Rodeo (pronounced /roʊˈdeɪ.oʊ/) is a census-designated place (CDP) located in Contra Costa County, California on the shore of San Pablo Bay. The population was 8,717 at the 2000 census. The town is named for the livestock roundups common in the late 1800s. Cattle from the surrounding hills were regularly driven down through the old town to a loading dock on the shoreline of San Pablo Bay for shipment to slaughterhouses, a practice which continued through the early decades of the 20th century. The town of Rodeo is served by the Interstate 80 freeway and State Route 4. The Southern Pacific Railroad main line passes through Rodeo; however, Rodeo has not been a stop on the railroad since the 1950s.
Becoming successful ranchers and businessmen, they would amass sizable fortunes and eventually hold public office. Patrick Tormey (for whom the nearby town of Tormey is named) had visions of this area of Contra Costa County becoming the meatpacking and canning center of the Pacific coast. In partnership with the Union Stockyard Co. in 1890, he sold some of the land to them and began to lay out plans and make large investments for the stockyard facilities. Eventually, streets were graded and lots were prepared for homesteads, thus creating the town of Rodeo.
Patrick Tormey also sold land in the nearby town of Oleum to the California Lumber Co. for use as a lumberyard (which eventually would be sold to the Union Oil Co. for an oil refinery site). He also sold land in nearby Selby, which was used by the Selby Smelting & Lead Co. He also personally funded the meatpacking plant, corrals and the Rodeo Hotel.
After recession in 1893, Patrick Tormey struggled to keep finances going as business began to close, culminating with the bankruptcy of the Union Stockyard Co. Patrick Tormey would be plagued with lawsuits over the bankruptcy for the remainder of his life. Residents were able to continue to find work in nearby towns of Crockett (C&H Sugar), Vallejo (the Mare Island Naval Shipyard), Hercules (Hercules Powder Co.), and the aforementioned Union Oil Co. in Oleum.
Rodeo as a community managed to continue on, but was devastated in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. In the aftermath, the town would rebuild much like other communities in and around the greater San Francisco Bay area. Today there is a large oil refinery adjacent to Rodeo, currently operated by ConocoPhillips.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 7.4 square miles (19.1 km²), all land. Public education is provided by Rodeo Hills Elementary School and John Swett High School in the neighboring town of Crockett.
As of the census of 2000, there were 8,717 people, 2,882 households, and 2,204 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 1,183.3 people per square mile (456.7/km²). There were 2,984 housing units at an average density of 405.1/sq mi (156.3/km²). The per capita income for the CDP was $21,432. About 6.0% of families and 6.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.5% of those under age 18 and 6.2% of those age 65 or over.
In October 2003, animal rights group PETA urged the town to change its name because it invokes images of the sport of rodeo, which they claim is harmful to animals. As a replacement name, they suggested Unity, an acknowledgement of Union Oil's role in saving the area economically in the late 19th century. PETA offered to donate $20,000 worth of veggie burgers to local schools if the name was changed.