Martinez, California

Martinez (Spanish: Martínez)[10][11] is a city and the county seat of Contra Costa County, California, in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area.[12] The population was 38,290 at the 2020 census. The city is named after Californio ranchero Ygnacio Martínez.[13] The downtown is notable for its large number of preserved old buildings and antique shops. Martinez is located on the southern shore of the Carquinez Strait in the San Francisco Bay Area, directly facing the city center of Benicia and the southeastern end of Vallejo, California.

Martinez, California
City of Martinez[1]
Aerial view of Martinez
Aerial view of Martinez
Location in Contra Costa County and the state of California
Location in Contra Costa County and the state of California
Martinez is located in San Francisco Bay Area
Location in the United States
Martinez is located in California
Martinez (California)
Martinez is located in the United States
Martinez (the United States)
Coordinates: 38°01′10″N 122°08′03″W / 38.01944°N 122.13417°W / 38.01944; -122.13417Coordinates: 38°01′10″N 122°08′03″W / 38.01944°N 122.13417°W / 38.01944; -122.13417
CountryUnited States
CountyContra Costa
IncorporatedApril 1, 1876[2]
 • MayorRob Schroder[3]
 • State senatorBill Dodd (D)[4]
 • AssemblymemberTim Grayson (D)[5]
 • United States representativesMike Thompson (D) and Mark DeSaulnier (D)[6]
 • Total13.63 sq mi (35.31 km2)
 • Land12.63 sq mi (32.71 km2)
 • Water1.00 sq mi (2.60 km2)  7.64%
Elevation23 ft (7 m)
 • Total38,290
 • Density2,800/sq mi (1,100/km2)
Time zoneUTC-8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP code
Area code925
FIPS code06-46114
GNIS feature IDs277553, 2411045
WebsiteOfficial website Edit this at Wikidata


In 1824, the western side of Martinez, Alhambra Valley was included in the Rancho El Pinole Mexican land grant to Ygnacio Martínez.[14] East of these lands was the Rancho Las Juntas, a grant made to Irish born William Welch in 1844; his land lay between the lands of Don Martinez and Don Pacheco.

In 1847, Dr. Robert Semple contracted to provide ferry service from Martinez to Benicia, which for many years was the only crossing on the Carquinez Strait.[14] By 1849, Martínez served as a way station for the California Gold Rush. The town was laid out in 1849 by Col. William M. Smith and named for Martinez.[15] It became the county seat in 1850, but could not incorporate at the time because it lacked the 200 registered voters required, and only became a city in 1876.[16]

Martinez was the home of naturalist John Muir from 1880 until his death in 1914. He was buried about a mile south of the building that is now the John Muir National Historic Site. Also nearby is the Vicente Martinez Adobe, built in 1849 by the son of Ygnacio Martinez.[16]

The first post office opened in 1851.[15]

Main Street in Martinez

In 1860, Martinez played a role in the Pony Express, where riders would take the ferry from Benicia (particularly if they missed the steamer in Sacramento).[17]

The first oil refinery in the Martinez area was built in 1904 at Bull's Head Point, a then-unincorporated waterfront area two miles east of the downtown district. That area soon became known as Mococo, following the 1905 arrival of a smelting works, operated by the Mountain Copper Company (Mo Co Co).

That first facility, operated by the Bull's Head Oil Company, was followed in 1908 by a test refinery built by the Pacific Coast Oil Company. Shortly thereafter, Pacific Coast became part of Standard Oil (now Chevron), and consolidated their oil refining operations in the Point Richmond, Hercules, Rodeo waterfront corridor some 12 miles to the west of Martinez.

The Shell Martinez Refinery (now owned by PBF Energy) in 2021

In 1913, the Golden Eagle facility became the third oil refinery to be built in the area. It was located in the newly-created company town of Avon, immediately to the East of Martinez. A fourth refinery, built by the Shell Oil Company on land adjacent to the Martinez City limits, went online in January 1916. The Shell Oil refining facility is still operational today (Currently owned by PBF Energy), maintaining the position of Martinez as a significant petroleum processing center. The Golden Eagle Refinery (currently owned by Marathon Petroleum Company) was idled in April 2020 as a response to lower petroleum demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.[18][19][20]

Folk etymology in Martinez claims the invention of the Martini cocktail and that it is named for the city.[21]


The Benicia-Martinez Bridge, viewed across the Carquinez Strait from the Martinez Marina in 2021

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 13.1 square miles (34 km2), of which, 12.1 square miles (31 km2) of it is land and 1.0 square mile (2.6 km2) of it (7.64 percent) is water.

The city is largely surrounded by water and regional open space preserves. The Martinez–Benicia Bridge carries Highway 680 across the eastern end of the Carquinez Strait to Solano County. The city is a densely built downtown valley threaded by Alhambra Creek and north of Highway 4. Suburban areas stretch south of Highway 4 to join the neighboring city of Pleasant Hill. Unincorporated areas include the rural Alhambra Valley and the Franklin Canyon area.

The Martinez Regional Shoreline bounds the city to the north along the Carquinez Strait. Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline includes the Franklin Hills west of downtown, stretching west to the unincorporated community of Port Costa and the town of Crockett. Briones Regional Park borders the Alhambra Valley to the south. Waterbird Regional Preserve and the McNabney Marsh border the city and Highway 680 to the east.[22] Martinez's location at the east end of the Carquinez Strait as it widens to Suisun Bay includes dramatic water views stretching to the Sierra range. From surrounding ridge tops views stretch to nearby Mount Diablo, Mount Saint Helena, Mount Tamalpais, and others.

Martinez is one of the only two places in the Bay Area, the other being Golden Gate Bridge, where the Bay Area Ridge Trail and the San Francisco Bay Trail converge. The Bay Trail is a planned recreational corridor that, when complete, will encircle San Francisco and San Pablo bays with a continuous 400-mile (640 km) network of bicycling and hiking trails. It will connect the shoreline of all nine Bay Area counties, link 47 cities, and cross the major toll bridges in the region, including the Benicia–Martinez Bridge. To date, approximately 240 miles (390 km) of the alignment—over half the Bay Trail's ultimate length—have been completed. The Bay Area Ridge Trail ultimately will be a 500+ mile trail encircling the San Francisco Bay along the ridge tops, open to hikers, equestrians, mountain bicyclists, and outdoor enthusiasts of all types. So far, over 300 miles (480 km) of trail have been dedicated for use. East Bay Regional Park District's Iron Horse Regional Trail will join the Bay Trail along the waterfront, and the Contra Costa Canal Trail threads through the city from Pleasant Hill to the south.


Martinez has a mild mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csa/b).[23] Summers are warm and dry, with some morning fog during sea breezes. The maritime influence is much less significant than in other parts of the Bay Area that are closer to the Pacific, which causes very high daytime averages compared to San Francisco and Oakland in summer. However, nights normally cool off significantly which results in daytime highs of around 87 °F (31 °C) and night time lows of 55 °F (13 °C) during July and August.[24] Winters are wet and cool with occasional frost. The majority of the city is within a USDA hardiness zone of 9b.

Climate data for Martinez, California
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 83.0
Average high °F (°C) 55.2
Average low °F (°C) 38.6
Record low °F (°C) 20.0
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.93
Source: Western Regional Climate Center (1906-present) [25]


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[9]
The Contra Costa County courthouse in downtown Martinez

The 2020 United States Census[26] reported that Martinez had a population of 38,290. The population density was 2,727.4 people per square mile (1,053.1/km2). The racial makeup of Martinez was 27,603 (77.1%) White, 1,303 (3.6%) African American, 255 (0.7%) Native American, 2,876 (8.0%) Asian, 121 (0.3%) Pacific Islander, 1,425 (4.0%) from other races, and 2,241 (6.3%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5,258 persons (14.7 percent).

The Census reported that 34,528 people (96.4 percent of the population) lived in households, 235 (0.7 percent) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 1,061 (3.0 percent) were institutionalized.

There were 14,287 households, out of which 4,273 (29.9 percent) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 6,782 (47.5 percent) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 1,751 (12.3 percent) had a female householder with no husband present, 640 (4.5 percent) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 928 (6.5 percent) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 137 (1.0 percent) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 3,920 households (27.4 percent) were made up of individuals, and 1,078 (7.5 percent) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42. There were 9,173 families (64.2 percent of all households); the average family size was 2.95.

The age distribution of the population showed 7,329 people (20.5 percent) under the age of 18, 2,842 people (7.9 percent) aged 18 to 24, 9,193 people (25.7 percent) aged 25 to 44, 12,121 people (33.8 percent) aged 45 to 64, and 4,339 people (12.1 percent) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42.2 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.8 males.

There were 14,976 housing units at an average density of 1,140.2 per square mile (440.2/km2), of which 14,287 were occupied, of which 9,619 (67.3 percent) were owner-occupied, and 4,668 (32.7 percent) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.4 percent; the rental vacancy rate was 4.9 percent. 23,876 people (66.6 percent of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 10,652 people (29.7 percent) lived in rental housing units.

Demographic profile[27] 2010
Total Population 35,824 – 100.0 %
One Race 33,583 – 93.7%
Not Hispanic or Latino 30,566 – 85.3%
White alone 24,604 – 68.7%
Black or African American alone 1,263 – 3.5%
American Indian and Alaska Native alone 163 – 0.5%
Asian alone 2,810 – 7.8%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone 99 – 0.3%
Some other race alone 67 – 0.2%
Two or more races alone 1,560 – 4.4%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 5,258 – 14.7%


Historic wine label from the J. Gonsalves Winery, one of the first to reopen in Contra Costa County after Prohibition ended[28]

Top employersEdit

According to the City's 2020 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[29] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Contra Costa County 9,823
2 Veterans Health Administration 962
3 Kaiser Permanente 730
4 Equilon Enterprises 702
5 Martinez Unified School District 672
6 Wal-Mart 275
7 Safeway 190
8 City of Martinez 136
9 The Home Depot 125
10 Brand Energy & Infrastructure Service 120


In 2017, Martinez had 24,134 registered voters, with 11,897 (49.3%) registered as Democrats, 5,497 (22.8%) registered as Republicans, and 5,394 (22.4%) decline to state voters.[30]

Sister citiesEdit

According to Sister Cities International, Martinez is paired with:



Amtrak station in Martinez
The 1,600-foot (487.68 m) "Muir Trestle" at Muir Station Road


Major highwaysEdit


Martinez and the surrounding area is served by several local newspapers, including the Martinez News-Gazette, the Martinez Tribune and the East Bay Times.

