|Population: 451,000 people|
Fresno in Spanish means an ash tree, its sub variety that grows in California. The story of Fresno, founded in 1872, started with construction of a station on the Central Pacific Railroad. It became the Eastern branch of the railroad connecting the Pacific Coast to the geographical center of the US. But the first white settlers, gold hunters, forty-niners, came to this area almost quarter a century before, at the time of Californian gold fever.
The ash town is twice a capital. It is a seat of the homonymous county and is also called the world's raisin capital. 60% of all dried grape in the world is made in Fresno and its vicinity. Yet here, none less successfully, one cultivates everything that grows on Earth. So Fresno County is the largest vendor of agricultural products in the US. But Fresno is not only a heaven for farmers, it is also a large industrial, cultural and tourist center.
Fresno is called the gate to the three national California parks: Yosemite, Sequoia and Royal Canyon. The main historical landmark of the city is the old water tower, preserved from 1896. But the real wonder of wonders is no doubt the underground gardens, a genius masterpiece by Baldasare Forestiere, a Sicilian immigrant. One afternoon, while sitting in his cellar, he noticed how the sun shined through the skylight and wondered if he could get a tree to grow underground. He decided to try… and all 40 years of his life (from 1906 to 1946) he devoted to underground garden cultivation. In time he managed to gather a unique collection of many different fruit trees. Using just hand tools, a wheelbarrow and a mule, he built a whole underground estate with gardens, galleries, patios, living rooms, a library, a kitchen, a bathroom, a fishbowl and a fish pond.
It is also worth mentioning that William Saroyan (1908-1981), one of the most famous American writers was born, lived and died in Fresno. He was received the Pulitzer prize award in 1940.