Stockton, California

Stockton, California
City and county seat
City of Stockton

Downtown Stockton's waterfront in June 2013.

Nickname(s): '"Tuleburg",[1] "Fat City",[1] "Mudville",[1] "California's Sunrise Seaport".[2]
Motto: "Stockton: All American City!"[3]

Location in San Joaquin County and the state of California
Stockton, California

Location in the United States

Coordinates: 37°58′32″N 121°18′03″W / 37.97556°N 121.30083°W / 37.97556; -121.30083Coordinates: 37°58′32″N 121°18′03″W / 37.97556°N 121.30083°W / 37.97556; -121.30083
Country  United States
State  California
County San Joaquin
Region San Joaquin Valley
Incorporated July 23, 1850[4]
  Type City Manager-Council[5]
  Mayor Anthony Silva[6]
  City council Vice Mayor Christina Fugazi[7]
Daniel Wright[8]
Susan Lofthus[9]
Michael Blower[10]
Elbert Holman[11]
Michael Tubbs[12]
  City manager Kurt O. Wilson[13]
  State senator Cathleen Galgiani (D)[14]
  Assemblymember Susan Eggman (D)[14]
  City 64.753 sq mi (167.708 km2)
  Land 61.670 sq mi (159.723 km2)
  Water 3.083 sq mi (7.985 km2)  4.76%
Elevation[16] 13 ft (4 m)
Population (January 1, 2016)[17]
  City 315,592
  Rank 1st in San Joaquin County
13th in California
63rd in the United States
  Density 4,900/sq mi (1,900/km2)
  Metro 710,731
Time zone Pacific (UTC-8)
  Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP codes 95201–95213, 95215, 95219, 95267, 95269, 95296–95297
Area code 209
FIPS code 06-75000
GNIS feature IDs 1659872, 2411987

Stockton is the county seat of San Joaquin County located in the Northern portion of the U.S. State California and the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area, an extension of the Bay Area.[18] Stockton was founded by Captain Charles Maria Weber in 1849 after he acquired Rancho Campo de los Franceses. The city is named after Robert F. Stockton,[19] and it was the first community in California to not have a name of Spanish or Native American origin. The city is located on the San Joaquin River in the northern San Joaquin Valley and had an estimated population of 315,592 as of 2016. Stockton is the 13th largest city in California and the 63rd largest city in the United States. It was named an All-America City in 1999, 2004 and again in 2015.

Built during the California Gold Rush, Stockton's seaport serves as a gateway to the Central Valley and beyond. It provided easy access for trade and transportation to the southern gold mines. Stockton has been the location of the oldest university in California, University of the Pacific since 1923. As a result of the 2008 financial crisis, Stockton was the second largest city in the United States to file for bankruptcy protection. Stockton successfully exited bankruptcy in February 2015.


Stockton is situated amidst the farmland of California's San Joaquin Valley, a subregion of the Central Valley. In and around Stockton are thousands of miles of waterways, which make up the California Delta.

Interstate 5 and State Route 99, inland California's major north-south highways, pass through the city. State Route 4 and the dredged San Joaquin River connect the city with the San Francisco Bay Area to its west. Stockton and Sacramento are California's only inland sea ports.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city occupies a total area of 64.8 square miles (168 km2), of which 61.7 square miles (160 km2) is land and 3.1 square miles (8.0 km2) (4.76%) is water.


When Europeans first visited the Stockton area, the Yatchicumne, a branch of the Northern Valley Yokuts Indians, occupied the Stockton area. They built their villages on low mounds to keep their homes above regular floods. A Yokuts village named Pasasimas was located on a mound between Edison and Harrison Streets on what is now the Stockton Channel in downtown Stockton.[20]

The Siskiyou Trail began in the northern San Joaquin Valley. It was a centuries-old Native American footpath that lead through the Sacramento Valley over the Cascades and into present-day Oregon.[21]

19th century

Gold rush era

Europeans and Americans started to arrive in the area after gold was found in northern California, starting with the Gold Rush in 1848. When Captain Charles Maria Weber, a German immigrant, decided to try his hand at gold mining in late 1848, he soon found selling supplies to gold-seekers was more profitable.[22] As an alien, Weber could not secure a land grant directly, so he formed a partnership with William Gulnae. Born in New York, Gulnae had married a Mexican woman and sworn allegiance to Mexico, which then ruled California. He applied in Weber's place for a land grant of eleven square leagues on the east side of the San Joaquin River.[23]

Weber acquired the Rancho Campo de los Franceses Mexican land grant and founded Stockton in 1849. Captain Weber built the first permanent residence in the San Joaquin Valley on a piece of land now known as Weber Point.[20]

During the California Gold Rush, Stockton developed as a river port, the hub of roads to the gold settlements in the San Joaquin Valley and northern terminus of the Stockton - Los Angeles Road. During its early years, Stockton was known by several names, including "Tuleburg," "Fat City," "Mudville," and "California's Sunrise Seaport."[2] Weber decided on "Stockton" in honor of Commodore Robert F. Stockton. Stockton was the first community in California to have a name that was neither Spanish nor Native American in origin.[1]

