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Redding, California

Redding from space, April 1994
Redding from space, April 1994

Redding is a city in far-Northern California, located on Interstate 5 exactly halfway between the Canada and Mexico borders,, and the Sacramento River courses through the city. It is the county seat of Shasta County, California, USA. With a population of 89,861 as of the 2010 Census, Redding is the largest city in the Shasta Cascade region and is the fourth largest city in the Sacramento Valley behind Sacramento, Elk Grove, and Roseville.



Situated along the Siskiyou Trail, Redding was a trade and travel route connecting California's Central Valley and the Pacific Northwest. The site of Redding was occupied by Native Americans of the Wintu tribe from about the year 1000. During the early 19th century, Hudson's Bay Company trappers and members of the United States Exploring Expedition passed through the site of Redding while traveling along the Siskiyou Trail.

The first nonnative settler in the area was Pierson B. Reading, an early California pioneer. Reading was an admirer of John Sutter, and in 1844, Reading received the Rancho Buena Ventura Mexican land grant for the area occupied by today's Redding and Cottonwood, California, along the Sacramento River. At the time it was (by more than 100 miles) the northernmost nonnative settlement in California.

Later, when the Southern Pacific Railroad built its rail line through the Sacramento Valley, it decided that the cost of making a small westerly detour to reach the preexisting mining town of Shasta was not in its interest. Instead the railroad routed the tracks through an area with the inauspicious name of Poverty Flats, and what was to become the town of Redding was born. Named by the Southern Pacific for railroad man Benjamin B. Redding, the town was rechristened "Reading" in 1874, to honor local pioneer Pierson B. Reading. However, the railroad would not recognize the change, and the original name, Redding, was restored in 1880.

Redding was incorporated in 1887 with 600 people. By 1910, Redding had a population of 3,572 supported by a significant mineral extraction industry, principally copper and iron. However, with the decline of these industries, which also produced significant amounts of pollution damaging to local agriculture, the population dropped to 2,962 in 1920. By 1930 the population had recovered to 4,188 and then boomed during the 1930s with the construction of nearby Shasta Dam. The building of the dam, which was completed in 1945, caused the population to nearly double to 8,109 by 1940 and spurred the development of the bedroom towns of Central Valley, Summit City, and Project City (all now called Shasta Lake City)--together named after the Central Valley Project.

In the 1950s the city continued to grow with the expansion of the lumber industry, the building of Whiskeytown and Keswick Dams, and the completion of Interstate 5 in the late 1960s. By 1970, Redding had grown to 16,659 people. In the 1970s, the area of Enterprise on the eastern bank of the Sacramento River was annexed into Redding immediately increasing the city to around 35,000, and bringing the total population to 41,995 by the time of the 1980 census. A major reason the residents of Enterprise supported this annexation was the cheaper power provided by the city's municipal utility, which receives power from the dam. However, the 1970s also saw difficult times for the lumber industry as housing construction plummeted during the 1973-75 recession. Unemployment in Shasta County during that time peaked at over 20%. With the increase in environmental regulations, the logging industry never fully recovered, and the city had to shift economic gears once again.

After a retail and housing boom of the late 1980s, the city grew to 66,462 in 1990. This boom continued until the mid 1990s, and then a slight slowdown occurred, bringing the population to 80,865 in 2000. As of 2010, the population was 89,861, but as of a 2005 estimate, there were 89,641 people, which means that Redding's growth stagnated in the 5 10 years before 2010.

In recent decades an influx of retirees from the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles seeking lower cost housing and a slower pace of life has caused a shift in the city's economic base toward the service sectors of medical, legal, retail and tourism. A lot of lower income families from larger cities, hoping for a chance at a better quality of life, have as a result, followed. However, the unemployment rate is consistently well above the state average: as of 2011 it stood at 14%. With few industrial jobs, lack of available resources, and the lack of a major university within reasonable commute times, wages tend to be low and job availability tends to be limited. Crime has also dramatically increased in recent years as a result, in addition to the city's historically having a very high rate of methamphetamine and prescription drug abuse. Some locals have nicknamed Redding the "Meth Capitol of the World." At 650 per every 100,000 people, the city of Redding also has the highest rate of registered sex offenders per capita in the entire country.

