Fresno, California


Fresno, California
City of Fresno
Fresno Skyline (2).jpg
Fresno Bee Building Dec 2012 (cropped).jpg
Fulton mall-fresno (cropped).jpg
Fresno-WarnorsTheatre (cropped).jpg
Fresno station 2434 35 (cropped2).JPG
Downtown Fresno with mountains (cropped).jpg
Clockwise: Fresno skyline; the Fulton Mall; Santa Fe Station; view of Fresno with the Sierra Nevada in the background; Warnors Theatre; Fresno Bee Building.
Flag of Fresno, California
Official seal of Fresno, California
Location within Fresno County
Location within Fresno County
Fresno is located in California
Location within California
Fresno is located in the United States
Location within the United States
Coordinates: 36°45′N 119°46′W / 36.750°N 119.767°W / 36.750; -119.767Coordinates: 36°45′N 119°46′W / 36.750°N 119.767°W / 36.750; -119.767
CountryUnited States
RegionSan Joaquin Valley
Railway stationMay 1872
IncorporatedOctober 21, 1885[1]
Named forSpanish for "ash tree"
 • TypeMayor-Council
 • MayorJerry Dyer (R)[2]
 • City managerThomas Esqueda[3]
 • City council[4]Esmeralda Soria
Mike Karbassi
Miguel Arias
Tyler Maxwell
Luis Chavez
Garry Bredefeld
Nelson Esparza
 • City116.00 sq mi (300.43 km2)
 • Land114.79 sq mi (297.30 km2)
 • Water1.21 sq mi (3.13 km2)  0.31%
Elevation308 ft (94 m)
 • City542,107
 • Rank34th in the United States
5th in California
 • Density4,722.60/sq mi (1,823.43/km2)
 • Metro1,008,654 (56th)
Time zoneUTC−08:00 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−07:00 (PDT)
ZIP Codes[9]
93650, 93701–93712, 93714–93718, 93720–93730, 93737, 93740, 93741, 93744, 93745, 93747, 93750, 93755, 93760, 93761, 93764, 93765, 93771–79, 93786, 93790–94, 93844, 93888
Area code559
FIPS code06-27000[10]
GNIS feature IDs277606, 2410546

Fresno (Spanish for "ash tree") is a major city in the San Joaquin Valley of California. It is the county seat of Fresno County and the largest city in the greater Central Valley region. Fresno covers about 112 square miles (290 km2) and had a population of 542,107 in 2020, making it the fifth-most populous city in California, the most populous inland city in California (the Sacramento metro area has many more people than Fresno but the city proper has only 524,942 people), and the 34th-most populous city in the nation.[11][7][12]

Named for the abundant ash trees lining the San Joaquin River, Fresno was founded in 1872 as a railway station of the Central Pacific Railroad before it was incorporated in 1885. The city has since become an economic hub of Fresno County and the San Joaquin Valley, with much of the surrounding areas in the Metropolitan Fresno region predominantly tied to large-scale agricultural production. Fresno is near the geographical center of California. It lies approximately 220 miles (350 km) north of Los Angeles, 170 miles (270 km) south of the state capital, Sacramento, and 185 miles (300 km) southeast of San Francisco. Yosemite National Park is about 60 miles (100 km) to the north, Kings Canyon National Park is 60 miles (100 km) to the east, and Sequoia National Park is 75 miles (120 km) to the southeast.

Fresno is also the third-largest majority-Hispanic city in the United States, with 50.5% of its population being Hispanic in 2020.[13]


The original inhabitants of the San Joaquin Valley region were the Yokuts people and Miwok people, who engaged in trading with other Californian 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 old Fresno County Courthouse, built in 1875 and demolished in 1966.

The first European to enter the San Joaquin Valley was Pedro Fages in 1772.[14] The county of Fresno was formed in 1856 after the California Gold Rush. It was named for the abundant ash trees (Spanish: fresno) lining the San Joaquin River.

