The Port of Richmond is on California's northeastern shore of the San Francisco Bay. Located in South Richmond at the end of Canal Boulevard, the Port of Richmond is one of the United States' largest seaports. It is also eight nautical miles northeast of the Port of San Francisco and seven nautical miles north of the Port of Oakland. Located in the East Bay off the San Francisco Bay, it is a suburb of San Francisco. In 2000, over 99 thousand people lived in the Port of Richmond.
The Port of Richmond is the site of many industries. It was the site of the Giant Powder Company, maker of dynamite and gunpowder until it closed in 1960. It was also the last active whaling station in the United States (closed in 1971). The Port of Richmond developed rapidly as an industrial town, mainly due to ship-building, during World War II. Chevron USA has an important oil refinery in the Port of Richmond, and Kaiser Permanente's Richmond Medical Center is one of the biggest employers in the city. Vertrazzo, a green manufacturer of recycled glass countertops, is housed in an old Ford assembly plant. Treeskunk Productions animates video games in the Port of Richmond.
Shell mounds built about 5000 years ago by the ancient Ohlone Indians have been found near the Port of Richmond. The first Europeans visited the future Port of Richmond site on the East Bay in 1772. After Mexico won its independence in 1821, Francisco Castro was given 17 thousand acres and made the site part of his Rancho San Pablo. After his death, the City of Richmond was established there.
Augustin Macdonald visited Point Richmond in 1895 and was inspired with the idea for a rail terminal and ferry service for a direct route to San Francisco. When the Santa Fe Railway terminated in the Port of Richmond in 1900, the railway moved its shops there, and ferry service was established. In 1901, Standard Oil built a refinery in the Port of Richmond.
With a population of just over two thousand, the Port of Richmond was incorporated in 1905, though it was already a thriving industrial town. By 1910, 7,500 people lived there. Rancho San Pablo's fields were subdivided into city lots, and towns began to grow up around the industries. Harbor construction started in 1907, and bond issues helped fund dredging and terminal construction.
World War II brought dramatic changes to the Port of Richmond when the Kaiser Richmond Shipyard became one of the country's biggest ship-building operations, supplying more than 750 warships. The Rosie the Riveter Memorial in Marina Bay marks the location of the shipyards and commemorates the role of women to the war effort.
By 1943, over 93 thousand people lived in the Port of Richmond, and over 60 thousand of them lived in "temporary" public housing that remains today. The shipyards closed when the war ended, production declined quickly, and Port of Richmond population decreased from the 1947 high of 101 thousand to about 72 thousand in 1960. New industries occupied the shipyards, and the Port of Richmond Redevelopment Agency undertook several projects to redevelop the area.
Post-war development in the Port of Richmond included warehousing and distribution facilities and chemical and research facilities. Standard Oil (now Chevron USA) and its subsidiaries continue to be the city's biggest employer and industry. Since 1960, several major projects (Marina Bay, the Knox Freeway, Richmond Parkway, and a shopping center) transformed both the Port of Richmond's face and its economy. New development efforts began in the 1980s, and the Port of Richmond's population grew to over 90 thousand in 1995.