Chinese immigration

Thousands of Chinese came to Stockton from the Kwangtung province of China during the 1850s due to a combination of political and economic unrest in China and the discovery of gold in California. After the Gold Rush, many worked for the railroads and land reclamation projects in the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta and remained in Stockton. By 1880, Stockton was home to the third-largest Chinese community in California. Discriminatory laws, in particular the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, restricted immigration and prevented the Chinese from buying property. The Lincoln Hotel, built in 1920 by the Wong brothers on South El Dorado Street, was considered one of Stockton's finest hotels of the time. Only after the Magnuson Act was repealed in 1962, American-born Chinese were allowed to buy property and own buildings.[24][25]

Stockton, circa 1860.

The city was officially incorporated on July 23, 1850, by the County Court, and the first city election was held on July 31, 1850. In 1851, the City of Stockton received its charter from the State of California. Early settlers included gold seekers from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, the Pacific Islands, Mexico and Canada. The historical population diversity is reflected in Stockton street names, architecture, numerous ethnic festivals, and in the faces and heritage of a majority of its citizens. In 1870, the Census Bureau reported Stockton's population as 87.6% white and 10.7% Asian. Many Chinese were immigrating to California as workers in these years, especially for the Transcontinental Railroad.[26]

Benjamin Holt settled in Stockton in 1883 and with his three brothers founded the Stockton Wheel Co., and later the Holt Manufacturing Company. On Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24, 1904, Holt successfully tested the first workable track-laying machine, plowing soggy San Joaquin Valley Delta farmland.[27] Company photographer Charles Clements was reported to have observed that the tractor crawled like a caterpillar, and Holt seized on the metaphor. "Caterpillar it is. That's the name for it!" [28]

20th century

Benjamin Holt (left) with British Colonel Ernest Dunlop Swinton in Stockton, April 1918. The vehicle on the right is a Holt tractor; on the left is a miniature replica of a British tank.

On April 22, 1918 British Army officer Colonel Ernest Dunlop Swinton visited Stockton while on a tour of the United States. The British and French armies were using many hundreds of Holt tractors to haul heavy guns and supplies during World War I, and Swinton publicly thanked Benjamin Holt and his workforce for their contribution to the war effort.[29] During 1914 and 1915, Swinton had advocated basing some sort of armored fighting vehicle on Holt's caterpillar tractors, but without success. (Although Britain did develop tanks, they came from a separate source and were not directly derived from Holt machines).[30] After the appearance of tanks on the battlefield, Holt built a prototype, the Gas-electric tank, but it did not enter production.

Main Street, Stockton, California, from Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views, ca. 1870.
First Sikh temple in United States, Stockton, California, 1912.

The extensive network of waterways in and around Stockton was fished and navigated by Miwok Indians for centuries. During the California Gold Rush, the San Joaquin River was navigable by ocean-going vessels, making Stockton a natural inland seaport and point of supply and departure for prospective gold-miners. From the mid-19th century onward, Stockton became the region's transportation hub, dealing mainly with agricultural products. By 1931 the Stockton Electric Railroad Company operated forty streetcars over 28 miles of track.[31]

Stockton is the site of the first Sikh temple in the United States; Stockton Gurdwara Sahib opened on October 24, 1912. It was founded by Baba Jawala Singh and Baba Wasakha Singh, successful Punjabi immigrants who farmed and owned 500 acres (202 ha) on the Holt River.[32]

In 1933, the port was modernized, and the Stockton Deepwater Channel, which improved water passage to San Francisco Bay, was deepened and completed. This created commercial opportunities that fueled the city's growth. Ruff and Ready Island Naval Supply Depot was established, placing Stockton in a strategic position during the Cold War.[33] During the Great Depression, the town's canning industry became the battleground of a labor dispute resulting in the Spinach Riot of 1937.[34]

Partial view of the Stockton Assembly Center.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Stockton Assembly Center.

During World War II, the Stockton Assembly Center was built on the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds, a few blocks from what was then the city center. One of fifteen temporary detention sites run by the Wartime Civilian Control Administration, the center held some 4,200 Japanese Americans removed from their West Coast homes under Executive Order 9066, while they waited for transfer to more permanent and isolated camps in the interior of the country. The center opened on May 10, 1942 and operated until October 17, when the majority of its population was sent to Rohwer, Arkansas. The former incarceration site was named a California Historical Landmark in 1980, and in 1984 a marker was erected at the entrance to the fairgrounds.[35]

In September 1996, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission announced the final closure of Stockton's Naval Reserve Center on Rough and Ready Island. Formerly known as Ruff and Ready Island Naval Supply Depot, the island's facilities had served as a major communications outpost for submarine activities in the Pacific during the Cold War. The site is slowly being redeveloped as commercial property.[36]

Economic history

The historic Commercial & Savings Bank building, Stockton.

Historically an agricultural community, Stockton's economy has since diversified into other industries, which include telecommunications and manufacturing.

