February 18, 1850 — The California Legislature created nine Bay Area counties today. Within weeks, Sacramento became California’s first incorporated city on February 27, 1850 — followed by San Jose, San Diego and Benicia on March 27, 1850. (Jurupa Valley became the state’s most recent and 482nd incorporated municipality on July 1, 2011.)
Settlement in the state of California dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries when various Native American tribes inhabited the territory, before being explored by a number of European expeditions. It was then claimed by the Spanish Empire as part of Alta California in the larger territory of New Spain. Alta California became a part of Mexico in 1821, following its successful war for independence.
It was ceded to the United States in 1848 after the Mexican–American War. The western portion of Alta California was organized as the State of California, which was admitted as the 31st state on September 9, 1850. The California Gold Rush starting in 1848 led to dramatic social and demographic change, with large-scale immigration from the east and abroad with an accompanying economic boom.
Today, the majority of California’s cities and towns are located within one of five metropolitan areas: the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area, the San Francisco Bay Area, the Riverside-San Bernardino Area, the San Diego metropolitan area and the Sacramento metropolitan area.
The state recognizes two kinds of cities: charter and general law. General law cities owe their existence to state law and are consequently governed by it; charter cities are governed by their own city charters. Cities incorporated in the 19th century tend to be charter cities. All ten of the state’s most populous cities are charter cities.
Words of Wisdom
Soon it got dusk, a grapy dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgandy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries.