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Martinez is a city and the county seat of Contra Costa County, California. The city is located in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area – and as of the 2010 census – had a population of 35,824. The downtown area of Martinez is synonymous with well-preserved old buildings and antique stores. Martinez is situated on the southern shore of the Carquinez Strait, facing the city center of Beneficia. The city is primarily known for its residential communities and commercial establishments. The area also has schools and good transportation hubs and routes. As a city that continues to grow each day, Martinez is simply a great place to work and raise a family in.

The History of Martinez

The history of Martinez dates back to 1842 and a land grant to Ygnacio Martinez. This Mexican land grant included the Alhambra Valley – and was known as the Rancho El Pinole grant. In 1847, Dr. Robert Semple introduced a ferry service from Martinez to Beneficia, which served as the only crossing on the Carquinez Strait. Two years later, Martinez became a way station for the California Gold Rush. While many people streamed in and out of Martinez, it did not become one of those overnight boom towns. Instead, the town was laid out in 1849 by Colonel William M. Smith -and named after Ygnacio Martinez. In 1850, the city became the county seat but was unable to secure incorporation. This was due to the fact that 200 registered voters would be required – but Martinez did become a city in 1876.

Martinez was also the home of famous naturalist John Muir from 1880 until his passing in 1914. He was buried a mile away from the building that is now the John Muir National Historic Site. This site is close to the Vicente Martinez Abode, which was built in 1849 by the son of Ygnacio Martinez. The city also saw its first post office open in 1851, and also played a key role in the Pony Express. This included riders taking the ferry from Benicia – if they missed the steamer in Sacramento. In 1915, the Shell Oil Company built a refinery in Martinez, which truly led to the city’s economic boom. A second refinery was built – currently owned by Tesoro Petroleum Co. – by Shell and further led to Martinez becoming central petroleum processing center and port. You can see these refineries today from Interstate 680.

Top Employers in Martinez

Martinez is home to several commercial establishments and businesses. From restaurants and dry cleaners to groceries and professional businesses, the area continues to grow and expand at rapid rates. However, most the residents are employed by the following companies in and around Martinez:

• Contra Costa County
• Kaiser Permanente
• Shell Oil Company
Martinez Unified School District
• Veterans Health Administration
• Wal-Mart
• Safeway
• Contra Costa Electric
• The Home Depot
• City of Martinez

Shopping in Martinez

Martinez has everything a family or business needs to live. This includes furniture stores, along with electronics, groceries, energy centers, entertainment and all essential necessities. While mainly a blue-collar working town, the city is home to a myriad of petrochemical processing plants and port services. Some of the top shopping venues in the city include:


The Martinez Wal-Mart is a superstore that offers the same products and services as other locations. This includes an in-store optometrist center, along with medical clinic and bill payments center. There is a bank, ATM, and all the essential groceries and items families and businesses need on a daily or weekly basis. This venue also features toys, electronics, music, furniture and simply everything. A large part of the town’s residents are employed -in many capacities – at Wal-Mart. This includes customer service reps, greeters, bank tellers, shippers, stockers, security guards and so much more. With ample parking and friendly services, Wal-Mart in Martinez is also a place for locals to meet for coffee and food.


Safeway is one of the top supermarkets in the Greater Martinez area. From dairy and frozen to dry goods and groceries, this store offers something for everyone. There is also an ATM and bank, along with extensive medicine and pharmaceuticals section. Several residents work at Safeway as well, and are committed to fast, friendly and courteous services across the board.

The Home Depot

The Home Depot is the place to be for home or office improvement supplies. From sheetrock and air filters to bolts and nails, this venue has it all. They also feature an extensive outdoor garden with mulch, soil, flowers, plants and everything for landscaping professionals and enthusiasts. The Home Depot employs several residents of Martinez, and is one of the fastest growing businesses in the area. This venue has the second largest commercial parking lot next to Wal-Mart, and recently expanded its office furniture and supplies section.

Education in Martinez

The Martinez Unified School District governs most of the schools in the area. This includes four elementary schools, along with one middle school, one high-school, and two alternative/independent study schools. These schools include:

• John Swett, John Muir, Las Juntas, and Morello Park Elementary for grades K-5.
• Martinez Junior High School for grades 6 to 8.
• St. Catherine of Siena – Private Catholic School for grades K-8.
• Alhambra High School for grades 9-12.

The Mount Diablo Unified School District also serves a part of Martinez with its Hidden Valley Elementary School. There is also the Martinez Library, which is part of the Contra Costa County Library system. This popular venue features Art Deco designs, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Place back in early 2008. The library features Wi-FI access, computers, studying rooms, and thousands of books, supplies, magazines, educational resources and more for all ages.

Transportation in Martinez

As a growing and burgeoning city, Martinez has all the amenities of transportation for locals and visitors alike. This includes Amtrak, along with the BART commuter train and bus services. WestCAT also provides bus services in the area, along with independently owned taxis, limousines, and UBER driver services. There is also The County Connection para-transit services, as well as easy access to major highways, roads, and service – feeder roads. The main highways that are located in and around the city include:

• Interstate 80 and southward towards San Jose.
• Interstate 680 runs northward towards Sacramento via the Benicia- Martinez Bridge.
• State Route 4 runs through Martinez westward to Hercules and eastward through Stockton and the Sierra, Nevada border.

Martinez – A Great City in California

Martinez is a blend of down-home country living with big city amenities. As a city that continues to grow and expand, Martinez attracts visitors and new residents from all over California. The area saw a number of new arrivals from Texas several years ago – with the temporary collapse of their energy sector. Similarly, new residents have poured in from San Jose, Sacramento, and even as far as San Francisco to invest in local business and resources. While Martinez is far from being a true metropolis, its many industries and businesses have truly propelled the area to greater heights. For more information on living or working in Martinez, simply check the Internet or contact the Martinez City Hall today.