Vallejo (pronounced /vəˈleɪoʊ/ or /vəˈleɪhoʊ/ in English; /baˈʎexo/ in the original Spanish) is the largest city in Solano County, California, United States. The population was 116,760 at the 2000 census. It is located in the San Francisco Bay Area on the northeastern shore of San Pablo Bay. Vallejo is named for General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo.
Vallejo is home to the Six Flags Discovery Kingdom theme park (formerly Marine World and Marine World Africa USA) ; the now-defunct Mare Island Naval Shipyard; the regional office for Region 5 of the United States Forest Service; the California Maritime Academy (part of the California State University system); the Vallejo Center campus of Solano Community College; and Touro University, an osteopathic medical college. Ferry service runs from a terminal on Mare Island Strait to San Francisco, through Vallejo Transit's BayLink division. Vallejo is well known among hip-hop fans as the home to many rappers, including E-40, Mac Mall, Mac Dre, and Young Lay.
Vallejo has twice served as the capital of the State of California: once in 1852 and again in 1853, both periods being quite brief. Some of the first Europeans drawn to the Vallejo area were attracted by the sulfur springs; in the year 1902 the area was named Blue Rock Springs. In 2008, Vallejo became the largest California city ever to file for bankruptcy.
According to United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 126.3 km² (48.8 mi²). Land area is 78.2 km² (30.2 mi²), and 48.1 km² (18.6 mi²) of it (38.07%) is water. The Napa River flows until it changes into the Mare Island Strait in Vallejo which then flows into the San Pablo Bay.
Vallejo is part of the North Bay region of the Bay Area in Central California. Vallejo is accessible by Interstate 80 between San Francisco and Sacramento, and is the location for the northern half of the Carquinez Bridge. It is also accessible by Interstate 780 from neighboring Benicia to the east, and by Route 37 from Sonoma to the west. Route 29 (former U.S. Route 40) begins in the city near the Carquinez Bridge and travels north through the heart of the city and beyond into Napa County, entering neighboring American Canyon and eventually Napa.
Several faults have been mapped in the vicinity of Vallejo. The San Andreas Fault and Hayward Faults are the most active faults, even though the San Andreas is at some distance. Locally, the Sulphur Springs Valley Thrust Fault and Southhampton Fault are found. No quaternary seismic activity along these minor faults has been observed with the possible exception of a slight offset revealed by trenching. The Sulphur Mountain and Green Valley faults have been associated with the Concord Fault to the south. The Concord Fault is considered active. Historically there have been local cinnabar mines in the Vallejo area. The Hastings Mine and St. John's Mine contribute ongoing water contamination for mercury; furthermore, mine shaft development has depleted much of this area's spring water. Both Rindler Creek and Blue Rocks Spring Creek have been affected.
There are a variety of flora and fauna in the Vallejo area. The Suisun Shrew, Sorex ornatus sinuosus, a mammal found only in salt marshes, has local habitat. Also according to city's 1989 Environmental Assessment, the Tiburon Indian paintbrush, (Castilleja neglecta) is found in the Vallejo area.
As of the census of 2000, there were 116,760 people, 39,601 households, and 28,245 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,495.3/km² (3,868.9/mi²). There were 41,219 housing units at an average density of 527.2/km² (1,365.4/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 36.0% White, 23.7% African American, 0.7% Native American, 24.2% Asian, 1.1% Pacific Islander, 7.9% from other races, and 6.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 15.9% of the population.
Vallejo has the third highest percentage of Filipino Americans in the United States mainland, behind the nearby cities of Daly City and Hercules. As of 2009, Vallejo is the 9th largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area, 48th in the state of California, and 215th in the U.S. by population.
There were 39,601 households out of which 36.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.1% were married couples living together, 16.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.7% were non-families. 22.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.90 and the average family size was 3.43.
