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Hanford is an important commercial and cultural center in the south central San Joaquin Valley and is the county seat of Kings County, California. It is the principal city of the Hanford-Corcoran metropolitan area (MSA Code 25260), which encompasses all of Kings County, including the cities of Hanford and Corcoran. The ZIP Code is 93230 (93232 for post office boxes). The city of Hanford is surrounded by communities that do not fall within the city limits but use the same zip code. These communities include Grangeville, Hardwick and Home Garden.
The population was 53,967 at the 2010 census. The California Department of Finance estimated that the city's population was 55,645 as of January 1, 2017.
Hanford is located at 36°19′39″N 119°38′44″W (36.3275, −119.6457). It is situated in the south central portion of California's San Joaquin Valley, 28 miles (45 km) south-southeast of the city of Fresno and 18 miles (29 km) west of the city of Visalia. The city is 249 feet (76 m) above sea level and has a flat terrain. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 16.6 square miles (43 km2), none of which is covered by water. The only natural watercourse is Mussel Slough, remnants of which still exist on the city's western edge. The Kings River is about 6.5 miles (10.5 km) north of Hanford. The People's Ditch, an irrigation canal dug in the 1870s, traverses Hanford from north to south.
Hanford has a climate typical of that of the San Joaquin Valley floor with hot, dry summers and cool winters characterized by dense Tule fog. The wetter season occurs from November through March. The average annual rainfall over the ten years from 1997/98 through 2006/07 was 8.97 inches (228 mm). The 30-year normal precipitation (1971–2000) is 8.29 inches (211 mm).
The National Weather Service Forecast Office for the San Joaquin Valley is located in Hanford and includes a Doppler weather radar. Weather forecasts and climatological information for Hanford and the surrounding area are available from its official website.
The Hanford area was inhabited by the Tachi Yokut Indians for several thousand years prior to Euro-American contact. They occupied areas along watercourses such as creeks, springs and seep areas (such as sloughs), along perennial and seasonal drainages, as well as flat ridges and terraces. Therefore, the areas along streams are considered likely locations for prehistoric cultural resources. Permanent villages were usually placed on an elevation above the seasonal flood levels. Surrounding areas were used for hunting and seed, acorn, and grass gathering.
Hanford is named for James Madison Hanford, a railroad executive, after the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks were laid through a sheep camp in the year 1877. According to History of Kings County: "It was but a short step from sheep-camp to village and with the railroad as an attraction the village flourished and became a town within a few historic months."
In 1880, a dispute over land titles between settlers and the Southern Pacific Railroad resulted in a bloody gun battle on a farm 5.6 mi (9.0 km) northwest of Hanford that left seven men dead. This event became famous as the Mussel Slough Tragedy.
A post office was set up in 1887.
Several times, major fires destroyed much of the young community's business district. The need for fire protection led to the town becoming an incorporated city in 1891. Its first mayor was local resident Yamon LeBaron.
An electrical generating plant was built in 1891 by pioneering flour miller H.G. Lacey, bringing the first electric lights to the city. The Lacey Milling Company was still operating in Hanford in 2016.
The first public high school, Hanford Union High School, was started in 1892 with one teacher, W. S. Cranmer, and an average enrollment of fourteen.
When Kings County was created in 1893 from the western part of Tulare County, Hanford became its county seat.
A second railroad was laid through Hanford in 1897, which today is the main north-south line of the BNSF Railway through the San Joaquin Valley. The original east-west Southern Pacific Railroad branch line is now operated by the San Joaquin Valley Railroad.
In 1901, a restaurant called the Star opened on Sixth Street across from the Southern Pacific tracks. The Star Restaurant was still doing business at the same location in 2018.
Saloons flourished in Hanford's early days despite an anti-saloon movement until the town voted to become "dry" in 1912, eight years before nationwide Prohibition in the United States took effect.
The 2010 United States Census reported that Hanford had a population of 53,967. The population density was 3,253.1 people per square mile (1,256.0/km²). The racial makeup of Hanford was 33,713 (62.5%) White, 2,632 (4.9%) African American, 712 (1.3%) Native American, 2,322 (4.3%) Asian, 53 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 11,599 (21.5%) from other races, and 2,936 (5.4%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 25,419 persons (47.1%).
