Pleasanton is a city in Alameda County, in the state of California. From its primitive beginnings as the “Most Desperate Town On The West” to its present glory as one of America’s best places to live, Pleasanton is indeed a picture of transformation over the centuries. Consider Pleasanton’s past and how it evolved as one of California’s most affluent towns.
What is now Pleasanton today was once a vast expanse of fields and forests that consisted of sycamore, oak trees and grasses. There were also coyotes, elk, grizzly bears, cougars and many kinds of reptiles once taking up residence in the forests, and a large lagoon was teeming with salmon.
It proved to be an ideal place for settlement. The Native American Indians (Ohlones) are reported to be the first settlers of the valley. Towards the late 18th century, the Spaniards came into the area and built religious and military outposts (called missions), including the Mission San Jose, in parts of the country. When Mexico became independent from Spain in 1821, it marked the end of Spanish/Mexican reign over California which ultimately became a state in 1850.
One of the earliest communities built before the establishment of Pleasanton was collectively called El Alisal (The Sycamores), in 1844. The settlement was located on the grounds of Rancho Santa Rita that is now part of the modern-day Pleasanton. During the onset of the California Gold Rush, the town was labeled as “The Most Desperate Town In The West” as it was a haven for bandits who sought refuge after robbing from gold seekers coming from the mines. Violence, not surprisingly, happened nearly every day at El Alisal.
A Mexican land grant, called rancho (from which we get the English word “ranch”, by the way) was founded by an Alameda County JP John W. Kottinger. He named the place as Pleasonton in honor of his friend, US Army officer and General of Union Cavalry Alfred Pleasonton. Why did it change into its current name, Pleasanton? It was simply due to a typo error committed by the national post office.
Pleasanton is blessed with rich, arable soil, making it as an agricultural town which is especially known for its abundant hops production. The town’s fertile grounds have also made Pleasanton a world-famous horse racing track destination.
The town’s natural beauty and historic significance served as a backdrop for the 1917 silent film Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm starring Mary Pickford. Since then, Pleasanton has become a frequent shooting location for Hollywood films.
Pleasanton steadily prospered, with revenues culled from local retailers and businesses helping to fund the city’s infrastructure, in particular recreational and cultural centers. Pleasanton experienced a temporary lull of its local business front due to the big corporations from the outlying cities. But it soon experienced an economic resurgence, thanks to its strong-willed community and ambitious municipal progress that stressed the importance of downtown business.
The intersection of highways I-580 and I-680 also contributed to Pleasanton’s unstoppable progress.
Today Pleasanton enjoys a great level of prosperity as one Alameda County’s major commercial and corporate centers. It has a vibrant community with a warm, family-oriented atmosphere. It boasts many diverse and world-class parks (including the Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park), recreational and cultural programs for the residents as well as for tourists. As of 2010, Pleasanton’s population increased to 70,285. Its comparatively high standard of living earned the city a citation from Money magazine as one of America’s best places to live in 2010, ranking at #63.
Pleasanton may have lost much of its natural beauty as it had then hundreds of years ago, but it is still an attractive place to work, to play, to relax and discover, as well as to build one’s life and future.