Nevada City, California

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Nevada City
Nisenan: Ustumah
Broad Street, Nevada City Downtown Historic District, in 2020
Broad Street, Nevada City Downtown Historic District, in 2020
Location in Nevada County and the state of California
Location in Nevada County and the state of California
Nevada City is located in the United States
Nevada City
Nevada City
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 39°15′41″N 121°1′7″W / 39.26139°N 121.01861°W / 39.26139; -121.01861Coordinates: 39°15′41″N 121°1′7″W / 39.26139°N 121.01861°W / 39.26139; -121.01861
CountryUnited States
IncorporatedApril 19, 1856[1]
 • Total2.19 sq mi (5.67 km2)
 • Land2.19 sq mi (5.66 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.01 km2)  0.17%
Elevation2,477 ft (755 m)
 • Total3,068
 • Estimate 
 • Density1,440.07/sq mi (556.03/km2)
Time zoneUTC-8 (Pacific (PST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)530
FIPS code06-50874
GNIS feature IDs1659211, 2411225

Nevada City (originally, Ustumah, a Nisenan village;[5] later, Nevada, Deer Creek Dry Diggins, and Caldwell's Upper Store)[6] is the county seat of Nevada County, California, United States, 60 miles (97 km) northeast of Sacramento, 84 miles (135 km) southwest of Reno and 147 miles (237 km) northeast of San Francisco. The population was 3,068 as of the 2010 Census.


Nevada City c 1856 by Julia Ann Rudolph

European-Americans first settled Nevada City in 1849,[7] during the California Gold Rush, as Nevada (Spanish for "snow-covered", a reference to the snow-topped mountains in the area). The Gold Tunnel on the north side of Deer Creek was the city's first mine, built in 1850.[8] The first sawmill in Nevada City was built on Deer Creek, just above town, in August 1850, by Lewis & Son, with a water wheel.[9] In 1850–51, Nevada City was the state's most important mining town, and Nevada County the state's leading gold-mining county. In 1851, The Nevada Journal became the first newspaper published in the town and county.[10] The town of Nevada was incorporated on April 19, 1856. In 1864, the word “City” was added to its name to relieve confusion with the nearby state of Nevada, and the town has legally been known as Nevada City ever since. The former town of Coyoteville later became Nevada City's northwestern section.[6][11]

Buildings and structures[edit]

The Nevada City Downtown Historic District covers the downtown section roughly bounded by Spring, Bridge, Commercial, York, Washington, Coyote, and Main Streets. Several historical buildings have received National Register of Historic Places or California Historical Landmark status, and have been preserved. These include:


Nevada City is located at 39°15′41″N 121°01′07″W / 39.261435°N 121.018602°W / 39.261435; -121.018602[12] at 2,500 feet above sea level.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has an area of 2.2 square miles (5.7 km2), 99.83% of it land and 0.17% water.

Nevada, Missouri, is named after Nevada City.[13]

Most of Nevada City lies on brown sandy loam soils of the Hoda series which developed on granitic rock.[14]


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)3,148[4]2.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[15]


The 2010 United States Census[16] reported that Nevada City had a population of 3,068. The population density was 1,399.7 people per square mile (540.4/km2). The racial makeup of Nevada City was 2,837 (92.5%) White, 26 (0.8%) African American, 28 (0.9%) Native American, 46 (1.5%) Asian, 0 (0%) Pacific Islander, 40 (1.3%) from other races, and 91 (0.4%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 205 persons (6.7%).

The Census reported that 2,829 people (92.2% of the population) lived in households, 56 (1.8%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 183 (6.0%) were institutionalized.

There were 1,356 households, out of which 317 (23.4%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 510 (37.6%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 155 (11.4%) had a female householder with no husband present, 79 (5.8%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 97 (7.2%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 15 (1.1%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 488 households (36.0%) were made up of individuals, and 168 (12.4%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.09. There were 744 families (54.9% of all households); the average family size was 2.67.

The population was spread out, with 517 people (16.9%) under the age of 18, 199 people (6.5%) aged 18 to 24, 720 people (23.5%) aged 25 to 44, 1,075 people (35.0%) aged 45 to 64, and 557 people (18.2%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 47.5 years. For every 100 females, there were 100.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 101.8 males.

There were 1,510 housing units at an average density of 688.9 per square mile (266.0/km2), of which 786 (58.0%) were owner-occupied, and 570 (42.0%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 3.8%; the rental vacancy rate was 4.8%. 1,678 people (54.7% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 1,151 people (37.5%) lived in rental housing units.


