Salinas is the county seat and the largest municipality of Monterey County, California. Salinas is located 10 miles (16 km) east-southeast of the mouth of the Salinas River, at an elevation of about 52 feet (16 m) above sea level. The most current estimate from the California Department of Finance sets the 2006 population at about 148,350, showing a small decline since the year 2000. This city is located at the mouth of the Salinas Valley roughly eight miles from the Pacific Ocean and enjoys a mild climate. The climate is also ideal for the floral industry and grape vineyards planted by world-famous vintners. Salinas is known for being an agricultural center and also for being the hometown of the noted writer and Nobel Prize in Literature winner John Steinbeck.
The Salinas post office opened in 1854. A traveler's inn called the Halfway House at the intersection of two stage coach routes was built in 1856 and a settlement grew up there. The streets of Salinas was laid out in 1867, and the town was incorporated in 1874. The city was named after the word for a "salt marsh" in Spanish, salinas.
The economy of Salinas is largely based on agriculture. Located in one of California's richest farming regions, the area produces a variety of fruits and vegetables, including lettuce, many major vegetable producers are headquartered in Salinas. The historic prevalence of row crops is documented by aerial photographic interpretation of Earth Metrics, Aerial photographic interpretation which study also indicated a major conversion of cropland to urban uses over the time period 1956 to 1968, with that trend continuing for the next decades as well.
Salinas was also the birthplace of writer and Nobel Prize laureate John Steinbeck. The recently revitalized historic downtown (so called Old Town Salinas), featuring much fine Victorian architecture, is home to the National Steinbeck Center, the Steinbeck House and the John Steinbeck Library.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 22.8 square miles (52.5 km²), all of it land.
The city rests about 18 meters (59 ft) above sea level, and it is located roughly eight miles from the Pacific Ocean, as the crow flies. The Gabilan and Santa Lucia mountain ranges border the Salinas Valley to the east and to the west, respectively. Both mountain ranges and the Salinas Valley run approximately 90 miles (145 km) south-east from Salinas towards King City.
The population density was 7,948.4 per square mile (3,068.1/km²). There were 39,659 housing units at an average density of 2,086.8/sq mi (805.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 45.16% White, 6.22% Asian American, 3.27% African American, 1.26% Native American, 38.70% from other races, and 5.12% from two or more races. 64.13% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. 49.2% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.6% were married couples living together, 14.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.6% were non-families. 17.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.69 and the average family size was 4.08.
Age distribution was 32.0% under the age of 19 or younger, 11.8% from 18 to 24, 33.7% from 25 to 44, 15.5% from 45 to 64, and 7.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 117.7 males. For every 102 females age 18 and over, there were 117.4 males.
The median household income was $43,728, and the median family income was $44,669. Males had a median income of $35,641 versus $27,013 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,495. About 12.8% of families and 16.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.1% of those under age 18 and 9.4% of those age 65 or over.
Median household income in the city tended to be significantly higher alongside the city limits, especially in the northern Harden Ranch and Creekbridge neighborhoods. East Salinas and the downtown area suffered from a very low median household income as well as high crime rates. South and North Salinas featured roughly the same level of median households income with the latter being home to city's wealthiest newly constructed neighborhoods.
Salinas is known as the Salad Bowl of America or Salad Bowl of the World. Over 80% of the lettuce grown in the United States is grown in the Salinas Valley. The city's labor force is 54.6% blue collar and 45.4% white collar. According to the 2000 US Census, 24% of the population worked in sales and office occupations, 21.4% worked in management, professional, and related occupations, 16.2% worked in service occupations, 14.9% worked in farming, fishing, and forestry occupations, 14.4% worked in production, transportation, and material moving occupations, and 9.1% worked in construction, extraction, and maintenance occupations. Many believe these numbers are skewed as they do not include a significant portion of farm workers and blue collar workers who are migratory and undocumented, and are present for approximately 9 months of the year.
