This article is based on the corresponding article in another wiki. For Familypedia purposes, it requires significantly more historical detail on phases of this location's development. The ideal article for a place will give the reader a feel for what it was like to live at that location at the time their relatives were alive there. Also desirable are links to organizations that may be repositories of genealogical information..
Please help to improve this page yourself if you can.

Marin County, California
Seal of Marin County, California
Map of California highlighting Marin County
Location in the state of California
Map of the U.S. highlighting California
California's location in the U.S.
Founded February 18, 1850
Seat San Rafael
Largest city San Rafael
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

828 sq mi (2,145 km²)
520 sq mi (1,346 km²)
308 sq mi (799 km²), 37.24
 - (2020)
 - Density

476/sq mi (184/km²)
Time zone Pacific: UTC-8/-7

Marin County (English pronunciation: /məˈrɪn/) is a county located in the North San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S. state of California, across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. As of 2020, the population was 262,321. The county seat is San Rafael. Marin County is renowned for its natural beauty, liberal politics and affluence.

San Quentin Prison is located in the county, as is Skywalker Ranch. The largest employer in Marin is Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, headquartered in Novato. Autodesk, the publisher of AutoCAD, is located there, as are numerous other high-tech companies. The headquarters of film and media company Lucasfilm Ltd., previously based in San Rafael, have moved to the Presidio of San Francisco. United States Senator Barbara Boxer is from Marin.

The Marin County Civic Center was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and draws thousands of visitors a year to guided tours of its arch and atrium design.

America's oldest cross country race, the Dipsea Race takes place annually in Marin County, attracting thousands of athletes. The progressive organic dairy Straus Family Creameries, based in Marin, was the first certified organic dairy west of the Mississippi.

Marin County's many beautiful natural sites include the famous Muir Woods redwood forest, the Marin Headlands, Stinson Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, and Mount Tamalpais, the birthplace of mountain biking.


Marin County is one of the original 27 counties of California, created February 18, 1850, following adoption of the Constitution of 1849 and just months before the state was admitted to the Union.[1]

The origin of the county's name is not clear. One version is the county was named for Chief Marin, of the Coast Miwok, Licatiut tribe of Native Americans who inhabited that section and waged fierce battle against the early Spanish military explorers. The other version is that the bay between San Pedro Point and San Quentin Point was named Bahía de Nuestra Señora del Rosario la Marinera in 1775, and it is quite possible that Marin is simply an abbreviation of this name.

The Coast Miwok Indians were hunters and gatherers whose ancestors had occupied the area for thousands of years. About 600 village sites have been identified in the county.

The English explorer and privateer, Sir Francis Drake and the crew of the Golden Hind was thought to have landed on the Marin coast in 1579 claiming the land as Nova Albion. A bronze plaque inscribed with Drake's claim to the new lands, fitting the description in Drake's own account, was discovered in 1933. This so-called Drake's Plate of Brass was later declared a hoax.

In 1595 Sebastian Cermeno lost his ship, the San Agustin, while exploring the Marin Coast. The Spanish explorer Vizcaíno landed about twenty years after Drake in what is now called Drake's Bay. However the first Spanish settlement in Marin was not established until 1817 when Mission San Rafael Arcángel was founded partly in response to the Russian-built Fort Ross to the north in what is now Sonoma county.

Mission San Rafael Arcángel was founded in what is now downtown San Rafael as the 20th Spanish mission in the colonial Mexican province of Alta California by four priests, Father Narciso Duran from Mission San Jose, Father Abella from Mission San Francisco de Asís, Father Gil y Taboada and Father Mariano Payeras, the President of the Missions, on Dec. 14, 1817, four years before Mexico gained independence from Spain.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,145 km² (828 sq mi). 1,346 km² (520 sq mi) of it is land and 799 km² (308 sq mi) of it (37.24%) is water. According to the records at the County Assessor-Recoder's Office, as of June 2006, Marin had 91,065 acres (369 km2) of taxable land, comprised of 79,086 parcels with a total tax basis of $39.8 billion. These parcels are divided into the following classifications:

Parcel Type Tax ID Quantity Value
Vacant 10 6,900 $508.17 million
Single Family Residential 11 61,264 $30,137.02 million
Mobile Home 12 210 $7.62 million
House Boat 13 379 $61.83 million
Multi Family Residential 14 1,316 $3,973.51 million
Industrial Unimproved 40 113 $12.24 million
Industrial Improved 41 562 $482.83 million
Commercial Unimproved 50 431 $97.89 million
Commercial Improved 51 7,911 $4,519.64 million

The view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands.