Stockton's central location, relative to both San Francisco and Sacramento, as well as its proximity to the state and interstate freeway system, together with its comparatively inexpensive land costs, have prompted several companies base their regional operations in the city.

Construction and public spending

View across Stockton metropolitan airport, 2009.

Beginning in the late 1990s, under the mayorship of Gary Podesto, Stockton had commenced some revitalization projects. Newly built or renovated buildings include the Bob Hope Theater, Regal City Centre Cinemas and IMAX, San Joaquin RTD Downtown Transit Center, Lexington Plaza Waterfront Hotel, Hotel Stockton, Stockton Arena, San Joaquin County Administration Building, and the Stockton Ballpark.

The "sunken parking lot" in front of the Hotel Stockton was transformed in the late 1990s into a public space named "Dean DeCarli Waterfront Square." The area is designed to include a variety of spaces and flexible uses: a sunken plaza, shade structure, numerous trees and planters, stadia seating, bench seating, viewing platforms, a weir at the west end, and a cascading waterfall at the east end. DeCarli Square has become a popular urban place hosting music, art and religious events, festivals, Farmers Markets, and social gatherings.

A new Downtown Marina and adjacent Joan Darah Promenade were added along the South Shore of the Stockton Deep Water Channel during 2009. Various public art projects were also installed throughout the area (see Stockton's public art section).

Other projects under consideration by the city council as of January 2009 include South Shore housing, the revitalization of the Robert J. Cabral Train Station neighborhood, bridges across the Stockton Deep Water Channel, and a new San Joaquin County Court House.

Real estate bubble

The Stockton real estate market was disproportionately affected by the 2007 subprime mortgage financial crisis, and the city led the United States in foreclosures for that year, with one of every 30 homes posted for foreclosure.[37] From September 2006 to September 2007, the value of a median-priced house in Stockton declined by 44%.[38]

Stockton's Weston Ranch neighborhood, a subdivision of modest tract homes built in the mid-1990s, had the worst foreclosure rate in the area according to ACORN, a national advocacy group for low and moderate-income families. Stockton found itself squarely at the center of the United States' speculative housing bubble in the 2000s. Real estate in Stockton more than tripled in value between 1998 and 2005, but when the bubble burst in 2007, the ensuing financial crisis made Stockton one of the hardest-hit cities in United States.[39]

Stockton housing prices fell 39% in the 2008 fiscal year, and the city had the country's highest foreclosure rate (9.5%) as well. Because of the shrinking economy, Stockton also had an unemployment rate of 13.3% in 2008, one of the highest in the United States. Stockton was rated by Forbes in 2009 as America's fifth most dangerous city because of its crime rate.[39] In 2010, mainly due to the aforementioned factors, Forbes named it one of the top three worst places to live.[40]

City bankruptcy

Following regional losses to the economy due to the 2008 financial crisis, in July 2012, Stockton became the largest city in U.S. history to file for bankruptcy protection. It was surpassed by Detroit in July 2013. The city approved of a plan to exit bankruptcy in October 2013,[41] and voters approved a sales tax on November 5, 2013 to help fund the exit.[42]

The collapse in real estate valuations had a negative effect on the city's revenue base. On June 28, 2012, Stockton filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy.[43] On April 1, 2013, a federal judge accepted the bankruptcy application.[44][45] On April 1, 2013, Judge Christopher M. Klein,United States Bankruptcy Court Easter District of California, Sacramento Division, ruled that Stockton was eligible for bankruptcy protection.

The Stockton bankruptcy case has lasted more than two years and received nationwide attention. While there are many possible factors that led to the Chapter 9 filing including the real estate crash and failed city projects, Stockton is being watched along with Detroit to see whether a Federal judge will override State law and rule that pensions for municipal employees could be at risk. At issue are the contractual obligations to CalPERS that cities throughout California have undertaken. CalPERS receives special protection from the California state constitution.

On October 4, 2013, Stockton City Council approved a bankruptcy exit plan by a six-zero vote [41] to be filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of California, Sacramento. Voters approved a 3/4-cent sales tax which would help fund the bankruptcy exit on November 5, 2013.[42]

If Federal courts rule on this aspect of the bankruptcy exit plan it could set a precedent for a state with one of the largest municipal bond markets in the country. According to the US constitution and laws passed by the US Congress all bankruptcies in the US are administered by Federal courts according to Federal law with some allowances for State law.[46]

On October 30, 2014, a federal bankruptcy judge approved the city's bankruptcy recovery plan, thus allowing the city to continue with the planned pension payments to retired workers.[47]

The City officially exited from Chapter 9 bankruptcy, February 25, 2015.


Stockton in relation to the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta.

Stockton has a Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csa), with hot, dry summers and mild winters. In an average year, about 80% of the 13.8 inches (351 mm) of precipitation falls from October through April. Located in the Central Valley, the temperatures range is much greater than in the nearby Bay Area. Tule fog blankets the area during some winter days. Stockton lies in the fertile heart of the California Mediterranean climate prairie delta, about equidistant from the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Nevada.

