Fresno County, California

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Fresno County, California
County of Fresno
The Fresno County courthouse in June 2007
The Fresno County courthouse in June 2007
Official seal of Fresno County, California
Location in the state of California
Location in the state of California
California's location in the United States
California's location in the United States
Coordinates: 36°45′N 119°39′W / 36.75°N 119.65°W / 36.75; -119.65Coordinates: 36°45′N 119°39′W / 36.75°N 119.65°W / 36.75; -119.65
Country  United States of America
State  California
Region San Joaquin Valley
Metro Area Metropolitan Fresno
Incorporated 1856
County seat Fresno
Largest city Fresno (population and area)
 • Total 6,011 sq mi (15,570 km2)
 • Land 5,958 sq mi (15,430 km2)
 • Water 53 sq mi (140 km2)
Population (2010)
 • Total 930,450
 • Density 150/sq mi (60/km2)
Time zone Pacific Standard Time (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7)

Fresno County, officially the County of Fresno, is a county located in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 930,450.[1] The county seat is Fresno,[2] the fifth-largest city in California.

Fresno County comprises the Fresno, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Fresno-Madera, CA Combined Statistical Area. It is located in the Central Valley, south of Stockton and north of Bakersfield.


The area now known as Fresno County, was discovered by Spaniards during a search for suitable mission sites. In 1846, this area became part of the United States as a result of the Mexican War.

Fresno County was formed in 1856 from parts of Mariposa, Merced and Tulare counties. Fresno is Spanish for "ash tree"[3] and it was in recognition of the abundance of the shrubby local Ash, Fraxinus dipetala, growing along the San Joaquin River that it received its name. Parts of Fresno County's territory were given to Mono County in 1861 and to Madera County in 1893. The original county seat was along the San Joaquin River in Millerton, but was moved to the rapidly growing town of Fresno on the newly built Southern Pacific Railroad line after a flood destroyed much of the town.[citation needed]

The settling of Fresno County was not without its conflicts, land disputes, and other natural disasters. Floods caused immeasurable damage elsewhere and fires also plagued the settlers of Fresno County. In 1882, the greatest of the early day fires wiped out an entire block of the city of Fresno, and was followed by another devastating blaze in 1883.[citation needed]

At the same time residents brought irrigation, electricity, and extensive agriculture to the area. Moses Church developed the first canals, called "Church Ditches," for irrigation. These canals allowed extensive cultivation of wheat. Francis Eisen, leader of the wine industry in Fresno County, also began the raisin industry in 1875, when he accidentally let some of his grapes dry on the vine. A.Y. Easterby and Clovis Cole (aka the "Wheat King of the Nation") developed extensive grain and cattle ranches. These and other citizens laid the groundwork for the cultivation of Fresno County - now one of the nation's leading agricultural regions. In more recent times cotton became a major crop in Fresno and the southern San Joaquin Valley, but recent drought and lower demand have lessened cotton's importance to the local economy.[citation needed]

The discovery of oil in the western part of the county, near the town of Coalinga at the foot of the Coast Ranges, brought about an economic boom in the 1900s (decade), even though the field itself was known at least as early as the 1860s. By 1910, Coalinga Oil Field, the largest field in Fresno County, was the most richly productive oil field in California; a dramatic oil gusher in 1909, the biggest in California up until that time, was an event of sufficient excitement to cause the Los Angeles Stock Exchange to close for a day so that its members could come by train to view it. The Coalinga field continues to produce oil, and is currently the eighth-largest field in the state.[4][5]

To date, over thirty structures in Fresno County are on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Fresno Water Tower, which once held over 250,000 US gallons (950 m3) of water for the city of Fresno, the Meux Home, and Kearney Mansion Museum.[citation needed]


The Government of Fresno County is defined and authorized under the California Constitution, law, and the Charter of the County of Fresno. Much of the Government of California is in practice the responsibility of county governments, such as the Government of Fresno County. The County government provides countywide services such as elections and voter registration, law enforcement, jails, vital records, property records, tax collection, public health, and social services. In addition the County serves as the local government for all unincorporated areas.

