California, the Golden state

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San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Fresno, Oakland

#24: Big Cities - San Francisco
LHJ Best Cities for Women 2002

Set on a narrow arm on the San Francisco Bay, San Francisco is a welcome mat to different cultures, lifestyles and ideas. A Franciscan father, who was sailing with Sebastian Rodriguez Cermeno, named the bay San Francisco on Nov. 7, 1595. In 1776, the Spaniards established a presidio, or military post, and a Franciscan mission on the end of the beautiful peninsula. In the following year, a little town was founded around the mission. It was called Yerba Buena, Spanish for "Good Herb," because mint grew in abundance there. In 1906, San Francisco experienced the nation's most destructive earthquake, which, together with the fire that followed, practically destroyed the city. The American explorer and soldier John C. Fremont, known as The Pathfinder, named the entrance to the bay the Golden Gate, and the famous bright orange Golden Gate Bridge was dedicated in May 1937. Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz, the Legion of Honor, and Pier 39 all make the port of San Francisco one of the world's leading visitor destinations. Yerba Buena Gardens is the site of the new Museum of Modern Art, as well as other galleries, a carousel, film center and children's interactive museum.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #131
  • Educational attainment #16
  • Breast cancer #192
  • Divorce rate #74

#26: Big Cities - Sacramento

Sacramento is the seventh-largest city in California and its capital. In 1839, German-born Swiss citizen John Augustus Sutter obtained a grant from the Mexican governor to establish a colony for fellow Swiss emigrants on a large tract of land that he named New Helvetia or New Switzerland. There, he established Fort Sutter as a trading post. After gold was discovered on Sutter's property in 1848, the settlement rapidly expanded as the prominent supply point for gold prospectors coming from the East. Sacramento is located in the north central part of the state where the Sacramento and American rivers converge and was named after California's principal river. It became the state capital in 1854 and in recent years has grown to big city status with the introduction of an NBA team, the Kings, and many arts and cultural projects. It has a well-preserved Old Town, along with newer suburban sprawl.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #65
  • Educational attainment #66
  • Breast cancer #133
  • Divorce rate #151

#27: Big Cities - Los Angeles

Los Angeles, the entertainment capital of the world, is the largest city in California and the second-largest urban area in the nation with 3.6 million people. The epitome of urban sprawl, it extends more than 40 miles from the mountains to the sea. The city was first settled in 1781 when the Mexican provincial governor, Filipe de Neve, founded "El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles," meaning "The Village of Our Lady, the Queen of the Angels." The pueblo became the capital of the Mexican province, Alta California, and it was the last place to surrender to the U.S. at the time of the American occupation in 1847. By the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, Mexico ceded California to the United States, and Los Angeles was incorporated as a city in 1850. The city's phenomenal growth was brought about by its pleasant climate, which attracted people and industry from all parts of the nation; the development of its citrus-fruit industry; the discovery of oil in the early 1890s; the development of its man-made harbor -- its port is one of the busiest in the U.S. -- and the growth of the motion picture industry in the early 20th Century.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #151
  • Educational attainment #109
  • Breast cancer #156
  • Divorce rate #41

#29: Big Cities - Fresno

The city and county of Fresno are located in the central San Joaquin Valley of California. To the west it is predominantly flat, with thousands of acres devoted to agriculture. To the east, the snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountains rise out of the low foothills. It is the only county in the country that has three national parks in its backyard. Settled in 1872 as a station on the Central Pacific Railroad, Fresno profited from irrigated farming as early as the 1880s. The Fresno Water Tower, which once held 250,000 gallons of water, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #22
  • Educational attainment #127
  • Breast cancer #21
  • Divorce rate #94

#50: Big Cities - Oakland

Lying on the eastern side of the San Francisco Bay, Oakland is connected to the surrounding area via the Bay Bridge, and its three-county rapid transit system, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), which opened in 1936 and 1972, respectively. In addition to having an international airport, the city is home to the Athletics, the Raiders, and the Golden State Warriors, the Bay Area's only NBA team. Culture and recreation opportunities abound at the Oakland Museum, Chabot Observatory, the Morcom Rose Garden, and Jack London Square. The city has a symphony orchestra, notable parks, a state arboretum, a children's museum park, a beautiful waterfront and an impressive zoo.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #88
  • Educational attainment #50
  • Breast cancer #148
  • Divorce rate #118

 
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