Modesto /məˈdɛstoʊ/ (Spanish for "modest"), officially being the City of Modesto, is the county seat and largest city of Stanislaus County, California, United States. With a population of approximately 201,165 at the 2010 census, Modesto ranks as the 18th largest city in the state of California. The Modesto Census County Division, which includes the cities of Ceres and Riverbank, has a population of 312,842 as of 2010.
Modesto is located in the Central Valley, 90 miles (140 km) north of Fresno, 40 miles (64 km) north of Merced, California, 92 miles (148 km) east of San Francisco, 68 miles (109 km) south of the state capital of Sacramento, 66 miles (106 km) west of Yosemite National Park, and 24 miles (39 km) south of Stockton. Modesto has been honored as a Tree City USA numerous times. It is surrounded by rich farmland; Stanislaus County ranks sixth among California counties in farm production. Led by milk, almonds, chickens, walnuts, and corn silage, the county grossed nearly $3.1 billion in agricultural production in 2011.
Modesto was immortalized in the 1973 George Lucas film American Graffiti. Lucas grew up in Modesto and graduated from Downey High School in 1962. The award-winning film captured the spirit of cruising and friendship on 10th and 11th Streets in 1962 and led to the revival of 1950s nostalgia that included the TV show Happy Days and the other spin-offs.
Modesto is one of the birthplaces of modern rock and roll as the roots of Rockabilly music began in 1938 with the Maddox Brothers and Rose. The slap bass technique created by Fred Maddox became the percussive backbeat to "hillbilly boogie" that would become the foundation of Rock and Roll. The Maddox Brothers music became famous from the early broadcasts by pioneering radio station KTRB throughout the 1940s. Fred Maddox's bass now belongs to the Experience Project Museum in Seattle Washington for the significance in music history.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index for 2011, which interviews 1,000 participants daily and asks individuals to assess their jobs, finances, physical health, emotional state of mind and communities, ranked Modesto 126 out of the 190 cities surveyed. In December 2009, Forbes ranked Modesto 48th out of 100 among "Best Bang-for-the-Buck Cities". In this ranking, Modesto ranked 8th in housing affordability and travel time but also ranked 86th in job forecast growth and 99th in foreclosures.