Santa Rosa History

Before European settlement, the land known now as Santa Rosa was populated by the people of the Pomo tribes, often known as the Bitakomtara. The Bitakomtara people had full control over the area, making it nearly impossible for outsiders to enter without granted permission. With the arrival of European explorers, the Bitakomtara people were tragically taken over by diseases they had no immunity for, killing a large number of their population. The first European settlement known to Santa Rosa was by the Carillo family, relatives to settlers who had claimed the Petaluma area. The Carillos were the first people known to build an actual residence on the land, though previously, multiple explorers had raised and slaughtered livestock in the area. Matanza translates to “slaughter” in Spanish, which is why the body of water known as La Matanza was given that particular title.


During the 1850s, a general store and Wells Fargo post were established in the town. Throughout that time period, blueprints were drawn up incorporating a public square. Santa Rosa was incorporated in 1868, making it the third official city in the entire state. The city experienced a sure, but steady economic growth throughout the years, though the entirety of the downtown district was destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The population did not decrease after the disaster, though the growth was very slow for quite some time afterward. During World War II, Santa Rosa served as a solid spot for travelers to reside, causing the population to increase in a way that it had not in recent years. In the late 1950s, the city was established as a center for civil defense as one of only eight regional headquarters utilized by the United States Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization. When the Federal Emergency Management Agency was established, Santa Rosa’s civil defense was no longer necessary.


Santa Rosa’s population slowly and steadily increased throughout the 20th century. It is now one of California’s highest populated cities. The city is known for its famed local and tourist attractions like the Charles M. Schulz Museum, the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts, and Annadel State Park.