List of city nicknames in California
This partial list of city nicknames in California compiles the aliases, sobriquets, mottos and slogans that cities in California are known by (or have been known by historically), officially and unofficially, to locals, outsiders or their tourism boards or chambers of commerce. City nicknames can help in establishing a civic identity, helping outsiders recognize a community or attracting people to a community because of its nickname; promote civic pride; and build community unity. Nicknames and slogans that successfully create a new community "ideology or myth" are also believed to have economic value. Their economic value is difficult to measure, but there are anecdotal reports of cities that have achieved substantial economic benefits by "branding" themselves by adopting new slogans.
Some unofficial nicknames are positive, while others are derisive. The unofficial nicknames listed here have been in use for a long time or have gained wide currency.
Nicknames by city
- Alameda - The Island City
- Anaheim - The Heart of Orange County.
- Antioch - Gateway to the Delta
- Arcadia - Community of Homes
- Auburn - Endurance Capital of The World
- Azusa - A to Z, USA
- California's Country Music Capital
- Bishop - Mule Packer Capital of the World
- Buena Park - Center of the Southland
- Campbell - The Orchard City
- Carlsbad - Village by the sea
- Castroville - Artichoke Center of the World
- Chatsworth - San Pornando
- Clovis - Gateway to the Sierra
- Colma (founded as a necropolis in 1924)
- Compton - The Hub City
- Corning - Olive City
- Corona - The Circle City
- Coronado, California - The Crown City
- Culver City - Heart of Screenland
- Daly City
- Del Mar, California -Where the turf meets the surf
- Dinuba - Raisinland, USA
- Fallbrook - Avocado Capital of the World
- Forestville - Poison Oak Capital of the World
- Garden Grove - Big Strawberry
- Gilroy - Garlic Capital of the World
- Glendale - The Jewel City
- Glendora - The Pride of the Foothills
- The Good Land
- Greenfield - Broccoli Capital of the World
- Gridley - Kiwi Fruit Capital of the World
- Half Moon Bay - Pumpkin Capital
- Hayward - Heart of the Bay
- Hercules - The Dynamic City on the Bay
- Holtville - The Carrot Capital of the World
- Huntington Beach - Surf City, USA
- Linden - Cherry Capital of the World
- Lompoc - Flower Seed Capital of the World
- Long Beach
- Los Angeles
- Madera - Heart of California
- Marysville - Gateway to the Gold Fields
- McCloud - Blackberry Capital of the World
- Merced - Gateway to Yosemite
- Milpitas - Crossroads of Silicon Valley
- Modesto - Water, Wealth, Contentment, Health
- Monterey - The Cradle of History
- Oakdale - Cowboy Capital of the World
- Pacifica - Fog Capital of California
- Palm Springs - Golf Capital of the World
- Pearsonville - Hubcap Capital of the World
- Placerville - Old Hangtown
- Reedley - The World's Fruit Basket
- Redwood City
- Richmond - City of Pride and Purpose
- Salinas - Lettuce Capital of the World
- San Carlos - City of Good Living
- San Diego
- San Francisco
- Sanger - Christmas Tree City
- San Jose - The Capital of Silicon Valley
- San Luis Obispo - SLO (as in, Experience the SLO Life)
- San Pablo - City of New Directions 
- Santa Barbara - The American Riviera
- Santa Catalina Island- The Island of Romance
- Santa Cruz - (The real) Surf City, USA
- Santa Monica
- Santa Paula - Citrus Capital of the World
- Selma - Raisin Capital of the World
- Smith River - Lily Growing Capital of the World
- Danish capital of America.
- South San Francisco - The Industrial City, South City
- Asparagus Capital of the World
- Sunnyvale - The Heart of Silicon Valley
- Wasco - Rose Growing Capital of the World
- Watsonville - Strawberry Capital of the World.
- Willow Creek - Bigfoot Capital of the World
- Muench, David "Wisconsin Community Slogans: Their Use and Local Impacts", December 1993, accessed April 10, 2007.
