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Nevada City, California facts for kids

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Nevada City
Nisenan: Ustumah
Broad Street, Nevada City Downtown Historic District, in 2020
Broad Street, Nevada City Downtown Historic District, in 2020
Location in Nevada County and the state of California
Location in Nevada County and the state of California
Nevada City, California is located in the United States
Nevada City, California
Nevada City, California
Location in the United States
Country United States
State California
County Nevada
Incorporated April 19, 1856
 • Total 2.19 sq mi (5.67 km2)
 • Land 2.19 sq mi (5.66 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.01 km2)  0.17%
2,477 ft (755 m)
 • Total 3,068
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,440.07/sq mi (556.03/km2)
Time zone UTC-8 (Pacific (PST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 530
FIPS code 06-50874
GNIS feature IDs 1659211, 2411225

Nevada City (originally, Ustumah, a Nisenan village; later, Nevada, Deer Creek Dry Diggins, and Caldwell's Upper Store) is the county seat of Nevada County, California, United States, 60 miles (97 km) northeast of Sacramento, 84 miles (135 km) southwest of Reno and 147 miles (237 km) northeast of San Francisco. The population was 3,068 as of the 2010 Census.


Nevada City c 1856
Nevada City c 1856 by Julia Ann Rudolph

It was first settled in 1849, during the California Gold Rush, as Nevada (Spanish for "snow-covered", a reference to the snow-topped mountains in the area). The Gold Tunnel on the north side of Deer Creek was the city's first mine, being located in 1850. The first saw mill built in Nevada City was on Deer Creek, just above the town, in August, 1850, and was built by Lewis & Son, with a water wheel. In 1850-51, it was the most important mining town in the state, Nevada County being the leading gold-mining county in the state. In 1851, The Nevada Journal became the first newspaper published in the town and county. The town of Nevada was incorporated on April 19, 1856. In 1864, the word “City” was added to the name to relieve confusion with the nearby state of Nevada, and the town has legally been known as “Nevada City” ever since. The former town of Coyoteville, California, later became Nevada City's northwestern section.

Buildings and structures

The Nevada City Downtown Historic District covers the downtown section roughly bounded by Spring, Bridge, Commercial, York, Washington, Coyote, and Main Streets. Several historical buildings have received National Register of Historic Places or California Historical Landmark status, and have been preserved. Some of these include:


Nevada City is located at 39°15′41″N 121°01′07″W / 39.261435°N 121.018602°W / 39.261435; -121.018602.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.2 square miles (5.7 km2), 99.83% of it land and 0.17% of it water.

Nevada, Missouri, is named after Nevada City.

Most of Nevada City lies on brown sandy loam soils of the Hoda series which developed on granitic rock.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 4,022
1890 2,524 −37.2%
1900 3,250 28.8%
1910 2,689 −17.3%
1920 1,782 −33.7%
1930 1,701 −4.5%
1940 2,445 43.7%
1950 2,505 2.5%
1960 2,353 −6.1%
1970 2,314 −1.7%
1980 2,431 5.1%
1990 2,855 17.4%
2000 3,001 5.1%
2010 3,068 2.2%
2019 (est.) 3,148 2.6%
U.S. Decennial Census


The 2010 United States Census reported that Nevada City had a population of 3,068. The population density was 1,399.7 people per square mile (540.4/km2). The racial makeup of Nevada City was 2,837 (92.5%) White, 26 (0.8%) African American, 28 (0.9%) Native American, 46 (1.5%) Asian, 0 (0%) Pacific Islander, 40 (1.3%) from other races, and 91 (0.4%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 205 persons (6.7%).

The Census reported that 2,829 people (92.2% of the population) lived in households, 56 (1.8%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 183 (6.0%) were institutionalized.

There were 1,356 households, out of which 317 (23.4%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 510 (37.6%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 155 (11.4%) had a female householder with no husband present, 79 (5.8%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 97 (7.2%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 15 (1.1%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 488 households (36.0%) were made up of individuals, and 168 (12.4%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.09. There were 744 families (54.9% of all households); the average family size was 2.67.

The population was spread out, with 517 people (16.9%) under the age of 18, 199 people (6.5%) aged 18 to 24, 720 people (23.5%) aged 25 to 44, 1,075 people (35.0%) aged 45 to 64, and 557 people (18.2%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 47.5 years. For every 100 females, there were 100.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 101.8 males.

There were 1,510 housing units at an average density of 688.9 per square mile (266.0/km2), of which 786 (58.0%) were owner-occupied, and 570 (42.0%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 3.8%; the rental vacancy rate was 4.8%. 1,678 people (54.7% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 1,151 people (37.5%) lived in rental housing units.