The San Joaquin River flooded on December 24, 1867, inundating Millerton. Some residents rebuilt, others moved. Flooding also destroyed the town of Scottsburg on the nearby Kings River that winter. Rebuilt on higher ground, Scottsburg was renamed Centerville.[15]

In 1867, Anthony "McQueen" Easterby purchased land bounded by the present Chestnut, Belmont, Clovis and California avenues, that today is called the Sunnyside district. Unable to grow wheat for lack of water, he hired sheep man Moses J. Church in 1871 to create an irrigation system.[citation needed] Building new canals and purchasing existing ditches, 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—by now a hugely productive wheat farm—for its new Southern Pacific line. Soon there was a store near the station and the store grew into 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. By 1931 the Fresno Traction Company operated 47 streetcars over 49 miles of track.[16]

In 1865, William Helm brought his sheep to Fresno county, which was then a vast space of open land.[17] By 1877, Helm made Fresno his home with a five-acre tract of land at the corner of Fresno and R streets. Helm was the largest individual sheep grower in Fresno County.[18]

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.

Fresno entered the ranks of the 100 most populous cities in the United States in 1960 with a population of 134,000. Thirty years later, 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.[19]

Downtown Fresno in 1904.

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. It is a National Historic Landmark as well as a Superfund site.[20]

Before World War II, Fresno had many ethnic neighborhoods, including Little Armenia, German Town, Little Italy, and Chinatown. In 1940, the Census Bureau reported Fresno's population as 94.0% white, 3.3% black and 2.7% Asian.[21] Chinatown was primarily a Japanese neighborhood and today Japanese-American businesses still remain.[22] 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.[23] The Fresno Fairgrounds were 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. This financial instrument was usable across a large number of merchants and also allowed cardholders to revolve a balance (earlier financial products could do one or the other but not both). In 1976, BankAmericard was renamed and spun off into a separate company known today as Visa Inc.

Downtown Fresno in 1964.

The dance style commonly known as popping evolved in Fresno in the 1970s.[24]

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 "WWVA Jamboree" radio and television show in Wheeling, West Virginia. 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 miniseries 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.[25]


Aerial view of Fresno.
Shinzen Japanese Garden.

Fresno is at 36°44′52″N 119°46′21″W / 36.74778°N 119.77250°W / 36.74778; -119.77250.[6] having a total area of 112.3 square miles (291 km2) with 99.69% land covering 112.0 square miles (290 km2), and 0.31% water, 0.4 square miles (1.0 km2).

Fresno's location, very near the geographical center of California, places the city a comfortable distance from many of the major recreation areas and urban centers in the state. Just 60 mi (97 km) south of Yosemite National Park, it is the nearest major city to the park. Likewise, Sierra National Forest is 40 mi (64 km), Kings Canyon National Park is 60 mi (97 km) and Sequoia National Park is 75 mi (121 km). The city is located near several Sierra Nevada lakes including Bass Lake, Shaver Lake, and Huntington Lake. Fresno is also only two and a half hours from Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur and the central coast.

Because Fresno sits at the junction of Highways 41 and 99 (SR 41 is Yosemite National Park's southern access road, and SR 99 bypasses Interstate 5 to serve the urban centers of the San Joaquin Valley), the city is a major gateway for Yosemite visitors coming from Los Angeles. The city also serves as an entrance into Sierra National Forest via Highway 168, and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks via Highway 180.

Huntington Blvd. Historic District.

Fresno has three large public parks, two in the city limits and one in county land to the southwest. Woodward Park, which features the Shinzen Japanese Gardens, boasts numerous picnic areas and several miles of trails. It is in North Fresno and is adjacent to the San Joaquin River Parkway. Roeding Park, near Downtown Fresno, is home to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, and Rotary Storyland and Playland. Kearney Park is the largest of the Fresno region's park system and is home to historic Kearney Mansion and plays host to the annual Civil War Revisited, the largest reenactment of the Civil War in the west coast of the U.S.[26][27]

In its 2020 ParkScore ranking, The Trust for Public Land, a national land conservation organization, reported that Fresno had one of the worst park systems among the 50 most populous U.S. cities.[28] The survey measures median park size, park acres as percent of city area, residents' access to parks, spending on parks per resident, and playgrounds per 10,000 residents. Fresno faces serious challenges to creating a well-developed park system due to the lack of any natural bodies of water in the city boundaries. There are no natural lakes or rivers; only manmade waterways.



The historic Californian Hotel.
The Old Fresno Water Tower, built in 1894 and designed by George W. Maher, is one of Fresno's oldest landmarks.