As of the census[17] of 2000, there were 3,001 people, 1,313 households, and 740 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,425.0 people per square mile (549.1/km2). There were 1,415 housing units at an average density of 671.9 per square mile (258.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.3% White, 0.4% African American, 1.4% Native American, 0.7% Asian, <0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.7% from other races, and 2.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.5% of the population.

There were 1,313 households, out of which 25.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.1% were married couples living together, 13.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.6% were non-families. 35.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.14 and the average family size was 2.71.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 19.7% under the age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 25.9% from 25 to 44, 32.2% from 45 to 64, and 14.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $36,667, and the median income for a family was $46,149. Males had a median income of $32,070 versus $29,183 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,399. About 1.7% of families and 7.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.5% of those under age 18 and 3.8% of those age 65 or over.


Nevada City elects a five-member city council. Council members select the mayor and vice mayor from their ranks. Council members appoint residents to a five-member Planning Commission.

Nevada City launched a "Goat Fund Me" campaign to raise $25,000 to have goats graze through dense brush in the municipal greenbelt. Nevada City is considered particularly at risk of wildfire, a "very high fire hazard severity zone" because of its wooded steep hillsides, narrow streets, 19th-century Gold Rush-era homes, and thick tree canopy.[18][19][20]

County, state, and federal representation[edit]

Nevada City is in Nevada County.[21] The District 1 Supervisor is Heidi Hall.[22]

In the state legislature, Nevada City is in the 1st Senate District, represented by Republican Brian Dahle,[23] and the 1st Assembly District, represented by Republican Megan Dahle.[24]

Nevada City is in California's 1st congressional district, represented by Republican Doug LaMalfa.[25]

According to the California Secretary of State, as of February 10, 2019, Nevada City has 2,353 registered voters. Of those, 1,225 (52.1%) are registered Democrats, 384 (16.3%) are registered Republicans, and 297 (12.6%) have declined to state a political party.[26]


Tourism, government services, digital media industry, resource extraction (timber) and commercial services are the basis of the local economy.[citation needed].


Tourists visit Nevada City for outdoor recreation, history, fine arts and entertainment and special events.[27] Nevada City attracts vacationers in all four seasons and is a popular weekend getaway for visitors in Northern California and Nevada. Nevada City serves as a base for recreation in the nearby Tahoe National Forest, South Yuba River and the High Sierras. It is 45 minutes from Donner Summit area skiing and 60–90 minutes from Lake Tahoe ski areas. Nevada City's tourist attractions include:

  • South Yuba River State Park — Four season hiking and gold panning, spring whitewater boating and summer/fall swimming on the federally designated Wild and Scenic South Yuba River.
  • Historic downtown area — Much of the city's downtown area (bisected by Broad Street) is in the National Register of Historic Places. Most of the buildings date from the 19th century.
  • The Nevada City Classic[28] — Since 1960, downtown is the site for a challenging professional cycling race. Races for juniors, men, and women usually take place on Father's Day Weekend. The race attracts thousands of visitors. In June 2009, Lance Armstrong was the winner.[29]
  • Nevada City Winery was the first bonded winery to open in Nevada County after Prohibition.[30]


Live music, theater and dance are performed nearly continually at Miners Foundry Cultural Center and the Nevada Theatre.

Museums and galleries[edit]

The Nevada County Historical Society operates Historic Firehouse No. 1 Museum downtown and the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum in the Seven Hills Business District area. The Miners Foundry Cultural Center has a small museum. Many businesses also have displays of photos and historic artifacts dating to the Gold Rush and pioneer eras. Several art galleries and businesses exhibit fine art.

Recurring events[edit]

Several major cultural events occur annually, including Victorian Christmas (street fair), Summer Nights (street fair), Mardi Gras, Fourth of July Parade, Teddy Bear Convention, and Psychic Faire.

