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Chico is located in Butte County, approximately 90 miles North of Sacramento on Highway 99. We are approximately 30 miles east of Interstate 5.
86,949 (City limits)
107,000 (Urban area);
220,407 (Butte County)
For official City of Chico Demographics, click here.
The City of Chico is rich in Native American and Gold Rush history. The first inhabitants of the area were the Maidu Indians who were primarily hunters and gathers. The first recorded Europeans arrived in 1832. That same year, approximately 75% of the Indian population in California died from epidemics of disease brought by the Europeans.
In 1848, General John Bidwell, a member of the first covered wagon trains to California, was among several miners who discovered gold on the Feather River. This event sparked a rush of prospectors into the Butte County area. With his riches, Bidwell bought 28,000 acres in both sides of Chico Creek and opened the first store of the Gold Rush (located on the corner of 1st and Main – now Tres Hombres Restaurant). The city of Chico was founded in 1860 and later incorporated in 1872.
As a congressman in Washington, Bidwell fell in love with Annie Kennedy, the well-educated daughter of a prominent Washington, D.C. family. They were married in 1868 and soon took up residence in California focusing on completing their home in Chico. Bidwell Mansion would become the center of social and political life in the upper Sacramento Valley.
General Bidwell, active in both agriculture and politics, helped pioneer the development of the Sacramento Valley into a rich farming area. He and Annie also worked on behalf of many causes including educating the Native Americans and women’s suffrage. In an effort to “educate” the Native Americans, Annie taught them how to speak English and how to sew. She also exposed them to Christianity.
The Bidwells took great pride in beautifying the city. Rumor has it that John Bidwell rode through Chico in his carriage occasionally stopping to plant trees for future generations to enjoy. He also had tree seeds shipped in from Europe and South America to add to the diverse agriculture of the land and provide a tree canopy against the summer heat.
To encourage the development of a quality community, Bidwell was willing to donate land to anyone willing to build a house, church or any other public structure. In 1887, when there was a possibility of a new state teachers college, Bidwell sweetened the deal by offering to donate part of his land to secure the schools location in Chico. His plan worked and eventually Chico Normal School evolved into California State University, Chico.
The Bidwell’s generosity did not stop there. In 1905, five years after John Bidwell died, Annie signed a grant deed donating over 1,900 acres to the people of Chico for a public park. Today, Bidwell Park contains 3,670 acres and is one of the largest municipal parks in the United States.
The City of Chico Municipal Center is conveniently located in the heart of downtown Chico at 411 Main Street.
Interested in bringing your business to town? The City of Chico's Economic Development Department can help! Need to get yourself a parking permit? Yep, the City can assist. Interested in the City's public art program? You got it... the City of Chico is your point of contact.