Geography and geology

Redding is located at (40.576606, -122.370325). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of . of it is land and of it (2.50%) is beneath water.

Redding is nestled at the very northwestern end of the Central Valley, which transitions into the Cascade foothills. The city is surrounded by mountains to the north, east, and west; and fertile farm land to the south. Outermost parts of the city are actually part of the Cascade foothills, whereas southern and central areas are in the Sacramento Valley.

Elevation can vary greatly in different parts of Redding, because the city is extremely spread out. Downtown Redding is on average, whereas anywhere to the north, east, or west of downtown ranges between 550 800 feet. Southern portions range between 400 and . This is why outermost fringes have a better chance of snow in the winter than right in the central area.

The Shasta Dam on the Sacramento River provides a considerable level of flood protection for Redding. The dam is capable of controlling flows up to 79,000 cubic feet (7,300 cubic meter) per second. However, flows larger than 79,000 cubic feet (7,300 cubic meter) per second occurred in both 1970 and 1974, exceeding the capacity of Shasta Dam.[1]

Soils in and around Redding are mostly of loam or gravelly loam texture, well drained, with red or brown mineral horizons. They are slightly or moderately acidic in their natural state.[2]


Winter (October April) provides the most precipitation of any season in Redding the weather tends to be either rainy or foggy and at times snow occurs. Summers are hot and dry, but rain is possible, usually with a thunderstorm. The average daily maximum temperature in July stays near . Redding has an average possible sunshine of 88%, the second-highest percentage (after Yuma, Arizona) of any US city.[3] While snow in Redding is uncommon, Redding does receive an average of 6.4 inches of wet snow annually.[4] Redding rarely gets sleet and freezing rain; snow is more common. Frost occurs commonly in December through February, less often in March or April. Redding can have chilly to cold winters like the rest of the Central Valley, of which Redding is in the northernmost part. In spring, rain is common. Tornadoes are extremely rare; flooding occurs only around the area near the Sacramento river. The coldest temperature recorded in Redding was


There are several rare and endangered species in Redding and its immediate vicinity. The Redding Redevelopment Plan EIR notes the California State listed endangered species, slender Orcutt grass (Orcuttia tenuis), occurs in eastern Redding near the municipal airport, where vernal pools are known to exist. This endemic grass is a Federal Candidate for listing and is endangered throughout its range, confined to several populations, and seriously threatened by agriculture, overgrazing, and residential development. Vernal pools provide the preferred habitat for this plant, which the California Native Plant Society considers as a rare and endangered species. An ecology park at Turtle Bay in Redding has been created to allow study of native flora and fauna of the local area.[5]



As of the census of 2000, there were 80,865 people, 32,103 households, and 20,995 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,383.8 people per square mile (534.3/km ). There were 33,802 housing units at an average density of 578.4 per square mile (223.3/km ). The racial makeup of the city was 88.7% White, 1.1% African American, 2.2% Native American, 3.0% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.6% from other races, and 3.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.4% of the population.

There were 32,103 households out of which 31.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.1% were married couples living together, 13.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.6% were non-families. 27.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.4% had someone living alone who was above age 64. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 2.97.

In the city the population was spread out with 26.1% under the age of 18, 9.7% from 18 to 24, 26.4% from 25 to 44, 22.2% from 45 to 64, and 15.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 92.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $34,194, and the median income for a family was $41,164. Males had a median income of $35,985 versus $24,652 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,207. 15.6% of the population and 11.3% of families were below the poverty line. 21.2% of those under the age of 18, and 7.5% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

According to the 2000 census, there were 114,424 people in both the city and unincorporated areas of Redding's 3 ZIP codes. There were 31,585 people in 96001, 4,254 live west of the city limits or in nearby Keswick. In 96002, there were 30,333 people, 2,361 of which lived in Churn Creek Bottom. In 96003, there were 41,463 people, 10,543 of which lived in either unincorporated areas of Redding or Shasta Lake City, northern and western portions of Bella Vista, including all of Jones Valley. Of the entire population, 86,223 lived in the city or urban areas and 17,145 lived in the country.


