California Namesakes

California Poppy

City and street names in modern Northern California reflect our Spanish/Mexican heritage, and the names of early Euro-American explorers and pioneers. Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in Marin County is named for the British buccaneer who found northern California in 1579 instead of the fabled Northwest Passage he was seeking. Drake claimed this region as New Albion for his queen—although British sovereignty in Spain’s already-claimed territory proved unenforceable. Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles honors California’s last Mexican governor Pio Pico, and LA’s Alvarado Street is named for Mexican governor Juan Alvarado, the man who gave Swiss emigrant John Sutter the 50,000 acre land grant in the wilderness that sprang into being as Sacramento City during the California Gold Rush. Sacramento’s nearby neighbor Folsom, and winding Folsom Boulevard, are named for Captain Joseph Folsom, who purchased a ranch that was once owned by William Leidesdorff, a wealthy and influential black man in pre-Gold Rush San Francisco. Modern Sacramento, Folsom, and San Francisco all have streets named in honor of John Sutter, Joseph Folsom, and William Leidesdorff.

 

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