Salinas is the county seat and largest municipality of Monterey County, California. Salinas is located east-southeast of the mouth of the Salinas River, at an elevation of about 52 feet (16 m) above sea level. The population was 150,441 at the 2010 census. The mostly suburban city is located at the mouth of the Salinas Valley roughly eight miles from the Pacific Ocean and has a mild climate. The city consists mostly of late 20th century single family homes, some low-level apartments, ranging from modest bungalows to spacious luxury homes. The climate is ideal for the floral industry and grape vineyards planted by world-famous vintners. Salinas is an agricultural center and the hometown of writer and Nobel Prize in Literature laureate John Steinbeck, who based several of his novels there, including Of Mice and Men.
The land currently occupied by the City of Salinas is thought to have been settled by native Americans known as the Esselen prior to 200 AD. Between 200 and 500 AD, they were displaced by the Rumsen group of Ohlone speaking people, who were the inhabitants at contact with the Spanish. Large Spanish land grants for the Catholic Missions and as bonuses to soldiers gave way to Mexican land grants for smaller ranchos where mostly cattle were grazed, and a thriving trade in cattle hide came through the Port of Monterey.
First Mayors House circa 1868
California officially became part of the United States of America in 1850, following several years of battles in the Salinas area with John Fremont flying the American flag on the highest peak of the Gabilan Mountains and claiming California for the United States. Before this time Monterey was the capital of California and had been under military rule after the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo at the end of the Mexican-American war.
The Salinas post office opened in 1854. A traveler's inn called the Halfway House at the intersection of two stage coach routes was built in 1856 and a settlement grew up there. The streets of Salinas were laid out in 1867, and the town was incorporated in 1874. The city was named after the word for a "salt marsh" in Spanish, salinas.
The conversion of grazing land to crops and the coming of the rail road in 1868 to transport goods and people was a major turning point in the history and economic advancement of Salinas. Dry farming of wheat, barley, and other grains as well as potatoes and mustard seed was common in the 1800s. Chinese labor drained thousands of acres of swampland to become productive farmland, and as much early farm labor was done by Chinese immigrants, Salinas boasted the second largest Chinatown in the state, slightly smaller than San Francisco. Irrigation changed farming in Salinas to mainly row crops of root vegetables and sugar beets. A wide variety of fruits and vegetables are now grown including wine grapes supporting the burgeoning wine industry in the Salinas Valley.
The economy of Salinas is largely based on agriculture. Located in one of California's richest farming regions, the area produces a variety of fruits and vegetables, including lettuce, many major vegetable producers are headquartered in Salinas. The historic prevalence of row crops is documented by aerial photographic interpretation of Earth Metrics, Aerial photographic interpretation which study also indicated a major conversion of cropland to urban uses over the time period 1956 to 1968, with that trend continuing for the next decades as well. Salinas also annexed the nearby communities of Alisal and Santa Rita during this time.
Sargent House Historic Victorian Home on Central Avenue
Salinas was also the birthplace of writer and Nobel Prize laureate John Steinbeck. The historic downtown (so called Old Town Salinas), featuring much fine Victorian architecture, is home to the National Steinbeck Center, the Steinbeck House and the John Steinbeck Library.
Major development took place in the 1990s, with the construction of Creekbridge, Williams Ranch, and Harden Ranch. 
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , 99.84% of it land and 0.16% of it water.
The city rests about 18 meters (59 ft) above sea level, and it is located roughly eight miles from the Pacific Ocean. The Gabilan and Santa Lucia mountain ranges border the Salinas Valley to the east and to the west, respectively. Both mountain ranges and the Salinas Valley run approximately south-east from Salinas towards King City.
The Salinas River runs the length of the Salinas Valley and empties into the Pacific Ocean at the center of the Monterey Bay. During the summer months the river flows partially underground and it is this extensive underground aquifer that allows for irrigation of cropland in an area without much annual rainfall.
The 2010 United States Census reported that Salinas had a population of 150,441. The population density was 6,479.8 people per square mile (2,501.9/km ). The racial makeup of Salinas was 68,973 (45.8%) White, down from 90.3% in 1970, 2,993 (2.0%) African American, 1,888 (1.3%) Native American, 9,438 (6.3%) Asian, 478 (0.3%) Pacific Islander, 59,041 (39.2%) from other races, and 7,630 (5.1%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 112,799 persons (75.0%).
The Census reported that 147,976 people (98.4% of the population) lived in households, 658 (0.4%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 1,807 (1.2%) were institutionalized.
