When we think of Napa we immediately think of Napa Valley, one of California’s celebrated wine regions, or the world famous Napa Leather, which was invented by Emanuel Manasse in 1875. We do not instantly think of the City of Napa which was founded by Nathan Coombs in 1847 and has a population of approximately 77,000 people, making it one of the larger cities in California.
The territory was home to Native American Indians and was first explored in 1823, led by Padre Jose Altimira, the founder of Mission San Francisco Solano in Sonama. The missionaries converted some of the indigenous people, but farmers arrived in early 1830 and changed the native landscape.
In the 1850’s the California Gold Rush took over, which included Napa City. Miners who were looking for shelter during the cold winters also found work in local sawmills and cattle ranches, after they had exhausted their hopes for quick riches. In 1858 the great silver rush began and miners again flocked to the region to try their luck. At this time the first Chinese immigrants arrived in California and at Napa County, being imported as cheap laborers by bankers and trading companies.
By the 1870’s most American Native Indians had vanished and only a few servants working for whites remained. Besides these few remaining natives and the Chinese, most of the other influxes of laborers were poor, uneducated immigrants from Italy, which signed on to come to the Promised Land.
In 1874 Napa was incorporated as the City of Napa and its first mayor was Louis Bruck of Bremen, Germany, a pioneer who had arrived twenty-four years earlier. Napa City did not become an economic center with flourishing businesses until the 20th century.
Today, Napa’s downtown environment includes locally owned shops as well as department stores and restaurants. There are specialty shops with plenty of outdoor seating and pedestrian walkways. The city brims with history, wonderful art and wine tasting facilities - a treat for all who want to explore the significant growth on Main Street.
More info: http://www.visitnapavalley.com/napa.htm