The City of Napa recognized the City’s 150th Anniversary of incorporation at the August 16, 2022, Council meeting with a proclamation, inviting community members to observe and celebrate this milestone by reflecting on the City’s history.
“Celebrations of the 150th anniversary of our city’s incorporation and the 175th anniversary of our founding remind us of the deep pride Napans feel in our home – the generations of families who have shaped the community, our beautiful landscape and weather, and the dedication of our public servants and elected officials,” said Mayor Scott Sedgley. “It’s important to appreciate our roots and celebrate the progress we continue to make as a city.”
The Napa Valley area was first home to the native indigenous Wappo tribes, famed as basket makers and hunter-gatherers. Following Spanish exploration of the valley in the early 19th century, a Spanish rancher was given a Mexican land grant to raise cattle herds and horses in an area that is now downtown and South Napa.
Further land trades and development, coupled with the opportunities presented by Napa’s riverfront, positioned the Napa area as an important freight and trading post. With the arrival of the Napa Valley Railroad in the 1860s, a settlement emerged and became the “town of Napa” in 1872.
Although the City’s early history includes some painful chapters, Napa has been a multicultural city since the very beginning. In addition to indigenous peoples and Californios of Spanish descent, Napa was home to Chinese immigrants who came to build the railroads and work in the vineyards, establishing a Chinatown with nearly 2,000 residents.
Napa’s growth and regional significance continued to expand in the early and mid-1900s, and the city became well-known for tanneries, industrial activity, and ingenuity. Napa was the home to multiple inventions, from the first loudspeaker to the local favorite Italian dish Malfatti.
“Napa has always been a hub of industry and economic development since the beginning of our history,” said Mayor Sedgley. “Reflecting back, it’s been extremely rewarding to see the positive aspects of our growth carry into the 21st century. Not only is Napa internationally renowned for our incredible food, wine, hospitality, arts and local events, it’s also a great place to call home for residents and businesses alike.”
The City of Napa has transformed from an agricultural and industrial-based City to one that supports the world-famous wine growing region and over 3.85 million annual visitors throughout the Napa Valley. Today, the City serves a population of just under 80,000, is the seat of Napa County, and employs over 500 staff dedicated to providing a full range of municipal services, including police, fire, utilities, public works and parks and recreation.
The City’s current municipal success was built from the strong foundation of the early public servants and elected officials, whose forward-thinking approach to infrastructure and municipal services paved the way for the creation of Parks and Recreation land, public control of waterworks, and the execution of large infrastructure projects like flood management.
“The Napa community has faced our fair share of challenges throughout our history, and we will undoubtedly continue to confront new challenges,” added Steve Potter, City Manager. “But Napans have always shown perseverance and resilience. With each new issue, we find solutions and become a more dedicated and prepared community; a community bound together by the support and services from our established government.”
Community members can dive into more of the City’s history at https://www.cityofnapa.org/282/History-of-Napa, and through local programs with the Napa County Historical Society and research at the Napa County Library.