As of the census of 2000, there were 3,001 people, 1,313 households, and 740 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,425.0 people per square mile (549.1/km2). There were 1,415 housing units at an average density of 671.9 per square mile (258.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.3% White, 0.4% African American, 1.4% Native American, 0.7% Asian, <0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.7% from other races, and 2.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.5% of the population.

There were 1,313 households, out of which 25.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.1% were married couples living together, 13.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.6% were non-families. 35.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.14 and the average family size was 2.71.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 19.7% under the age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 25.9% from 25 to 44, 32.2% from 45 to 64, and 14.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $36,667, and the median income for a family was $46,149. Males had a median income of $32,070 versus $29,183 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,399. About 1.7% of families and 7.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.5% of those under age 18 and 3.8% of those age 65 or over.


Live music, theater and dance are performed nearly continually at Miners Foundry Cultural Center and the historic Nevada Theatre. Many bars and restaurants feature live music.

Museums and galleries

The Nevada County Historical Society operates Historic Firehouse No. 1 Museum downtown and the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum in the Seven Hills Business District area. There is a small museum at Miners Foundry Cultural Center. Many businesses also have displays of photos and historic artifacts dating back to the Gold Rush and pioneer eras. In addition, there are several art galleries and businesses that exhibit fine art.

Recurring events

There are several annual major cultural events which include Victorian Christmas (street faire), Summer Nights (street faire), Mardi Gras, Fourth of July Parade, Teddy Bear Convention, and Psychic Faire.

  • The Constitution Day Parade is held the second Sunday of September since 1967. It is one of the oldest and largest Constitution observances in the western United States. The event features youth, business and nonprofit entries, the Ophir Prison Marching Kazoo Band and, since 1987, the Famous Marching Presidents (and their First Ladies).
  • Wild & Scenic Film Festival — Beginning in 2003, the festival has showcased films on a full range of environmental issues and films emphasizing outdoor adventure and extreme sports. The event takes place in January and occupies multiple venues in downtown Nevada City. It has become one of the largest film festivals of its kind in the United States.
  • Nevada City Film Festival — Started in 2001, the festival has grown from a showcase for local filmmakers to an international film festival hosting notable filmmakers from around the country including director Mike Mills (Thumbsucker, The Beginners), director Jonathan Krisel (Portlandia), actress and comedian Natasha Leggero (Last Comic Standing), and Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim of Tim & Eric's Awesome Show, Great Job! The annual festival is held over the course of four-days in August. The Nevada City Film Festival has been called "The Sundance of the Foothills".
  • Nevada City Storytelling Festival — Located at the North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center in nearby North Columbia the festival has attracted major national and regional storytellers since 1985. The event takes place each July in a pine-shaded amphitheater built specifically for storytelling.
  • Hot Summer Nights - An outdoor street festival of art and music held several Wednesday evenings in July. During Summer Nights, Nevada City’s landmark historic district is closed to motorized traffic and filled with arts, crafts, classic cars, food, drink and music.
  • Victorian Christmas - This annual family tradition takes place 2 Wednesday evenings and 3 Sunday afternoons in December, and features holiday activities for all ages: carriage rides, arts & crafts, live entertainment, and savory yuletide treats and libations. Similar to Hot Summer Nights in July, the streets of downtown Nevada City are closed to motorized traffic for Victorian Christmas.

Twin town

Nevada City is twinned with Penzance, a seaside town in Cornwall, UK and the nearby tin and copper mining town of St Just in Penwith, Cornwall, UK. The twinning is a result of Cornish migration during the Californian gold rush in which Cornish mining expertise migrated to the area. In the City Hall of Nevada City there is a room dedicated to the twinning and houses Cornish memorabilia and items donated on various exchanges. Penzance Youth Wind Band under the direction of Paul Carter have joined forces with Nevada Union High School instrumental music department on two occasions.


Owing to its exposed location on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada, Nevada City receives moderate to heavy rainfall for California at 59 inches (1.5 m), though its climate is otherwise fairly typical for the state, being classified as Mediterranean (Csa/Csb). Although exceedingly heavy snow falls on the nearby mountains, it very rarely falls in the city. During a typical year, there are 31 days with temperatures of 90 °F (32 °C) or higher and, conversely, 75 freezing nights and 60 days where the temperature fails to reach 50 °F (10 °C). The record high temperature is 111 °F (44 °C), set on August 14, 1933, and the record low temperature is −1 °F (−18 °C), set on January 21, 1937 and on December 9, 1972.

Climate data for Nevada City, California (1971–2000 normals)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 79
Average high °F (°C) 50.1
Average low °F (°C) 32.1
Record low °F (°C) −1
Average precipitation inches (mm) 11.16
Average snowfall inches (cm) 2.3
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 inch) 12.7 12.3 12.9 8.8 5.6 2.7 0.7 1.4 2.9 5.2 10.3 10.7 86.2
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 inch) 1.3 1.6 1.5 0.5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.3 1.6 6.8
Source: NOAA

Downtown gallery


Tourism, government services, digital media industry, resource extraction (timber) and commercial services are the basis of the local economy..


