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Martinez, California
City of Martinez
Contra Costa County Courthouse (Martinez, CA).jpg
Carquinez Regional Shoreline (cropped).jpg
Martinez, CA USA - Vicente Martinez Adobe, built in 1849 by the son of Ygnacio Martinez (John Muir National Historic Site) - panoramio (1) (cropped).jpg
Contra Costa County Hall of Records (Martinez, CA).jpg
Clockwise: Contra Costa County Courthouse; Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline; Contra Costa Hall of Records; Vicente Martínez Adobe.
The Bay Area's Hidden Gem (official)
Location in Contra Costa County and the state of California
Location in Contra Costa County and the state of California
Martinez, California is located in San Francisco Bay Area
Martinez, California
Martinez, California
Location in San Francisco Bay Area
Martinez, California is located in California
Martinez, California
Martinez, California
Location in California
Martinez, California is located in the United States
Martinez, California
Martinez, California
Location in the United States
Country United States
State California
County Contra Costa
Incorporated April 1, 1876
 • Total 13.63 sq mi (35.31 km2)
 • Land 12.63 sq mi (32.71 km2)
 • Water 1.00 sq mi (2.60 km2)  7.64%
23 ft (7 m)
 • Total 38,290
 • Density 2,809.2/sq mi (1,084.40/km2)
Time zone UTC-8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP code
Area code 925
FIPS code 06-46114
GNIS feature IDs 277553, 2411045

Martinez (Spanish: Martínez) is a city and the county seat of Contra Costa County, California, in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. Located on the southern shore of the Carquinez Strait, the city's population was 38,290 at the 2020 census. The city is named after Californio ranchero Ygnacio Martínez, having been founded on his Rancho El Pinole. Martinez is known for its historic center and its waterfront.


In 1824 the Alhambra Valley was included in the Rancho El Pinole Mexican land grant to Ygnacio Martínez. In 1847, Dr. Robert Semple contracted to provide ferry service from Martinez to Benicia, which for many years was the only crossing on the Carquinez Strait. By 1849, Martínez served as a way station for the California Gold Rush. The town was laid out in 1849 by Col. William M. Smith and named for Martinez. It became the county seat in 1850, but could not incorporate at the time because it lacked the 200 registered voters required, and only became a city in 1876.

John Muir NHS
John Muir House

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

The first post office opened in 1851.

Martinez CA Main Street
Main Street in Martinez

In 1860, Martinez played a role in the Pony Express, where riders would take the ferry from Benicia (particularly if they missed the steamer in Sacramento). In 1915, Shell Oil Company built an oil refinery in unincorporated Martinez, which sparked a building boom in the area. A second area refinery (presently owned by Tesoro Petroleum Co.), together with the Shell facilities, help make Martinez a significant petroleum processing center and port. The oil refineries in and near Martinez can still be seen today from Interstate 680.

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


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

Although the common perception of Martinez is that of a refinery town, given the view from Highway 680 across the Shell refinery from the Benicia–Martinez Bridge, the city is in fact largely surrounded by water and regional open space preserves. The Martinez–Benicia Bridge carries Highway 680 across the eastern end of the Carquinez Strait to Solano County. The city can be defined as a more densely built downtown valley threaded by Alhambra creek and north of Highway 4. Suburban areas stretch south of Highway 4 to join the neighboring city of Pleasant Hill. Unincorporated areas include the rural Alhambra Valley and the Franklin Canyon area.

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

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


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

Climate data for Martinez, California
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 54
Average low °F (°C) 39
Precipitation inches (mm) 4.25
Source: Weather Channel


Boats, tanker and and Benicia-Martinez Bridge viewed from Martinez Marina, California
View from the Martinez Marina.
Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 560
1890 1,609
1900 1,380 −14.2%
1910 2,115 53.3%
1920 3,858 82.4%
1930 6,569 70.3%
1940 7,381 12.4%
1950 8,268 12.0%
1960 9,604 16.2%
1970 16,506 71.9%
1980 22,582 36.8%
1990 31,808 40.9%
2000 35,866 12.8%
2010 35,824 −0.1%
2020 38,290 6.9%
U.S. Decennial Census

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

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

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

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

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

Sister cities

According to Sister Cities International, Martinez is paired with Dunbar in Scotland, Hanchuan in China, and the Italian towns of Milazzo and Stresa.


Martinez AMTRAK sta
Martinez station, served by Amtrak.
The Alhambra Trestle, commonly known as the Muir Trestle, carries the Stockton Subdivision of BNSF.

WestCAT provides service to the El Cerrito del Norte BART station. The County Connection is the primary local bus operator providing service throughout the area. Among its destinations are the Concord, Pleasant Hill, and Walnut Creek BART stations. The County Connection also provides paratransit service. Tri Delta Transit runs express service between Martinez and eastern Contra Costa County.

State Route 4 runs through Martinez westward to Hercules and eastward through Stockton and the Sierra Nevada to near the border of Nevada. Interstate 680 runs northward across the Benicia–Martinez Bridge toward Sacramento via Interstate 80 and southward toward San Jose.


  • Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, runs its California Zephyr daily in each direction through Martinez on its route between Emeryville (across the bay from San Francisco) and Chicago, also passing through Sacramento, Reno, Salt Lake City, Denver, and Omaha.
  • Amtrak's Coast Starlight operates daily in each direction through Martinez between Seattle and Los Angeles.
  • Amtrak California operates its Capitol Corridor trains through Martinez station, providing service several times daily between San Jose to the west and Auburn to the east (via Sacramento).
  • Amtrak California also runs its San Joaquin trains through Martinez, providing service several times daily between Oakland to the west and Bakersfield at the south end of the San Joaquin Valley. Bus connections branch off both the San Joaquin and the Capitol Corridor, providing service as far as San Diego; Las Vegas and Sparks, Nevada; and Medford, Oregon. One connection originates in Martinez and runs as far north as the Eureka area.
  • BART makes a stop called North Concord/Martinez station, although this station lies miles east of the Martinez city limits. The city was overlooked when the system was extended from Concord to Bay Point. However BART's long-term plans include a new line extension running from Fremont and through the I-680 corridor and ending in Martinez.
  • The 1,600-foot (490 m)-long, 75-foot (23 m) high steel "Muir Trestle" (aka "Alhambra Trestle") carries the freight operations of the BNSF Railway through Martinez parallel to California State Route 4 (John Muir Parkway).


In early 2007, a group of beavers settled in a section of Alhambra Creek that flows through the city. The beavers and their dam became a local attraction. Because the 6-foot-high (1.8 m), 30-foot-wide (9.1 m) dam created a potential flood hazard, local officials proposed to remove the beavers. Increased run-off from developed areas along the creek has increased flooding in Martinez, a low-lying city built on a flood plain, in recent decades. Although Martinez had completed the construction of a $9.7 million flood control project in 1999, the downtown was flooded in 2005, ironically two years before the beavers arrived. A City Council subcommittee was formed to consider whether the beavers could be protected and flood risk managed, and was given 90 days to issue a report to the full council for a vote. During this period, expert Skip Lisle was hired to install a flow device that could reduce the level of impounded water behind the beaver dam and mitigate flooding risk above the beaver dam. The beavers have received national attention, amateur video coverage, a webpage devoted to them, and a new nonprofit organization ("Worth A Dam") formed. The beaver have transformed Alhambra Creek from a trickle into multiple dams and beaver ponds, which in turn, led to the return of steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and river otter (Lontra canadensis) in 2008, and mink (Neovison vison) in 2009. The beaver parents have produced babies every year since their 2006 arrival. However, in June 2010, after birthing and successfully weaning triplets this year (and quadruplets the previous three years), "Mom Beaver" died of natural causes.

The Martinez beavers probably originated from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Historically, before the California Fur Rush of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the Delta probably held the largest concentration of beaver in North America. It was California's early fur trade, more than any other single factor, that opened up the West, and the San Francisco Bay Area in particular, to world trade. In 1840, explorer Captain Thomas Farnham wrote that "There is probably no spot of equal extent in the whole continent of America which contains so many of these much sought animals."


Martinez, CA USA - panoramio (4)
Downtown Martinez

Top employers

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

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


Martinez Library Building Front (cropped)
The historic Art Deco style Martinez Library was built in 1941.

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


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

Notable people

  • Maurice Benard, (b 1963) is a actor known for playing Sonny Corinthos on the ABC soap opera General Hospital.General Hospital
  • Yau-Man Chan, (b 1952) is a Malaysian table tennis player, technology executive, and reality television participant.
  • Trevor Davis, (b 1993) is an American football wide receiver
  • Sara Del Rey, (b 1980) is an American professional wrestling trainer and retired professional wrestler,
  • Joe DiMaggio,(1914–1999), was a baseball center fielder who played his entire 13-year Hall of fame career in Major League Baseball for the New York Yankees.
  • Vince DiMaggio,(1912–1986) was a All-Star Baseball center fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Ainjel Emme, (b 1978) is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, and recording engineer.
  • Robb Flynn,(b 1967) is a musician who is the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for heavy metal band Machine Head
  • Mark Kozelek, (b 1967) is an American singer, songwriter, guitarist, record producer and occasional actor.
  • Ella Leffland, (b 1931)[1] is an American novelist and short story writer.
  • Tug McGraw, (1944–2004) was a professional baseball relief pitcher and father of singer Tim McGraw
  • John Muir,(1838–1914), was a naturalist.
  • Richard Rodgers II, (b 1992) is an American football tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles
  • Sabato "Simon" Rodia,(1879 or 1886–1965) creator of giant folk art Watts Towers in Los Angeles
  • Victor Salva, (b 1958) is an American filmmaker.
  • J. Otto Seibold,(born 1960) is an American artist and children's book creator.
  • Robert Stephenson, (b 1993) is a professional baseball pitcher for the Colorado Rockies.
  • Norv Turner, (b 1952) is an American football coach in the National Football League (NFL)
  • Jeff Van Gundy, (b 1962) is an American commentator for ESPN and former basketball coach most famous for his time with the New York Knicks
  • Travis Williams, (1946–1991) was an American football player for the Green Bay Packers

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