Martinez is a city of 36,663 residents and is 13.1 square miles. It is the home of “Joltin” Joe DiMaggio.
Don Ygnacio Martinez, the early 19th century commandante of the Presidio of San Francisco, received a 17,000-acre land grant from the Mexican government in 1824 that first brought him to the Alhambra Valley. The city was named after Martinez in 1849.
From a trading post in 1849 to incorporation in 1876, Martinez was a gold rush and shipping boomtown. Early settlers of the county bought, sold and shipped their goods here. One of them created the popular drink known as the martini.
Martinez was one of the oldest cities in California before California became a state. Martinez catered to gold searchers who arrived on the Carquinez Strait’s south shore to take Dr. Robert Semple’s horse-powered ferry boat to Benicia on their trek to the gold country.
Martinez was declared the county seat in 1850 and incorporated in 1876.
The local newspaper began operation in 1858, and by 1860 Martinez was the shipping port for grain from Diablo to the Livermore Valley. Railroads arrived in 1877. The Central Pacific, with the tie to the transcontinental line, came in 1879 with the world’s largest ferry boat, transporting trains across the Strait to Port Costa.