Martinez is also served by Martinez Patch, a local news website covering community news and events, and the local news and talk blog

In December 2019, there was a flurry of reports from reliable sources including the Associated Press and the San Francisco Chronicle that the 161 year-old Martinez News-Gazette, one of the longest-running newspapers in California, may have to cease publication. But as of late May 2020, the threatened cessation did not materialize and the newspaper appears to have weathered that storm. The newspaper did cease publication of a print edition effective April 2, 2020 but this was characterized as a temporary measure arising from a lack of advertising revenue. This in turn arose as many local businesses were forced to suspended operations or even ceased to exist, when the area was under shelter in place regulations arising from the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. The newspaper plans to resume a full print edition when the local shelter-in-place restrictions are lifted.[31] The newspaper continued to operate its online news website presence during the pandemic restrictions.


Covering most of Martinez, the Martinez Unified School District encompasses four elementary schools, one middle school, one high school, and two alternative/independent study schools. Students in K-5 attend John Swett, John Muir, Las Juntas, or Morello Park Elementary School. Martinez Junior High School serves students in grades 6 through 8. St. Catherine of Siena is a private Catholic school that serves grades K-8. Alhambra High School serves as the district's comprehensive high school. As of 2006, the district's K-12 enrollment was 4,194. Part of Martinez is served by the Mount Diablo Unified School District, whose Hidden Valley Elementary School is located in Martinez. St. Catherine of Siena School (Martinez, California), a private Roman Catholic elementary, also serves the Martinez community.

Public librariesEdit

The Martinez Library is part of the Contra Costa County Library and is located in Martinez. The Art Deco style building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in early 2008.[32]

Notable peopleEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Homepage". City of Martinez. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  2. ^ "California Cities by Incorporation Date". California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions. Archived from the original (Word) on November 3, 2014. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
  3. ^ "Mayor and City Council". City of Martinez. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
  4. ^ "Senators". State of California. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
  5. ^ "Members Assembly". State of California. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
  6. ^ "California's 11th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved September 28, 2014.
  7. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  8. ^ "Martinez". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved January 21, 2015.
  9. ^ a b "Martinez city, California". United States Census Bureau. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  10. ^ Telemundo Área de la Bahía - Voraz incendio arrasa con una vivienda y varios autos en Martínez
  11. ^ Telemundo Área de la Bahía - Condado Contra Costa podría contratar personal para centro de detención de Martínez]
  12. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  13. ^ Burt, Harriett; Perry, Charlene (January 4, 2012). "The Founder of the City of Martinez: Col. William Smith". Contra Costa County Historical Society. Retrieved March 12, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ a b "Martinez Historical Society". Archived from the original on June 13, 2013. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  15. ^ a b Durham, David L. (1998). California's Geographic Names: A Gazetteer of Historic and Modern Names of the State. Clovis, Calif.: Word Dancer Press. p. 660. ISBN 1-884995-14-4.
  16. ^ a b Martinez, CA, City History Archived August 2, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "Martinez History and the Pony Express". Archived from the original on June 13, 2013. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  18. ^ "California Refinery". Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  19. ^ "Welcome to Shell Martinez Refinery". Shell Oil Company. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  20. ^ City of Martinez (March 12, 2015). "Historic Resources of Martinez". Application to the National Register of Historic Places. Martinez City Council. p. 14 of 72. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  21. ^ "The Martini Story". City of Martinez. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  22. ^ "The dirty business of wetlands restoration". Bay City News Foundation (in American English). December 18, 2021. Retrieved December 19, 2021.
  23. ^ "Martinez, California Climate Summary". Weatherbase. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
  24. ^ "Martinez, California Temperature Averages". Weatherbase. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
  25. ^ [1] Western Regional Climate Center Retrieved August 30, 2017
  26. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA – Martinez city". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  27. ^ "Demographic Profile Bay Area Census".
  28. ^ Farm Report: Contra Costa wines "After Prohibition was repealed, wineries began to open again in Contra Costa County, including J.E. Digardi Winery, Viano Vineyards and the J. Gonsalves Winery. Viano Vineyards has been making wine at their family winery ever since.
  29. ^ "City of Martinez CAFR". Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  30. ^
  31. ^ Jones, Rick (April 2, 2020). "Martinez News-Gazette to Suspend Print Edition [during Covid-19 pandemic shelter in place]". Martinez News-Gazette (Letter from the Publisher (Rick Jones) to the newspaper's subscribers). Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  32. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010. Retrieved January 12, 2017.

External linksEdit