Lafayette, California Photos and Information

Lafayette, California - Amongst the shaded oak trees in a valley east of San Francisco lies the heart of a city that loves Lafayette. Over the hills from Oakland and Berkeley in Contra Costa County's East Bay, the city includes a downtown shopping area in a valley below the homes on the hills, many with sweeping views of Mt. Diablo.   Just a short drive from the San Francisco Bay Area, Lafayette enjoys beautiful scenery and weather with slightly warmer weather and less fog than San Francisco. 


Primarily a residential community, it makes me pretty darned proud as a former resident that Lafayette now has one of the few five diamond hotels in the San Francisco Bay Area. Be sure to check out Lafayette Park Hotel at 3287 Mount Diablo Blvd. For more options in accommodations, your best bet is nearby Walnut Creek offering popular chain hotels such as Embassy Suites, Marriott and Holiday Inn.


Lafayette is ideally located between San Francisco and San Ramon. There's a small downtown shopping region with restaurants, gifts, grocery stores, gas stations and a pretty community park near a statue of Lafayette, an historical figure the city was named for. The population of Lafayette is 24,400. It's elevation: 200 to 1,136 feet, Size: 12.89 square miles, Average temperature: 69.7 high; 45.5 low, Annual rainfall: 28 inches. Miles to Oakland: 17 miles west, Miles to San Francisco: 24 miles west. Driving miles to Bay Bridge ($2 toll) 13 miles, BART commute time to San Francisco 30 minutes.


Lafayette enjoys thousands of trees in wooded areas teaming with birds, raccoons, squirrels, deer and other small animals. Visitors can hike around the Lafayette Reservoir or participate in annual 10K run, held usually around late October. Sponsored by the City of Lafayette and Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, the event begins at Mt. Diablo Blvd. between First St. & Moraga Rd., heading west to El Nido Ranch Road, around the Lafayette Reservoir and back to Moraga Road.


The Annual Lafayette Art & Wine Festival held in downtown Lafayette, California off Highway 24, west of the I-680/Highway 24 interchange is held one weekend, usually in September. It features more than 200 fine arts and crafts booths, restaurants, food vendors, wineries and microbreweries. Continuous musical entertainment presented on three stages and a kids area with entertainment and activities plus a special exhibit and sale of work by local artists make this well attended event perhaps the most popular local event of the year. 


Lafayette Gallery and The Art Room is a cooperative of local artists with new exhibits mounted every eight weeks. Lafayette Gallery is housed with The Art Room, a private art school and studio offering a variety of art classes for children, teens and adults. Collaboration with The Gold Coast Chamber Players has resulted in striking new work developed to complement the musical group’s performances throughout the year. The members’ work can also be seen in a special “Local Artists” section of the annual Lafayette Art & Wine Festival held each year in September.


Lafayette Jazz Festival is a weeklong community festival featuring students from the local school programs playing alongside some of the best jazz musicians in the country. Professionals who have appeared in past sold-out performances include Hall of Fame Jazz singer Countess Felder, Tower of Power’s Mic Gillete and a Dave Brubeck group. Produced by the Generations in Jazz Foundation, the Festival is one of many activities organized by this group. Others include the Jazz in the Park concerts held each week during the month of September, the Lafayette Summer Music Workshop, and Jazz Outreach.

Lafayette's history began more than 10,000 years ago when the Saclans, a Miwok sub-group settled here in a number of villages. In 1797, the Saclans fought a battle with the Spaniards on what was later to become Lafayette soil.


Theater Arts - Lafayette Town Hall hosts several of the performing arts groups: Town Hall Theatre Company of Lafayette, Town Hall Kids and Gold Coast Chamber Players. The Town Hall Theatre Company of Lafayette is the oldest continuously active live theater in Contra Costa County.

In 1847, Elam Brown, one of the first Yankee settlers in Contra Costa County, led a fourteen family wagon train through the Donner Pass just days before the ill-fated Donner party. When he arrived, Brown bought a 3,329 acre Mexican land grant called Rancho Acalanus, which is now almost all of present day Lafayette. He built his first of three homes in February of 1848, making it the first community in central Contra Costa County.

Brown and his neighbor Nathaniel Jones became farmers. Tired of the 7-10 day trip to San Jose to the nearest mill, Brown built his own horse-drawn grist mill. With business going well, Brown decided to build a steam powered mill on Lafayette Creek near First street. Once that mill was built, the commercial center of Lafayette began to grow at the present day intersection of Mt. Diablo Blvd. and Moraga Road. These first businesses were a blacksmith's shop, a bar, a general store and rooming houses.

During the 1850's redwood lumber harvested in Canyon and Moraga was hauled to Martinez for shipment to San Francisco. Lafayette became the ideal spot for people to rest, eat, drink, and repair their wagons during this long trip.

Benjamin Shreve came to Lafayette after failing to make a fortune in the Gold Rush. He built and ran Lafayette's first school. In 1857 Shreve became postmaster of the town and he decided to give it a name. It was previously called Acalanus, a different spelling of the land grant, but the town wanted an identity of its own. Previously assumed names were Dog Town, Brown's Corner, Brown's Mill, Acalanus, and Centerville. He requested the name Centerville, but it was rejected because there was another Centerville in the state. So he used his second choice, La Fayette. In 1932 it was changed to today's spelling, "Lafayette". The most historic event that occurred in Lafayette was in the early 1860's when the Pony Express rode through town stopping to get a fresh horse at what is now the intersection of Moraga Road and Mt. Diablo Blvd. It remained a quiet farming village until the post-World War II building boom when many houses were built here.

Lafayette, ca
Lafayette, ca
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