horizontal banner with Preserve America logo and images of a historic downtown, farm, courthouse, and mountain

Preserve America is a national initiative in cooperation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; the U.S. Departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Education; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities; and the President's Council on Environmental Quality.

Preserve America Community:
Fresno, California

Fresno (population 427,652) is the county seat of Fresno County, California, and the principal historic and cultural center of the San Joaquin Valley.

Van Ness Avenue gate, Fresno, California The Fresno, California, Van Ness Avenue gate entrance was built in 1920 and is on the city's Register of Historic Places. (Photo courtesy of City of Fresno)

The community was founded in 1872 as a railroad town and developed as a hub of agricultural production. A variety of ethnic and religious groups were drawn to the area's rich and affordable farm land, and Fresno today is the third most ethnically diverse city in the country.

That diversity led the city in 2003 to host the conference and workshop, "Ethnicity, Community, and Historic Preservation in the Central San Joaquin Valley." Included in the conference was a tour of five historic ethnic sacred places, including a Chinese Catholic church and a Mexican Baptist church.

Fresno's Register of Historic Resources includes 237 individual listings and one historic district. (Twelve other potential historic districts have been identified.) Twenty-six properties are also listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Included among the latter is the Santa Fe Depot (1896), which has been acquired by the city and is being rehabilitated to serve as an Amtrak rail station and transit hub.

An important landmark and symbol of the community is its Romanesque-style Fresno Water Tower (1894), which is now used as a tourist information center. Fresno is a gateway community for Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon national parks, and the center is an important focal point where visitors can obtain information not only on these nearby natural wonders, but also on Fresno's heritage attractions.

This year will mark the 25th anniversary of Fresno's historic preservation ordinance, which is administered by the city's Historic Preservation Commission.

For more information

City of Fresno: www.fresno.gov

City of Fresno historic preservation program:

A Guide to Historic Architecture in Fresno:

Fresno City and County Convention and Visitors Bureau:

Updated April 13, 2009

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