During the first half of this decade, the Salinas city government struggled to deal with funding shortages. A downturn in the state economy, combined with an unusually low per-capita tax base, forced the city to curtail certain services. During the crisis, Salinas almost became the first city in the United States to close its libraries. However, private donations provided an ample stop-gap measure, keeping the libraries open with reduced hours. Donations were raised through Rally Salinas!, a grassroots fundraising organization launched by the city's mayor, to keep the libraries open through 2005.
In November 2005, voters approved a tax measure to fund several vital services in the city, including libraries, by a 61 percent vote. The measure, known locally as Measure V, will provide some $11 million in funding to take effect in the 2007 fiscal year. The measure will allow the city to start restoring more than $15 million in service cuts including the closure of three recreation centers and the elimination of graffiti abatement and crossing guard money for schools. An independent oversight committee was appointed by the City Council to oversee the money raised by the tax increase, which will be in place for the next 10 years. In April 2006, the committee recommended dedicating 70% of revenues to restoring library and police services.
In 2006, the city's financial situation was considerably improved, as Salinas officials announced a budget surplus. In July 2007, library restoration had progressed enough to increase opening hours to 117 (across the three branches), which was the number before the budget cuts but only 68% of the system's peak of 171. In late July, the city announced the hiring of a new library director who declared a long-term goal of opening the system 7 days a week, which was achieved in October 2008. Various community groups, including Friends of the Salinas Public Library and the Salinas Library Commission, are championing the effort for reinvention of the library system to improve and expand services.
One of the city's most serious problems are the violent crime-gangs. The city's current violent crime rate is above the national average.
|Type of Data||1985||1987||1989||1991||1993||1995||1997||1999||2001||2003||2005||2006||2007||2008|
|Salinas Homicide rate||11.1||7.0||6.7||6.3||12.9||12.5||14.6||9.7||9.7||12.6||12.9||10.7||10.0||22.9|
|National homicide rate||8.0||8.3||8.7||9.8||9.5||8.2||6.8||5.7||5.6||5.7||5.6||N/A||N/A||N/A|
SOURCE: US Department of Justice Statistics, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2005; KSBW.com, 2009
Salinas has cool and moderate temperatures, due to the "natural air conditioner" that conveys ocean air and fog from the Monterey Bay to Salinas, while towns to the north and south of Salinas experience hotter summers, as mountains block the ocean air. Thus, Salinas weather is closer to that of the Central Coast of California, rather than that of inland valleys, and thus enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate with typical daily highs ranging from around 52 °F (11 °C) in the winter to around 72 °F (22 °C) in the summer. The difference between ocean and air temperature also tends to create heavy morning fog during the summer months, known as the marine layer, driven by an onshore wind created by the local high pressure sunny portions of the Salinas Valley, which extend north and south from Salinas and the Bay.
The average annual rainfall for the city is approximately 14.4 inches (370 mm). Occasionally, there is snowfall on the peaks of the Gabilan and Santa Lucia mountain ranges, but snow in the city itself is extremely rare, occurring about once every 10 to 20 years on average.
Salinas boasts an emerging arts scene led by the First Fridays Art Walk and the innovative use of non-traditional or business venues to exhibit art and host live local music. The oldest gallery in Salinas, the Valley Art Gallery, has been active for over 30 years. The Hartnell College Gallery hosts world-class exhibitions of art during the school year. The National Steinbeck Center has two galleries with changing exhibits, and the city's newest @Risk Gallery features cutting-edge and visionary exhibitions. The Art Walk, held in the downtown area, features 50 venues.
Live theater companies in Salinas include Ariel Theatrical located in the Wilson's Children's Theater in Oldtown Salinas, and the Western Stage, a professional company who performs in the Hartnell College Performing Arts Center.
Live local music is available at many restaurants in the downtown area, and during the First Fridays Art Walk. Concerts are held at the historic Fox California Theater , Sherwood Hall and the Salinas Sports Complex, as well as at Hartnell Community College .
Salinas is home to many public murals, including work by John Cerney which can be viewed in the agricultural fields surrounding the city. Claes Oldenburg placed his sculpture, Hat in Three Stages of Landing, in Sherwood Park at the center of the city.