- Alfredo Andia, Branding the Generic City :), MU.DOT magazine, September 10, 2007
- Alameda, here we come - California island town, Sunset (magazine), August 2001. "Much of what makes Alameda, an island with a picturesque perch off Oakland's flank in San Francisco Bay, so unusual is the way it balances connection with isolation. It lies within easy reach of major urban hubs--the bay, the San Francisco skyline, and the East Bay hills are all in view. Even so, the "Island City" seems a world apart."
- Antioch - A Total Community, accessed April 5, 2007. "The waters in the Antioch area are some of the prime striped bass and sturgeon fishing waters. As the "Gateway to the Delta", Antioch will continue as a refuge for boaters."
- "About Arcadia". City of Arcadia. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
- Welcome to the Auburn Endurance Capital Web Site!, accessed April 5, 2007. "2003, the Auburn City Council passed an official measure proclaiming Auburn as the Endurance Capital of the World. Auburn is home to some of the most challenging and historic endurance events on the planet."
- Relocating to Bakersfield, Green Country. Accessed June 2, 2007. "Bakersfield has become known as "California's Country Music Capital" with the emergence of musicians like Merle Haggard and Buck Owens."
- U.S. City Monikers, Tagline Guru website, accessed January 5, 2008
- Foldvary, Fred E. "The People's Republic of Berkeley", The Progress Report. Accessed May 17, 2007.
- Cockrell, Cathy. "The ‘Athens of the West’ - Latest Chronicle of UC edition highlights history of campus arts and culture", UCBerkeley News, October 20, 2004.
- Yosemite Wrangler Wins Mule Days World Championships, Business Wire, June 30, 2000
- ABout Buena Park, Buena Park, California. Accessed May 17, 2007. "Known as the "Center of the Southland," Buena Park is a City with a distinct heritage undergoing an exciting revitalization in business, residential, and commercial projects."
- Claims to Fame - Agriculture, Epodunk, accessed April 16, 2007.
- Motto ought to be boffo, Irvine World News, February 22, 2004.
- "San Fernando's Open Secret: Porn Biz Has Migrated To What Some Call 'San Pornando Valley'", CBS News, November 25, 2002. Accessed June 2, 2007.
- " City of Roses City of Trees - Chico, California", CaliforniaBeautiful.com, March 17, 2007. Accessed May 17, 2007.
- The World Capital of Whatever, The New York Times by Harold Faber, September 12, 1993.
- Welcome to the Official Website for the City of Chino: About the City, Chino, California. Accessed May 17, 2007. "The City’s motto, “Where Everything Grows” originally referred to this agricultural beginning."
- A Brief History of Clovis, City of Clovis. Accessed June 2, 2007. "Located in the northeast quadrant of the Fresno-Clovis Metropolitan Area, Clovis is situated in the midst of the agriculturally rich San Joaquin Valley. Since its incorporation in 1912, Clovis has been the 'Gateway to the Sierra.'"
- Your City: Coachella, The Desert Sun. Accessed June 2, 2007. "The "City of Eternal Sunshine - Gateway to the Salton Sea" is largely a young, rural and family oriented area of the desert."
- Colma, California
- History, City of Compton. Accessed June 2, 2007. "The City of Compton is known as the “Hub City” because of its unique position in almost the exact geographical canter of Los Angeles County."
- Welcome to Corona - The Circle City, City of Corona. Accessed June 2, 2007.
- John L. Mitchell, Four Classics to Hit the Boards: 'Heart of Screenland' to Stage Theater in Park, Los Angeles Times, July 9, 1987. "Culver City may be known as the 'Heart of Screenland,' but live theater will take center stage there..."
- Gateway to the Peninsula: History of Daly City, California. Accessed June 2, 2007.
- " The melting pot boils over.", The Economist, October 13, 1990. Accessed June 2, 2007. "Daly City outside San Francisco, once a mostly white, blue-collar town, is now called "Little Manila" because of its large Filipino population."