At the airport, the highest recorded temperature was 115 °F (46 °C) on July 23, 2006, and the lowest was 16 °F (−9 °C) on Jan. 11, 1949. There are an average of 82 days annually with high temperatures of 90 °F (32.2 °C) or higher, and 18 of 100 °F (37.8 °C) or above; 19 days see low temperatures at or below freezing.[48] The wettest year was 1983 with 26.65 inches (677 mm) and the lowest year was 1976 with 5.6 inches (140 mm).[49]

The most rainfall in one month was 8.22 inches (209 mm) in February 1998 and the most rainfall in 24 hours was 3.01 inches (76 mm) on Jan. 21, 1967. There are an average of 55 days with measurable precipitation. Only light amounts of snow have been recorded; the most was 0.3 inches (7.6 mm) in February 1976.[49]

Climate data for Stockton, California (Stockton Metropolitan Airport), 1981–2010 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 53.9
Average low °F (°C) 37.7
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.74
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 9.5 9.2 8.9 5.0 2.7 1.0 0.2 0.2 1.1 3.3 6.8 9.0 56.9
Source: NOAA[50]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 2015305,658[51]4.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[52]

2010 US Census

The 2010 United States Census[53] reported that Stockton had a population of 291,707. The population density was 4,505.0 people per square mile (1,739.4/km²). The racial makeup of Stockton was 108,044 (37.0%) White (22.1% Non-Hispanic White[54]), 35,548 (12.2%) African American, 3,086 (1.1%) Native American, 62,716 (21.5%) Asian (7.2% Filipino, 3.5% Cambodian, 2.1% Vietnamese, 2.0% Hmong, 1.8% Chinese, 1.6% Indian, 1.0% Laotian, 0.6% Pakistani, 0.5% Japanese, 0.2% Korean, 0.1% Thai), 1,822 (0.6%) Pacific Islander (0.2% Fijian, 0.2% Samoan, 0.1% Tongan, 0.1% Guamanian), 60,332 (20.7%) from other races, and 20,159 (6.9%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 117,590 persons (40.3%). 35.7% of Stockton's population was of Mexican descent, and 0.6% Puerto Rican.

The 2010 census reported that 285,973 people (98.0% of the population) lived in households, 3,896 (1.3%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 1,838 (0.6%) were institutionalized.

There were 90,605 households, out of which 41,033 (45.3%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 41,481 (45.8%) were heterosexual married couples living together, 17,140 (18.9%) had a female householder with no husband present, 7,157 (7.9%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 7,123 (7.9%) unmarried heterosexual partnerships, and 720 (0.8%) same-sex married or registered domestic partnerships. 19,484 households (21.5%) were made up of individuals and 7,185 (7.9%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.16. There were 65,778 families (72.6% of all households); the average family size was 3.69.

The population was spread out with 87,338 people (29.9%) under the age of 18, 34,126 people (11.7%) aged 18 to 24, 76,691 people (26.3%) aged 25 to 44, 64,300 people (22.0%) aged 45 to 64, and 29,252 people (10.0%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30.8 years. For every 100 females there were 96.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.5 males.

There were 99,637 housing units at an average density of 1,538.7 per square mile (594.1/km²), of which 46,738 (51.6%) were owner-occupied, and 43,867 (48.4%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 3.2%; the rental vacancy rate was 9.4%. 146,235 people (50.1% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 139,738 people (47.9%) lived in rental housing units.

2000 US Census

As of the census[55] of 2000, there were 243,771 people, 78,556 households, and 56,167 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,720.4/km² (4,455.7/mi²). There were 82,042 housing units at an average density of 579.0/km² (1,499.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 43.26% White, 11.25% African American, 1.12% Native American, 19.90% Asian, 0.40% Pacific Islander, 17.31% from other races, and 6.76% from two or more races. 32.50% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 78,556 households out of which 40.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.1% were married couples living together, 17.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.5% were non-families. 22.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.04 and the average family size was 3.59.

In the city the population was spread out with 32.4% under the age of 18, 11.0% from 18 to 24, 27.4% from 25 to 44, 18.9% from 45 to 64, and 10.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 95.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $35,453, and the median income for a family was $40,434. Males had a median income of $35,181 versus $26,602 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,405. 23.9% of the population and 18.9% of families were below the poverty line. 32.8% of those under the age of 18 and 11.9% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

Negative rankings

Due to a number of socio-economic problems, Stockton has been subject to a series of negative national rankings:

Top employers

According to the City's 2009 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[61] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 San Joaquin County 5,938
2 Stockton Unified School District 4,000
3 St. Joseph's Medical Center 2,230
4 OG Packing 2,001
5 California Division of Juvenile Justice 1,492
6 Diamond Foods 1,467
7 City of Stockton 1,425
8 Dameron Hospital 1,200
9 North California Youth Center 1,000
10 University of the Pacific 966


Performing arts

The Fox California Theater.