The Census reported that 69,690 people (98.3% of the population) lived in households, 283 (0.5%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 616 (1.1%) were institutionalized.
There were 17,492 households, out of which 8,053 (46.0%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 9,088 (52.0%) were married couples living together, 2,833 (16.2%) had a female householder with no husband present, 1,207 (6.9%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 1,315 (7.5%) unmarried partnerships, and 117 (0.7%) same-sex partnerships. 3,483 households (19.9%) were made up of individuals and 1,405 (8.0%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.03. There were 13,128 families (75.1% of all households); the average family size was 3.49.
The population was spread out with 16,731 people (31.0%) under the age of 18, 5,478 people (10.2%) aged 18 to 24, 14,764 people (27.4%) aged 25 to 44, 11,647 people (21.6%) aged 45 to 64, and 5,347 people (9.9%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30.9 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.9 males.
There were 18,493 housing units at an average density of 1,114.8 per square mile (430.4/km²), of which 10,208 (58.4%) were owner-occupied, and 7,284 (41.6%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 2.4%; the rental vacancy rate was 4.6%. 31,109 people (57.6% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 21,959 people (40.7%) lived in rental housing units.
15.5% of the populace lived below the poverty line.
As of the 2000 census, there were 41,686 people, 13,931 households, and 10,378 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,184.4 people per square mile (1,229.6/km²). There were 14,721 housing units at an average density of 1,124.5 per square mile (434.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 64.1% White, 5.0% Black or African American, 1.4% Native American, 2.9% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 20.8% from other races, and 5.7% from two or more races. 38.7% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Foreign-born residents accounted for 13.2% of Hanford's population and 28.3% spoke a language other than English at home.
There were 13,931 households out of which 42.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.9% were married couples living together, 15.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.5% were non-families. 20.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.93 and the average family size was 3.39.
In the city, the population was spread out with 31.6% under the age of 18, 9.8% from 18 to 24, 29.6% from 25 to 44, 18.6% from 45 to 64, and 10.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.3 males.
Hanford is a major trading center serving the surrounding agricultural area. According to the California Employment Development Department, as of September 2012, most residents of the Hanford-Corcoran Metropolitan Statistical Area were employed in services (31,000 employees), government (14,400 employees) and farming (6,400 employees) as well as in some manufacturing enterprises (5,700 employees).
The heavy industry sector has declined significantly over the past 30 years. An oil refinery formerly operated in the city under several different owners (Caminol Oil Co. from 1932–1967, Beacon Oil Co. from 1967–1982 and Ultramar Oil Co. from 1982–1987) until it permanently closed in 1987.  A tire manufacturing plant was built in 1962 by the Armstrong Rubber Co., which operated it until that company was purchased by the Italian manufacturer Pirelli, which eventually closed the factory in 2001. In August 2017, Faraday Future announced that it had signed a lease for the former Pirelli plant where it plans to manufacture electric vehicles. The company said that it could employ up to 1,300 people over time and build up to 10,000 cars a year.
Major employers within the city of Hanford in 2006 included the Kings County government with 1,041 employees, the Adventist Health System with 857, the Hanford Elementary School District with 520, the Del Monte Foods tomato cannery with 435-year-round and 1,500 seasonal employees and Marquez Brothers International, Inc., makers of Hispanic cheese and other dairy products. Many Hanford residents work for other nearby employers such as NAS Lemoore, the U.S. Navy's largest Master Jet Base located 15.5 mi (24.9 km) WSW of Hanford and for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation which operates three state prisons in Kings County.
Hanford did not escape the effects of the Great Recession and employment was also affected by the California drought. The unemployment rate in January 2016 was 10.3% but had dropped to 4.7% in May 2018. According to the United States Census Bureau, median household income in Hanford was $54,767 and 18.3% of the population was living below the poverty line in 2008–2012.
The homeownership rate was 57% in 2008–2012 according to the Census Bureau.
Hanford has variety of shopping including:
Hanford Mall – A 625,580 square foot indoor mall, and another adjacent shopping center with a number of major national retailers.
Hanford Historic Downtown – Home to unique restaurants, events, stores and the historic Fox Theater.
The Hanford Municipal Airport serves general aviation and has a 5,175 feet (1,577 m) paved runway.