- US News & World Report
- Fitch, Mike. "Growing Pains: Thirty Years in the History of Davis" Chapter Ten: The Political Culture of Davis, Davis, California. "Another of the city's critics was a railroad executive who couldn't hide his annoyance when officials asked his company in the early 1990s to contribute up to $1,000 for a planning project the city was undertaking next to the railroad tracks. "This letter is tantamount to railroad robbery. However, since we are forced to live with the People's Republic of Davis, we will accede to your demands in the interest of the commune welfare," the executive wrote in response, enclosing a check for $500."
- Raibert, Andrea. "Garden Grove: City of 'youth and ambition' is culturally diverse, celebrating 50 years of hometown pride", Orange County Register, November 8, 2006. Accessed June 2, 2007.
- Barry Popik, Big Strawberry, February 16, 2006
- Greetings From America's Secret Capitals, Time (magazine), July 13, 1998.
- Glendale: The Jewel City (PDF), Glendale, California. Accessed June 2, 2007.
- City of Hayward website, accessed November 20, 2011
- City of Hercules website. Accessed October 29, 2008.
- The 12 Zins of Lodi, accessed March 13, 2010.
- Claims to Fame - Plants, Epodunk, accessed April 16, 2007.
- Chad Greene, From ‘Iowa By The Sea’ To ‘International City’: A Look At Long Beach’s Changing Demographics With Former Advanced Planning Officer, Long Beach Business Journal, January 17, 2006
- Queen City, Time (magazine), January 30, 1928, accessed April 13, 1928.
- Due to earthquakes; a nickname shared with San Francisco, for similar reasons.
- Grant, Rachel. "Different stars in Tinseltown", Financial Times, March 9, 2007, accessed April 12, 2007. "With shows such as Red Eye and an important LA artist retrospective last year at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Tinseltown is finally gaining international artistic recognition."
- "Membership Directory and Community Guide". Madera District Chamber of Commerce.
- Marysville’s Golden History, accessed April 12, 2007. "Those that survive are a constant reminder of Marysville’s golden history and proof that Marysville is still the ‘Gateway to the Gold Fields’."
- Merced Conference & Visitor's Bureau, accessed April 12, 2007. "As the "Gateway to Yosemite," Merced offers the traveler an abundance of recreational facilities and a short drive or ride into Yosemite National Park."
- City of Milpitas | About Milpitas, accessed March 16, 2009.
- Welcome to Modesto - the city of "Water, Wealth, Contentment, Health.", accessed April 12, 2007.
- Monterey, California, accessed April 12, 2007. "Many California "firsts" occurred in Monterey. These include California's first theater, brick house, publicly funded school, public building, public library, and printing press. Because of this, some have dubbed Monterey 'the cradle of history.'"
- Claims to Fame - Animals, Epodunk, accessed April 16, 2007.
- Norwalk Citizen Forum Was 'Worth Every Nickel,' Mayor Says, Los Angeles Times, March 23, 1989
- About Oakdale, accessed April 12, 2007. "The Saddle Club started putting on rodeos in the spring, and the city became known as the “Cowboy Capital of the World”."
- Oakland: Geography and Climate, City-Data website. "Oakland has earned the nickname "bright side of the Bay" because of its sunny skies and moderate year-round climate."
- Oakland (Postcard History), by Annalee Allen (2005; Arcadia Publishing; ISBN 978-0-7385-3014-7). "A Chevrolet plant opened, attracting various automotive parts manufacturers to establish themselves as well, thus earning Oakland the nickname 'Detroit of the West.'" (page 58)
- McClymonds Students Study to Rejuvenate Park, by Cecily Burt, from Oakland Tribune, Tuesday, May 4, 2004; archived on City of Oakland website (accessed January 6, 2007). "They talked about Oakland's nickname, 'Oak Town,' and the lack of remaining leafy specimens that made the city famous."
- For Keyshia Cole, it's good to be back in the Bay Area, by Jim Harrington, Oakland Tribune, April 25, 2007, retrieved October 16, 2007
- John Serrao, Is the Strawberry the Future of American Agriculture?, Nutrition Wonderland website, accessed January 8, 2010
- Claims to Fame - Weather, Epodunk, accessed April 16, 2007.