Fresno was born with the establishment of the then Central Pacific Railroad Depot in 1872. In 1889, the Southern Pacific Railroad, which had acquired Central Pacific, constructed a new depot on the original depot site. The brick Queen Anne style depot was a jewel for the city and is currently one of Fresno's oldest standing buildings. In 1971, 99 years after it first opened for business on its current site, the Depot closed its rail operations due to the decline in business.[29]

Between the 1880s and World War II, Downtown Fresno flourished, filled with electric streetcars,[30] and contained a number of "lavish" and "opulent" buildings.[31] Among them, the original Fresno County Courthouse (demolished), the Fresno Carnegie Public Library (demolished), the Old Fresno Water Tower, the Bank of Italy Building, the Pacific Southwest Building, the San Joaquin Light and Power Building (currently known as the Grand 1401), and the Hughes Hotel (burned down), to name a few.

Fulton Street in Downtown Fresno was Fresno's main financial and commercial district before being converted into one of the nation's first pedestrian malls in 1964.[32] Renamed the Fulton Mall, the area contains the densest collection of historic buildings in Fresno. While the Fulton Mall corridor has suffered a sharp decline from its heyday, the Mall includes some of the finest public art pieces in the country, including a casting of Pierre-Auguste Renoir's bronze "The Washer Woman", reportedly the only one of the six castings that one can walk up to and touch. In October 2017, the City of Fresno finished and opened Fulton Mall to traffic, becoming Fulton Street. This change was celebrated with a large public parade featuring current Mayor Lee Brand and former Mayor Ashley Swearengin.[33] The public art pieces will be restored and placed near their current locations and will feature wide sidewalks (up to 28' on the east side of the street) to continue with the pedestrian friendly environment of the district.[34]

Tower District

The historic Tower Theatre for the Performing Arts, built in 1939.

The historic Tower Theatre, which is included on the National Register of Historic Places,[35] is the center of the Tower District. The theater was built in 1939 at the corner of Olive and Wishon Avenues. (The name of the theater refers to a well-known landmark water tower, which is actually in another nearby area). The Tower District neighborhood is just north of downtown Fresno proper, and one-half mile south of Fresno City College.[36] Although the neighborhood was known as a residential area, the early commercial establishments of the Tower District began with small shops and services that flocked to the area shortly after World War II. The character of small local businesses largely remains today. To some extent, the businesses of the Tower District were developed due to the proximity of the original Fresno Normal School (later renamed California State University at Fresno). In 1916, the college moved to what is now the site of Fresno City College one-half mile north[37] of the Tower District.

This vibrant and culturally diverse area of retail businesses and residences experienced a renewal after a significant decline in the late 1960s and 1970s.[citation needed] After decades of neglect and suburban flight, the neighborhood revival followed the re-opening of the Tower Theatre in the late 1970s, which at that time showed second- and third-run movies, along with classic films. Roger Rocka's Dinner Theater & Good Company Players also opened nearby in 1978,[38] at Olive and Wishon Avenues. Fresno native Audra McDonald performed in the leading roles of Evita and The Wiz at the theater while she was a high school student. McDonald subsequently became a leading performer on Broadway in New York City and a Tony award-winning actress. Also in the Tower District is Good Company Players' 2nd Space Theatre.

The main library at Fresno City College was built in 1933.

The Tower District is a hub for community events such as Jamaica My Weekend, Mardi Gras in February, Gay Pride Parade, car shows, A Taste of The Tower, Halloween in the Tower, and the Farmer's Market opened on the northwest Corner of Olive and Van Ness.

The neighborhood features restaurants, live theater and nightclubs, as well as several independent shops and bookstores, currently operating on or near Olive Avenue, and all within a few hundred feet of each other. Since renewal, the Tower District has become an attractive area for restaurant and other local businesses. Today, the Tower District is also known as the center of Fresno's LGBT and hipster communities.[39] Additionally, Tower District is also known as the center of Fresno's local punk/goth/deathrock and heavy metal community as well as the synthpop/Electronic dance music community.[citation needed]

The area is also known for its early twentieth century homes, many of which have been restored in recent decades. The area includes many California Bungalow and American Craftsman style homes, Spanish Colonial Revival Style architecture, Mediterranean Revival Style architecture, Mission Revival Style architecture, and many Storybook houses designed by Fresno architects, Hilliard, Taylor & Wheeler. The residential architecture of the Tower District contrasts with the newer areas of tract homes urban sprawl in north and east areas of Fresno.

