According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.1 square miles (10.6 km²), all of it land.
Grass Valley has warm to hot, dry summers, and wet, rainy winters. Summer is very dry but a thunderstorm may occur. The dry season is from May to September. November to mid-April is the true rainy season. Grass Valley has somewhat of an Oceanic climate, except that summers are warmer and dry enough to give Grass Valley characteristics of the Mediterranean Climate like much of Northern California. Snow does occur at times and can be heavy. The winter rains contribute to a heavy fuel-loading of brush and grass, which dry out during the summer, posing a wildfire hazard.
|Weather data for Grass Valley, California|
|Average high °F (°C)||50 |
|Average low °F (°C)||30 |
|Precipitation inches (mm)||9.89 |
|Source: weather.com 2009-02-23|
As of the census of 2000, there were 10,922 people, 5,016 households, and 2,678 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,660.2 people per square mile (1,026.0/km²). There were 5,266 housing units at an average density of 1,282.6/sq mi (494.7/km²).
The racial makeup of the city was 91.91% White, 6.56% Hispanic, or Latino, 3.71% from two or more races, 0.27% Black or African American, 1.34% Native American, 1.05% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, and 1.66% from other races
Out of the 5,016 households, 46.6% were non-families, 39.1% of all households were made up of individuals, 32.4% were married couples living together, 26.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 20.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older, and 16.3% had a female householder with no husband present The average household size was 2.13 and the average family size was 2.80 people.
The population was spread out with 23.3% under age 18, 9.3% ages 18 to 24, 25.1% ages 25 to 44, 20.3% ages 45 to 64, and 22.0% age 65 and older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 81.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 75.1 males.
The median household income was $28,182, while the median family income was $33,220. The median income for males was $32,568 compared to $21,915 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,877. About 12.9% of families and 14.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.0% of those under age 18 and 6.3% of those age 65 or over.
In the state legislature Grass Valley is located in the 4th Senate District, represented by Republican Sam Aanestad, and in the 4th Assembly District, represented by Republican Ted Gaines. Federally, Grass Valley is located in California's 4th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of R +11 and is represented by Republican Tom McClintock.
Grass Valley dates from the California Gold Rush, as does nearby Nevada City. It was originally named Centreville when a post office was established in 1851, but renamed Grass Valley the following year for unknown reasons. The town incorporated in 1860.
Grass Valley is the location of the Empire Mine, one of the richest mines in California. Many of those who came to settle in Grass Valley were tin miners from Cornwall. They were attracted to the California gold fields because the same skills needed for deep tin mining were needed for hardrock (deep) gold mining. Many of them specialized in pumping the water out of very deep mining shafts. This coincided with a glut in Cornish tin mining.
Grass Valley still holds on to its Cornish heritage, with events such as its annual Cornish Christmas and St Piran's Day celebrations. Pasties are a local favorite dish with a few restaurants in town specializing in recipes handed down from the original immigrant generation. Grass Valley is also twinned with the Cornish town of Bodmin, UK.
There was formerly a Roman Catholic diocese of Grass Valley.
The Grass Valley Group is a research and development company founded in the city in 1958, specializing in video amplifiers and television switchers. Some of its technology appeared on-screen in the 1977 film Star Wars. The company is now a subsidiary of Thomson SA.