Fresno was founded by the Central Pacific Railroad Company in 1872, and Leland J. Stanford, a Director for the Railroad, is credited with selecting the site of the city. On a scouting party in 1871 Stanford noticed a wheat field belonging to A.Y. Easterby, lush and green in the middle of the dry prairie. Stanford announced, “Wonderful! Here we must build the town!” Fresno became the county seat in 1874 and was incorporated in 1885. By 1890 the population was over 10,000 and ornate Victorian commercial buildings lined Mariposa Street. The first streetcars were introduced in 1892 and streetcar suburbs soon followed. By the 1920s the streetcar system had 50 miles of track and Downtown core featured soaring neoclassical highrises and sidewalks packed with pedestrians.
Today, Fresno has the largest collection of historic resources in central California and preservation is playing an important role in the revitalization of Downtown and other neighborhoods. The City of Fresno’s Historic Preservation Ordinance was approved by the City Council in 1979 and today there are more than 300 designated historic resources. The City was the first in California designated as a Preserve America Community by former First Lady Laura Bush.