Stockton hosts several live music venues, including:


The Bob Hope Theatre, formerly known as the Fox California Theatre in downtown Stockton, built in 1930, is one of several movie palaces in the Central Valley. Bob Hope often came to Stockton to visit close friend and billionaire tycoon Alex Spanos, who donated much of the money to revitalize the theater after Hope's death. The University of the Pacific Faye Spanos Concert Hall often hosts public performances, as does the Stockton Memorial Civic Auditorium. The Warren Atherton Auditorium at the Delta Center for the Arts on the campus of the San Joaquin Delta College is a 1,456-seat theater with a 60-foot (18 m) proscenium and full grid system.[66] The Stockton Empire Theater is an art deco movie theater that has been revitalized as a venue for live music.

Founded in 1951, the Stockton Civic Theatre offers an annual series of musicals, comedies and dramas. It maintains a 300-seat theater in the Venetian Bridges neighborhood. The company also hosts the annual Willie awards for the local performing arts.

Other performing arts organizations and venues include:

Visual arts

Museums and galleries

Stockton is home to several museums.

In addition to its history galleries, the Haggin Museum displays fine art of late 19th and early 20th century artists such as Jean Béraud, Albert Bierstadt, Rosa Bonheur, William Bouguereau, Paul Gauguin, Jean-Léon Gérôme, Childe Hassam, George Inness, Daniel Ridgway Knight, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Jehan-Georges Vibert, and Jules Worms. It also hosts temporary touring exhibitions and owns important works by late 19th and early 20th century artists. Notable among them are paintings by Albert Bierstadt, whose interpretations of the natural grandeur of the Sierra Nevada, Yosemite Valley, and other California landscapes are internationally renowned .[20]

Stockton Arts Commission

The Stockton Arts Commission, an advisory body to the City Council, oversees a city endowment fund that provides grants to local artists and arts and cultural organizations. It sponsors the annual arts awards. The commission also serves as an advocate and information clearinghouse for the arts and cultural community.

Stockton public art projects include:

With over 77,000 trees, the City of Stockton has been labeled Tree City USA some 30 times according to[20]

Stockton has over 275 restaurants ranging in variety reflective to the population demographics. A mix of American, African American, BBQ, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Greek, Italian, Mexican and Vietnamese restaurants are abundant in the community reflecting the cities' diverse culture. Cantonese restaurant On Lock Sam still exists and dates back to 1895.[70]


Stockton hosts many annual festivals celebrating the cultural heritage of the city, including:

  • San Joaquin Children's Film Festival
  • San Joaquin International Film Festival (February)
  • Chinese New Year's Parade and Festival (February/March)
  • St. Patrick's Day and Shamrock Run (March)
  • Great Stockton Asparagus Dine Out (April)
  • Stockton Asparagus Festival — annual Asparagus food festival (April)
  • Brubeck Jazz Festival (April)
  • Earth Day Festival (April)
  • Cambodian New Year (April)
  • Annual Nagar Kirtan, Sikh Parade (April)
  • Boat Parade for the Opening of Yachting Season (April)
  • Cinco de Mayo Parade and Festival (May)
  • Zion Academy's Reclaim (May)
  • Jewish Food Fair (June)
  • Juneteenth Day Celebration (June)
  • Stockton Obon Bazaar (July)
  • Colombian Independence Day Festival (July)
  • Taste of San Joaquin and West Coast BBQ Championships
  • Filipino Barrio Fiesta (August)
  • Stockton Beer Week (August)
  • Stockton Pride (August)
  • Christian Spirit Festival (September)
  • The Record's Family Day at the Park (Sept)
  • Stockton Restaurant Week (September)
  • Black Family Day (September)
  • San Joaquin County Coastal Cleanup Day (September)
  • Greek Festival (September) First weekend after Labor Day
  • Festa Italiana: Tutti In Piazza (September)
  • Stocktoberfest, Beer and Brats Festival on the Waterfront (October)
  • Hmong New Year (November)
  • Stockton Festival of Lights and Boat Parade (December)


The city of Stockton has two shopping malls, located adjacent to each other: Weberstown Mall and Sherwood Mall.


Stockton is home to two minor league franchises:

The Stockton Ports Baseball Team play their home games at Banner Island Ballpark, a 5,000 seat facility built for the team in downtown Stockton. The Ports played their home games at Billy Hebert Field from 1953-2004. The Ports have been a single A team in Stockton since 1946 in the California Minor Leagues. Stockton has minor league baseball dating back to 1886.[71] The Ports have produced 244 Major League players including Gary Sheffield, Dan Plesac, Doug Jones, Pat Listach, and Stockton's own Dallas Braden among others.[72] The Ports have eleven championships and are currently the A class team for the Oakland Athletics. The Ports had the best win-loss percentage in all Minor League Baseball in the 1980s.[73]

A 10,000 seat arena, Stockton Arena, located in Downtown Stockton, opened in December 2005 and was the home of the Stockton Thunder professional hockey team (ECHL) for 10 years. The team has moved to the East Coast in a realignment of the American Hockey League and the Arena is now the home of the Stockton Heat, a venture and affiliate of the Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League.

