Modesto Apartments for Rent
When a young George Lucas wrote American Graffiti, he gave viewers a snapshot of one night in the life of a teenager in 1962. The autobiographical film took place in his home town of Modesto, California.
Lucas’ character, Curt, left Modesto to attend college, and friend Steve stayed behind. Curt’s character went on to become a famous Hollywood screenwriter. But what would Steve have experienced, staying behind in Modesto?
Steve’s city is located in northern California with a population just over 200,000. It is surrounded by rich farmland, and ranks 6th among all California counties in farm production of products such as milk, almonds and walnuts.
Of course, the largest employer in Modesto is the famous E & J Gallo Winery. Ernest Gallo and Julio Gallo founded the winery in 1933 with $5,000 borrowed from Ernest’s mother-in-law. They taught themselves commercial winemaking by reading old pamphlets retrieved from the basement of the Modesto Public Library. The firm’s new wine, Barefoot, has received several awards including the Market Watch magazine “Wine Brand of the Year.”
Despite the success of Gallo Winery, Steve would tell you that like so many American cities, Modesto has struggled economically, with the county’s jobless rate rising at one point to 18.4 percent.
But the city worked hard to promote industrial growth, and it paid off. In 2010, the county was buoyed by a 14 percent increase in manufacturing jobs, many of them food-related. Farming jobs increased as well, and together with manufacturing, posted the largest increases in employment in Modesto’s recent history, adding 1,900 new jobs in 2011. Dynamic small business associations continue to attract new business to the city, including a new soy milk company which brought about 100 new jobs. There has been some small growth in education, health services and leisure and hospitality as well, adding about 200 new jobs.
Ironically, the city council refused to let Lucas film American Graffiti in Modesto in 1972. Since then, however, there has been a revival of interest in the film, and an apologetic City of Modesto has created new tourist attractions and events, including its annual festival, “Graffiti Summer,” which attracts thousands of visitors and enthusiasts of classic and antique cars. Ultimately, Steve says, he is happy he stayed behind in Modesto.