Incorporated on April 27, 1948
By Allen D. Payton
Save The Date!
Don’t miss the City of San Pablo’s 75th Anniversary of Incorporation/Cityhood! Join us on Thursday, April 27th from 4 PM – 7 PM at the New City Hall for live music, food and family fun. We hope to see you there!
San Pablo History
According to the City’s Wikipedia page, San Pablo traces its history to Rancho San Pablo, a Mexican-era rancho granted to Francisco María Castro in 1823 and reconfirmed to his son Don Víctor Castro, a noted Californio ranchero and politician, in 1834.
According to the City’s website, “the Castro Family received almost 20,000 acres in a Spanish land grant. It was the home of Governor Juan Bautista Alvarado, the first native-born governor of the State of California who had married one of the Castro daughters. The city was incorporated on April 27, 1948.
By the 1900s, a small town of San Pablo was firmly established, and a big school was built there to accommodate children from nearby ranches. The principal of this school was Walter Helms, for whom Helms Junior High is named. In 1914 San Pablo’s first library opened with about 100 books. A number of property owners near downtown San Pablo subdivided their farmland for housing tracts during the first decade of the 20th century. Most of the streets laid out at that time are still in use today.
World War II changed the town of San Pablo forever into a suburban city. The last dairy ranchers sold out to giant corporations, and the last farmers divided and sold their land for housing tracts.
Between 1940 and 1945, San Pablo’s population boomed, increasing more than tenfold from just 2,000 residents to 25,000, due to the jobs at the Richmond Shipyard. People came from all over the United States to get jobs as welders. Many African Americans came from the South and established the first sizable black community. Housing was put up as quickly as possible to accommodate these new workers. Many of these tiny homes on small lots that characterize San Pablo were built during the war. Not all of them were intended to be permanent buildings and had shoddy construction.
The post-war community settled down to raise families. In the 1950s public works projects paved the streets, added sidewalks and installed streetlights. Playgrounds were opened, a hospital was built, Contra Costa College opened, shopping centers replaced wartime housing. Gambling was outlawed.”