The 2010 United States Census[6] reported that Redding had a population of 89,861. The population density was 1,468.9 people per square mile (567.2/km ). The racial makeup of Redding was 77,117 (85.8%) White, 1,092 (1.2%) African American, 2,034 (2.3%) Native American, 3,034 (3.4%) Asian, 156 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 2,307 (2.6%) from other races, and 4,121 (4.6%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7,787 persons (8.7%).

The Census reported that 87,841 people (97.8% of the population) lived in households, 1,138 (1.3%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 882 (1.0%) were institutionalized.

There were 36,130 households, out of which 11,012 (30.5%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 16,001 (44.3%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 4,806 (13.3%) had a female householder with no husband present, 1,984 (5.5%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 2,570 (7.1%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 204 (0.6%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 10,344 households (28.6%) were made up of individuals and 4,622 (12.8%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43. There were 22,791 families (63.1% of all households); the average family size was 2.94.

The population was spread out with 20,518 people (22.8%) under the age of 18, 9,436 people (10.5%) aged 18 to 24, 21,725 people (24.2%) aged 25 to 44, 23,424 people (26.1%) aged 45 to 64, and 14,758 people (16.4%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38.5 years. For every 100 females there were 93.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.4 males.

There were 38,679 housing units at an average density of 632.3 per square mile (244.1/km ), of which 19,968 (55.3%) were owner-occupied, and 16,162 (44.7%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 2.3%; the rental vacancy rate was 6.9%. 48,179 people (53.6% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 39,662 people (44.1%) lived in rental housing units.


Top employers

According to the City's 2009 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[7] these are the top employers in the city:

# Employer
  1. of employees
1 Shasta County 1,925
2 Mercy Medical Center 1,600
3 City of Redding 860
4 Shasta Regional Medical Center 750
5 Shasta College 700
6 Blue Shield of California 430
7 Wal-Mart 375
8 Redding Rancheria 370
9 United States Postal Service 300
10 Shasta Head Start 250


In the state legislature Redding is located in the 4th Senate District, represented by Republican Doug LaMalfa, and in the 2nd Assembly District, represented by Republican Jim Nielsen. Federally, Redding is located in California's 2nd congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of R +13[8] and is represented by Republican Wally Herger.

Redding was the proposed capital of the State of Jefferson, a failed 1940's-origin secessionist movement which included rural Northern California and Southern Oregon. The movement was born of economic troubles in the area in addition to a perceived indifference from leaders in Salem and Sacramento to the needs of rural citizens of their respective states.[9]

City government

The city council is composed of Richard "Dick" Dickerson (mayor), Rick Bosetti (vice mayor), Missy McArthur, Francie Sullivan, and Patrick H. Jones. The city manager is Kurt Starman.

The city operates under the council-manager form of government.

Places of interest

In 2004, the Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay was completed. The dramatic pedestrian span was designed by the noted Spanish architect-engineer-artist Santiago Calatrava and links the north and south campuses of the (1,200,000 m ) Turtle Bay Exploration Park. The pylon holds up the bridge support cables and also acts as a sundial (which is accurate only on the summer solstice--June 21 or 22).

Turtle Bay Exploration Park, located along the banks of the Sacramento River, contains a museum and gardens. The campus features permanent and changing exhibitions highlighting art, history, horticulture, forestry and natural science.

The historic Cascade Theatre, which opened in 1935, has been restored and now operates as a multiuse performance venue. The theater is an example of Art Deco architecture of the period. It was listed on the California Register of Historic Resources on November 5, 1999, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 17, 2002. The Cascade Theatre was also the recipient of an Art Deco Society of California Preservation Award on March 18, 2000.