Woodward Park

Woodward Park Branch of the Fresno County Public Library.

In the north eastern part of Fresno, Woodward Park was founded by the late Ralph Woodward, a long-time Fresno resident. He bequeathed a major portion of his estate in 1968 to provide a regional park and bird sanctuary in Northeast Fresno. The park lies on the South bank of the San Joaquin River between Highway 41 and Friant Road. The initial 235 acres (0.95 km2), combined with additional acres acquired later by the city, brings the park to a sizable 300 acres (1.2 km2).[40] Now packed with amenities, Woodward Park is the only Regional Park of its size in the Central Valley. The park has a multi-use amphitheatre that seats up to 2,500 people, authentic Japanese Garden, fenced dog park, bike park, 2 playgrounds, two-mile (3 km) equestrian trail, exercise par course, three children's playgrounds, a lake, 3 small ponds, 7 picnic areas and five miles (8 km) of multipurpose trails that are part of the San Joaquin River Parkway's Lewis S. Eaton Trail. When complete, the Lewis S. Eaton trail system will cover 22 miles (35 km) between Highway 99 and Friant Dam. The park's amphitheatre was renovated in 2010, and has hosted performances by acts such as Deftones, Tech N9ne, and Sevendust as well as numerous others. Woodward Park hosts the annual California Interscholastic Federation State Championship cross country meet. It is the home of the Woodward Shakespeare Festival which began performances in the park in 2005.[41]


Mariposa Plaza in downtown.

Fresno has a Mediterranean climate (Csa in the Köppen climate classification), with mild, wet winters and very long, hot, dry summers.[42] December and January are the coldest months, averaging 47.5 °F (8.6 °C) and 48.0 °F (8.9 °C), respectively; 11 mornings see low temperatures at or below freezing, with the coldest night of the year typically bottoming out around 29 °F (−1.7 °C).[43] July is the warmest month, averaging 83.5 °F (28.6 °C); normally, there are 38 days of 100 °F (37.8 °C)+ highs and 113 days of 90 °F (32.2 °C)+ highs, and between July and August, there are only 3.6 days where the high does not reach 90 °F (32.2 °C).[43] Summers provide considerable sunshine, with July exceeding 96 percent of the total possible sunlight hours; conversely, December is the lowest with only 42 percent of the daylight time in sunlight because of tule fog. However, the year averages 81% of possible sunshine, for a total of 3550 hours.[44] Average annual precipitation is around 11 inches (279 mm), which, given the average annual temperature and seasonal precipitation pattern in the area, would classify it as a semidesert. Most of the wind rose direction occurrences derive from the northwest, as winds are driven downward along the axis of the California Central Valley; in December, January and February there is an increased presence of southeastern wind directions in the wind rose statistics.[45] Fresno meteorology was selected in a national U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study for analysis of equilibrium temperature for use of ten-year meteorological data to represent a warm, dry western United States locale.[46]

The official record high temperature for Fresno is 115 °F (46.1 °C), set on July 8, 1905, while the official record low is 17 °F (−8 °C), set on January 6, 1913. The average windows for temperatures of 100 °F (37.8 °C)+ are June 2 through September 15; for temperatures of 90 °F (32.2 °C)+, April 25 through October 10; and for freezing temperatures, December 14 through January 24, although no freeze occurred during the 1983-84 or 2020-21 winter seasons. Annual rainfall has ranged from 23.57 inches (598.7 mm) in the "rain year" from July 1982 to June 1983 down to 4.43 inches (112.5 mm) from July 1933 to June 1934. The most rainfall in one month was 9.54 inches (242.3 mm) in November 1885 and the most rainfall in 24 hours was 3.55 inches (90.2 mm) on November 18, 1885.[43] Measurable precipitation falls on an average of 46.5 days annually. Snow is a rarity; the heaviest snowfall at the airport was 2.2 inches (0.06 m) on January 21-22, 1962.[43]