Stockton is home to the oldest NASCAR certified race track West of the Mississippi. The Stockton 99 Speedway opened in 1947 and is a quarter mile oval paved track with grandstands that can accommodate 5,000 spectators.

Stockton's designation for Little League Baseball is District 8, which has 12 leagues of teams within the city. Stockton also has several softball leagues including Stockton Girls Softball Association, and Port City Softball League, each having several hundred members.

Rowing Regatta featuring Junior, Collegiate and Master Level Rowing & Sculling Competition is organized by the University of the Pacific[74] annually on the Stockton's Deep Water Channel. Teams from throughout Northern California compete in this Olympic sport which is also the oldest collegiate sport in the United States.

Stockton hosts a wide variety of sports events every year: from resident hockey, baseball and soccer games through basketball at the University of the Pacific and at the Stockton Arena; golf championships at two 18-hole courses and a Par 3 Executive Course; rowing, sailing and fishing on the Delta and the Stockton Channel; martial arts and cage fighting. There are four public golf courses open year round, Van Buskirk, Swenson, and The Reserve at Spanos Park and Elkhorn Golf Course. Private courses include The Stockton Golf & Country Club, Oakmoore, and Brookside Golf & Country Club.

Stockton is one of a handful of cities that lays claim to being the inspiration for Casey at the Bat.[75] The University of the Pacific was the summer home of the San Francisco 49ers Summer Training Camp from 1998 through 2002.

Stockton is also the base of UFC fighters Nick and Nate Diaz. Nick, a middleweight in the UFC, is the former WEC and Strikeforce Welterweight champion,[76] while Nate is one of the top 5 ranked UFC lightweights[77] and the winner of The Ultimate Fighter 5.[78] Both brothers are Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts under Cesar Gracie[79] and operate a school in Stockton which teaches Brazilian jiu-jitsu to children and youth.[80][81]


Pixie Woods

The City of Stockton has a small children's amusement park, Pixie Woods. Pixie Woods opened in 1954 and has since received more than one million visitors.[82]

City government

As of January 1, 2013, the current mayor of Stockton is Anthony Silva (Republican).

On November 8, 2016, Michael D. Tubbs was elected mayor. Tubbs, 26, is the first African American mayor of Stockton. He will take office in January 2017.

City council

The City Council consists of the following members as of January 1, 2013:[83]

The current form of government is a city manager council:[84]

City Department Director
City Manager Kurt Wilson
Deputy City Managers Laurie K. Montes

Scott Carney

Administrative Director/CFO Matt Paulin
Director Community Development David Kwong
Director Human Resources DeAnna Solina
(Acting) Director Municipal Utilities John Abrew
Director Community Services/Library Services John Alita
Director Public Works Gordon Mackay
Fire Chief Erik Newman
Police Chief Eric Jones
Director of Economic Development Micah Runner

Stockton is also part of San Joaquin County, for which the government of San Joaquin County is defined and authorized under the California Constitution and law as a general law county. The county government provides countywide services such as elections and voter registration, law enforcement, jails, vital records, property records, tax collection, public health, and social services. The county government is primarily composed of the elected five-member Board of Supervisors and other elected offices including the Sheriff, District Attorney, and Assessor, and numerous county departments and entities under the supervision of the County Administrator.

Police department

19th century history

The Stockton Police Department was founded on August 14, 1850. The first chief of police was City Marshal W. W. Willoughby. The city marshal was authorized to hire no more than 20 men as day and night policemen. He was required to structure his department with a police captain, an assistant captain and two sergeants. The first station house was located on the corner of Center Street and Market Street. In February 1861, the city council created the position of Chief of Police. His annual salary was $900 and the chief would be elected by the public. On May 6, 1862, George E. Taber was elected the first Chief of Police for the city of Stockton.

In 1886 Stockton police officers were required to wear blue uniforms and a six-point star badge. In October 1889 a new uniform was decided upon by the chief. The uniform frock coat worn by Oakland police officers was cost around $50 or $60 each. The San Francisco style star was chosen as the badge and was made of silver. Each badge cost $5.

By 1907 the department had grown to 18 members, which included the chief, officers and clerks. The population was around 25,000 and the police department handled about 600 cases per year. In 1908 the chief required all police officers to appear for a day of field efficiency testing; this included each officer running 100 yards and a 50-yard revolver practice.

Modern history

On March 1, 2012 Eric Jones was sworn in as Chief of Police. The city cut its police force by more than 20% during the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis, but voters approved a sales tax on November 5, 2013 that provided funds to hire an additional 120 police officers.[85][86]

Amtrak Police cars at the Stockton – San Joaquin Street Station in Stockton, 2012.