The Hotel Lorenz is a prominent feature of downtown Redding. Built in 1902, The Hotel Lorenz is one of the oldest buildings still standing in Redding. This four-story inn was built with the intent to rival the then-thriving Temple Hotel.[10]

A postcard depicting the Lorenz, c. 1902
A postcard depicting the Lorenz, c. 1902

Redding is the largest city in the northern Sacramento Valley as well as the largest city on the 470-mile (756 km) stretch of Interstate 5 between Sacramento, California, and Eugene, Oregon; however, in 2010, Redding s metropolitan population of 177,223 was substantially smaller than Medford, Oregon s population of 203,206. Both Redding and its neighbor to the south, Red Bluff, are popular with tourists, who use the cities as bases to explore Lassen Volcanic National Park, Lake Shasta, and other natural attractions.

Redding is served by the Redding Municipal Airport and has two major hospitals.

Library Park, in downtown Redding, is the spot where the old Carnegie library building once stood. Built in 1903, the library was torn down in 1962 to make room for a parking lot. That lot was reclaimed in 1990 and now serves as a park and community stage used for the "MarketFest." This annual summer event is staged by Viva Downtown Redding, a National Main Street Organization.


There are 6 middle schools, 46 elementary schools, 5 charter schools, and 30 private schools in Redding. Redding has three major high schools including:

Other high schools in this area include:

Charter schools in this area include:

Redding also has five colleges and universities:

Redding has schools that offer technical training:



The Redding Record Searchlight is the main newspaper circulated daily throughout Shasta County.

After Five, a monthly newspaper magazine focusing on local entertainment, was founded October 28, 1986 in Redding.

"A News Cafe", started by former Record Searchlight columnist Doni Greenberg, is a growing network for human interest stories and current events.




Restored Dodge Power Wagon at a Redding car show, 2010

Major highways

  • Interstate 5 runs through the east central portion of this city.
  • CA 299, formerly
    U.S. 299, runs through the western, central, and northeastern parts of the city.
  • CA 44 runs through the middle and eastern part of town. It is on surface streets for much of its route through Redding
  • CA 273, was formerly the Interstate 5 Business Route, and also formerly the
    U.S. 99, directly through the city.

Rail transportation

Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Redding, operating its Coast Starlight daily in both directions between Seattle, Washington and Los Angeles, California. Amtrak California also provides Thruway Motorcoach service to Stockton or Sacramento for connections to the San Joaquins, which serve the San Francisco Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley and the Los Angeles area via bus connections.

Redding provides a city bus transportation system called RABA (Redding Area Bus Authority). RABA provides routes throughout the city of Redding and also provides transportation throughout Redding's suburbs.

Air transportation

Air Transportation for the Redding area is provided by two general aviation airports. Redding Municipal Airport, located south of Redding, has four scheduled flights from SkyWest (United Express). The smaller Benton Airpark is located on the western side of Redding. First Class Shuttle also offers shuttle service from the Oxford Suites hotel on Hilltop Dr. to the Sacramento International Airport seven days a week.

City districts/neighborhoods

  • Layton Oaks
  • Windsor Estates
  • Buckeye Terrace
  • Redwood Estates
  • Downtown
  • Girvan
  • Westwood Manor
  • Buckeye
  • Shasta View Gardens
  • Bonnyview
  • Enterprise
  • Churn Creek Bottom (unincorporated, pop. 2,361)
  • Oasis
  • Mt. Shasta Mall (Dana Dr/Hilltop)
  • West Ridge
  • Mary Lake (includes Mary Lake (California))
  • Western Ranches (a.k.a. Greenbelt)
  • Bluffs
  • Stanford Hills
  • Gold Hills

  • Miracle Mile
  • Parkview
  • Plateau Circle
  • Kutras Tract
  • Garden Tract
  • College Highlands
  • Hacienda Heights
  • Quartz Hill
  • Boulder Creek
  • Spring Hill
  • Tierra Oaks (Redding/Shasta Lake City)
  • Lake Redding Estates
  • Greenwood Heights
  • Ridgewood Estates
  • Sunset Terrace
  • Sunset West
  • The Knolls
  • Country Heights
  • Edgewood Estates

Notable residents

Notable people who were born in or lived in Redding include:


External links

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