Climate data for Fresno, California (Fresno Airport), 1991–2020 normals,[a] extremes 1881–present[b]
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 78
Mean maximum °F (°C) 68.1
Average high °F (°C) 55.4
Daily mean °F (°C) 48.0
Average low °F (°C) 40.6
Mean minimum °F (°C) 30.5
Record low °F (°C) 17
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.16
trace 0.05
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 7.7 8.5 7.2 4.5 2.7 0.7 0.3 0.1 0.6 2.2 4.7 7.3 46.5
Average relative humidity (%) 83.3 77.2 68.9 57.4 47.3 41.9 39.2 44.7 50.0 58.5 74.1 84.2 60.6
Mean monthly sunshine hours 141.5 196.9 286.2 335.5 398.9 412.2 428.2 399.6 345.9 302.3 189.9 127.1 3,564.2
Percent possible sunshine 46 65 77 85 91 94 96 95 93 87 62 42 80
Source: NOAA (relative humidity and sun 1961–1990)[47][48][49]


Map of Metropolitan Fresno and its components:
  Fresno County
  Madera County
Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[50]

Fresno is the larger principal city of the Fresno-Madera CSA, a Combined Statistical Area that includes the Fresno (Fresno County) and Madera (Madera County) metropolitan areas,[51][52] which had a combined population of 922,516 at the 2000 census.[10]

Fresno is home to numerous ethnic minority communities, such as the Armenian and Hmong communities. In 1920, Armenians comprised 9% of the population of the city of Fresno, with 4,000 Armenian residents at the time.[53] Old Armenian Town was the old Armenian neighborhood in the center of Fresno. The Hmong community of Fresno, along with that of Minneapolis–Saint Paul, is one of the largest two urban U.S. ethnic Hmong communities, with just over 24,000 people, or about 5% of the city's population, being of Hmong descent.[54]

Racial composition 2010[55] 1990[21] 1970[21] 1940[21]
White 50.6% 59.2% 86.7% 94.0%
—Non-Hispanic 30.0% 49.4% 72.6%[56] n/a
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 46.9% 29.9% 16.1%[56] n/a
Black or African American 8.3% 8.3% 9.6% 3.3%
Asian 12.6% 12.5% 2.0% 2.7%


The 2010 United States Census[57] reported that Fresno had a population of 494,665. The population density was 4,404.5 people per square mile (1,700.6/km2). The racial makeup of Fresno was 245,306 (49.6%) White, 40,960 (8.3%) African American, 8,525 (1.7%) Native American, 62,528 (12.6%) Asian (3.6% Hmong, 1.7% Indian, 1.2% Filipino, 1.2% Laotian, 1.0% Thai, 0.8% Cambodian, 0.7% Chinese, 0.5% Japanese, 0.4% Vietnamese, 0.2% Korean), 849 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 111,984 (22.6%) from other races, and 24,513 (5.0%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 232,055 persons (46.9%). Among the Hispanic population, 42.7% of the total population are Mexican, 0.4% Salvadoran, and 0.4% Puerto Rican. Non-Hispanic Whites were 30.0% of the population in 2010,[55] down from 72.6% in 1970.[21]

Map of racial distribution in Fresno, 2010 U.S. Census. Each dot is 25 people: White, Black, Asian, Hispanic or Other (yellow)

The Census reported that 485,798 people (98.2% of the population) lived in households, 4,315 (0.9%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 4,552 (0.9%) were institutionalized.

There were 158,349 households, of which 68,511 (43.3%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 69,284 (43.8%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 30,547 (19.3%) had a female householder with no husband present, 11,698 (7.4%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 12,843 (8.1%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 1,388 (0.9%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 35,064 households (22.1%) were made up of individuals, and 12,344 (7.8%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.07. There were 111,529 families (70.4% of all households); the average family size was 3.62.

The age distribution of the population shows 148,823 people (30.1%) under the age of 18, 62,601 people (12.7%) aged 18 to 24, 135,076 people (27.3%) aged 25 to 44, 102,064 people (20.6%) aged 45 to 64, and 46,101 people (9.3%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29.3 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.5 males.

There were 171,288 housing units at an average density of 1,525.2 per square mile (588.9/km2), of which 158,349 were occupied, of which 77,757 (49.1%) were owner-occupied, and 80,592 (50.9%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 2.6%; the rental vacancy rate was 7.6%. 235,430 people (47.6% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 250,368 people (50.6%) lived in rental housing units.