Stockton has a reputation being a dangerous place to live. In 2012, the City of Stockton was the 10th[58] most dangerous city in America, reporting 1,417 violent crimes per 100,000 persons, well above the national average, and 22 murders per 100,000 (above the average of 4.7). In 2013, violent crime lessened to 1,230.3 crimes per 100,000 population, making it 19th on the list of the most dangerous cities.[87] Stockton has experienced a high rate of violent crime, reaching a record high of 71 homicides in 2012 before dropping to 32 for all of 2013.[87][88]

Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones credited 2013's drop in the murder rate to Operation Ceasefire, a gun violence intervention strategy pioneered in Boston and implemented in Stockton in 2012,[89] combined with a federal gun and narcotics operation.[90]

Cleveland Elementary School shooting

On January 17, 1989, the Stockton Police Department received a threat against Cleveland Elementary School from an unknown person. Later that day, Patrick Purdy, who was later found to be mentally ill, opened fire on the school's playground with a semi-automatic rifle, killing five children, all Cambodian or Vietnamese refugees, and wounding 29 others, and a teacher, before taking his own life. The Cleveland Elementary School shooting received national news coverage and is sometimes referred to as the Cleveland School massacre.[91]

Then-Mayor Barbara Fass' subsequent work on gun control received national attention and sparked nationwide efforts that sought to ban semi-automatic rifles like the one used in the shooting.

Fire department

The Stockton Fire Department was first rated as a Class 1 fire department by the Insurance Services Office in 1971. In 2005, all 13 of the city's stations met the National Fire Protection Association standard of a 5-minute response time.[92] In 2009, it had 13 fire stations and over 275 career personnel.[93] Due in part to staffing levels that placed five staff on ladder companies and four staff on engines, it was one of only 57 departments among 44,000 to receive the Class 1 rating in 2010.[94]

The department maintained this rating until 2011, when during the city's Chapter 9 bankruptcy proceedings and following a Civil Grand Jury investigation, the city reduced staffing levels from 220 full time staff to 177, and the 2011 budget from $59 million to $40 million. The department was cut by 30%.[95] The bankruptcy was due in part to a 1996 decision made by the city to provide firefighters with free health care after retirement, which they later expanded to all city employees. The benefit gradually grew into a $417 million liability.[96]

As of 2016, the department consists of 12 firehouses that house 12 Engine Companies and three Truck Companies. In 2015 the Fire Department responded to over 40,000 emergency calls for service, including more than 300 working structure fires. The department is one of the busiest in the United States.[97]

Public finances

According to the city's most recent Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the city reported a significant deficit with US$443.9 million in revenue and US$485.4 million in expenditures. The report cited US$1,903.5 million in total assets and US$679.9 million in total liabilities, with $203.5 million in cash and investments.[98]

Former Fairfield, California City Manager Kevin O'Rouke was hired as Interim City Manager after the retirement of Palmer, until the Stockton City Council announced that former County of Sonoma Administrator Bob Deis as permanent replacement and who assumed the position in July 2010. Dies had a difficult time while City Manager. He called the last three years and four months an "interesting ride,"[99] making unpopular decisions but was praised by some critics. Deis retired to Santa Rosa, CA. The city council appointed former Deputy City Manager Kurt O. Wilson as interim City Manager on November 1, 2013, and he was made City Manager in January 2014.


Primary and secondary

Burns Tower on the University of the Pacific campus.

Stockton is part of four public school districts: Stockton Unified School District, Lincoln Unified School District, Lodi Unified School District, and Manteca Unified School District. There are more than 40 private elementary and secondary schools, including Saint Mary's High School. Stockton is also home to public charter school systems including Aspire Public Schools, Stockton Collegiate, Stockton Unified Early College Academy, and Venture Academy.


The University of the Pacific moved to Stockton in 1924 from San Jose. The university is the only private school in the United States with less than 10,000 students enrolled that offers eight different professional schools. It also offers a large number of degree programs relative to its student population.[100] The men's Pacific Tigers basketball team has been in NCAA Tournament nine times. The Tigers have played their home games at the Alex G. Spanos Center since 1982, prior to that playing at the Stockton Memorial Civic Auditorium since 1952. The campus has been used in the filming of a number of Hollywood films (see below), partly due to its likeness to East Coast Ivy League universities.

Also located in Stockton are:


Stockton is centrally located with access to:

Roads and railways

An Amtrak station in Stockton.

Due to its location at the "crossroads" of the Central Valley and a relatively extensive highway system, Stockton is easily accessible from virtually anywhere in California. Interstate 5 and State Route 99, California's major north-south thoroughfares, pass through the city limits. The east-west highway State Route 4 also passes through the city, providing access to the San Francisco Bay Area as well as the Sierra Nevada and its foothills. Stockton is the western terminus of State Route 26 and State Route 88, which extends to the Nevada border. In addition, Stockton is within an hour of Interstate 80, Interstate 205 and Interstate 580.

Stockton is served by San Joaquin Regional Transit District [101]

Stockton is also connected to the rest of the nation through a network of railways. Amtrak and Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) both make stops in Stockton, with Amtrak providing passenger access to the rest of the nation. Union Pacific and BNSF Railway, the two largest railroad networks in North America both service Stockton and its port via connections with the Stockton Terminal and Eastern Railroad and Central California Traction Company, who provide local and interconnecting services between the various rail lines. Recently, BNSF Railway opened a much needed $150 million intermodal freight transport facility in southeast Stockton, which satisfies long-haul transportation needs.