The County government is composed of the elected five-member Board of Supervisors, several other elected offices including the Sheriff, District Attorney, Assessor-Recorder, Auditor-Controller/Treasurer-Tax Collector, Coroner-Public Administrator, and Clerk/Registrar of Voters, and numerous county departments and entities under the supervision of the County Administrator. As of January 2013 the members of the Fresno County Board of Supervisors are:

  • Phil Larson, District 1
  • Andreas Borgeas, District 2, Vice-Chairman Andreas Borgeas
  • Henry Perea, District 3, Chairman
  • Judy Case, District 4
  • Debbie Poochigian, District 5



Fresno County vote
by party in presidential elections
Year GOP DEM Others
2012 47.94% 124,490 49.72% 129,129 2.34% 6,078
2008 48.2% 131,015 50.3% 136,706 2.1% 5,727
2004 57.4% 141,988 41.7% 103,154 0.9% 2,321
2000 53.1% 117,342 43.1% 95,059 3.8% 8,434
1996 47.4% 98,813 45.3% 94,448 7.3% 15,132
1992 40.7% 89,137 42.2% 92,418 17.2% 37,606
1988 50.0% 94,835 48.8% 92,635 1.3% 2,400
1984 54.3% 104,757 44.7% 86,315 1.0% 1,864
1980 51.1% 82,515 40.4% 65,254 8.4% 13,617
1976 48.1% 72,533 49.7% 74,958 2.2% 3,314
1972 50.4% 79,051 46.4% 72,682 3.2% 4,986
1968 43.6% 59,901 47.4% 65,153 9.0% 12,342
1964 34.3% 46,792 65.6% 89,375 0.1% 141
1960 44.3% 57,930 55.2% 72,164 0.5% 608
1956 43.3% 51,611 56.4% 67,234 0.2% 270
1952 49.0% 54,626 50.3% 56,135 0.8% 837
1948 37.2% 30,379 58.5% 47,762 4.3% 3,525
1944 35.5% 22,668 63.8% 40,769 0.7% 425
1940 29.8% 21,079 69.1% 48,866 1.1% 805
1936 20.9% 11,545 77.8% 42,859 1.3% 722
1932 26.1% 12,134 69.9% 32,528 4.0% 1,875
1928 54.3% 20,687 44.3% 16,884 1.4% 527
1924 44.0% 15,635 13.0% 4,610 43.0% 15,282
1920 55.4% 14,621 36.4% 9,613 8.3% 2,179

Fresno County is a Republican -leaning swing county, voting for President George W. Bush with 57% of the vote in 2004, although it remains closer in Senatorial races and voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

The cities of Clovis, Coalinga, and Kingsburg voted overwhelmingly for Governor Mitt Romney. Reedley did so by much lesser margins and is now a GOP-leaning "swing" city in the county. Huron, Mendota, Orange Cove, Parlier, Fowler, Firebaugh, Fresno, Kerman, Sanger, Selma and San Joaquin voted overwhelmingly for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

According to the California Secretary of State, in October 2012 there were 410,188 registered voters in Fresno County. 158,267 (38.6%) were registered Republican, 164,663 (40.1%) were registered Democratic, 19,841 (4.8%) are registered with other political parties, and 67,417 (16.4%) declined to state a political party. Republicans have a plurality or majority of voter roll registration in the cities of Clovis, Coalinga, Kingsburg, Reedley, and the unincorporated areas. The other cities and towns have Democratic pluralities or majorities.

From Fresno County's incorporation in 1849, it voted Democratic in every election until the 1904 election, when President Theodore Roosevelt stood for re-election. Fresno County backed Roosevelt's over his Democratic opponent Alton B. Parker. This did not immediately change the county's voting tendencies, however, as it supported Democrat Woodrow Wilson in the elections of 1912 and 1916.

Fresno County was generally Republican from the onset of the "roaring 1920s" until the Great Depression, when former President Franklin D. Roosevelt forged the New Deal Coalition that the agrarian county identified with. This led to a cycle of elections from 1932 till 1976 in which the county consistently voted Democratic, barring Richard Nixon's landslide victory over former Senator George McGovern (D-SD) in the 1972 Presidential Election.