As of the census[10] of 2000, there were 427,652 people, 140,079 households, and 97,915 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,097.9 people per square mile (1,582.2/km2). There were 149,025 housing units at an average density of 1,427.9 square miles (3,698 km2). The racial makeup of the city was 50.2% White, 8.4% Black or African American, 1.6% Native American, 11.2% Asian (about a third of which is Hmong), 0.1% Pacific Islander, 23.4% from other races, and 5.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 39.9% of the population.

There were 140,079 households, of which 40.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.1% were married couples living together, 17.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.1% were non-families. 23.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.99 and the average family size was 3.57.

In the city, the age distribution of the population shows 32.9% under the age of 18, 11.8% from 18 to 24, 28.8% from 25 to 44, 17.2% from 45 to 64, and 9.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $32,236, and the median income for a family was $35,892. Males had a median income of $32,279 versus $26,551 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,010. About 20.5% of families and 26.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 36.5% of those under age 18 and 10.7% of those age 65 or over.

The population as of July 1, 2007 was estimated to be 470,508 by the US Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program.[58] The Fresno Metropolitan Statistical Area population was estimated at 899,348.[59]


Bank of Italy Building, built in 1918.

Fresno is the center of Metropolitan Fresno and serves as the regional hub for the San Joaquin Valley and the greater Central Valley region. The unincorporated area and rural cities surrounding Fresno remain predominantly tied to large-scale agricultural production.

In 1958, Fresno was selected by Bank of America to first launch the BankAmericard credit card, which was later renamed Visa.

Companies based in Fresno include Pelco, Valley Yellow Pages, and Saladino's.

Top employers

According to the city's 2015 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[60] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Community Medical Centers 8,889
2 City of Fresno 2,938
3 Saint Agnes Medical Center 2,400
4 Kaiser Permanente 2,000
5 California State University, Fresno 1,562
6 State Center Community College District 1,178
7 Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation 1,150
8 Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission 973
9 AmeriGuard Security Services 567
10 Guarantee Real Estate 544
11 Geil Enterprises, Inc. 500


The iconic Forestiere Underground Gardens are a vast subterranean network, carved from 1906 to 1946.

Performing arts and music


The historic Wilson Theatre.



  • Ani-Me Con (every spring) Fresno's only anime convention.
  • Armenian Grape Blessing (August)[62]
  • ArtHop (twice a month)[63]
  • The Big Fresno Fair, 12 days October, the largest event in the Central Valley attracting over 600,000 visitors[64]
  • Taco Truck Throwdown[65]
  • Christmas Tree Lane Every December[66][67]
  • Fresno LGBT Pride Parade, every June, first held in 1991[68]
  • Grizzly Fest April/May[69]
  • Valley DevFest (Fall) [70]
  • Vintage Days March or April


Chukchansi Park in Downtown Fresno, home of the Fresno Grizzlies.

Fresno has no teams in any of the five major sports leagues. However, collegiate sports are very popular. Fresno State Bulldogs football program is considered to be the biggest event in terms of sporting events in the city. The term "Red Wave" is the name given to the fans of Fresno State athletics, and as well as "Pride of the Valley" since the university's fanbase represents all of Fresno and California's San Joaquin Valley. Below are Fresno-based professional sports teams:

Club Sport Founded League (level) Venue
Fresno Grizzlies Baseball 1998 Low-A West (Class A) Chukchansi Park
Fresno Monsters Ice hockey 2009 United States Premier Hockey League (junior) Selland Arena


Fresno City Hall, designed by architect Arthur Erickson in 1991.

Fresno has a modified strong-mayor form of local government and seven City Council members (Legislative branch) elected for no more than two 4-year terms. The City Council and the mayor are nonpartisan, not affiliated with any political party. Alan Autry was first elected in November 2000, reelected on March 2, 2004, and served until January 2009. Ashley Swearengin was sworn in as Mayor on January 6, 2009, and reelected in 2012. Lee Brand was sworn in as Mayor on January 3, 2017. Jerry Dyer was elected to Mayor, following a heated election, on March 3, 2020.


Prior to 1901, Fresno's government was under a ward system which allowed for a board of trustees. From the trustees elected by the city wards, a President of the Board of Trustees would act as ex-officio mayor however did not hold the title of mayor. Because of this, the President of the Board of Trustees is not recognized as mayors of the City of Fresno.

