In 1850, entrepreneurs John and William Horner built a settlement in a pastoral corner of the Bay Area, in what today is Alameda County. The settlement was eventually named Union City, after the Horners’ steamboat, “The Union”. The area began to fill out during the Gold Rush, when disappointed gold miners discovered that the fertile soil was ideal for farming. Over the next 50 years, many thriving industries grew up around these farming communities, including salt manufacturers, beet sugar factories and flour mills.
Union City has survived several potential threats, including the 1906 earthquake and attempts at incorporation by neighboring towns. Union City itself incorporated in 1959, combining the communities of Alvarado, Decoto, and New Haven. Alvarado was the original county seat, and the site of the first county courthouse is a California Historical Landmark (#503).
Today, young families looking for a safe and friendly community have swelled Union City’s ranks to more than 70,000. Retail and leisure activity centers have replaced farms and factories, and the city is now one of the most ethnically diverse and culturally enriched areas in the nation.
Union City has established a number of global relationships that help foster unity with other parts of the world. Its sister cities include Santa Rosalia in Baja California Sur, Mexico; Pasay in the Philippines, Jalandhar in India, and Chiang Rai in Thailand. The City’s Leisure Services Department has also established a “sister center” relationship with the Hangzhou Youth Cultural Activity Center in Hangzhou China, which includes a cultural exchange program for the youth of both cities.
In 1999, the National Civic League named Union City an All-America City, honoring the hard work that has helped to make it such an attractive place to live. Union City celebrates its 50th Anniversary in 2009, with year-round events designed to foster its cultural diversity, honor its rich history, and showcase the bright future of the community.
2009 marked the 50th Anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Union City. A year-long series of events will make the celebration one that will be remembered for generations to come.