Fairfield is a city located in the northeastern portion of the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California, USA (See East Bay and North Bay). It is approximately 42 miles (68 km) from both the city of San Francisco and the city of Sacramento, approximately 36 miles (58 km) from Oakland, less than 20 miles (32 km) from Napa Valley , 18 miles from the Carquinez Bridge, and 15 miles from the Benicia Bridge. Fairfield was founded in 1859 by clippership captain Robert H. Waterman, and named after his former hometown of Fairfield, Connecticut. It is the home of Travis Air Force Base and the Jelly Belly jelly bean factory, and has a population of almost 107,000; slightly less than Vallejo, which is the Bay Area's ninth-largest city. It shares a border with its sister city, Suisun City. Other nearby cities include Vacaville, Benicia, Napa and Vallejo. Fairfield is the county seat of Solano County.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 38.7 square miles (102.623 km²), of which, 37.7 square miles (98.5 km²) of it is land and 3.04 square miles (3.1 km²) of it is water. The total area is 5.95% water.
The city is located within the California Coastal Ranges of the San Francisco Bay Area. The city is centered directly north of the Suisun Bay and northeast of the San Pablo Bay. Much of the Suisun Bay contains the Suisun Marsh, the largest saltwater marsh on the west coast of the United States. The Sacramento Valley lies east of Fairfield.
The history of Fairfield stretches back five to six thousand years. That is the age of artifacts of native people which have been excavated here. The first European contact came in 1810 when the Spanish army was ordered to attack the Suisin Indians. In 1835 the Mexican General Vallejo was so magnanimous in victory over the Indian Chief Sem Yeto that the chief later became his ally in conflicts against other tribes. In 1837 the Indian Chief Solano received the Rancho Suisun Mexican land grant. This grant eventually came into the hands of a clipper ship captain from Connecticut named Robert H. Waterman. He not only parceled out the town in 1856, but also, in a commercially shrewd move, arranged to have the county seat moved here in 1858 from Benicia. As an inducement he granted 16 acres (65,000 m2) of land for the construction of county buildings. In 1903 Fairfield was incorporated as a city.
On September 1, 2008, Fairfield city Councilman Matt Garcia was shot and killed in Cordelia, an adjacent unincorporated area. Investigation revealed it was a case of mistaken identity. Two were caught and arrested within city limits, but a third suspect fled to Las Vegas where he was later arrested.
Garcia was a graduate of Armijo High School and was the youngest councilman in Fairfield history at age 22. He spoke for the youth and had a major impact on the community. A local youth center was built in Garcia's honor and opened in November 2008.
As of the census of 2000, there are 106,521 people, 33,494 households, and 24,016 families residing in the city. The population density is 2,782 people per square mile. The racial makeup of the city is 46.54% White, 19.08% Black or African American, 0.73% Native American, 12.53% Asian, 0.93% Pacific Islander, 8.77% from other races, and 7.41% from two or more races. 24.48% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 33,494 households out of which 43.1% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.4% are married couples living together, 14.2% have a female householder with no husband present, and 22.2% are non-families. 17.0% of all households are made up of individuals and 5.5% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.98 and the average family size is 3.33.
In the city the population is spread out with 29.8% under the age of 18, 11.1% from 18 to 24, 31.3% from 25 to 44, 18.8% from 45 to 64, and 9.0% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 31 years. For every 100 females there are 99.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 97.4 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $49,151, and the median income for a family is $52,503. Males have a median income of $35,544 versus $27,616 for females. The per capita income for the city is $18,617. 13.1% of the population and 8.9% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 14.1% of those under the age of 18 and 7.2% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.