President, Board of Trustees

  • William Faymonville – October 27, 1885 to April 25, 1887
  • W.L. Graves – April 25, 1887 to October 31, 1887
  • A.M. Clark – October 31, 1887 to April 15, 1889
  • A.J. Pedlar – April 15, 1889 to unknown
  • C.J. Craycroft – October 27, 1895 to 1901


Fifth Appellate District of the California Court of Appeals.

Fresno is the county seat of Fresno County. It maintains the main county courthouse on Van Ness in the Fresno County Plaza for criminal and some civil court cases.

The United States District Court, Eastern District of California, has one of its six divisions based in the Robert E. Coyle Courthouse. The new courthouse replaced the B.F. Sisk Federal Building in 2006 because it did not have enough space for the growing Fresno Division. After extensive renovation, the building reopened in November 2010 as the B.F. Sisk Courthouse serving the Fresno County Superior Court.

Fresno is also the seat of the Fifth Appellate District of the State of California Court of Appeal where a new courthouse was built in the old Armenian Town section of downtown Fresno in 2007 across from the Fresno Convention Center. The Fifth District Court of Appeal Courthouse is named after former State Senator and Associate Justice of the Fifth District, George N. Zenovich.


As of 2016, according to Fresno County Registrar of Voters, the majority of registered voters in both the city and county of Fresno are registered to the Democratic Party. According to the county registrar's official final reportU.S. President Barack Obama carried the county 49.99% in the 2008 United States presidential election.

State and federal representation

The citizens of Fresno are represented in the California State Senate by Democrat Melissa Hurtado in District 14 and Republican Andreas Borgeas in District 8.[73] They are represented in the California State Assembly by Republican Jim Patterson in District 23 and Democrat Joaquin Arambula in District 31.[74]

The citizens of Fresno are represented in the United States House of Representatives by Democrat Jim Costa in District 16[75] and Republican Devin Nunes in District 22.[76]


The Old Administration Building at Fresno City College, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[77]

Four-year institutions

California State University, Fresno is the main state school in Fresno though the University of California, Merced has its Fresno Center[78] and the University of California, San Francisco has its Fresno Medical Education Program.[79]

Private institutions include

Two-year institutions

Public community colleges include Fresno City College and Clovis Community College.

Career colleges

Public K-12 schools

Most of Fresno is in the Fresno Unified School District though small portions are served by the Clovis Unified School District, Central Unified School District, Washington Union Unified School district and Orange Center Elementary School District.

Private K-12 schools

Fresno Adventist Academy



The Fresno Bee is headquartered inside the historic Fresno Bee Building.


  • KMJ, AM 580, 50,000-watt and FM 105.9, is Fresno's first radio station; it began broadcasting in 1922. Its powerful 50,000-watt signal can clearly be heard throughout much of California.
  • KFIG AM 940, 50,000-watt affiliate of ESPN radio and also the flagship station for Fresno State University football, men's basketball and baseball
  • KYNO AM 1430, 5,000-watt oldies station
  • 88.1 KFCF is Fresno's Pacifica station, and one of Fresno's few non-commercial, non-corporate radio stations.
  • 89.3 KVPR, provides National Public Radio Programming & classical music throughout the Central California region.
  • 90.7 KFSR is another non-commercial, non-corporate station that plays a full spectrum format, including Jazz, eclectic, Armenian, and others. Based on the CSUF campus.
  • 94.9 KBOS-FM More commonly known as B95 – Fresno's Hip-Hop Station


To avoid interference with existing VHF television stations in the San Francisco Bay Area and those planned for Chico, Sacramento, Salinas, and Stockton, the Federal Communications Commission decided that Fresno would be a UHF island (only have UHF television stations). The very first Fresno television station to begin broadcasting was KMJ-TV, which debuted on June 1, 1953. KMJ-TV is now known as NBC affiliate KSEE. Other Fresno stations include ABC O&O KFSN-TV, CBS affiliate KGPE, The CW affiliate KFRE-TV, FOX affiliate KMPH-TV, MNTV affiliate KMSG-LD, PBS affiliate KVPT, Telemundo O&O KNSO, Univision O&O KFTV-DT, and Estrella TV affiliate KGMC.

