A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, safe from the insidious grasp of the Imperial Empire and evil Emperor Palatine, is the planet called Earth. Nestled into the San Joaquin Valley of the planet’s most western state lays the civilization known as Modesto, California.

Although Modesto does not actually exist in the Star Wars galaxy, it is however, the birthplace of Star Wars creator George Lucas. Lucas and Star Wars are both icons in the pop culture world that is one of California’s leading industries. While Modesto is somewhat removed from all the glitter and glam, millionaires and paparazzi that permeate the Los Angeles and Hollywood areas, it is the place in which Lucas’ first film was based and filmed.

American Graffiti depicted the lives of Modesto teenagers in the turbulent 1960s. The 1960s were not the only turbulent times that Modesto had over the course of its history. It was founded in October 1870 with the coming of the railroad, and became known as one of the roughest, toughest, and rowdiest of the valley communities. The building of the Central Pacific Railroad, which would later become the Union Pacific, was the most important event to the economic growth to happen to the San Joaquin Valley.

A mass exodus occurred as residents arrived from neighboring communities. In just three weeks, the new village had 25 buildings and within three months, it had 75. It is amusing to think about how alarmed the citizens of Modesto in 1870 were to see this great influx of people, possessions, and buildings streaming into their small settlement, when the number of people moving into Modesto today is well into the thousands.

Today, Modesto is a community that readily accepts people of different cultures, backgrounds and religions. Modesto citizens are encouraged by their community leaders to actively participate in cultural events pertaining to their individual heritages. The kaleidoscope of nationalities rivals the beautiful and diverse landscape that abides in Modesto and the surrounding area. While it is not without its problems, Modesto is a terrific community to settle down and raise a family.