“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
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California Facts and Figures

Gleaned from the Historical Marker Database


on February 23, 2020

1876 artwork by Henry Mitchell, via Wikipedia Commons

 California ranks fourth among states and provinces with markers in this database. California is a state in the United States of America located in the American West. It is also in the Pacific Coastal region. California is some 164 thousand square miles in size with a population of around 39.5 million people. The state is divided into 58 counties and all of them have entries in this database. In California we have discovered historical markers in 949 cities and towns lying in 1,102 different ZIP Codes.

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How many historical markers are there in California? There are least 6,979 of them, by our count. We have cataloged 6,956 historical markers and 227 war memorials—each individually presented on 7,154 illustrated, annotated, and searchable pages of the Historical Marker Database. Pages for historical markers from this state make up 5.4% of our total. In addition, we are reasonably certain of another 23 historical markers in California that we don’t yet have, and instead show on our Want List. Our correspondents have been finding and adding hundreds of markers a month to the database from all over the world, so next time you visit this page you will probably find that the numbers here have changed.

The first California marker in the database, First Congregational Church of Pescadero, was added March 7, 2006. It was photographed in Pescadero in San Mateo County and was erected in 1984. The last one added was submitted on February 22, 2020, and titled Soledad School District. It is in Acton in Los Angeles County and had been erected in 1973. Keeping in mind that the erection date of many markers in the database is not known, the earliest historical marker we know of in California was erected in 1887. It was this one: The Soldiers Friend, and one of our correspondents found it in Stockton in San Joaquin County on February 9, 2009.

California Historical Categories
1,777 • Industry and Commerce
1,656 • Settlements and Settlers
1,201 • Notable Buildings
543 • Notable Places
468 • Roads and Vehicles
384 • Waterways and Vessels
374 • Railroads and Streetcars
353 • Education
345 • Churches and Religion
319 • Arts, Letters, Music
    ... and more ...

Californians don’t want to forget their Industry and Commerce history. How do we know? Because there are more historical markers in the database from California about Industry and Commerce—1,777 of them—than about any other historical category. A close second is Settlements and Settlers with 1,656 markers.

The first marker added to the database with the Industry and Commerce category was Pomona Water Power Plant, added March 9, 2006. It had been erected in 1955 near Mt Baldy Village in Los Angeles County. The last one submitted was submitted on February 17, 2020, and titled Fourth St. circa 1962. It had been erected in Oakland in Alameda County. The earliest marker erected with the Industry and Commerce category that we have listed was erected in 1887. It was The Soldiers Friend, found in Stockton in San Joaquin County on February 9, 2009.

Counties, Cities and Towns

The California county with the most historical markers listed in this database is Los Angeles County, with 633 of them. It is followed by San Francisco City and County with 434 markers. The Los Angeles area of Los Angeles County has the highest number of markers within its limits, 146. In San Francisco City and County the area with the most markers, 434, is San Francisco.

Historical Markers in These
California Counties
633 • Los Angeles County
434 • San Francisco City and County
369 • Santa Clara County
363 • Alameda County
309 • Contra Costa County
297 • Kern County
287 • San Diego County
267 • Sacramento County
220 • Monterey County
201 • Nevada County
    ... and more ...

Checking the database for the city or town in California with the most markers we again find San Francisco at the top of the list with 434 markers in or near it. It is followed by Sacramento in Sacramento County with 187 markers. For the ZIP Code with the most markers it’s 93940 at the top of the list with 117 markers in its delivery area. (ZIP Code 93940 is assigned to Monterey CA including the Del Rey Oaks, Point Sur, and Presidio of Monterey delivery areas.) It is followed by ZIP Code 95814 with 97 markers. (95814 is assigned to Sacramento CA.)

Historical Markers Near These
California Cities and Towns
434 • San Francisco
187 • Sacramento
178 • San Jose
146 • Los Angeles
146 • San Diego
125 • Monterey
107 • Berkeley
99 • Oakland
94 • Bakersfield
74 • Walnut Creek
    ... and more ...

Getting back to Los Angeles County, the first marker added to the database from there, Pomona Water Power Plant, was added March 9, 2006, and was also the first one submitted in all of California. It was erected in 1955 near Mt Baldy Village. The last one submitted—also the last one submitted in all of California—was uploaded on February 22, 2020, and is titled Soledad School District and was erected in 1973, in Acton. The earliest marker erected in Los Angeles County that we have listed was erected in 1910. It was Harvard’s Mount Wilson Station, found near Pasadena on July 8, 2012.

Latest entry from California. Click to go there
By Craig Baker, February 22, 2020
Latest Entry from California
“Soledad School District”

And finally the first, last, and oldest markers from San Francisco. The first: Site of First California State Fair, was added October 21, 2006. It had been erected in 1973. The last: The Lexington Club added on February 6, 2020. It had been erected in 2016. The earliest marker erected was erected in 1894: Pioneer Monument / California Native Americans, added on June 19, 2010.

Who Puts Up Historical Markers?

The California Historical Resources Commission is currently in charge of the familiar official landmark designation brass plaques found all over the state. You will also find official markers erected by the California State Park Commission, a predecessor. We have 208 of their markers in the database.

In addition, E Clampus Vitus—not government affiliated—also erected numerous historical markers in California, and we have 1,437 of their California markers in the database. Also, a number of counties have erected historical markers on their streets and roads and within their public areas, as have some cities and towns.

Latest entry from California. Click to go there
March 28, 2017
A Historical Resources Commission Historical Marker

Then there are federal government agencies that put up historical markers, especially in national parks and other areas under their jurisdiction. And finally, there are the numerous public and private organizations and individuals that erect markers. Some do this as a continual endeavor, and others once in a while, to mark something, someone, or someplace they find important or interesting. When one of our correspondents comes across one that satisfies our criteria, we add it to the database.

Off the Beaten Path

You’ll find that even the smallest, least populated, or most rural areas of California have been marked with history. Check out Sutter County, Glenn County and Kings County. We've only found, respectively, 10, 5, and 3 historical markers there. Visiting one or more of these parts of California might make for a pleasant road trip, and maybe you’ll discover more historical markers while you’re there. If you do, perhaps you’ll take the time to photograph them and, when you get home, become an HMdb correspondent by adding them to the database. Happy Hunting!

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