In the city the population was spread out with 27.6% under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 29.6% from 25 to 44, 22.6% from 45 to 64, and 11.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 93.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $47,030, and the median income for a family was $53,805. Males had a median income of $40,132 versus $32,129 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,415. About 7.7% of families and 10.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.2% of those under age 18 and 8.9% of those age 65 or over.
Vallejo was once home of the Coastal Miwok as well as Suisunes and other Patwin Native American tribes. The Columbus Parkway EIR documents three confirmed Native American sites located in the rock outcrops in the hills above Blue Rock Springs Park. The California Archaeological Inventory has indicated that the three Indian sites are located on Sulphur Springs Mountain.
The city of Vallejo was once part of the 84,000-acre (340 km2) Rancho Suscol Mexican land grant of 1843 by Governor Manuel Micheltorena to General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo. The city was named for this original Mexican military officer and title holder, he helped to settle and oversee the north bay region. General Vallejo was responsible for military peace in the region until 1846, when independently-minded Californians rose up against the Mexican government of California in 1846 in the Bear Flag Revolt, and the annexation of California to the United States. General Vallejo, though a Mexican and Mexican army officer, generally acquiesced in the annexation of California to the United States, recognizing the greater resources of the United States and benefits that would bring to California. He was a proponent of reconciliation and statehood after the Bear Flag Revolt, and has a U.S. Navy submarine, the USS Mariano G. Vallejo (SSBN 658), named after him.
In 1850, Vallejo proposed plans for a new city, to be called Eureka, with the capitol, university, botanical garden and other features. After a state wide referendum, his proposal was accepted, although a new name was decided upon: Vallejo. In 1851, a commission appointed by the Senate found a site on a hill that overlooked the bay and could see San Francisco on a clear day, and it was approved for its symbolic strategic value. In 1851, Vallejo was the official state capitol, with the government prepared to meet for the first time the following year. In 1852, the legislature convened for the first time. Unfortunately, Vallejo didn't follow through with building a capitol for them to meet in. After being forced to meet in a leaky building, sitting on barrels, they motioned to move sessions to Sacramento, and served there for the remainder of the session after only 11 days. In 1853, it was again the meeting place for the legislature, solely for the purpose of moving the capitol officially to Benicia, which occurred on February 4, 1853, after only a month. Benicia is named after Vallejo's wife, Francisca Benicia Carrillo. After legislature left, the government established a naval shipyard on Mare Island, which helped the town overcome the loss. The yard functioned for over a hundred years, finally closing in 1996.
In the early 1900s, Vallejo was home to a Class D minor-league baseball team, referred to in local newspapers sometimes as the "Giants" and other times simply as "The Vallejos." Pacific Coast League star and future Chicago White Sox center fielder Ping Bodie played for Vallejo during the 1908 season, in which the team reached the California state title game. The team was disbanded in the early 1920s.
Downtown Vallejo retains many of its historic Victorian and craftsman homes.
The incumbent mayor was former city council member Anthony Intintoli; as of December 2007, the current mayor is now Osby Davis. The mayoral race had Davis and Gary Cloutier tied on election day. Cloutier won the race initially. But the results of a recount declared Davis the winner instead, two days after Cloutier was already sworn in. Cloutier attempted to appeal a recount but stopped to do so for it needed to reach the higher court. The two candidates were firsts for Vallejo: Davis is the first black mayor elected in Vallejo; Cloutier would have been the first openly-gay mayor.
On May 6, 2008, the City Council voted 7-0 to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, becoming the largest city to do so ever in California. Stephanie Gomes, Vallejo City Councilwoman, largely blames exorbitant salaries and benefits for Vallejo firefighters and police officers. Reportedly, salaries and benefits for public safety workers account for 80 percent of Vallejo's general fund budget.
Two contributing factors have also been cited: the aforementioned high salaries, and current and future pension outlays, payments of which are likely not sustainable if bankruptcy is to be avoided..
Public schools in Vallejo are under the Vallejo City Unified School District.