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San Francisco is in the foreground in this picture looking north. San Pablo Bay continues north surrounded by parts of (left to right) Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano Counties.

The North Bay is a subregion of the San Francisco Bay Area, in California, United States. It is by far the least populous and least urbanized part of the Bay Area. It consists of Marin, Sonoma, Napa, and Solano counties. It is, unusually for a major metropolitan area, still highly agricultural in character. The internationally famous California wine country (primarily consisting of growing areas in Sonoma County and the Napa Valley) is located in the North Bay. The region's largest city, Santa Rosa, is situated on the Santa Rosa Plain in the heart of Sonoma County. Historically, the area is also known for dairy farming. Although the growth of the wine industry has slowly edged out some of the dairy industry, it is still common to see cows grazing on the hillsides of Sonoma County in particular. Solano County is the notable exception to this pattern, with exurban development occurring at a rapid pace on former pastureland surrounding Vacaville and Fairfield. The growth of these two cities is largely a function of their proximity to both San Francisco and Sacramento, although some North Bay residents commute all the way to San Mateo or Santa Clara counties.

Contents

Transportation

The new Benicia-Martinez Bridge under construction. The new bridge connects I-680 North in Martinez to I-680 North in Benicia, and I-80 in Fairfield

The North Bay is connected to San Francisco by the Golden Gate Bridge and to the East Bay by the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge (usually called either the Richmond Bridge or San Rafael Bridge), the Carquinez Bridge, and the Benicia Bridge, which crosses the San Pablo Bay between Benicia and Martinez. Several ferry routes operate between the North Bay and San Francisco, from terminals located in Sausalito, Tiburon, Larkspur, Angel Island, and Vallejo. Commuter rail service from Fairfield to Sacramento and Oakland is provided by Amtrak on its Capitol Corridor (Amtrak) line.

Plans for the development of the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit, a fourteen station commuter rail line from Larkspur to Cloverdale were approved by voters in November 2008.[1]

Because of rapid growth in Solano County, the area's bridges and freeways are becoming increasingly congested, and further transportation linkages to the rest of the Bay Area will prove necessary in the coming decades. The Benicia Bridge was rebuilt in 2007 with this in mind, and the aging Richmond-San Rafael Bridge may soon be as well.

San Francisco in the foreground looking north over Marin.

History

The Bear Flag Revolt took place in the town of Sonoma, which is also the location of the last of the California Missions. General Mariano Vallejo, the last secretary to the Governor of California before its annexation to the United States, kept his home in Sonoma; his ranch, now a National Historic Location, was located in nearby Petaluma.

Apart from heavily industrialized Vallejo (the site of the Mare Island Naval Shipyard), the North Bay remained isolated and rural well into the 20th Century. The opening of the Golden Gate Bridge in the 1930s transformed Marin County from a dairy farming region into an upscale suburban area, while the construction of Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield during World War II provided Solano County with its first major non-farm employer. Until the 1990s, the region's growth was at a gradual pace, with significant restrictions on development being imposed in Marin and Napa Counties in the 1970s. (Future Senator Barbara Boxer was an important figure in the North Bay's open space preservation movement.) However, Solano County began growing at an astonishing pace in the late 1990s, with urban sprawl covering vast portions of former agricultural land in response to the housing shortage that afflicts the rest of the Bay Area. Vacaville, in particular, is rapidly becoming a classic "edge city," with significant industrial growth (particularly in freight movement) occurring on the city's edges.

Major cities

The largest city in the North Bay is Santa Rosa. Other major cities include:

References

  1. ^ "North bay voters back commuter rail — finally" (in English). San Francisco business Times. Wednesday, November 5, 2008. http://sanfrancisco.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/stories/2008/11/03/daily74.html. Retrieved 2009-01-10.  
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