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Walnut Creek

Walnut Creek is an incorporated city located 16 miles (26 km) east of the city of Oakland, in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. While not as large as neighboring Concord, Walnut Creek serves as the business and entertainment hub for the neighboring cities within central Contra Costa County, due in part to its location at the junction of the highways from Sacramento and San Jose (I-680) and San Francisco/Oakland (SR-24), as well as its accessibility by BART. The city had a total population of 64,173 according to the 2010 U.S. Census. Walnut Creek is the headquarters of the Pac-12 Conference.

History

There are three bands of Bay Miwok Indians associated with early Walnut Creek: the Saclan, whose territory extended through the hills east of present day Oakland, Rossmoor, Lafayette, Moraga, and Walnut Creek; the Volvon (also spelled Bolbon, Wolwon, and Zuicun) at Mt. Diablo; and the Tactan at Danville and Walnut Creek, on San Ramon Creek.

Today’s Walnut Creek is located amidst the earlier site of four Mexican land grants. One of these land grants – measuring 18,000 acres (73 km2) – belonged to Juana Sanchez de Pacheco, who deeded it to her two grandsons. Ygnacio Sibrian, one of the grandsons, created the first roofed home in the valley in about 1850. The grant was called Rancho Arroyo de Las Nueces y Bolbones, named after the principal waterway, Arroyo de las Nueces (Walnut Creek) as well as for the local group of indigenous Americans (Bolbones). The Arroyo de los Nueces was named for the occurrence in the valley of the native species of walnut tree, the California Walnut.

With the coming of American settlers following the US-Mexico War, a small settlement called “The Corners” emerged, named because it was the place where roads from Pacheco and Lafayette met. The site of this first American settlement is found today at the intersection of Mt. Diablo Boulevard and North Main Street. The first town settler was William Slusher, who built a dwelling on the bank of Walnut Creek, which was called “Nuts Creek” by the Americans in 1849. In the year 1855, Milo Hough of Lafayette built the hotel named “Walnut Creek House” in the corners. A blacksmith shop and a store soon joined the hotel, and a year later, Hiram Penniman (who built Shadelands Ranch) laid out the town site and realigned the Main Street of today. Two decades later, the community changed its name from The Corners to Walnut Creek.

In December 1862 a United States Post Office was established, and the community was named “Walnut Creek”. The downtown street patterns laid out in 1871–1872 by pioneer Homer Shuey on a portion of one of his family’s large cattle ranches are still present today.

Walnut Creek began to grow with the arrival of Southern Pacific Railroad service in 1891. On October 21, 1914, the town and the surrounding area of 500 acres (2 km2), were incorporated as the 8th city in Contra Costa County.

A branch line of the Southern Pacific railroad ran through Walnut Creek until the late 1970s. The East Bay Regional Park District‘s Iron Horse Trail, used by walkers, runners and bikers, runs over what was portions of that branch line. The mainline of the Sacramento Northern Railway passed through Walnut Creek. Both railroads had stations here. Today, the Pittsburg/Bay Point – SFO Line line of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) serves Walnut Creek with a station adjacent to Highway 680.

With the downtown opening of the Broadway Shopping Center (Now Broadway Plaza), Contra Costa County’s first major retail center, in 1951, the city took off in a new direction, and its population more than tripled from 2,460 in 1950 to 9,903 in 1960.

Today, Walnut Creek, the actual waterway, has been routed underneath downtown through a series of tunnels starting at the southwest end of Macy’s and ending just southwest of Maria Maria Restaurant and bar.

Open Space

Walnut Creek owns more open space per capita than any other community in the state of California. In 1974, Walnut Creek voters approved a $6.7 million bond measure that allowed the city to purchase 1,800 acres (7 km2) of undeveloped hillsides, ridge lines, and park sites. Walnut Creek owns parts of Lime Ridge Open Space, Shell Ridge Open Space, Acalanes Ridge Open Space, and Sugarloaf Open Space.

The East Bay Regional Park District operates Diablo Foothills Regional Park, and Castle Rock Regional Recreation Area, in Walnut Creek.

Demographics

The 2010 United States Census reported that Walnut Creek had a population of 64,173. The population density was 3,246.2 people per square mile (1,253.4/km²). The racial makeup of Walnut Creek was 50,487 (78.7%) White, 1,035 (1.6%) African American, 155 (0.2%) Native American, 8,027 (12.5%) Asian, 125 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 1,624 (2.5%) from other races, and 2,720 (4.2%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5,540 persons (8.6%).

The Census reported that 63,171 people (98.4% of the population) lived in households, 176 (0.3%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 826 (1.3%) were institutionalized.

There were 30,443 households, out of which 6,363 (20.9%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 13,305 (43.7%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 2,071 (6.8%) had a female householder with no husband present, 844 (2.8%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 1,286 (4.2%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 298 (1.0%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 11,884 households (39.0%) were made up of individuals and 6,424 (21.1%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.08. There were 16,220 families (53.3% of all households); the average family size was 2.79.

The population was spread out with 10,719 people (16.7%) under the age of 18, 3,599 people (5.6%) aged 18 to 24, 15,137 people (23.6%) aged 25 to 44, 17,653 people (27.5%) aged 45 to 64, and 17,065 people (26.6%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 47.9 years. For every 100 females there were 86.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.0 males.

There were 32,681 housing units at an average density of 1,653.2 per square mile (638.3/km²), of which 20,262 (66.6%) were owner-occupied, and 10,181 (33.4%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 2.4%; the rental vacancy rate was 6.7%. 43,079 people (67.1% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 20,092 people (31.3%) lived in rental housing units.