  • The Constitution Day Parade is held the second Sunday of September since 1967. It is one of the oldest and largest Constitution observances in the western United States.[31] The event features youth, business and nonprofit entries, the Ophir Prison Marching Kazoo Band[32] and, since 1987, the Famous Marching Presidents (and their First Ladies).[33]
  • Wild & Scenic Film Festival — Beginning in 2003, the festival has showcased films on a full range of environmental issues and films emphasizing outdoor adventure and extreme sports. The event takes place in January and occupies multiple venues in downtown Nevada City. It has become one of the largest film festivals of its kind in the nation.[34]
  • Nevada City Film Festival — Started in 2001, the festival has grown from a showcase for local filmmakers to an international film festival hosting notable filmmakers from around the country including director Mike Mills (Thumbsucker, The Beginners), director Jonathan Krisel (Portlandia), actress and comedian Natasha Leggero (Last Comic Standing), and Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! The annual festival is held over the course of four days in August. The Nevada City Film Festival has been called "The Sundance of the Foothills".[35]
  • Nevada City Storytelling Festival — At the North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center in nearby North Columbia, the festival has attracted major national and regional storytellers since 1985. The event takes place each July in a pine-shaded amphitheater built specifically for storytelling.[36]
  • Summer Nights – An outdoor street festival of art and music held several Wednesday evenings in July. During Summer Nights, Nevada City's landmark historic district is closed to motorized traffic and filled with arts, crafts, classic cars, food, drink and music.[37]
  • Victorian Christmas – This annual family tradition takes place two Wednesday evenings and three Sunday afternoons in December, and features holiday activities for all ages: carriage rides, arts & crafts, live entertainment, and savory yuletide treats and libations. The streets of downtown Nevada City are closed to motorized traffic for Victorian Christmas.[38]

Twin town[edit]

Nevada City is twinned with Penzance, a seaside town in Cornwall, UK, and the nearby tin and copper mining town of St Just in Penwith, Cornwall, UK.[39] The twinning is a result of Cornish migration during the Californian gold rush in which Cornish mining expertise migrated to the area. City Hall has a room dedicated to the twinning and houses Cornish memorabilia and items donated on various exchanges. Penzance Youth Wind Band has joined forces with Nevada Union High School's instrumental music department on two occasions.

Film location[edit]

An abundance of historic buildings, autumn leaf color and attractive natural surroundings have made Nevada City an ongoing setting for film and television productions, including feature films and commercials.[citation needed] The area is also a popular location for photography. Modern-day Nevada City was the setting for the 2006 Hallmark Channel original movie, The Christmas Card.


Nevada City has its own school district with three schools: Deer Creek (K-4), Seven Hills (5–8) and Nevada City Charter School (K-8).[40] Other large schools in the area include Nevada City School of the Arts, Yuba River Charter School, and Forest Charter School[41]

After 8th grade, most students attend Nevada Union High School in nearby Grass Valley as part of the Nevada Joint Union School District. Other high schools in the area include Silver Springs High School, Ghidotti High School, Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning, Forest Charter, Bitney Prep High School, Bear River,[42] and other smaller private and charter schools.

Higher education[edit]

A branch of Sierra College is in Grass Valley, close to Nevada Union High School, where students can take courses on their way to earning an associate degree.[43]

Other local schools include the California College of Ayurveda and Connected Communities Academy.


Owing to its exposed location on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada, Nevada City receives moderate to heavy rainfall for California at 59 inches (1.5 m), though its climate is otherwise fairly typical for the state, classified as Mediterranean (Csa/Csb). Although exceedingly heavy snow falls on the nearby mountains, it rarely falls in the city. During a typical year, there are 31 days with temperatures of 90 °F (32 °C) or higher, 75 freezing nights, and 60 days where the temperature fails to reach 50 °F (10 °C).[44] The record high temperature is 111 °F (44 °C), set on August 14, 1933, and the record low is −1 °F (−18 °C), set on January 21, 1937, and on December 9, 1972.[45]

Climate data for Nevada City, California (1971–2000 normals)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 79
Average high °F (°C) 50.1
Average low °F (°C) 32.1
Record low °F (°C) −1
Average precipitation inches (mm) 11.16
Average snowfall inches (cm) 2.3
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 inch) 12.7 12.3 12.9 8.8 5.6 2.7 0.7 1.4 2.9 5.2 10.3 10.7 86.2
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 inch) 1.3 1.6 1.5 0.5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.3 1.6 6.8
Source 1: NOAA[46]
Source 2: [45]

Notable people[edit]