Passenger terminal of Stockton Metropolitan Airport

Stockton is served by Stockton Metropolitan Airport, located on county land just south of city limits. The airport has been designated a Foreign Trade Zone and is mainly used by manufacturing and agricultural companies for shipping purposes. Since airline deregulation, passenger service has come and gone several times. Domestic service resumed on June 16, 2006, with service to Las Vegas by Allegiant Air.[102] The days of service/number of flights were expanded a few months later due to demand. Air service to Phoenix began in September 2007.

On July 1, 2010, Allegiant Air implemented non-stop service to and from Long Beach, California.[102] With respect to international service, in 2006 Aeromexico had plans to provide flights to and from Guadalajara, Mexico, but the airport's plan to build a customs station at the airport was initially rejected by the customs service. However, the possibility of building this station is currently a continuing matter of negotiation between the airport and the customs service, and Aeromexico has indicated a continuing interest in eventually providing service. Ground transportation is available from Hertz, Enterprise, Yellow Cab and Aurora Limousine.


The Port of Stockton is a fully operating seaport approximately 75 nautical miles (86 mi; 139 km) east of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Set on the San Joaquin River, the port operates a 4,200 acres (17 km2)[103] transportation center with berthing space for 17 vessels up to 900 ft in length.[104] As of 2014, the Port of Stockton had 136 tenants[105] and is served by BNSF & UP Railroads.[106] The port also includes 1.1 million square feet (102,000 m²) of dockside transit sheds and shipside rail track and 7.7 million square feet (715,000 m²) of warehousing.[107]

Adjacent to the port is Rough and Ready Island, which served as a World War II–era naval supply base until it was decommissioned during the Base Realignment and Closure process in 1995.



Daily periodicals
Weekly periodicals
Monthly periodicals

Radio broadcast stations

AM stations

In addition, several radio stations from nearby San Francisco, Sacramento and Modesto are receivable in Stockton.

FM stations

Television stations

As part of the Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto television market, Stockton is primarily served by stations based in Sacramento, but may carry some San Francisco Bay area television stations' airwaves. These are listed below, with the city of license in bold:

In popular culture



A number of motion pictures have been filmed in Stockton.[109] Over the years, filmmakers have used Stockton's waterways[110] to stand in for the Mississippi delta, the surrounding farmland as the American plains and Midwest, and Pacific's campus[111] as an Ivy League college. Some of the movies filmed in Stockton include:


Awards and recognition

Stockton received an All-America City award from the National Civic League twice, in 1999 and 2004. 2004's award was based on a 60-member delegation's presentation titled "The Dream Lives On!", and featured three community-driven projects: Community Partnership for Families, Downtown Alliance, and the Peace Keeper Program.[144] The 1999 award recognized the Apollo Night Talent and Performing Series, the conversion of the Stockton Developmental Center into an off-campus center for the California State University at Stanislaus, and the LEAP (Let Education Attack Pollution) program.[145]

Sunset magazine named Stockton Best Tree City in the western United States in March 2002,[146] and "Best of the West Food Fest" in March 2000. Stockton contains 49 city, state, and national historical landmarks, dating as far back as 1855.

In February 2009, and again in February 2011, Stockton was named "America's Most Miserable City" by Forbes, reflecting the city's issues with commuting times, violent crime rates, income tax levels, and unemployment rates. Stockton had placed second in this listing in 2008.[147]

Notable people

Stockton was home to the world's first radio disc jockey, Ray Newby. In 1909, at 16 years of age, Newby began regularly playing records on a small transmitter while a student at Herrold College of Engineering and Wireless, located in San Jose, California, under the authority of radio pioneer Charles "Doc" Herrold.[148][149]

We used popular records at that time, mainly Caruso records, because they were very good and loud; we needed a boost... we started on an experimental basis and then, because this is novel, we stayed on schedule continually without leaving the air at any time from that time on except for a very short time during World War I, when the government required us to remove the antenna... Most of our programming was records, I'll admit, but of course we gave out news as we could obtain it...[148]
Ray Newby, I've Got a Secret (1965)

Sister cities

Stockton has seven sister cities:[150]

Country City Year of Partnership
Japan Japan Shizuoka March 9, 1959
Philippines Philippines Iloilo City August 2, 1965
Mexico Mexico Empalme September 4, 1973
China People's Republic of China Foshan April 11, 1988
Italy Italy Parma January 13, 1998
Cambodia Cambodia Battambang October 19, 2004
Nigeria Nigeria Asaba June 6, 2006

Public Infrastructure

In 2013 the City of Stockton released a nearly 1 billion dollar 5 year capital improvement plan.[151] However, the capital improvement plan was still inadequate to address ongoing maintenance and upkeep of Stockton's public infrastructure. In April 2016, City Public Works Director Gordon Mackay estimated maintenance funding shortfalls for roads, parks, and city trees.[152]


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Further reading

External links

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