The State Theatre sits at the center of Modesto's revitalized downtown with its mix of office and retail space, restaurants, art galleries, civic centers, clubs and other sites of cultural and historic significance. Yesterday and today are gently juxtaposed in downtown Modesto's unique blend of old and new: Two blocks north east of The State are the stately McHenry Mansion and McHenry Museum & Historical Society -- which originally served as the city's first library -- both of which were named for one of Modesto's founding families. Three blocks to the south east is the Gallo Center for the Performing Arts, a multi-million dollar performing arts center that debuted in the fall of 2007. Three blocks to the north west is Graceada Park, Modesto's oldest city park, designed by John McClaren, the designer of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, and developed in 1907. Two blocks to the south west is the decade-old McClatchy Park, a small oasis of lawn and roses, dedicated by the McClatchy newspaper family (and owners of The Modesto Bee).The State Theatre was a relative latecomer when it was dedicated to the citizens of Modesto in 1934. By the time the theater opened on Christmas Day, Modesto had already been striving for its designation as one of the nation's top agricultural regions for 64 years. To this day, the area is recognized as being a major contributor to the nation's bread basket with products including milk, almonds, chickens, eggs, walnuts, peaches, alfalfa, grapes, tomatoes, dry beans and apricots.
To commemorate the city's abundance of water and agricultural riches, an arch was built in 1912, displaying the slogan, "Water, Wealth, Contentment, Health." The venerable arch still spans 9th and I streets today and retains its 668 incandescent lights that serve as a beacon for newcomers and a reassuring landmark for longtime residents.
Modesto is also home to "American Graffiti" producer George Lucas, E.&J.Gallo, the world's largest winery, a population that topped 211,000 as of April 2009, and an urban forest of more than 100,000 trees, a distinction that garnered Modesto the title "Tree City, USA." Within the city limits there are 75 parks, 44 tennis courts, eight lighted ball fields, 18 group picnic sites and over 15 miles of bike paths. If you're visiting the city for the first time, a great way to find out where to go and what to see is by stopping at the Modesto Convention & Visitors Bureau where driving tours, maps and brochures from local businesses and attractions are available at no charge. You can also pick up the latest on what's happening at Modesto's historic State Theatre. In fact, mention The State and the staff at the CVB (located at 1150 9th Street, Suite C) will call ahead and let us know you're coming!
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