Overview of Petaluma’s History

Petaluma was incorporated as a City in 1858.  The City's rich history showcases innovation, culture, architecture, and agriculture throughout the centuries. Much of this history is still visible in Petaluma's historic buildings, agricultural connections and culture.  Even or Police and Fire Department celebrate over 150 years of service to the community.

fertile ground

Fertile Ground

A land of natural abundance. Petaluma's fertile soil, mild weather, and navigable waterway have attracted settlers for thousands of years. It was a place of bounty - a sacred place - to the Coast Miwok and other indigenous tribes.



Legacy of service. Services to others is a central theme in Petaluma's history. In ways big and small, many have contributed to the sense of community that's still strong today.


River & Trail

Moving goods and people.  Petaluma flourished as a shipping port and railway hub for nearly one hundred years.  Steamers and schooners, trolleys and railcars brought the world to Petaluma - and Petaluma to the world.



A trifecta at work. Most places are known for growing or making or distributing things. Petaluma has done all three throughout its history-excelling in agriculture, manufacturing, and services such as banking and distribution.


Butter & Eggs

A lasting legacy. Much of Petalma's identify is tied to the dairy and poultry industries. That heritage is evident today in street signs, buildings, parades, and many ag-related businesses that continue to thrive here.



Storied structures. Petaluma boasts an abundance of buildings with historical and cultural significance. These architectural gems have survived disasters and the wrecking ball to tell a story of innovation and resilience.



Family life with style. Generations of Petalumans have hired prominent architects and builders to design homes with style and substance. Many of these homes still stand, offering a glimpse into family life from the 1860's onward.


Diverse Voices

Creating community. Petaluma was built by men and women of varied social, religious, and cultural backgrounds. Today, residents and historians are working to tell Petaluma's diversity story in books, museum exhibits, and cultural events.

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