Downtown Chico: The Heart of Chico’s Story

There are always great things happening around Chico, and so many of them are centered downtown. With everything from offices to bars to retail and entertainment located there, it’s a hub for both work and recreation. Many locals take it for granted as part of their everyday routine. But if you stop and think about it for a minute, how much do you really know about downtown? 

History of Chico Downtown

After passing through the area in the 1840s, John Bidwell returned with a land grant and began carving out space for Rancho Chico, which was located at Broadway and 1st Street. Later in the 1860’s he bought land across Big Chico Creek and laid out plans for the town in the hope it would become the county seat for Butte County. Originally, the town’s buildings were made of wood, but after a series of fires, they were rebuilt in brick in the 1880s. As the population of Chico continued to grow, some of the most prominent buildings were built, many of which, like the downtown post office, remain today. 

Image courtesy of the Chico History Museum

Contribution To Chico’s Economy and Culture

Ask any local about their favorite thing to do downtown, and the odds are they’ll name something key to Chico’s economy. Many folks love visiting the Thursday Night Market where local farmers sell their produce, and other vendors sell their crafts, art, and wares. It’s a perfect example of goods produced by locals that are bought by other locals, and it is a part of the long agricultural tradition in the area. And downtown is rich with businesses, many of which were started by CSU graduates who decided to stay and contribute their time, talents, and energy to life in Chico. 

Cultural Events

The economy is also supported by myriad cultural events and festivals which drive traffic to the downtown core and encourage visitors to patronize restaurants, bars, cafes, hotels, and shops there. In the summertime, locals look forward to attending the Friday Night Concert series at the City Plaza Stage. This free al fresco event began in 1978 and features local musical talents suitable for all ages. Downtown offers an abundance of activities year-round, from street festivals to events like the Slice of Chico and the Art and Wine walk. 

Places of Interest

With so many interesting options, there’s a wealth of places to explore during a visit downtown. You can try your hand (or feet) at ice skating during the winter, or stroll down the tree-lined streets through some of the idyllic parks. Check out some of the amazing public art dotting the sidewalks, and then grab a coffee at one of the many local shops. Or stop by the Bidwell Mansion, where downtown Chico’s most recent history began. 

Image courtesy of DCBA

Want to find out more about this amazing place? Then head over to Downtown Chico’s site here: https://www.downtownchico.com