Petaluma is a city full of character and charm. It enjoys a rich and quirky history and evidence of that history can still be found all over town to this day.
The City of Petaluma, California, was founded in 1850. It’s name is rumored to mean ‘flat back hills’ in the language of the Miwok Indians, who once inhabited the region. Petaluma was incorporated in 1858, making it the oldest city between San Francisco and Eureka.
In 1879,Lyman Byce invented the first successful incubator for hatching eggs and a new and profitable industry found it’s beginnings in Petaluma. Hundreds of chicken farms dotted the landscape around town. The price of eggs at the time were 30 cents per dozen and profits from the egg business poured into Petaluma. By 1917 Petaluma was the undisputed world leader of the chicken and egg industry. The Petaluma Chamber of Commerce hired Promoter Bert Kerrigan to capitalize on the chicken mania and he declared the town “The Egg Basket of the World”. He then proceeded to market Petaluma, sometimes shamelessly, as the center of the Chicken Universe. The town helped launch a National Egg Day on Aug. 13, 1918. Petaluma celebrated with a parade led by the Egg Queen and her court of attendant chicks, with events ranging from the Egg Queen Ball to a Chicken Rodeo.And only in Petaluma could one have found the Chicken Pharmacy on Main Street, which was featured in both National Geographic and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. By 1920, the price of eggs was rose to 50.5 cents per dozen and the town’s affluency grew. For nearly two decades, there was more money on deposit in Petaluma banks, per capita, than any other town on Earth. The enormous prosperity in Petaluma sparked a spectacular building boom throughout the city, most of which can be seen to this day.
The epicenter of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake was only 18 miles from Petaluma. While towns further from the quake were destroyed, Petaluma managed to escape with little damage. As a result, hundreds of pre-quake buildings still exist in the town, and the downtown area has an extraordinary mix of architecture from the 1870s to the present. The aesthetics of Petaluma’s historical architectural has drawn the motion picture industry to Petaluma where numerous movies and more than 100 commercials have been filmed over the past 25 years. Films of note include American Graffiti, Peggy Sue Got Married, Inventing the Abbotts, and the Good Morning America television ads for Ronald Reagan’s 1984 campaign.
Evidence of Petaluma’s eccentric and creative spirit also remain. The brothers of the brush gather every year in Walnut park to celebrate the annual Whiskerino contest. Halloween and Day of the Dead celebrations are so “spirited” that they draw visitors from all over the Bay Area. Petaluma has a vibrant art scene and art of all kinds can be found on nearly every wall of every gallery, antique store, restaurant and cafe in town. Music is so supported in the town that The Mystic and The Pheonix theaters have long outlived most histocial venues in the area.
Petaluma’s independent character differentiates the town from every other city in the Northbay (if not the whole of the United States!). Let’s work together to…
“KEEP PETALUMA EGGCENTRIC!”