Fairfield is the Solano County seat, as the arch over downtown Texas Street proudly proclaims.
It is far more than that, of course. It is home to Travis Air Force Base and has such attractions as the Budweiser brewery, Jelly Belly, Solano Mall, and the Rancho Solano and Paradise Valley golf courses. It offers such hiking opportunities as Rockville Hills Park. It has neighborhoods both new and dating back to the 19th century.
Plus, its location along Interstate 80 between Sacramento and the Bay Area and along Highway 12 between the Central Valley and Bay Area make it a regional crossroads of sorts.
But Fairfield owes its 1856 birth to Solano County government. Nearby Suisun City at the time had the waterfront shipping access that made pioneer-era towns thrive. One writer of the era called Fairfield a treeless plain.
Capt. Robert Waterman looked for assets that would allow him to establish Fairfield on his landholdings. He offered the county land where it could build a government center. Voters in 1858 took him up on the offer and approved moving the county seat from Benicia to Fairfield.
Suddenly, Fairfield had a reason for being. It still played second fiddle to Suisun City for decades, but by World War II was well on its way to becoming Solano County’s second-largest city, behind Vallejo.
Today, Fairfield has 105,321 residents, according to Census 2010.
The city covers 37.3 square miles and plans to grow. It is preparing to annex land near Travis Air Force Base for a community built around a proposed train station. If the vision becomes a reality, Fairfield will add several thousand new homes, along with new businesses and industry and a park with a lake.
The Fairfield of today is far bigger than its founder likely could have imagined. But its role as the Solano County seat remains a key component of its identity, with the 1911 county courthouse building and the modern, six-story county Government Center among its most striking buildings.
Number of rooms: 1,440
Contact: Fairfield-Suisun Chamber of Commerce, 707-425-4625, www.ffsc-chamber.com; Fairfield Tourism Association, 707-399-2445, www.fairfield4fun.com