Downtown gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "California Cities by Incorporation Date". California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions. Archived from the original (Word) on November 3, 2014. Retrieved August 25, 2014.
  2. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  3. ^ "Nevada City". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  5. ^ Middleton, Elisabeth Rose; University of California, Berkeley (2008). "We were here, we are here, we will always be here": A political ecology of healing in Mountain Maidu country. pp. 387–. ISBN 978-1-109-10064-8. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  6. ^ a b c "Nevada City, Queen City of the Northern Hills". Archived from the original on 1997-01-17. Retrieved 2008-07-21.
  7. ^ "About Nevada City - Nevada City, CA". Retrieved 2019-03-08.
  8. ^ Lindgren, Waldemar (1896). The Gold-quartz Veins of Nevada City and Grass Valley Districts, California (Public domain ed.). U.S. Government Printing Office. pp. 207. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
  9. ^ Sargent, Aaron Augustus (1856). Brown & Dallison's Nevada, Grass Valley and Rough and Ready Directory ...: For the Year Commencing ... Embracing a General Directory of Citizens, with an Historical Sketch of Nevada County (Public domain ed.). Printed at the Town Talk Office. pp. 20–. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
  10. ^ Bean's history and directory of Nevada County, California: Containing a complete history of the county, with sketches of the various towns and mining camps ... also, full statistics of mining and all other industrial resources (Public domain ed.). Printed at the Daily Gazette Book and Job Office. 1867. p. 40. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  11. ^ Hoover, Mildred Brooke; Douglas E. Kyle; Hero Rensch (2002). Historic spots in California. 5. Stanford University Press. p. 258. ISBN 978-0-8047-4482-9.
  12. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  13. ^ Eaton, David Wolfe (1918). How Missouri Counties, Towns and Streams Were Named. The State Historical Society of Missouri. p. 368.
  14. ^ "SoilWeb: An Online Soil Survey Browser - California Soil Resource Lab". Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  15. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  16. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA – Nevada City city". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  17. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  18. ^ Ryan Sabalow; Phillip Reese; Dale Kasler (April 14, 2019). "A real life gamble: California races to predict which town could be the next victim". Destined to Burn. Reno Gazette Journal. The Sacramento Bee. p. 1A.
  19. ^ Westervelt, Eric (May 29, 2019). "After Paradise, Living With Fire Means Redefining Resilience". NPR News. Retrieved 2019-06-01.
  20. ^ Simon, Matt (2019-01-10). "To Prevent Fires, One California Town Says 'Goat Fund Me'". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2019-06-01.
  21. ^ "Supervisorial District 1". Archived from the original on 2015-02-22. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  22. ^ "Home Page". Archived from the original on 2012-04-07.
  23. ^ "Senators". State of California. Retrieved March 10, 2013.
  24. ^ "Members Assembly". State of California. Retrieved March 2, 2013.
  25. ^ "California's 1st Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved March 2, 2013.
  26. ^ "CA Secretary of State – Report of Registration – February 10, 2019" (PDF). Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  27. ^ "Home - Nevada City California". Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  28. ^ "Nevada City Classic Bicycle Race". Retrieved 2009-06-22.
  29. ^ Valentinsen, Thomas (June 22, 2009). "Lance Armstrong Wins 2009 Nevada City Classic". Archived from the original on 2014-08-19. Retrieved 2014-08-17.
  30. ^ McKowen, Dahlynn; McKowen, Ken (2009). Wine-Oh! Guide to California's Sierra Foothills: From the Ordinary to the Extraordinary. Wilderness Press. pp. 32–. ISBN 978-0-89997-492-7.
  31. ^ "43rd Annual Constitution Day Parade & Celebration Sept. 12–13 in Historic Nevada City". Archived from the original on 2008-11-20. Retrieved 2009-06-22.
  32. ^ "Welcome to Ophir". Retrieved 2009-06-22.
  33. ^ "The Famous Marching Presidents". Retrieved 2009-06-22.
  34. ^ "Wild and Scenic Film Festival". Retrieved 2010-12-06.
  35. ^ "Nevada City Film Festival". Retrieved 2012-02-13.
  36. ^ "Queen of storytelling festivals celebrates its 24th year". Retrieved 2009-06-22.
  37. ^ "Nevada City Summer Nights 2017 - Nevada City California". Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  38. ^ "Nevada City Victorian Christmas 2017 - Nevada City California". Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  39. ^ "Twinning - Penzance Town Council, Cornwall". Retrieved 2019-03-08.
  40. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-10-07. Retrieved 2016-05-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  41. ^ "2015-16 Enrollment Summary - as of October 7, 2015" (PDF). Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  42. ^ "Nevada Joint Union High School District - Nevada County Superintendent of Schools". Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  43. ^ College, Sierra. "About the District". Sierra College. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  44. ^ "Climatology of the United States No. 20: NEVADA CITY, CA 1971–2000" (PDF). NOAA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-07-13. Retrieved 2012-10-22.
  45. ^ a b "NEVADA CITY, CALIFORNIA - Climate Summary". Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  46. ^ "NEVADA CITY, CA" (PDF). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. January 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-07-13. Retrieved December 6, 2011.
  47. ^ Ferry, David (2019-06-11). "Inside the mysterious sport of 'country collecting'". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  48. ^ "SARGENT, Aaron Augustus". Biographical Directory of United States Congress. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
  49. ^ Kellar, Liz (November 8, 2010). "Andersen gets 2 years in death of NC artist Sievert". The Union. Retrieved 2020-09-10.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]