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

California Facts and Figures

Gleaned from the Historical Marker Database


on December 9, 2022

1876 artwork by Henry Mitchell, via Wikipedia Commons

 California ranks fifth 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 1,043 cities and towns lying in 1,242 different ZIP Codes.

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There are at least 9,544 historical markers in California, by our count. We have cataloged 9,541 historical markers and 342 war memorials—each individually presented on 9,841 illustrated, annotated, and searchable pages of the Historical Marker Database. Pages for historical markers from this state make up 5.2% of our total. In addition, we are reasonably certain of another three 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.

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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 December 3, 2022, and titled Los Angeles Sports Arena. It is in Los Angeles in Los Angeles County. 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 1862. It was this one: Peter Lassen Grave, and one of our correspondents found it near Susanville in Lassen County on August 14, 2008.

California Historical Topics
2,436 • Industry and Commerce
2,237 • Settlements and Settlers
1,294 • Notable Buildings
772 • Architecture
677 • Roads and Vehicles
592 • Waterways and Vessels
537 • Notable Places
515 • Parks and Recreational Areas
515 • Railroads and Streetcars
511 • Education
    ... and others ...

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—2,436 of them—than about any other historical topic. A close second is Settlements and Settlers with 2,237 markers.

The first marker added to the database with the Industry and Commerce topic 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 December 2, 2022, and titled The Grimace. It had been erected in San Bernardino in San Bernardino County. The earliest marker erected with the Industry and Commerce topic that we have listed was erected in 1889. It is A.J. Stevens Monument, found in Sacramento in Sacramento County on March 26, 2009.

What is the most interesting historical marker in California? What we know is that Mission San Francisco Solano is the most viewed entry in the database from California since it was added in 2009. It is located in Sonoma in Sonoma County. This year so far, the most viewed Californian entry is located in Venice in Los Angeles County. It is Venice Canals.

Counties, Cities and Towns

The California county with the most historical markers listed in this database is Los Angeles County, with 1266 of them. It is followed by San Francisco City and County with 657 markers. The Los Angeles area of Los Angeles County has the highest number of markers within its limits, 326. In San Francisco City and County the area with the most markers, 657, is San Francisco.

Historical Markers in These
California Counties
1,266 • Los Angeles County
657 • San Francisco City and County
578 • Alameda County
476 • Santa Clara County
454 • Contra Costa County
392 • Orange County
348 • San Diego County
329 • Sacramento County
315 • Kern County
286 • San Bernardino County
    ... and others ...

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 657 markers in or near it. And Los Angeles also shows up again in next place, with 326 markers. For the ZIP Code with the most markers it’s 95060 at the top of the list with 130 markers in its delivery area. (ZIP Code 95060 is assigned to Santa Cruz CA including the Bonny Doon, Paradise Park, and Scotts Valley delivery areas.) It is followed closely by ZIP Code 93940 with 120 markers. (93940 is assigned to Monterey CA including the Del Rey Oaks, Point Sur, and Presidio of Monterey delivery areas.)

Historical Markers Near These
California Cities and Towns
657 • San Francisco
326 • Los Angeles
219 • Sacramento
197 • San Diego
194 • San Jose
153 • Santa Cruz
134 • Oakland
132 • Berkeley
130 • Monterey
97 • Bakersfield
    ... and others ...

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 December 3, 2022, and is titled Los Angeles Sports Arena, in Los Angeles. 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, October 22, 2022
Latest Entry from California
“Los Angeles Sports Arena”

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 Honored Dead added on November 26, 2022. 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 214 of their markers in the database.

In addition, E Clampus Vitus—not government affiliated—also erected numerous historical markers in California, and we have 1,524 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, 10, and 7 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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Dec. 9, 2022