The city is located on Highway 33, along the Interstate 5 corridor, 280 miles north of Los Angeles, 92 miles south of Sacramento, 89 miles southeast of San Francisco and 45 miles southeast of Livermore.
Pattersonites take great pride in the historical roots of their community. The history of Patterson begins with the measuring of the Rancho Del Puerto and the subsequent grant of the land to Mariano and Pedro Hernandez on January 30, 1844 by Manuel Micheltoreno, then Governor of the Californias. This Mexican Land Grant was for acreage stretching east of the present day Highway 33 to the San Joaquin River. The northern boundary was Del Puerto Creek and the southern boundary was just south of present day Marshall Road.
Samuel G. Reed and Ruben S. Wade made claim to the land on January 7, 1855. A patent encompassing the land grant was signed by President Abraham Lincoln. Reed and Wade received title to 13,340 acres on August 15, 1864. Reed and Wade then sold the grant to J. O. Eldredge on June 18, 1866 for $5,000. Mr. Eldredge held title for only two months before selling it to John D. Patterson on August 14, 1866 for $5,400. John D. Patterson was a farmer from New York.
John D. Patterson purchased additional land, and upon his death on March 7, 1902, a total of 18,462 acres were willed to Thomas W. Patterson and William W. Patterson, his estate executors, and other heirs. The land was sold to the Patterson Ranch Company on May 16, 1908 for the sum of $540,000.
Thomas W. Patterson subdivided the land into ranches of various sizes and plotted the design of the town of Patterson. Determined to make Patterson different from other cities, he modeled his town after Washington D.C. and Paris, France, using a series of circles and radiating streets. Its wagon-wheel structure is very distinctive. Major streets were planted with Palms, Eucalyptus, and Sycamore trees.
The palms extending east from the city to the San Joaquin River are on California’s list of registered landmarks, as are the Center Building and the Carnegie Library.
The Patterson Colony map was filed with the Stanislaus County Recorder’s office on December 13, 1909. Sales of the ranch properties and city lots commenced. Patterson was the third city in Stanislaus County to incorporate on December 22, 1919.
Patterson is now the "Apricot Capital of the World." During the first weekend in June, Downtown Patterson hosts the town's largest celebration of the year, the Apricot Fiesta. The event begins on Friday with several beauty pageants. The Patterson Library hosts an art show during the celebration, and local history displays are open to the public at the Patterson Museum, also known as the Center Building, located at the center of Patterson. The three-day celebration also features fireworks shows and, during early mornings, hot air balloons departing from the football stadium at Patterson High School. This celebration typically takes place the first weekend of June.
Also, in the past two years Patterson has been the site of the Fiestas Patrias celebration, commemorating the independence of various Latin American countries. This celebration is held in mid-September.
Patterson has a deep sense of its own history, which is exemplified by the Center Plaza. In the very center of Patterson is its mission-style Museum, which is the oldest building in town.
The Hotel Del Puerto across the street was finished just after the Center Building opened. The hotel housed potential land buyers arriving by train. The historical structure was destroyed by fire in 1996 and later rebuilt in similar design to the city hall.
Today, Patterson is in a state of transition and is blossoming into a fully-fledged city with a current population of 20,875. It houses many business professionals who like to have their homes in a quiet town and are able to commute to work in large cities like San Francisco. Patterson is a rural, small town surrounded by agricultural land. With agriculture as its primary economic base, orchards of apricots, almonds and walnuts, as well as row crops of dry beans, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, peas and melons play an important role in Patterson’s history. Agriculture and food processing industries are important to Stanislaus County’s economic success. However, the growing commercial, industrial and service sectors provide a diversified base for the areas labor force.
Development has expanded the town in recent history, and Patterson is a community in change.
Today, Patterson continues to take pride in its rich heritage while promoting balanced growth in a Well Planned Community. New neighborhoods blend well with the historical homes of Patterson’s past.
**A big thank you goes out to Ron Swift of the Patterson Museum, located in the Center Plaza of Patterson, California. http://www.ci.patterson.ca.us/Default.aspx?pi=15&ni=22 Ron provided the information and the museum’s pictures for this article. The City of Patterson’s webpage can be found at http://www.ci.patterson.ca.us/Default.aspx**