About Martinez

Martinez is a small, cozy, historic town nestled between the Mount Diablo foothills and the Carquinez Straights . A bustling shipping and trading town during the 1840’s gold rush, it became incorporated in 1876 .

Martinez is the original home of the Martini cocktail . It was rumored that an early settler looking for gold came to town, and wanted something to drink after a long day looking for gold . Not knowing what to order, the bartender suggested the “Martinez Special” . But after a few of these drinks, it became far too hard to pronounce the “z” sound, so it was dropped, and is now called the Martini .

Martinez became the county seat for Contra Costa County in 1850, attracting permanent residents which led to its incorporation . The local newspaper started the presses in 1858, bringing news to the many settlers of the new town .

At the same time, Martinez was growing a reputation as becoming a great shipping port bringing ships in from all over the world . The Central Pacific Railway arrived in 1877, becoming a part in the Transcontinental Line, and quickly becoming an important aspect in shipping .
In fact, Naturalist & founder of the Sierra Club, John Muir, owned property in Martinez from a land grant . When the railway came, in exchange for the line going on his land, he requested a station in order to ship his crops and other goods around the country . John Muir Station Road is no longer a train station, but a bustling shopping center located on John Muir Station Road .

The John Muir National Historic Site, where Muir’s home still stands, is located on Alhambra Avenue . It also features the Don Vicente Martinez Adobe, built by the son of the ranch owner, Don Ygnacio Martinez .The Alhambra Cemetery, a California State Point History of Martinez of Historic Interest, which has the grave of early trailblazer Captain Joseph Walker, attracts visitors from many areas interested in our rich culture .
Martinez is also the birthplace of Joe DiMaggio, the famous and infamous baseball player for the New York Yankees .The City also boasts the home of the world famous Christian Brother’s Winery . The winery, now defunct, shipped wine throughout the country until 1932 .
The Alhambra Water Company, known throughout the West Coast, was started in Martinez when land owner L .M . Lassell piped water from the Alhambra Valley mineral springs to a plant opposite the Historic Train Depot .

Although the town was leveled three times during the 1890–1904 period, the downtown is still as rich in culture as it has always been .
Gold rushers who couldn’t find gold bought land to start their families . Merchants then came to cater toward the needs of the new residents . Many were Irish & Portuguese families who tenant farmed in order to save money for their own property . Many Italians also came to work in the Mount Diablo Mines . The Italians enjoyed fishing in the blossoming Marina, and eventually their families grew to have their own neighborhood in Martinez, complete with Italian bakeries and shops . Across town were the “Portuguese Flats,” where many Portuguese settled .

The arrival of the Shell Oil Company in 1915, one of the oldest refineries in the United States created a residential boom, attracting laborers & workers, which led to the formation of younger towns throughout the Diablo Valley .

Martinez is still filled with rich culture, a quaint historic feel, and many bustling small businesses . Come and find the hidden gem in California, and visit Martinez!