There were 40,387 households, out of which 21,435 (53.1%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 21,380 (52.9%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 6,835 (16.9%) had a female householder with no husband present, 3,300 (8.2%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 3,271 (8.1%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 271 (0.7%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 6,895 households (17.1%) were made up of individuals and 2,587 (6.4%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.66. There were 31,515 families (78.0% of all households); the average family size was 4.05.
The population was spread out with 47,180 people (31.4%) under the age of 18, 18,049 people (12.0%) aged 18 to 24, 44,978 people (29.9%) aged 25 to 44, 28,976 people (19.3%) aged 45 to 64, and 11,258 people (7.5%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28.8 years. For every 100 females there were 102.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.8 males.
There were 42,651 housing units at an average density of 1,837.1 per square mile (709.3/km ), of which 18,198 (45.1%) were owner-occupied, and 22,189 (54.9%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 2.5%; the rental vacancy rate was 4.6%. 65,108 people (43.3% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 82,868 people (55.1%) lived in rental housing units.
The population density was 7,948.4 per square mile (3,068.1/km ). There were 39,659 housing units at an average density of 2,086.8 per square mile (805.5/km ). The racial makeup of the city was 65.2% Hispanic or Latino of any race, 49.1% White, 6.2% Asian American, 17.8% African American, 1.3% Native American, 38.7% from other races, and 5.1% from two or more races. 49.2% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.6% were married couples living together, 14.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.6% were non-families. 17.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.69 and the average family size was 4.08
Map of income distribution in Salinas.
Age distribution was 33.0% under the age of 19 or younger, 11.8% from 18 to 24, 33.7% from 25 to 44, 15.5% from 45 to 64, and 7.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 117.7 males. For every 102 females age 18 and over, there were 117.4 males.
The median household income was $43,728, and the median family income was $44,669. Males had a median income of $35,641 versus $27,013 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,495. About 12.8% of families and 16.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.1% of those under age 18 and 9.4% of those age 65 or over.
Median household income in the city tended to be significantly higher alongside the city limits, especially in the northern Harden Ranch and Creekbridge neighborhoods. East Salinas and the downtown area suffered from a very low median household income as well as high crime rates. South and North Salinas featured roughly the same level of median households income with the latter being home to city's wealthiest newly constructed neighborhoods.
Salinas is known as the Salad Bowl of America or Salad Bowl of the World. Over 80% of the lettuce grown in the United States is grown in the Salinas Valley. The city's labor force is 54.6% blue collar and 45.4% white collar. According to the 2000 United States Census, 24% of the population worked in sales and office occupations, 21.4% worked in management, professional, and related occupations, 16.2% worked in service occupations, 14.9% worked in farming, fishing, and forestry occupations, 14.4% worked in production, transportation, and material moving occupations, and 9.1% worked in construction, extraction, and maintenance occupations. Many believe these numbers are skewed as they do not include a significant portion of farm workers and blue collar workers who are migratory and undocumented, and are present for approximately 9 months of the year.
Large employers include Fresh Express, Capital One and local agricultural companies such as Taylor Farms, Tanimura & Antle, and D Arrigo Bros.
Salinas has cool and moderate temperatures, due to the "natural air conditioner" that conveys ocean air and fog from the Monterey Bay to Salinas, while towns to the north and south of Salinas experience hotter summers, as mountains block the ocean air. Thus, Salinas weather is closer to that of the Central Coast of California, rather than that of inland valleys, and thus enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate with typical daily highs ranging from around in the winter to around in the summer. According to the Weather channel, monthly average temperature highs range from 63 to 75 F.
On March 10, 2006, a record breaking storm covered many of the nearby mountain tops in a white blanket of snow. Snow in the city of Salinas is extremely rare.
Salinas is in the top ten American Cities for cleanest air quality. The offshore marine layer generates winds that blow smog further inland).
The difference between ocean and air temperature also tends to create heavy morning fog during the summer months, known as the marine layer, driven by an onshore wind created by the local high pressure sunny portions of the Salinas Valley, which extend north and south from Salinas and the Bay.
The average annual rainfall for the city is approximately . Occasionally, there is snowfall on the peaks of the Gabilan and Santa Lucia mountain ranges, but snow in the city itself is extremely rare, occurring about once every 10 to 20 years on average. The last time snow fell in Salinas was on February 26, 2011.