Kings Area Rural Transit (KART) operates regularly scheduled fixed route bus service, vanpool service for commuters and Dial-A-Ride (demand response) services throughout Kings County as well as to Fresno. Hanford is also served by Orange Belt Stages.
Existing: Amtrak provides passenger rail service from Hanford station to the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento, and service to Southern California by a combination of rail and bus. Freight service is available from both the BNSF Railway and the San Joaquin Valley Railroad.
Proposed: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009-funded California High-Speed Rail has proposed a station. However, the proposed station on the eastern outskirts of Hanford is listed as "optional" and will not be built without matching local funds or in-kind support. Greg Gatzka, Kings County's Community Development Director, was quoted in a June 2011 newspaper story that "the real question is whether high-speed rail is going to authorize a station there. They have a priority list and this station is at the bottom of the list."
Highway 43: Connects to Selma to the north and Corcoran to the south.
Highway 198: Connects to Lemoore to the west and Visalia to the east.
The city's water system is supplied by a network of 14 active deep wells and one standby well ranging in depth from 600 feet (180 m) to 1,700 feet (520 m) with 203 miles (327 km) of main lines and serves 15,900 water connections.
Formerly, the water had contained naturally occurring arsenic in excess of the maximum contaminant level adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. However, according to the Consumer Confidence Report issued by the city of Hanford in March 2010 for calendar year 2009, since November 2009, the city has supplied water that is below the federal standard of 10 micrograms of arsenic per liter of water. The city's mitigation project consisted of reducing the arsenic content in two existing deep water wells, drilling five replacement wells, and eliminating eight wells that produced water that exceeded standards.
Although it does not pose a health hazard, Hanford's drinking water also naturally contains hydrogen sulfide, which caused the water to have a noticeable "rotten egg" odor. In 2014, the city began chlorinating its water for the first time, which eliminates the hydrogen sulfide odor. In February 2015, the city completed a project to chlorinate all of its water.
The city's sanitary sewer system consists of 212 mi (341 km) of collector lines and 22 pump stations.
The wastewater treatment plant is located in the southern part of the city on Houston Avenue and treats 5,000,000 U.S. gallons (19,000,000 liters) of sewage per day. The treated effluent is used to irrigate non-food crops.
Southern California Edison provides electricity to most of Hanford. However, the industrial park area in the southernmost part of the city is served by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company.
Natural gas is supplied by the Southern California Gas Company.
Landline telephone service is provided by AT&T. Comcast has the cable TV franchise for Hanford.
Hanford is incorporated as a general law city under the California Constitution. The city has a council-manager government with a city manager appointed by the city council.
The city council is made up of five members elected by districts for four-year terms. There are no term limits in effect. The mayor and vice mayor are elected annually by the city council from among its members. On December 6, 2016, the city council elected David Ayers as mayor and elected Sue Sorensen to serve as vice mayor. On December 5, 2017, the council renewed those appointments for 2018. Other council members include Justin Mendes, Martin Devine and Diane Sharp who was elected to replace Francisco Ramirez who was recalled in an election held on January 23, 2018.
Hanford's city manager is the chief administrative officer of the city and is responsible for the overall administrative direction of the city. The city manager's duties include development and implementation of the annual budget for approval by the city council. Darrel Pyle was appointed as the city manager in 2012.
In the state legislature, Hanford is located in the 14th State Senate District, which is represented by Republican Andy Vidak, and in the 32nd State Assembly District, represented by Democrat Rudy Salas. Federally, Hanford is located in California's 21st congressional district and is represented by Republican David Valadao.
Hanford is served by 15 elementary schools, three junior high schools, four high schools with a total of 8,464 Kindergarten through 8th grade students and 3,522 high schoolers. The United States Census of 2000 reported that 74.5% of Hanford residents aged 25 and over were high school graduates and 14.4% had bachelor's degrees or higher.
The Hanford Elementary School District provides kindergarten through eighth grade education for most of the city. It operates the following elementary and junior high schools:
The Pioneer Union Elementary School District serves much of the northern part of Hanford and operates Pioneer Elementary, Frontier Elementary and Pioneer Middle Schools.
A portion of north Hanford is served by the Kings River-Hardwick School District. A small area in southwest Hanford is served by the Armona Union Elementary School District, which operates Armona Elementary and Parkview Middle schools in the nearby community of Armona.
