California is known worldwide for its beautiful coastline, mild coastal weather and tourist hotspots like Disneyland, the Golden Gate Bridge, SeaWorld and Hollywood.
However, some facts about California are unknown to many, including some residents.
California got its name from a best-selling novel
The state’s name is derived from a bestselling novel published in 1510. The book, “Las Sergas de Esplandián,” was written by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo, who hailed from the historical Kingdom of Castile, located in modern-day Spain.
According to the History Channel website, the book — a sequel to chivalric romance novels that were popular during the time — tells the story of warriors who live on the mythical island of “California” with the story’s protagonist, Esplandián.
When Spanish colonizers arrived at the Baja California peninsula in 1533, they thought it was an island and reported that information back home, where some believed the explorers had found the elusive island from “Las Sergas de Esplandián.”
San Jose was the state’s first capital city
The first California legislature chose San Jose as the state capital as a permanent location for government business. However, the city didn’t prove to be an ideal location.
At the time, San Jose didn’t have the proper facilities to house the state’s government. Former General and State Senator, Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, donated land for a new capital location in what is known presently as the city of Vallejo, the California Department of Parks and Recreation website said.
State leaders only convened at that location twice before eventually moving to Sacramento.
The grizzly bear on the California state flag is modeled after one caught by William Randolph Hearst
According to the History Channel, newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst asked one of his journalists, Allen Kelly, to capture a grizzly bear that he could put on display at San Francisco’s Woodward’s Gardens.
The bear, named Monarch by Hearst, eventually died in 1911, was stuffed and displayed at the California Academy of Sciences. During the same year, California decided to honor grizzly bears on the state flag, and Monarch was used for artists’ inspiration.
According to the La Brea Tar Pits website, the California grizzly bear was last seen near Yosemite in 1924. Now, only black bears inhabit the Golden State.
Blue and Yellow are the state colors
The University of California, Berkeley, initially used the color combination in 1875. In 1913, the state began implementing blue and gold ribbons with the official state seal on documents, according to the California State Library website.
Former Secretary of State Frank M. Jordan suggested that blue and gold become the official colors of California, and in 1951, the state legislature passed legislation adopting the colors.
Blue represents the California sky, and gold represents the precious metal found during the Gold Rush.