The City of Modesto was originally a stop on the railroad connecting from Sacramento to Los Angeles. When Modesto was founded in 1870, it would have been renamed Ralston after William C. Ralston- but Mr. Ralston’s modesty prompted him ask that another name be found and so the town would come to be known as “Modesto,” which is the Spanish translation of the word.
Modesto has a hot semi-arid climate with mild winters and long, hot dry summers. The average January temperature ranges from 56 °F in the day to 40 °F at night. Most of the rainfall occurs during winter and there is an annual total of 13 inches.
According to the 2010 census, the racial makeup of Modesto was 65.0% White, 4.2% African American, 1.2% Native American, 6.7% Asian, 15.5% from other races, and 6.3% from two or more races.
Modesto is home to the largest winery in the world- E&J Gallo Winery. The Gallo Glass Company, a subsidiary of the family’s production company, is the largest wine bottle manufacturing company in existence today. Gallo is also the city’s largest employer. It also has a large agricultural industry, which goes hand-in-hand with its fertile farmland.
Modesto’s top employers are E & J Gallo Winery, Memorial Medical Center, Modesto City Schools, Doctors Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, Modesto Junior College, Graspointner Management Incorporated, City of Modesto, Sutter Gould Medical Foundation, Save Mart Supermarkets, Walmart, Sylvan Union School District, and Modesto Irrigation District.
The filmmaker George Lucas, who was born in Modesto, attended Downey High School and Modesto Junior College before immortalizing the city in his 1973 film American Graffiti.
Modesto’s top attractions include the McHenry Mansion, McHenry Museum, George Lucas Plaza, Gallo Center for the Arts, Downtown Modesto, The State Theatre, John Thurman Field, Graceada Park neighborhood, and Graceada Park.
SummerFest is a music festival put on by the Downtown summer concert series. X-Fest is a 21 and over music festival in downtown Modesto that started in 2000. Downtown Modesto is home to the modesto Historic Cruise Route, with 10th and 11th Street. Locals can enjoy State Theater music acts and independent films; there’s also a monthly art walk in which local artists display their work for sale, artist demos, gallery shows- all mapped out on a self guided tour map of multiple venues. Summer festivals are also marked by the revival of American Graffiti with the annual Graffiti Summer celebration going on during June each year.