The City of Chico

Explore the City of Chico

More than just a City of Trees

From the out­side, most peo­ple who have heard of Chico know it for two things: Chico State and Sier­ra Neva­da Brew­ery. But those of us who live here know there’s much more here.

Found­ed in 1860 by John and Annie Bid­well and incor­po­rat­ed 12 years lat­er, Chico has long boast­ed many of the things it still cel­e­brates today. Bid­well Park, a sprawl­ing munic­i­pal park that cov­ers near­ly 3,700 acres of diverse topog­ra­phy, is the town’s nat­ur­al crown jew­el, and over the years has undoubt­ed­ly shaped the locals’ inher­ent love of the outdoors.

Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­si­ty, Chico, was found­ed in 1887 as a small teach­ers’ school. The sec­ond-old­est insti­tu­tion in the CSU sys­tem, Chico State has not only giv­en Chico a homey rep­u­ta­tion as a true col­lege town, but itself has blos­somed into one of the fin­er pub­lic uni­ver­si­ties in the coun­try, espe­cial­ly as an option for the North State. Its 119-acre cam­pus is a rec­og­nized arbore­tum, tru­ly fit­ting for the City of Trees.” It’s hard­ly an uncom­mon sight to see stu­dents and res­i­dents alike cruis­ing down­town on foot or by bike, tra­vers­ing the neigh­bor­hood or head­ing for a shad­ed ride in Low­er Bid­well and Mid­dle Bid­well Park.

Because of the university’s pres­ence with­in the heart of Chico’s down­town, that area is the eco­nom­ic, urban, and cul­tur­al hub of the coun­ty. Full of local shops, small busi­ness­es, a vari­ety of eater­ies from many dif­fer­ent eth­nic and cul­tur­al back­grounds, and prime per­for­mance areas for live music, niche cin­e­ma, and the­ater, down­town Chico has a dis­tinct­ly dif­fer­ent feel from just about any­where else in the North State, espe­cial­ly in Butte Coun­ty. In recent years, with the tech­no­log­i­cal advances the Inter­net has pro­vid­ed, many star­tups and entre­pre­neurs are find­ing that Chico is an ide­al place to find good peo­ple and grow a busi­ness with­out the rat-race lifestyle found in big­ger cities.

But Chico, with a pop­u­la­tion near 115,000, remains an agri­cul­tur­al town at heart, with its Bid­well roots firm­ly ground­ed. John and Annie plant­ed trees all over the city, and that spir­it of nat­ur­al rev­er­ence has per­sist­ed ever since; tru­ly, it’s baked into the city’s per­son­al­i­ty (just ask any­body who cruis­es the Esplanade in the fall as part of their dai­ly work commute).

How­ev­er, despite of its agri­cul­tur­al roots, in all of Butte Coun­ty, no oth­er place feels as city” as Chico, which con­sists of sev­er­al dis­tinct­ly dif­fer­ent dis­tricts that offer var­i­ous expe­ri­ences and vibes. Com­merce, cul­ture, edu­ca­tion and diver­si­ty is more eas­i­ly found in Chico than any­where else in Butte County.

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