Facts About California

More facts about California

Here are some facts about California that I had to look up when I was taking a California history class. They are interesting, especially since I have lived here all my life and I didn’t know many of these facts. I waited to post these until the anniversary of its statehood on September 9, 1850.

1. California joined the United States with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War, in 1848. The U.S. paid Mexico $15 million for war damages. In turn, Mexico ceded nearly half of its territory, including California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and parts of Colorado, Nevada, and Utah. California officially became a state (the 31st) in 1850.

2. California was originally known as the Grizzly Bear State. As California boomed—and the bear population was wiped out—it became the Golden State.

3. The grizzly bear on California’s current state flag is a tribute to Monarch, a 1,200-lb. wild California grizzly bear captured by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst (or, rather, the reporter he hired, Allen Kelley) in 1899. Monarch was sent to San Francisco, where he was a star attraction at Woodward’s Garden and then Golden Gate Park until his death in 1911. The last reported sighting of a wild California grizzly bear was in 1924.

4. While Monarch is front and center on California’s official state flag, which was adopted in 1911, the bear flag image dates back to 1846, two years before the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. A group of Americans who’d settled in California, which was then part of Mexico, feared they’d be expelled. They invaded the Mexican outpost at Sonoma and captured the retired general Mariano Vallejo. A few days later, they raised a flag that featured a red star and crudely drawn grizzly and declared the land the California Republic.

5. And who designed the original flag? William Todd, nephew of Mary Todd Lincoln. It’s a small historical world.

6. The one-word state motto, an exclamation-point-less “Eureka,” hearkens back to the exciting days of the Gold Rush. But the exclamation of “Eureka!” is attributed to the Greek scholar Archimedes. According to legend, he had an epiphany as he stepped into a bathtub and watched the water level rise—he realized that the volume of the displaced water was equal to the volume of the foot he’d submerged. And then he ran out of the room to tell others about his discovery… while he was completely naked. (More on whether that ever actually happened here.)

7. California is the only state that’s hosted both the Summer and Winter Olympics.

8. California is the most populous state (and the third largest by area). To put California’s population, approximately 38 million people, in perspective, one out of every eight Americans is from California.

9. The fortune cookie was inspired by the Japanese fortune tradition o-mikuji and invented in California.

10. I can haz state recognition? In 1973, the sabre-tooth cat, Smilodon californicus, became California’s state fossil. A year earlier, Assemblyman W. Craig Biddle had nominated the cockroach-like trilobite for the honor. Nearly 2,000 museum curators and fossil experts backed him, but the bill never made it to a vote. A year later, the sabre-tooth cat made it to the floor and passed. The one no-vote? Senator W. Craig Biddle.

11. Despite living in Los Angeles—a city known for its traffic—for 78 years, writer Ray Bradbury never learned to drive.

12. California’s most famous for its Gold Rush which began in 1848, but it also had a Silver Rush in the Calico Mountains from 1881 to 1896. By 1904, Calico was a ghost town.

13. The mineral benitoite can be found in California, Japan, and Arkansas, but only San Benito County, California, has it in gemstone-quality deposits. The California State Gem Mine in Coalinga allows the public to dig and take home a quart-sized bag of treasure.

14. Thousands of U.S. banks failed after the 1929 stock market crash—by 1933, only 11,000 were left. All of San Francisco’s banks, however, survived.

15. The highest point in the contiguous U.S., 14,494-foot Mt. Whitney, is only 76 miles from the lowest point in the contiguous U.S., Death Valley. They’re both in Calif— well, you know.

Strangest Laws in San Francisco

Strangest laws in San Francisco

The list that is discussed in the above linked article is a little old, but it’s kind of fun to read. Some of them aren’t too strange but they are interesting.

Recycling is a must. There are 3 cans – garbage, recycling and compost. You must use the compost and recycling bins. The garbage one is iffy.

Don’t even think of reusing confetti.

You can’t wipe your car with used underwear, but can you wipe someone else’s car with it?

The rest of the list is interesting, too. It’s worth looking into.

Facts about the California State Flower

California state flower

When I was taking a course on California history last semester, I had to look up facts about California. One of the things that I found was information on the state flower. The above linked article shows some interesting facts about the flower and why it was chosen. It also tells us different names that the flower is called and how far it has traveled. There’s so much to learn about the state, and the flower is just a small part of it.

California state flower - The California Poppy

Geographical Center of San Francisco

Geographical center of San Francisco

The above linked article tells about surveyors locating the geographical center of San Francisco. Maybe.

In the article, it explains why it was difficult to figure out. It also doesn’t take into account the Farallon islands and Treasure Island, both of which are part of San Francisco. It also doesn’t explain why they wanted to find it, but it seems that the surveyors don’t know why, either. It’s well marked, but it may change. We will see.

The California Coolers

The cooler pantry

The above linked article tells about California coolers. Before refrigerators were common in San Francisco homes, the California cooler was popular. It’s meant to keep things cool by letting the cool, foggy air of San Francisco into the pantry.

These days, if they haven’t been removed, they are kept for earth friendly reasons, and they are perfect for storing things like wine and tomatoes, which normally shouldn’t go in the refrigerator, but still like it cooler.

This was a fun fact I ran into about my hometown. There is always something new to learn.

An example of a California cooler.
An example of a California cooler in Berkeley.

Rivera and Kahlo in San Francisco

Kahlo and Rivera in San Francisco

The above linked article tells about a small part of Frida Kahlo’s and Diego Rivera’s lives. The part that is told about is the time that they lived in San Francisco. It covers Rivera’s murals and how Kahlo reacted to living in San Francisco. It also covers the reason they got remarried after being divorced for a short time.

I enjoyed the article and it gave a little more insight to their lives. It is definitely worth reading.

Fun Facts About California

Fun facts about California

For my California history class, I had to come up with some facts about California that I didn’t know. The above linked article tells the facts that I have listed below. Some of these I knew, but most I didn’t know. I had no idea that the Windows wallpaper was a real photo! It looks too perfect.

  1. California is home to the “Avocado Capital of the World.” Every year, Fallbrook holds an avocado festival to celebrate.
  2. The Hollywood Bowl is the largest outdoor amphitheater in the United States. When it opened in 1922, it was merely a simple wooden platform with a canvas top!
  3. In 1964, San Francisco’s cable cars were named the first moving National Historic Landmark. The San Francisco cable cars are the only ones still operating in a U.S city.
  4. Wondering what the name of the world’s largest tree is? It’s General Sherman, and it lives in Sequoia National Park! At nearly 275 feet tall and a circumference of 102 feet, it’s certainly a large tree!
  5. Death Valley is the hottest, driest AND lowest National Park in the country! Despite its morbid name, due to these extremes, a great diversity of life lives within this park.
  6. Bet you know someone who lives in California! As the most populous state in the U.S., 1 in 8 residents live there!
  7. California is the birthplace of the internet. In 1969, the first ARPANET message was sent from a UCLA site. (That first message? “Lo”. He meant to say “Login” but….then the system crashed.)
  8. Thousands of visitors flock to the Golden Gate Bridge every year, but it wasn’t always so beloved. Many originally derided the design as ugly!
  9. Everyone knows the famous Windows wallpaper of rolling green hills on bright blue sky – but did you know it was taken in Napa Valley? (And is unedited!)