Modesto, California, began as a mere stop on the train line that connected Sacramento to Los Angeles. The city was officially founded in 1870 with intentions of naming it after the developer William C. Ralston. When he declined the honor, a Spanish-speaking announcer described him as "muy modesto" or "too modest," and the town's name was born.
With a population of more than 202,000, Modesto is the 17th largest city in California and the seat for Stanislaus County. Whites account for slightly more than half of the population with Hispanics as the largest minority group at 34.4 percent. Around 40 percent of all residents speak Spanish as their primary or a secondary language. The median age of residents is 32.7 years, slightly less than the statewide rate.
Health care is the largest industry segment in Modesto with 10.3 percent of all jobs. Major employers in medical services include Memorial Medical Center, Doctors Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente and the Sutter Gould Medical Foundation.
With 9.1 percent of all jobs, education is Modesto's second largest industry. The Modesto City Schools District provides the education for 31,000 children and teens in the city. The district operates nine high schools, four middle schools, 24 elementary schools and an online charter school. Modesto Junior College is based in the city and serves as one of Modesto's largest employers.
Food services employs roughly 6 percent of all residents in Modesto with Seneca Foods, Del Monte Foods and Frito-Lay all operating plants within the city limits. Stanislaus County is the sixth largest agricultural center in California, and agriculture accounts for 1.3 percent of jobs among Modesto's residents. E & J Gallo Winery, Foster Farms and Foster Farms Dairy are some of the biggest employers in the agricultural sector.
At the start of the 21st century, Modesto launched a revitalization project to draw residents and visitors to the Downtown area. Part of the project was the construction of the Gallo Center for the Arts, which features two theaters and holds performing arts events throughout the year. New condominium towers are among the newest construction in the Downtown area.
To foster a spirit of community, Modesto offers residents numerous special events throughout the year. The annual Xclamation Festival music festival is an extremely popular live concert event and street bazaar. Every month, the city sponsors its Art Walk, which has handicrafts and fine art from numerous local artists. Modesto has made numerous appearances in popular culture, most notably as the setting for the film "American Graffiti," which portrayed the city's cruising district during the 1950s.
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