In partnership with the City of Clovis, the City of Fresno opened the Community Media Access Collaborative (CMAC) in April 2012, a public, education and government access television station.


Public transit is provided by the Fresno Area Express (FAX) system. It consists entirely of buses serving the greater Fresno metropolitan area. Regional bus service is provided by the Fresno County Rural Transit Agency and Kings County’s Kings Area Rural Transit (KART). Intercity and long-distance bus service is provided by Greyhound and Orange Belt Stages. FlixBus utilizes a stop in Avenal, which is approximately an hour away from Fresno. Beginning May 2015, Fresno has also been served by the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System, with connecting routes available in the Yosemite Valley.[80][81] In February 2018, Fresno Area Express's bus rapid transit service called "Q" began. The first route runs south on Blackstone Ave, through Downtown Fresno, and East along Kings Canyon Boulevard at 10 minute frequencies.[82]

The city once provided trolley service during the late 19th and early 20th century. Known as the Fresno City Railway Company and later the Fresno Traction Company, the service operated horse-drawn streetcars from 1887 to 1901. Electric streetcars were introduced in 1903. The electric streetcars were used until 1939.[83]


Fresno Yosemite International Airport (airport code: FAT), formerly known as Fresno Air Terminal, provides regularly scheduled commercial airline service. The airport serves an estimated 1.3 million passengers annually.

Fresno Chandler Executive Airport (airport code: FCH) is 2 mi (3.2 km) southwest of Downtown Fresno. Built in the 1920s by the Works Projects Administration, it is one of the oldest operational airports in California. The airport currently serves as a general aviation airport.

Sierra Sky Park Airport (airport code: E79) in Northwest Fresno is a privately owned airport, but is open to the public. Extra-wide streets surrounding the airport allow for residents of the community to land, taxi down extra-wide avenues, and park in the driveway at home, one of the first such communities in the United States.[84]


Historic Santa Fe Station in Downtown Fresno

Passenger rail service is provided by Amtrak San Joaquins. The main passenger rail station is the renovated historic Santa Fe Railroad Depot in Downtown Fresno. The Bakersfield-Stockton mainlines of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and Union Pacific Railroad railroads cross in Fresno, and both railroads maintain railyards within the city; the San Joaquin Valley Railroad also operates former Southern Pacific branch lines heading west and south out of the city. The city of Fresno is planned to be served by the future California High-Speed Rail.[85]


The historic gate on Van Ness Ave.

Fresno is served by State Route 99, the main north–south freeway that connects the major population centers of California’s Central Valley. State Route 168, the Sierra Freeway, heads east to the city of Clovis and Huntington Lake. State Route 41 (Yosemite Freeway/Eisenhower Freeway) comes into Fresno from Atascadero in the south, and then heads north to Yosemite National Park. State Route 180 (Kings Canyon Freeway) comes from the west via Mendota, and then east through the city of Reedley to Kings Canyon National Park.

Fresno is the largest U.S. city not directly linked to an Interstate highway.[86] When the Interstate Highway System was created in the 1950s, the decision was made to build what is now Interstate 5 on the west side of the Central Valley, and thus bypass many of the population centers in the region, instead of upgrading what is now State Route 99.[87] Due to rapidly rising population and traffic in cities along SR 99, as well as the desirability of Federal funding, much discussion has been made to upgrade it to interstate standards and eventually incorporate it into the interstate system, most likely as Interstate 7 or 9. Major improvements to signage, lane width, median separation, vertical clearance, and other concerns are currently underway.

Notable people

Twin towns – sister cities

Fresno's sister cities are:[88][89]

See also


  1. ^ Mean maxima and minima (i.e., the highest and lowest temperature readings during an entire month or year) calculated based on data at said location from 1991 to 2020.
  2. ^ Official records for Fresno kept September 1881 to 15 August 1887 at downtown, 16 August 1887 to June 1939 at Fresno City Offices, July 1939 to 20 August 1949 at Chandler Field, and at Fresno Yosemite Int'l since 21 August 1949. For more information, see Threadex


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External links

  • Official website Edit this at Wikidata
  • Fresno, California at Curlie
  • Community Service Club: North Fresno Rotary Club of Fresno