North Richmond is an unincorporated urban community nearly surrounded by the larger city of Richmond. Located on the peninsula that separates the San Francisco and San Pablo bays, it has optimal access to near and distant makets via land, water or air. San Francisco is just 19 miles west, Sacramento is 65 miles east, San Jose and Silicon Valley are 48 miles south.
The Richmond area figures prominently in the early industrial development of the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1900, Sante Fe Railroad established its western terminus at Point Richmond, a few miles south of North Richmond, and direct ferry service was provided to San Francisco in those pre-Bay Bridge days. Standard Oil built a refinery in Richmond in 1901 and the area rapidly developed as a center for heavy industry.
With World War II came the Kaiser Richmond Shipyards, one of the largest shipbuilding operations on the West Coast. During this period many of North Richmond's residents worked in the shipyards. As peace returned, new industries continued to develop in the area. North Richmond residents in the post-war years found jobs in the petroleum, railway and shipping industries. In addition to the relatively recent industrial development, earlier influences on the area are still evident.
The Ohlone Indians inhabited the area for an estimated 5,000 years. Spanish explorers first entered the area in 1772, and in 1823 Don Fracisco Castro was granted 17,000 acres of land. Richmond was later established on that land, and the name Castro features prominently in Bay Area landmarks.