From its earliest beginnings, the history of Richmond has been characterized by a succession of dramatic changes. The native people (a branch of the Ohlone called the Huchiun) lived peaceably for thousands of years along what was to become Richmond's shoreline. Their world came to an end with the coming of the Spanish in the late 18th century. In turn, the seemingly romantic period of the Californios evaporated in the tide of immigrants following the discovery of gold in the California foothills and the admission of California into the Union in 1850. There followed a period of leisurely farming and rampant land-grabbing which wound down in the mid-1890s.
But it was the arrival of the Standard Oil Company and the Santa Fe Railroad in 1900 that launched the modern city of Richmond. With nearly 40 miles of waterfront land the city fathers began dreaming of their city as a major port, the major port city of the Pacific Coast. It was a dream that was never fully realized but has never died. Vast changes took place along the city's southern shoreline to accommodate this dream. But it was war, the Second World War, that thrust the slumbering city into the spotlight that it had so long sought. The changes wrought by the war, and by its end, were perhaps more strongly felt in Richmond than in any city in the country. The ripples of that time still reverberate to this day.
Explore this history at the Richmond Museum of History. Take a look at the collection's centerpiece, a Model A Ford that rolled off Ford's Richmond assembly line in August of 1931. Or run your hand along the iron-rimmed wheels of the first fire engine (hand-pulled) in Point Richmond. While some of our exhibits are permanent, others are constantly being changed. So if you have never visited our museum, or if it has been some time since your last visit, take the time to pay us a call. Whatever your interests or attachment to our city, you will learn something and be pleasantly surprised.