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The City of Pinole is located in the San Francisco Bay Area, on the shores of San
The name derives from "pinole", a Nāhuatl word for a kind of flour made from the
seeds of maize, chia, and various other grasses and annual herbs. An expedition
under Pedro Fages was said to have run out of provisions while exploring the area,
and to have been fed pinole by a local village, and so the Spaniards named their
camp "El Pinole".
In 1823, Ygnacio Martinez, commandant of the Presidio of San Francisco, received
a land grant of Rancho El Pinole from the Mexican government. Martinez built a
hacienda in Pinole Valley at the present site of Pinole Valley Park. During the 1850s,
Bernardo Fernandez, a Portuguese immigrant, started a trading facility on the
shores of San Pablo Bay and eventually built the historic Fernandez Mansion, which
still stands today at the end of Tennent Avenue. From these early beginnings, a
small but thriving community grew into the city now known as Pinole.
The settlement grew with the coming of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1878 and
the establishment of the California Powder Works in nearby Hercules. During this
period, this city had an active waterfront and was a regional commercial and banking
center. The first post office also opened in 1878. The City of Pinole was
incorporated in 1903.
Pinole and the surrounding area grew rapidly during the post-World War II boom.
With the coming of Interstate 80 in 1958, the town evolved into a suburban bedroom
community within the San Francisco/Oakland commuter belt. Much of its original
industry was displaced during this time, and the town became predominantly
Today, the town is locally known for its "big box" shopping store district along
Fitzgerald Drive, and Pinole Vista Shopping Center, which is continuous with
Richmond's Hilltop Area. The downtown area still retains much turn-of-the-century
building stock and is being preserved by the city's development agency as a historic