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Salinas is the largest city in Monterey County, near the central coast of California. Salinas is located near the eponymous Salinas River and the Monterey Peninsula, and is situated at the base of the Salinas Valley. Salinas has a population of approximately one hundred and fifty thousand residents, although that figure could have potentially changed since the last estimate was given by the California Department of Finance. Salinas has a generally suburban character, although it is also notable for its artistic history, agricultural features, and generally pleasant climate throughout the year. Salinas, which has the nickname of “America’s Salad Bowl,” is currently governed by Mayor Dennis Donohue and represented in the California State Legislature by State Senator Anthony Cannella and Assemblyman Luis Alejo. Salinas is physically large as well as populous, with a total area of nearly twenty three square miles. The history of the area which is now considered Salinas stretches back almost two thousand years. Historians believe that the first human inhabitants of the region were the Esselen tribe of Native Americans, who were eventually displaced by the Ohlone and then the Spanish Empire. Modern day Salinas then became part of Mexico before it was ceded to the United States in 1850. Salinas was given a post office in the year 1854, and was officially incorporated as a city twenty years later. The modern day economy of Salinas relies on some of the same factors as it has for the last century and a half, especially in terms of agricultural production. The area produces a considerable quantity of fruits and vegetables, especially lettuce, which helps to explain the city’s nickname. The city’s generally mild climate – which usually remains between 45 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit – is at least partially responsible for the region’s agricultural success. The Monterey County area in general also boasts a number of wineries and wine tasting rooms, especially in more rural communities which are located a short drive from Salinas.
In recent years, there has been a concerted effort to maintain the Victorian architecture of downtown Salinas, known as Old Town Salinas. One notable resident of Salinas was John Steinbeck, a Nobel Prize laureate who was born in the town. Salinas, which was the setting for several of his novels, is now home to the John Steinbeck Library, the National Steinbeck Center, and the Steinbeck House. Salinas has a vibrant arts and music scene, as exemplified by the Valley Art Gallery, the Art Walk, the Western Stage, and the Fox California Theater. Transportation in the Salinas area is provided by Amtrak, Monterey-Salinas Transit, the Salinas Municipal Airport, and Greyhound. Public education in Salinas is provided by a number of local schools, including the Salinas City Elementary School District, Salinas Union High School District, Santa Rita Union Elementary School District, and Washington Union School District. Post secondary institutions in the region include Heald College and Hartnell Community College. Some famous individuals who have lived in Salinas besides John Steinbeck include Vanessa Hudgens, Jackie Greene, Chris Dalman, and Verna Felton. There are a considerable number of local radio and television stations, while print media is provided by the Monterey County Herald and The Salinas Californian. The Boronda Adobe History Center is located right outside Salinas, and is on the National Register of Historic Places because of its involvement in the early history of the region.