Press "Enter" to skip to content

Explore California History

“There’s only the American Dream and the California dream.”
—Gov. Gavin Newsom

CAL@170 is a collection of 170 stories celebrating California’s 170 years of statehood. The aim is to offer examples of California’s unique character and that of its residents, past and present. That means among the good there will be some bad. For every success story, there’s a failure, a tragedy, an injustice. It’s from these mistakes that we learn and grow stronger together. Share a story with us that helps define what California means to you.

California’s Anti-Trafficking Pioneers

Chinatown Alley/Bancroft Library It is nearly dusk on December 14, 1933 when a Chinese teen named Jeung Gwai Ying flees…

Rincon Annex Murals Violate “American Ideals”

In 1940, the Treasury Department holds a contest to choose an artist to paint a series of murals for the…

Two Kings — Man and Mountain — are Bested

Three fishermen from Lone Pine become the first recorded to reach the 14,505 summit of Mt. Whitney, the highest peak…

“A Smile Is a Curve That Sets Everything Straight”

Phyllis Diller, 37, mother of five, former San Leandro News-Observer shopping columnist, gets her first stand-up comedy gig at San…

“Life Is Not a Spectator Sport”

Jackie Robinson is best known for becoming the first Black player in Major League Baseball when he joins the Brooklyn…

“Dream with Ambition, Lead with Conviction”

On January 20, 2021, amidst political turmoil and civil unrest, Kamala D. Harris makes history as she is sworn in…

“Savior of the Songsters”

Catherine Hittell is passionate about wildlife preservation. Saving the meadowlark from extinction, in particular. During the 19th Century and the…

Lydia Flood Jackson, Fierce Advocate for Educational and Social Equality

On her 100th birthday in 1962, Lydia Flood Jackson is honored by the City of Oakland as their oldest living…

Yosemite’s Unscalable Peak is Scaled

Yosemite Valley's majestic 8,839 foot Half Dome is…

Tsupu, The Last Woman From Petaluma

Her Indian name, or at least one of her Indian names, the only one any of us know, is Tsupu. She…

California’s Most Famous Canines?

Bummer and Lazarus are the most famous dogs in San Francisco’s history. Maybe even in California’s history. Between 1861 and…

“My Poems Came Out With Tunes Attached”

Inspiration comes to Malvina Reynolds as she drives through a Daly City housing development in 1962. Her song, "Little Boxes,"…

The Game of Hoops That Changes Lives

On March 18, 1947, a basketball game tips off at the U.S. Naval Hospital, Corona. It has all the makings…

A Dummy Brings Down an Empire

For decades, nobody questions that Artie Samish runs Sacramento. Starting as a lobbyist in the early 1920s, Samish gradually amasses…

California’s Unstoppable Rubio Sisters

Assembly member Blanca Rubio agrees to meet me at Chicory, a coffee shop in Sacramento frequented by members of the…

Reshaping the World as the Atomic Age Dawns

World War II effectively ends in 1945 when the United States detonates an atomic bomb over Hiroshima on August 6,…

Chasing Water and Dust

On a summer day in the San Joaquin Valley, 101 in the shade, I merge onto Highway 99 past downtown…

The Savior of California’s Suffrage Movement

After California’s male voters decisively defeat a women’s voting rights ballot measure in 1896, suffragists display plenty of public bravado.…

Chronicler of Butterfly Valley’s Killer Lily

Rebecca M. Austin, ca. 1880-1887. [2013-0197], California State Library Erstwhile school teacher Rebecca Merritt Austin and husband James move to…

“A Person Always Doing His or Her Best Becomes a Natural Leader Just by Example.”

DiMaggio invests part of his first year salary with the Yankees to partner with his baseball-playing brothers on this restaurant,…