Martinez a City by The Bay
Martinez California 94553 is a city of 36,000 residents located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Located along the shores of the greater bay – Martinez not only has a rich history, it is also the home of Chlorine Genie Inc., John Muir, and Joe DiMaggio, and the birthplace of the oh so famous Martini. Watch any James Bond film and you will find this Martini “shaken not stirred.”
Don Ygnacio Martinez
The city itself is named after Don Ygnacio Martinez a commandant from the San Francisco CA Presidio. The land was granted to him in 1824 from the Mexican Government and consisted of 17,000 acres.
A Gold Rush Boomtown
The city of Martinez was later to become a gold rush shipping boomtown in 1876 serving the shipping needs of early settlers. Downtown is notable for its historic district which holds a large number of preserved old buildings and for its antique shops. In 1850, Martinez was declared the seat of Contra Costa County.
Famous Martinez Residents
Martinez was also home to the famous naturalist John Muir from 1880 until his death in 1914. He is buried on the premises of his beautiful estate, and it has since become a National Historic Site open for tours and visits.
Martinez was also home and birthplace to famous New York Yankee baseball player Joe DiMaggio. His father was a local fisherman and part of the large Italian population of the area.
The Pony Express riders were familiar with Martinez and would often use the ferry from Benicia to Martinez especially if they had missed the steamer in Sacramento.
Shell Oil Refinery
Shell Oil Company built and still activates a large petroleum refinery in the unincorporated parts of the city. The birth of Martinez as a refinery town sparked a building boom in the area and makes Martinez a significant Bay Area petroleum processing port. Shell Oil operates a historic museum in the city where you can learn more about the company and its contribution to the area’s history and development.
Martinez much more than a Refinery Town
Though many may see Martinez as a refinery town it is much more. The city is surrounded by open space preserves, parklands, marina, shoreline, recreational areas, etc. In fact, the shoreline was once an old fishing village circa 1876. A large Italian population who lived there had a large impact on the fishing industry which contributed to the economy. In fact, during 1882 Martinez owned and housed two of the twelve fishing canneries in the Bay Area.
Open Space and Recreation
The Martinez Regional Shoreline is a large water-front preserve and recreational area. Activities include boating, hiking, fishing, baseball, Softball, Bocce, etc. In fact, one offshoot of the large Italian population was the introduction of Bocce to the area.
The Italian game brought by immigrants to the area flourished in the United States at the turn of the century. The first Bocce championship was hosted in Martinez in 1979. Bocce ball is still alive and well in Martinez today as the city’s Bocce’s Federation is the largest in the United States and perhaps the world.
Martinez a Rich Heritage
As you can see Martinez California is a city rich with golden heritage and is far more than a simple refinery town. With its abundant open space, recreation, mild climate, and favorable location, Martinez is one of many small but beautiful gems along the greater bay area shoreline worthy of deeper examination.