Arts and culture
Salinas boasts an emerging arts scene led by the First Fridays Art Walk and the innovative use of non-traditional or business venues to exhibit art and host live local music. The oldest gallery in Salinas, the Valley Art Gallery, has been active for over 30 years. The Hartnell College Gallery hosts world-class exhibitions of art during the school year. The National Steinbeck Center has two galleries with changing exhibits, and the city's newest @Risk Gallery features cutting-edge and visionary exhibitions. The Art Walk, held in the downtown area, features 50 venues.
Live theater companies in Salinas include ARIEL Theatrical located in the Wilson's Children's Theater in Oldtown Salinas, and The Western Stage, based at Hartnell College.
Live local music is available at many restaurants in the downtown area, and during the First Fridays Art Walk. Concerts are held at the historic Fox California Theater, Steinbeck Institute for Arts and Culture and the Salinas Sports Complex, as well as at Hartnell Community College.
Salinas is home to many public murals, including work by John Cerney which can be viewed in the agricultural fields surrounding the city. Claes Oldenburg placed his sculpture, Hat in Three Stages of Landing, in Sherwood Park at the center of the city.
Hat In Three Stages of Landing by Claes Oldenburg.
Highways and roads
U.S. Route 101 is the major north-south highway in Salinas, linking the city to the rest of the Central Coast region, San Francisco to the north, and Los Angeles to the south. California State Route 68 heads west to Monterey, while California State Route 183 runs northwest to Castroville.
Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, serves Salinas, operating its Coast Starlight daily in each direction between Seattle, Washington, and Los Angeles.
Art Deco Style Amtrak Train Station in Salinas.
Public transportation via bus is provided by Monterey-Salinas Transit. Public buses take passengers throughout the county, as well as San Jose and Gilroy. Buses to San Jose and Gilroy connect to Caltrain and Amtrak in those cities.
Greyhound operates a bus station on West Gabilan Street in downtown Salinas with service to other California cities and throughout the United States.
Salinas Municipal Airport is located on the southeastern boundary of the City of Salinas, three miles (5 km) from the city center. It is a general aviation facility occupying , with three runways serving single and twin engine aircraft and helicopters, as well as an increasing number of turbopropeller and turbine-powered business jets.
The airport has an air traffic control tower in operation twelve hours a day, seven days a week. The airport terminal is located on Mortensen Avenue and houses airport office staff as well as professional offices. The city is currently accepting proposals for leasing and operation of the restaurant located within the Terminal. Salinas Airport Commissioners agreed to a proposed project that would bring a 100-room hotel, offices and hangars to a vacant lot in front of the Salinas Municipal Airport terminal. The Salinas Jet Center would include a national chain hotel, of office space, four large complexes combining more offices with airplane hangars and a 24-hour, full-service aircraft fueling station. The project would also include a taxiway to allow planes to access the new hangars.
The airport has full Instrument Landing System (ILS) and VHF omnidirectional range (VOR) located on the airport. The ILS has a Medium Intensity Approach Lighting System, with Runway Alignment Indicator Lights. The VOR approach has Runway End Identifier Lights. All but the ILS runway, RWY 31, have Visual Approach Slope Indicators (VASIs).
The airport is the site of the California International Airshow, set annually in the late summer or early autumn. The event draws thousands of visitors to Salinas over its three-day run.
Salinas has seven school districts serving the city core and adjacent unincorporated areas. The largest school district in Salinas is the Salinas Union High School District (grades 7-12) with 13,578 students enrolled in 10 campuses. The Salinas City Elementary School District is the largest elementary school district in Salinas, with 13 schools and 7,954 students. Other districts include Santa Rita Union Elementary School District, Graves Elementary School District, Washington Union School District, Lagunita School District, and Alisal Union School District.
Opportunities for higher education in Salinas include Hartnell Community College and Heald College.
The Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital and Natividad Medical Center are both located in Salinas.
Points of interest
Boronda Adobe History Center
Just outside the official city limits, the restored adobe dwelling constructed in 1844 by Jos Eusebio Boronda, rests on one of the original Mexican land grants. The Boronda Adobe is a California Historical Landmark and listed in the National Register of Historic Places and holds a museum of early Salinas and California history. Other historic buildings are located here, including the Lagunita School house John Steinbeck wrote about in the Red Pony. The site also holds the official archive of Monterey County, open to researchers by appointment.
Authentic Wells Fargo Coach at California Rodeo Salinas Heritage Museum.
