Martinez, which was founded in 1876, is the county seat of Contra Costa County. It is situated in the central part of the county, between the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. The origins of the city can be traced to the late 1840s, when on the way to the gold fields it acted as a transfer point for ferry boats across the Carquinez straits. Martinez had developed into one of the area’s most prominent trading posts and shipping ports by the time of its incorporation. Today, the town occupies 12.5 square miles and has around 36,700 inhabitants. Martinez, one of the first towns in California, maintains a deep sense of tradition and family. For almost a quarter of a century, the famed naturalist John Muir called Martinez his birthplace, and in 1914, the year of Muir ‘s death, the legendary baseball great Joe DiMaggio was born here. Its architecture is one of the special aspects of Martinez. Many of the downtown stores, and some homes dating back more than 125 years, still maintain their early 20th century look and charm.

Martinez has modernised both its infrastructure and its downtown, preserving its history but with a view to the future. In 2001, the city opened an award-winning Intermodal Facility, which became a prominent stop along the Amtrak line. A major restoration of Alhambra Creek, which embellishes the downtown and regulates floods, has also been completed and embarked on a program to make Martinez a cultural-historical attraction as the John Muir Festival Center ‘s home. The first realisation of this long-term initiative is an outdoor amphitheater.

People of all ages in Martinez continue to enjoy the outdoors. With 16 parks in the city and a marina, the public has plenty of leisure opportunities. The top-flight bocce ball courts of the waterfront are host to the largest bocce federation in the world. The recently completed 10,000 square foot Skate Park next door provides an attraction for the entire region ‘s youth.

Housed in a Victorian cottage constructed in 1890, the Martinez Museum, a Martinez Historical Society project, features artifacts, records, maps of the city and images.

Joltin ‘Joe DiMaggio, a prominent New York Yankee baseball player in the 1930s and 1940s, was born in Martinez, California, on November 25, 1914. He was the sixth of seven children born from the sister town of Isola delle Femmine, Sicily, to Italian immigrants Giuseppe (1872-1949) and Rosalia (born Lucido; 1878-1951) DiMaggio.

The John Muir National Historic site is home to Martinez. Visit: John Muir Association John Muir a Short Biography Sierra Club John Muir Trail The John Muir Way The National Parks: America’s Best Idea People-John Muir (PBS) For more information on John Muir and his legacy.

In 1858, the local newspaper started working and Martinez was the grain shipping port from Diablo to the Livermore Valley in 1860. In 1877, the railroads arrived. With a connection to the transcontinental route, the Central Pacific arrived in 1879 with the world’s largest ferry boat, bringing trains to Port Costa across the Strait.

In 1850 and incorporated in 1876, Martinez was proclaimed the County Seat of Contra Costa. It is the administrative hub for cities, offering facilities such as the county legislature, county jail, headquarters of the sheriff’s department, record hall, prison and correctional facility, etc.

The town catered to gold searchers arriving on the south shore of the Carquinez Strait to take the horse-powered ferry boat of Dr. Robert Semple to Benicia, California on their journey to the gold country.

Martinez was a gold rush and shipping boomtown from a trading post in 1849 until its incorporation in 1876. The county’s early settlers purchased, sold, and dispatched their goods here. The famous drink known as “Martini” was developed by one of them.

In 1824, Don Ygnacio Martinez, the commander of the Presidio of San Francisco in the early 19th century, obtained a 17,000-acre land grant from the Mexican government that took him to the Alhambra Valley for the first time. In 1849, the city was named after Martinez.

Martinez is a town with 36,663 people occupying 12.47 square miles and a rich history dating back to before statehood was achieved in California. It contains 17 parks, a pool recognized by the California Park and Recreation Society District 3 as “Best Aquatic Facility” in 2012, and plenty of open space. A marina and hiking trails, world class bocce ball courts and newly revamped baseball and softball fields are featured on the waterfront.

Image courtesy of Jeffreymendel Jeffrey Nash – Own work, CC BY 3.0,

After visiting the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, California, make sure to stop by these other gems:

  • The Cobra Experience – Museum & Event Space
  • Mt Wanda
  • Hidden Lakes Park
  • Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline
  • Radke Martinez Regional Shoreline Park
  • Barrel Aged Cocktail Bar at Barrelista
  • Roxx On Main
  • Five Suns Brewing

All of these secret spots are located just a short distance from our location in downtown Walnut Creek, Spaulding Concrete at 1461 Locust Street!