- Pasadena Facts, City of Pasadena website
- Claims to Fame - Favorites, Epodunk, accessed April 16, 2007.
- Local History: Redwood City, CA
- Judge weighs lawyer's lawsuit: Plan to redevelop downtown challenged, by Will Oremus, Redwood City Daily News. Quote page 7, paragraph #3, '... for a city that has been saddled with the moniker "Deadwood City" in the past.'
- Levy, Joan (July 3, 2006). "What happened to the Fourth of July Rodeo?". San Mateo Daily Journal. Retrieved 2007-10-21.
- City of Richmond FY 2008-2009 Budget (appears on title page), accessed June 20, 2010
- Riverside dubbed “City of Arts & Innovation", City of Riverside, press release, June 25, 2009
- City of Riverside; Urban Forestry Policy Manual, Riverside Public Works Department, November, 2007, page 5. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
- Barry Popik, Big Tomato, April 02, 2005
- Sacramento Camellia City
- Sacramento River City website
- Sacramento Earns High Marks as 'Green' Leader, article from Sacramento Business Journal, July 2, 2007. "The River City joined Minneapolis and Tallahassee, Fla., as ... runners-up."
- Used in names of Sactown Magazine and Sactown.com portal website
- City Profile, City of San Carlos website, accessed June 4, 2011
- Leo, Peter. "'America's finest city' takes a fall", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 6, 2005, accessed April 12, 2007. "Which brings us to less-humble San Diego. It had the nerve to tout itself as "America's Finest City."... This would seem to present an opportunity for Tampa, which bills itself as "America's Next Greatest City."
- Fikes, Bradley. "Science & Technology: Silicon Beach". North County Times. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
- "CommNexus 'Silicon Beach' Map". Retrieved 2007-08-17.
- Caen, Herb (1949). Baghdad-by-the-Bay. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-89174-047-6. LC F869.S3 C12.
- San Francisco Public Library (2005-03-29). "PPIE: The City That Knows How". Amusing America. San Francisco Public Library, Online Exhibitions. Retrieved 2008-06-14.
- James Sullivan (October 14, 2003). "Frisco, that once-verboten term for the city by the bay, is making a comeback among the young and hip. Herb Caen is spinning at warp speed.". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2004-02-03. Retrieved 2007-12-24.
- Many tourists refer to San Francisco as "Frisco", a name popularized through songs like (Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay and Sweet Little Sixteen. However, locals discourage this use and prefer the nickname The City by the Bay. Samuel D. Cohen writes that many credit "Friscophobia" to newspaper columnist Herb Caen, whose first book, published in 1953, was "Don't Call it Frisco." Caen was considered by many to be the recognized authority on what was, and what was not, beneath the city's dignity, and to him, Frisco was intolerable. Cohen, Sam (1997-09-11). "Locals Know best: only tourists call it 'Frisco'". Golden Gater Online. San Francisco State University. Retrieved 2008-07-13.
- Barry Popik, Smoky City, barrypopik.com website, March 27, 2005
- Due to earthquakes; a nickname shared with Los Angeles, for similar reasons.
- San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce, accessed July 11, 2007. "Experience the SLO Life".
- New York Times article on Santa Barbara
- The Real Surf City? It's Santa Cruz, says Magazine by Steve Marble, The LA Times, June 16, 2009
- Santa Monica Tries to Curb Charity to Homeless by Kit R. Roane, The New York Times, September 16, 1996
- Claims to Fame - Ethnic Groups, Epodunk, accessed April 16, 2007.
- Claims to Fame - Business, Epodunk, accessed April 16, 2007.
- City of Sunnyvale website, accessed September 5, 2008
- Visalia Chamber of Commerce
- Willits Chamber of Commerce
- Claims to Fame - Energy, Epodunk, accessed April 16, 2007.
- "Welcome to Yorba Linda, CA - "Land of Gracious Living" (text on city welcome sign), photograph on Waymarking.com website, accessed January 8, 2010