Santa Rosa is the largest city in California's Redwood Empire, Wine Country and the North Bay; the fifth most populous city in the San Francisco Bay Area after San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, and Fremont; and the 28th most populous city in California.
Famed director Alfred Hitchcock filmed his thriller Shadow of a Doubt in Santa Rosa in 1943; the film gives glimpses of Santa Rosa in the 1940s.
Many of the downtown buildings seen in the film no longer exist due to major reconstruction following the strong earthquakes in October 1969.
By the 1850s, a Wells Fargo post and general store were established in what is now downtown Santa Rosa. Census, in 1870 Santa Rosa was the eighth largest city in California, and county seat of one of the most populous counties in the state.
In the mid-1850s, several prominent locals, including Julio Carrillo, son of Maria Carrillo, laid out the grid street pattern for Santa Rosa with a public square in the center, a pattern which largely remains as the street pattern for downtown Santa Rosa to this day, despite changes to the central square, now called Old Courthouse Square. Census records, among others, show that after California became a state, Santa Rosa grew steadily early on, despite initially lagging behind nearby Petaluma in the 1850s and early 1860s. Growth and development after that was steady but never rapid.
Some of the increase was from immigration, and some from annexation of portions of the surrounding area.
In 1958 the United States Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization designated Santa Rosa as one of its eight regional headquarters, with jurisdiction over Region 7, which included American Samoa, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah.However, some, like the rough-stone Northwestern Pacific Railroad depot and the prominent Empire Building (built in 1910 with a gold-topped clock tower), still survive.A scene at the bank was filmed at the corner of Fourth Street and Mendocino Avenue (at present day Old Courthouse square); the KRESS building on Fourth Street is also visible. The Coen brothers' 2001 film The Man Who Wasn't There is set in Santa Rosa c. Santa Rosa grew following World War II, because it was the location for Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Santa Rosa, the remnants now located in southwest Santa Rosa.Before the arrival of Europeans, the Santa Rosa Plain was home to a strong and populous tribe of Pomo natives known as the Bitakomtara.The Bitakomtara controlled the area closely, barring passage to others until permission was arranged.The well known Round Barn which sat along the beautiful hill side for over 100 years burned to the ground along with many other businesses.