 1867.


President Lincoln authorized $50,000 for construction of the first Marine Barracks on Mare Island during the Civil War and additional funds to build Mare Island's hospital. After his assassination in 1865, one of the 22 honorary pall-bearers was Admiral David G. Farragut, Mare Island's first commanding officer.


Vallejo was named the Most Diverse City in America in 2013, with 32.8 percent white (non-Hispanic) population, 22.6 percent Hispanic population, 22.1 percent black population, 21.1 percent Filipino population, 7.9 percent of "other" race and 7.5 percent of two or more races.


There are three higher education institutions in Vallejo:


The California Maritime Academy, located on the south end of Vallejo, which educates nearly 1,100 cadets on business, engineering, operations and policy of the transportation and related industries of maritime, the Pacific Rim and beyond, offering six different bachelors and one master degree.  


Touro University California, located on Mare Island, offers a variety of master's and doctoral degrees for Osteopathic Medicine, Pharmacy, Public Health, Physician Assistants, Nursing and Education, serving close to 1,400 students.  


Solano Community College has a satellite campus in Vallejo, providing general education, transfer education to 4-year colleges, career training and short-term programs from everything from business and computer science to fine arts and behavioral sciences.


Vallejo has two museums that celebrate its rich history; the  Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum and the Mare Island Museum which is a part of the Mare Island Historical Park Foundation (HPF). Also a part of the Mare Island HPF, St. Peter's Chapel was built in 1901 as a non-denominational chapel, renowned for the 25 priceless and beautifully designed Tiffany stained glass windows, the largest collection under one roof on the west coast.


Vallejo is home to four golf courses: Blue Rock Springs Golf Course, Hiddenbrooke Golf Club, Mare Island Golf Club and the Joe Mortara Golf Course. There are four community parks and 19 neighborhood parks in Vallejo. Community parks include Blue Rock Springs Park, Dan Foley Park, Hanns Park and the North Vallejo Community Park.


Popular places and events in Vallejo include:

  • Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
  • Northern California Pirate Festival
  • Juneteenth Celebration
  • The Great Vallejo Race from the Vallejo Yacht Club
  • Vallejo Garden Tour
  • Solano County Fair
  • Mad Hatter Parade and Holiday Festival
  • San Francisco Bay Flyway Festival
  • The Hub Vallejo
  • Bay Terrace Theater (MIRA Theatre Guild)
  • Empress Theatre
  • Vallejo Symphony

Famous Vallejoans include:

  • Con Funk Shun - Musical Group
  • Natalie Coughlin - Olympic swimmer
  • Joey Chestnut - Competitive eater
  • Ernest J. Gaines - Author
  • Roy Rogers - Musician
  • C.C. Sabathia - New York Yankee pitcher (Major League Baseball)
  • Marilyn Smith-Ifland - Olympic Basketball player
  • Jeff Gordan - NASCAR racer
  • Mike Merriweather - Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker (National Football League)

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