The Arch is still Modesto's centerpiece, restored on its 100th birthday in 2012. This is a 1940s photo from the souvenir postcard collection.

A new County Records Building built in the late 1930s, above, eclipses the old courthouse at the right. The building is in a modernist style of architecture.

Downtown is a busy mercantile hub - the old Tynan Hotel still has its bric-a-brac trim, but both clock towers on 10th are gone.

From "A Souvenir Folder of Modesto" mailed to Illinois in 1944 . . .


Modesto - the Modest City

Strange as it may seem, there is one city in California which takes its name from the modesty of its pioneers and the people of Modesto have tried to live up to the reputation ever since . . .

In 1871, Modesto was voted the county seat of Stanislaus County and from then on its permanency as the trading center of the county was assured. In 1884 it was incorporated and in the same year steps were taken to organize irrigation districts to supply water for the surrounding lands which were devoted to grain growing and cattle. But it was not until 1904 that the long fight for irrigation was won and the irrigation works completed.

From 1904 colonization and development has been rapid and Modesto as the metropolis has grown with the County. The population in 1910 was 4,034 and ten years later it had doubled to 9,241. In the next decade to 1930 Modesto while not equaling this record made the greatest growth of any city in Northern California or 49% to 13,842. Then in 1940, the population was again increased to 16,830.

Modesto today is famed for several things. In addition to its arched sign . . . the city has the national record for the highest per capita retail trade for cities above 10,000 population. The figure given y the U. S. Dept. of the Census is $1,200 per inhabitant which is twice the average for the State of California. It also pays the highest sales tax per capita of any city in California above 10,000 further substantiating the claim of being a rich trade center.

It boasts of a championship band that has won the State championship five years in a row and the second place in the national contests twice. The city has a full symphony orchestra of 80 pieces. No financial institutions failed in the city during the depression and the business failures amounted to less than one per cent.

There is a Junior College with close to 1000 students registered which turned out a conference championship football team last year.

Next: 20th Century/Life and Times/1960s High School Days

Previous:20th Century/Life and Times/Shopping at Schafer's

10th and I Streets, a familiar intersection. In the distance on the right is the Hotel Hughson. The Shafer's corner is now Bank of America.

Progressing down 10th, this is the intersection of 10th and J Streets. The Strand Theatre is in the background on the left side of the photo.

Modesto Junior College boasted buildings that had a classic college look in brick with extensive concrete trim. This is either North or South Hall.