With former President Jimmy Carter's defeat by former President Reagan, Fresno became a GOP-leaning swing county which barely voted for Reagan's successor former President Bush and only voting Democratic for Bill Clinton in his 1992 presidential bid. Republicans won elections in Fresno County by increasing margins from 1996 to 2004, but when the GOP lost ground with Hispanic voters after 2004, the county swung Democratic, voting for Barack Obama twice.

In the United States House of Representatives, Fresno County is split between four congressional districts:[6]

In the State Senate, the county is split between the 8th, 12th, and 14th senate districts. Republican Tom Berryhill represents the 8th district, Republican Anthony Cannella represents the 12th district, and Republican Andy Vidak represents the 14th district.[11]

In the State Assembly, Fresno County is split between the 23rd and 31st assembly districts. Republican Jim Patterson represents the 23rd district, and Democrat Henry Perea represents the 31st district.[12]

Fresno tends to remain socially conservative while being more moderate on economic issues, which can be seen in Fresno's support for socially conservative proposition amendments but occasionally voting for a Democratic Presidential Candidate if economic times are poor such as former President Bill Clinton's victory over incumbent former President George H.W. Bush in 1992 and President Barack Obama over Senator John McCain in 2008.

On November 4, 2008, Fresno County voted 68.7% for Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages.

Voter registration statistics[edit]

Cities by population and voter registration[edit]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 6,011 square miles (15,570 km2), of which 5,958 square miles (15,430 km2) is land and 53 square miles (140 km2) (0.9%) is water.[15]

Major watercourses are the San Joaquin, Kings River, Delta-Mendota Canal, Big Creek, Friant Kern Canal, Helm Canal and Madera Canal. It is bordered on the west by the Coast Range and on the east by the Sierra Nevada. It is the center of a large agricultural area, known as the most agriculturally rich county in the United States. The county withdrew 3.7 billion US gallons (14,000,000 m3) of fresh water per day in 2000, more than any other county in the United States.

Fresno County is part of the Madera AVA wine region.

Fresno was actually named after two particular ash trees that grew near the town of Minkler on the Kings River, one of which is still alive and standing.[citation needed]

National protected areas[edit]


A number of minerals have been discovered in the county, including macdonaldite, krauskopfite, walstromite, fresnoite, verplanckite, muirite, traskite, and kampfite.[16][17]


Major highways[edit]



Commercial service
General Aviation

Public Transportation[edit]


The following table includes the number of incidents reported and the rate per 1,000 persons for each type of offense.

Cities by population and crime rates[edit]



Places by population, race, and income[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 4,605
1870 6,336 37.6%
1880 9,478 49.6%
1890 32,026 237.9%
1900 37,862 18.2%
1910 75,657 99.8%
1920 128,779 70.2%
1930 144,379 12.1%
1940 178,565 23.7%
1950 276,515 54.9%
1960 365,945 32.3%
1970 413,053 12.9%
1980 514,621 24.6%
1990 667,490 29.7%
2000 799,407 19.8%
2010 930,450 16.4%
Est. 2013 955,272 2.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[26]
1790-1960[27] 1900-1990[28]
1990-2000[29] 2010-2013[1]

The 2010 United States Census reported that Fresno County had a population of 930,450. The racial makeup of Fresno County was 515,145 (55.4%) White, 49,523 (5.3%) African American, 15,649 (1.7%) Native American, 89,357 (9.6%) Asian (3.3% Hmong, 1.7% Asian Indian, 1.0% Filipino, 0.8% Laotian, 0.6% Chinese, 0.5% Japanese, 0.5% Cambodian, 0.3% Vietnamese, 0.2% Korean, 0.1% Pakistani, 0.1% Thai), 1,405 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 217,085 (23.3%) from other races, and 42,286 (4.5%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 468,070 persons (50.3%).[30] 46.0% of Fresno County's population is of Mexican descent; 0.7% of its residents are Salvadoran, and 0.3% of its residents are Puerto Rican.


As of the census[31] of 2000, there were 799,407 people, 252,940 households, and 186,669 families residing in the county. The population density was 134 people per square mile (52/km²). There were 270,767 housing units at an average density of 45 per square mile (18/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 54.3% White, 5.3% Black or African American, 1.6% Native American, 8.1% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 25.9% from other races, and 4.7% from two or more races. 44.0% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 7.5% were of German ancestry according to Census 2000. 59.3% spoke English, 31.5% Spanish and 3.1% Hmong as their first language.

