Introduction to Petaluma, California
Petaluma is a Northern California city located about 39 miles north of San Francisco in Sonoma County's wine country. Situated on the banks of the Petaluma River, the city is bisected by U.S. Route 101 and not far from California State Highways 1, 12, 37, 116, and 121. Surrounding communities include Santa Rosa (to the north), Sonoma (to the east), and Novato (to the south).
Founded in 1852 and incorporated in 1858, Petaluma had an early history as a thriving shipping and manufacturing center as well as one of early California's largest cities. For several decades spanning the turn of the 20th century, Petaluma earned fame as a poultry town and was at one time known as the "World's Egg Basket". Remnants of the great wealth accrued during this period are evident in the many of city's commercial buildings and homes which are still standing today. By mid-century, dairy farming became the city's predominant industry and has stood so until today, although the distinction is now shared with tourism and high tech industries such as telecommunications.
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum, housed in a former library building constructed in 1904, contains exhibits chronicling Petaluma history dating back to the 1850s. Permanent exhibits include historical poultry and dairy items, Miwok Indian artifacts, and historical items relating to the Petaluma River. The Sgt. Richard Penry Medal of Honor Memorial Military Museum features relics dating from the Civil War to World War II, and also houses what is described as the largest military antique and collectibles store in the United States. The Petaluma Wildlife Museum features animals, minerals, fossils, prehistoric artifacts and hands-on exhibits. Historic Downtown Petaluma is the site of the city's Art and Garden Festival. Held in July, the event offers an afternoon of fine wines, tasty food, good music and art. September's annual Art in the Park outdoor art show and sale is a 50-year old event featuring a diverse blend of artistic media from painting to photography in a picturesque setting at the city's Walnut Park. Petaluma is also an ideal starting point for exploring Sonoma County's 140 wineries, the impressive California redwoods, and the state's northern coastline.