City of Pleasanton Celebrates 125th Anniversary

In June the City of Pleasanton's City Council kicked off two months of special events to celebrate a milestone. The main celebration will be held downtown on Friday, August 2nd, from 3 to 9 PM. The celebration of Pleasanton's 125th anniversary will include live music, family friendly entertainment, activities, food, and fun. Pleasanton City Council members will help distribute birthday cake, and the band Public Eye will perform a concert beginning at 5:30 PM.

Looking Back

In February 1894, a petition to incorporate the City of Pleasanton was given to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. Attached were 62 signatures from residents who supported the measure, along with 49 signatures from residents who were against the measure. Regulations for incorporation were duly followed, according to the book Pleasanton, California: A Brief History by Ken MacLennan for Pleasanton's Museum on Main. In June of that year a majority of the eligible voters approved the proposal to officially incorporate the City of Pleasanton. The new city's new officials got to work immediately on local matters. By the end of 1894, the City of Pleasanton's incorporation was complete.

Less than a year after the incorporation vote, the San Francisco Call newspaper ran a long and flattering profile of the city, which continues to gain favorable news coverage to this day. Titled "Fairest Pleasanton, One of the Thriving Towns of Livermore Valley," the profile praised many aspects of Pleasanton, including its climate, crops, and stables. "The first town of this district is appropriately named Pleasanton. The air is clear, the heavens blue, no salt sea winds can pass through the Coast Range of mountains that lie off to the west and separate Livermore Valley, thirty-five miles from the shores of San Francisco Bay, with its great metropolis and thriving sister city, Oakland, on either side. Pleasanton, with its 1000 or more inhabitants, is a pretty town, with streets bordered with shade trees," noted the newspaper.

"Pleasanton has splendid cool artesian water from many wells in the vicinity, which contain many medicinal properties, magnesia and iron predominating. The raising of fine stock is almost a craze in this Livermore Valley country. No one seems to drive slow horses in this royal domain of horsedom. All the ranch boys go spinning along the smooth highways. A number of fine stock farms are here, where famous thoroughbred sires and dams see their sons and daughters train and go forth to win on all the great race courses of the country."

In 1906, the Pacific Rural Press also lavished praise on the area. "Well named is Pleasanton quadrangle California, of which the United States Geological Survey has recently published a topographical map. Although the same has been said of nearly every habitable part of California, there is in this statement nothing but pure, unadulterated truth that here is one of the most charming localities of a delightful State. The climate is equable and mild, the rainfall is sufficient to ensure good crops without irrigation, and the large cities about San Francisco Bay provide a good market for practically everything that can be produced.

"... The hay that grows on these hills, together with the race track at Pleasanton, has made the locality famous among race-horse men. This hay would seem to have wonderful speed-producing qualities, and the race track, which is plainly shown on the map, is known to be one of the best anywhere. It was here that Lou Dillon, queen of trotting horses, was trained. Many followers of the track make a practice of wintering their racers here to give them the benefit of the hay and the track. The hill country which is not farmed furnishes excellent pasturage."

Looking Ahead

Like all cities, Pleasanton has faced uncertain times since its incorporation. Throughout the United States, residents have struggled through challenging times, and Pleasanton is no exception. These challenges have included the Prohibition era, which hit local vineyards hard; the Great Depression; and the two World Wars. Despite such hardships, the natural attributes of Pleasanton and the talent and hard work of its residents, community leaders, and business executives have transformed a once tiny town into a prosperous, growing, and innovative city that works to preserve the best of the past while updating city services and structures to support modern needs.

When it comes to preserving the past, the Alviso Adobe Community Park in Pleasanton is one successful example. The seven-acre park was created around an adobe house constructed in 1854 by Francisco Alviso. This rare instance of an early American adobe building was continuously in use until 1969. The adobe is a California Historic Landmark and one of several historic buildings preserved over the years. The Heathcote-MacKenzie House at the Alameda County Fairgrounds, rescued from destruction in the late 1990s and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is another. Pleasanton has also taken care to preserve the historic character of its downtown, which has become a premier destination for visitors from outside the area as well as residents.

While the City of Pleasanton is proud of its history and works to preserve it, Pleasanton is not stuck in the past. The "City of Planned Progress" has worked to help a variety of businesses become established. Pleasanton has become a hub for life sciences companies, many of them located at Hacienda. Pleasanton officials support innovation in other ways as well, including in energy use, infrastructure, and recycling. It also works to innovate in less obvious ways to help residents. In 2017, for example, Pleasanton became the first city in the Bay Area to install a protected intersection for cyclists and pedestrians.

"The qualities that made this a desirable place for a city to incorporate remain in place today," says Pamela Ott, Director of Economic Development. "From our early days as a leader in the hops industry to today's position as a destination community with an outstanding quality of life for residents and businesses, we have thoughtfully planned for Pleasanton's progress-with great success. These first one hundred and twenty-five years are worthy of celebration and serve as a solid foundation on which to continue to build a thriving community."

The many anniversary celebrations will include a "Play Date Art Exhibition" opening on August 1st at the Firehouse Arts Center. A Museum on Main special exhibit called "Pleasanton at 125" will open on August 2nd and be on display until the end of the year. The museum's new permanent history gallery, "Growing Pleasanton," also opens on August 2nd. Finally, the Pleasanton Senior Center will present a special anniversary social with games and refreshments from 12:30 to 2 PM on August 2nd.

"There is no better time than now to come together as a community and celebrate the heart and soul of our wonderful City of Pleasanton," says Laura Olson, Executive Director of the Pleasanton Downtown Association. "Growing up here, I know that in order to keep our community vibrant and alive, we need to not only live and work together but also recreate and celebrate together. It's my hope that residents and visitors alike will join us and revel in the past, present, and future of this wonderful town."

For more information about the City of Pleasanton's 125th anniversary celebration, please visit

For more information about the Museum on Main, please visit

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