Tourists visit Nevada City for outdoor recreation, history, fine arts and entertainment and special events. Nevada City attracts vacationers in all four seasons and is a popular weekend getaway for visitors in Northern California and Nevada. Nevada City serves as a base for recreation in the nearby Tahoe National Forest, South Yuba River and the High Sierras. It is 45 minutes from Donner Summit area skiing and 60–90 minutes from Lake Tahoe ski areas. Nevada City's tourist attractions include:

  • South Yuba River State Park — Four season hiking and gold panning, spring whitewater boating and summer/fall swimming on the federally designated Wild and Scenic South Yuba River.
  • Historic downtown area — Much of the city's downtown area (bisected by Broad Street) is in the National Register of Historic Places. Most of the buildings date from the 19th century.
  • The Nevada City Classic — Since 1960, downtown is the site for a challenging professional cycling race. Races for juniors, men, and women usually take place on Father's Day Weekend. The race attracts thousands of visitors. In June 2009, Lance Armstrong was the winner.
  • Nevada City Winery was the first bonded winery to open in Nevada County after Prohibition.


Nevada City has its own school district with three schools: Deer Creek (K-4), Seven Hills (5–8) and Nevada City Charter School (K-8). Other large schools in the area include Nevada City School of the Arts, Yuba River Charter School, and Forest Charter School

After 8th grade, most students attend Nevada Union High School in nearby Grass Valley as part of the Nevada Joint Union School District. Other high schools in the area include Silver Springs High School, Ghidotti High School, Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning, Forest Charter, Bitney Prep High School, Bear River, and other smaller private and charter schools.

Higher education

Other local schools include the California College of Ayurveda and Connected Communities Academy.

Notable people

  • Alexis Alford (born 1998), youngest person to travel to every country
  • Tina Basich (born 1969), professional snowboarder
  • Donald J. Butz, U.S. Air Force (born 1933), Major General
  • Jennie Carter (1830–1881) African-American journalist and essayist
  • Anthony Chabot (1813–1888), 19th century businessman and entrepreneur; co-inventor of hydraulic mining in Nevada City
  • Peter Collier (born 1939), political author
  • Joseph Cornell (born 1950), naturalist and author
  • Alela Diane (born 1983), singer/songwriter
  • Matt DiBenedetto (born 1991), NASCAR driver
  • Heather Donahue, Actress, American writer
  • Alasdair Fraser (born 1955), Scottish fiddler and owner of Culburnie Records
  • Noah Georgeson (born 1975), musician, producer
  • Felix Gillet (1835–1908), pioneer California horticulturist
  • Oakley Hall (1920–2008), novelist
  • Robert M. Hunt (1828–1902), physician
  • Roger Hodgson (born 1950), singer/songwriter and ex-Supertramp member
  • Dan Kemp (1927–2000), actor
  • Swami Kriyananda (1926–2013), spiritual teacher and founder of Ananda Village
  • Cliff Kushler, inventor
  • Tully Marshall (1864–1943), actor
  • John McEntire (born 1970), drummer, recording engineer, and music producer
  • Thomas Bard McFarland (1828–1908), associate justice of the Supreme Court of California
  • Stephen McNallen (born 1948), influential Germanic Neopagan leader and writer
  • Joanna Newsom (born 1982), harpist, singer/songwriter, and actress
  • Tim O'Connor (1927–2018), actor
  • John Olmsted (1938–2011), naturalist, and co-creator of The Independence Trail State Park
  • Utah Phillips (1935–2008), folk singer, activist
  • Ed Reimers (1912–2009), actor and television announcer
  • Terry Riley (born 1935), renowned minimalist composer
  • Gyan Riley (born 1977), guitarist and composer
  • Alexander Rossi (born 1991), professional race car driver, winner of the 2016 Indianapolis 500
  • Julia Ann Rudolph (c. 1820–c. 1900), early photographer who had a studio in the city from 1856 to around 1860
  • Aaron A. Sargent (1827–1887), U.S. Senator
  • Lorenzo Sawyer (1820–1891), Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court
  • Niles Searls (1825–1907), Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of California
  • Claus Sievert (1949–2009), printmaker, illustrator.
  • Mariee Sioux (born 1985), singer/songwriter
  • Gary Snyder (born 1930), poet
  • Evan Strong (born 1986), professional snowboarder, gold medalist 2014 Winter Paralympics, silver medalist 2018 Winter Paralympics.
  • Heinrich Sylvester Theodor Tiling (1818–1871), physician and botanist

See also

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