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Behind the Scenes


Produced by Jennifer Fischer

In the middle of the great Central Valley lies the City of Stockton. Founded by German immigrant Charles Weber, this land was originally lush grasslands and dense oak groves. But with the discovery of gold in 1849, Weber's small settlement was transformed into a major city almost overnight.

After the Gold Rush, many California towns were abandoned, but Stockton flourished. The transition from mining to farming, for Stockton's manufacturer's, wasn't a problem. It was during this time that the great grain era began. The city led the state in the processing of wheat and the manufacture of farm equipment.

The town grew steadily through the late 1880's, but even bigger changes were just ahead. Not long into the 20th century, Stockton lost two of its leading industries: the Sperry Flour Company, and the Holt Manufacturing Company. With the changing times, the need for workers increased. Although the city wasn't immune to the Great Depression, local developments and good weather for farmers eased the severity of those hard times.

Families continued to settle in Stockton. As World War Two approached, the city would once again roll with the times and chance its economic focus, employing more than ten thousand residents as ship builders.

From the Mexican farm workers coming in during World War Two, to the influx of the South East Asians from the Vietnam War, the city's changing demographics pose many challenges for Stocktonians. As they take on the 21st Century, many have a positive outlook, learning from mistakes of the past, with high hopes for the future.


Gary Podesta
Mayor of Stockton

Tod Ruhstaller
The Haggin Museum

Steve Pinkerton
Director, Stockton Housing & Redevelopment


The complete text of New Valley Episode 103 -- Boom or Bust...

Presentation also made possible by a grant from
the Great Valley Center


New Valley Official Site