There were 252,940 households out of which 41.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.5% were married couples living together, 15.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.2% were non-families. 20.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.09 and the average family size was 3.59.

In the county the population was spread out with 32.1% under the age of 18, 11.1% from 18 to 24, 28.5% from 25 to 44, 18.5% from 45 to 64, and 9.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 100.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.2 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $34,725, and the median income for a family was $38,455. Males had a median income of $33,375 versus $26,501 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,495. About 17.6% of families and 22.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.7% of those under age 18 and 9.9% of those age 65 or over.

Fresno County is also known for having the highest rate of chlamydia in the state, which in 2006 was 545.2 cases per 100,000 people, compared with the statewide average of 363.5.

Metropolitan Statistical Area[edit]

The United States Office of Management and Budget has designated Fresno County as the Fresno, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area.[32] The United States Census Bureau ranked the Fresno, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area as the 56th most populous metropolitan statistical area of the United States as of July 1, 2012.[33]

The Office of Management and Budget has further designated the Fresno, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area as a component of the more extensive Fresno-Madera, CA Combined Statistical Area,[32] the 49th most populous combined statistical area and the 55th most populous primary statistical area of the United States as of July 1, 2012.[33][34]



Agriculture is the primary industry in Fresno County. Ag production totaled $5.3 billion in 2007, making it the number one agricultural county in the nation.[7] Major crops and livestocks include:

Companies based in Fresno County[edit]

Major employers[edit]


Educational institutions in Fresno County include:

Within the California Community Colleges System, Fresno County is mostly covered by the State Center Community College District and the West Hills Community College District. The following campuses are in Fresno County:[37]

In addition, the Fresno County Public Library operates public libraries throughout the county.

Notable locations[edit]



Census-designated places[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Percentage of registered voters with respect to total population. Percentages of party members with respect to registered voters follow.
  2. ^ Only larceny-theft cases involving property over $400 in value are reported as property crimes.
  3. ^ Other = Some other race + Two or more races
  4. ^ Native American = Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander + American Indian or Alaska Native


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  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 132. 
  4. ^ History of the Coalinga area[dead link]
  5. ^ California Department of Conservation, Oil and Gas Statistics, Annual Report, December 31, 2006, p. 66-67 (2-3 in PDF file)
  6. ^ "Counties by County and by District". California Citizens Redistricting Commission. Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
  7. ^ "California's 4th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
  8. ^ "California's 16th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
  9. ^ "California's 21st Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
  10. ^ "California's 22nd Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
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  12. ^ "Members Assembly". State of California. Retrieved April 5, 2013. 
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  15. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  16. ^ Alfors, John T. (March–April 1965). "Seven new barium minerals from eastern Fresno County, California". American Mineralogist 50: 314–340. 
  17. ^ Basciano, Laurel C.; Groat, Lee A.; Roberts, Andrew C.; Grice, Joel D. et al. (2001). "Kampfite, a new barium silicate carbonate mineral species from Fresno County, California". The Canadian Mineralogist 39 (4): 1053–1058. doi:10.2113/gscanmin.39.4.1053. 
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  27. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved May 26, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 26, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 26, 2014. 
  30. ^ "2010 Census P.L. 94-171 Summary File Data". United States Census Bureau. 
  31. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  32. ^ a b "OMB Bulletin No. 13-01: Revised Delineations of Metropolitan Statistical Areas, Micropolitan Statistical Areas, and Combined Statistical Areas, and Guidance on Uses of the Delineations of These Areas". United States Office of Management and Budget. February 28, 2013. Retrieved March 20, 2013. 
  33. ^ a b "Table 1. Annual Estimates of the Population of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012" (CSV). 2012 Population Estimates. United States Census Bureau, Population Division. March 2013. Retrieved March 20, 2013. 
  34. ^ "Table 2. Annual Estimates of the Population of Combined Statistical Areas: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012" (CSV). 2012 Population Estimates. United States Census Bureau, Population Division. March 2013. Retrieved March 20, 2013. 
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External links[edit]