California Rodeo Salinas
As host of a PRCA-sanctioned rodeo, Salinas is a major stop on the professional rodeo circuit. The California Rodeo Salinas began in 1911 as a Wild West Show on the site of the old race track ground, now the Salinas Sports Complex. Every third week of July is Big Week, when cowboys and fans come for the traditional rodeo competitions, including bull riding. Rodeo-related events held in Salinas and Monterey include cowboy poetry, wine tasting, a carnival, barbecues and a gala cowboy ball.
River Road Wine Trail
The largest wine-grape producing region in California, the Salinas Valley, is home to over 20 wineries and 14 estate tasting rooms along the scenic and historic River Road just south of the city limits. Hahn Estates, Paraiso, Scheid, Talbot, Wrath and Ventana along with smaller boutique wineries of Marilyn Remark, Manzoni, Pessagno, Bookenoogan, Puma Road, Sycamore Cellars, and Hammond are just a few of the vinters growing in the region. Tasting rooms are open weekdays, weekends and by appointment check with the River Road Wine Trail before going.
Image: Art Walk Crowd July 4 2008 Salinas ca.jpg Image:Restored Steam Engine Salinas ca.jpg Image:Wine tasting marker Salinas Valley ca.jpg Image:Fox theater salinas ca.jpg
- See also: Media in Monterey County
Local newspapers include The Salinas Californian and Monterey County Herald. Television service for the community comes from the Monterey-Salinas-Santa Cruz designated market area (DMA).
Local radio stations include:
KION Channel 46 also provides news for the area as a CBS affiliate.
The Steinbeck house in downtown Salinas
Doug Chandler,Hall of Fame Motorcycle Racer, Grand Slam Winner, World Superbike Champion
Monica Abbott, 2008 Olympic softball pitcher
Everett Alvarez, Jr., American Navy pilot and prisoner of war
Dustin Lance Black, Academy Award winning screenwriter
Chris Dalman, National Football League offensive lineman and coach
Michael Gasperson, National Football League wide receiver
Jackie Greene, singer-songwriter and blues musician
Alvin and Calvin Harrison, twins, and 1996 Olympic Track and Field athletes
Vanessa Hudgens, singer and actress
Brandi Glanville, fashion model and television personality in The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
Ernie Irvan, NASCAR driver, 1991 Daytona 500 winner
Joe Kapp, National Football League quarterback
Slim Keith, socialite
Craig Kilborn, talk show host
- Jim Laughton, National Football League tight end, Seattle Seahawks
Xavier Nady, Major League Baseball player, Salinas High School graduate, class of 1997
Carl Nicks, New Orleans Saints, Offensive linemen, Super Bowl XLIV champion(2010), , North Salinas High School graduate
Kassim Osgood, National Football League wide receiver, Pro-Bowl, North Salinas High School
Van Partible, cartoonist
Del Rodgers, National Football League running back
John Steinbeck, author and Nobel laureate
Anthony Toney, National Football League running back
Monty Roberts, horse tamer and author of The Man Who Listens to Horses
Cain Velasquez, UFC Heavyweight Champion mixed martial arts fighter and former collegiate wrestler
David Estrada, Former UCLA soccer player (Midfield, Forward), Estrada was drafted in the first round (11th overall) of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft by Seattle Sounders FC
Brendon Small, Actor, composer, and musician. He is best known as the creator of the animated series Home Movies and Metalocalypse.
Verna Felton, actress
Sam Spence, NFL Films composer
Chris Dalman NFL 49er Center, Palma High School
Ernie Camacho Major League Baseball Pitcher [Teams (by GP): Indians/Giants/Astros/Pirates/Cardinals/.. 1980-1990]
Evan Dietrich-Smith Green Bay Packers, Offensive Linemen, Super Bowl XLV Champion(2011), Salinas High School graduate class of 2004
Elliot Vallejo National Football League Offensive Lineman, Palma High School
Sammy Hagar Singer. Former member of Van Halen. Now in Chickenfoot and Waboritas.
- Jonathan Griffin, singer-songwriter and musician. Member of The Lightfighters.
Salinas in popular culture
- Marilyn Monroe, Twentieth Century Fox Starlet, was honored as the Diamond Queen of Salinas on February 20, 1948
- Salinas is mentioned in various John Steinbeck novels, and it is the setting of his monumental novel East of Eden.
- Salinas is the subject of a song ('Salinas') from British singer-songwriter Laura Marling's third album A Creature I Don't Know
James Dean was killed in a car accident while driving to Salinas for a car race.
- In Kris Kristofferson's Me and Bobby McGee, Salinas is where he lost Bobby McGee 'One day up near Salinas, I let her slip away'
- East Bay punkers Rancid reference Salinas in their song "St. Mary."
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