The Hanford Joint Union High School District provides public secondary education. It operates Hanford Union High School, Hanford West High School, Sierra Pacific High School as well as Earl F. Johnson High School, which is a continuation high school. The District also operates the Hanford Adult School. A new state-of-the-art comprehensive full-service high school, called Sierra Pacific High School opened on August 13, 2009 with the first class graduating in 2013. Sierra Pacific is part of the Hanford Joint Educational Center, which is a joint use project of the Hanford Joint Union High School District, the College of the Sequoias and the City of Hanford. The Hanford Joint Educational Center is located on 13th Avenue 1/4 of a mile north of Lacey Blvd.
The College of the Sequoias (COS) community college based in Visalia, California operates an education center in Hanford as part of the Joint Educational Center that includes Sierra Pacific High School.
Brandman University, part of the Chapman University System, has a Hanford campus for adult students.
Private elementary schools in Hanford include Hanford Christian School and St. Rose-McCarthy School.
The former Clark Center had the mission of collecting, preserving and exhibiting works of fine art, primarily the arts of Japan. The Center also housed a specialist library for Japanese art and culture. The Clark Center closed permanently on June 30, 2015. The art collection was moved to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the bonsai collection was transferred to the Shinzen Friendship Garden at Woodward Park in Fresno, California.
The Hanford Carnegie Museum was built in 1905 as one of the many Carnegie libraries that were funded by the steel industry magnate, Andrew Carnegie. The library was replaced by a new structure at a different location in 1968. The old library was subsequently renovated and re-opened as the Hanford Carnegie Museum in 1975. The building is of Romanesque architecture with displays of furniture and photos describing the history of the Hanford area.
The Kings District Fair is a traditional county fair held on four days in mid-June at the Kings Fairgrounds.
The Renaissance of Kings Cultural Arts Faire is held the first weekend of October at Courthouse Square in Hanford's city center. The Faire recreates the period of time during the reign of King Henry VIII of England. There is no admission charge and the event typically attracts 15,000 people over the two-day period. The event was cancelled in 2012 but returned in 2013.
The Kings Art Center was opened in 1989 to be the premier visual arts gallery and art training center of Kings County. Gallery shows are changed approximately every four weeks. Typical shows include photography, pottery, water color, mixed media, prints, textiles and fibers. Art classes for adults and children are scheduled throughout the year.
The Kings Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1963 and draws musicians from throughout the central and southern San Joaquin Valley. The orchestra generally performs four times a year with a variety of classical and "pops" repertoire.
William Saroyan's short story, "The Journey to Hanford" that appeared in My Name Is Aram is a comic account of two characters from Fresno – a boy and his wastrel uncle – who share a single bicycle as they travel the approximately thirty-mile route between Fresno and Hanford, taking along a sack of rice to feed them through what turns out to be a largely pointless summer.
Chinese immigrants arrived in the late 19th century to build railroads and work on farms. They created a thriving Chinatown in Hanford in the neighborhood around China Alley. China Alley was the site of the famous but now closed Imperial Dynasty restaurant. Hanford's Taoist Temple (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) built in 1893 is also located there. A Moon Festival is held in China Alley in early October. In July 2011, Hanford city council commissioned a study of China Alley with the hope of revitalizing it in the future.
While the black community has long played an important role in the city, the City of Hanford only began to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on January 15, 2007 after a long battle led by the local branch of the NAACP. The City Council then recognized the day as an official holiday with a resolution honoring Dr. King, read by then Mayor Joaquin Gonzales. The most prominent African-Americans living in the community include
Hanford is a sister city with Setana, a small town on Hokkaido, Japan. The program is known for promoting international friendship. Both cities send a delegate group of both prominent city citizens and high school students. For the city of Hanford, high school students are selected from both high schools through an application and interview process for delegate spots. The Setana high school provides a student delegate position for their entire upper class. Hanford delegates travel to Setana, Japan in the summer. Setana delegates travel to Hanford in the winter.
Hanford is the site of the Hanford Criterium bicycle races held on a Sunday in late March or early April. The 0.9-mile (1.4 km) hourglass style loop course is run on downtown streets. The Criterium is held under USA Cycling racing rules and permit.
Dirt track auto racing takes place at the Kings Speedway from March through October. The track is a 3/8-mile semi-banked clay oval and is located at the Kings Fairgrounds.
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