Geographically, the county forms a large, southward-facing peninsula, with the Pacific Ocean to the west, San Pablo Bay and San Francisco Bay to the east, and -- across the Golden Gate -- the city of San Francisco to the south. Marin County's northern border is with Sonoma County.

Most of the county's population resides on the eastern side, with a string of communities running along San Francisco Bay, from Sausalito to Tiburon to Corte Madera to San Rafael. The interior contains large areas of agricultural and open space; West Marin, through which California State Route 1 runs alongside the California coast, contains many small unincorporated communities dependent on agriculture and tourism for their economies.

Transportation infrastructure[]

State and interstate highways[]

Scenic roads[]

  • Conzelman Road, Marin Headlands
  • Dillon Beach Road
  • Paradise Drive
  • Crown Road
  • Tomales Petaluma Road
  • Chileno Valley Road: Connects Marshall Petaluma Road to Tomales Petaluma Road
  • Marshall Petaluma Road
  • Hicks Valley Road: Connects Marshall Petaluma Road to Point Reyes Petaluma Road
  • Point Reyes Petaluma Road
  • Novato Boulevard: Novato to Point Reyes Petaluma Road
  • Sir Francis Drake Blvd: Point Reyes Lighthouse to California Park
  • Bolinas Fairfax Road: Connects Sir Francis Drake Blvd to California State Route 1 (also a scenic road) at Bolinas
  • Bolinas Ridge Road: Connects Bolinas Fairfax Road to Panoramic Highway and Muir Woods Road
  • Lucas Valley Road and Nicasio Valley Road: Connect 101 with Point Reyes Petaluma Road
  • Point/North San Pedro Road: Connects Santa Venetia and Peacock Gap neighborhoods via China Camp State Park

Public transportation[]

Golden Gate Transit provides service primarily along the U.S. 101 corridor, serving cities in Marin County, as well as San Francisco and Sonoma County. Service is also provided to Contra Costa County via the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Ferries to San Francisco operate from Larkspur and Sausalito. Ferry service from Tiburon is provided by Blue and Gold Fleet and by the Angel Island Ferry.

Local bus routes within Marin County are operated by Golden Gate Transit under contract to the Marin County Transit District. MCTD also operates the West Marin Stage, serving communities in the western, rural areas of Marin County.

Greyhound Lines buses service San Rafael.


Marin County Airport or Gnoss Field (ICAO: KDVO) is a general aviation airport operated by the County Department of Public Works. San Rafael Airport is a private airstrip. The nearest airports with commercial flights are San Francisco International Airport and Oakland International Airport as well as Charles M. Schulz - Sonoma County Airport north of Marin County.

Educational institutions[]

Elementary and middle schools[]

  • Adeline E. Kent Middle School- Kentfield
  • Bacich Elementary- Kentfield
  • Bayside/MLK Elementary School- Sausalito
  • Bel Aire School- Tiburon
  • Bolinas-Stinson Union School District - Bolinas (4-8) & Stinson Beach (K-3)
  • Coleman Elementary School - San Rafael
  • Del Mar School- Tiburon
  • St. Hilary School- Tiburon
  • Old Mill School- Mill Valley
  • Edna Maguire Elementary School- Mill Valley
  • Marin Horizon School- Mill Valley/Presidio of San Francisco
  • Mill Valley Middle School- Mill Valley
  • Manor School- Fairfax
  • Mount Tamalpais School- Mill Valley
  • Park School- Mill Valley
  • Neil Cummins Elementary School-Corte Madera
  • Marin Montessori School- Corte Madera
  • Marin Country Day School- Corte Madera
  • Marin Primary & Middle School- Larkspur
  • Henry C. Hall Middle School- Larkspur
  • Ring Mountain School- Larkspur
  • Bahia Vista Elementary School- San Rafael
  • Davidson Middle School- San Rafael
  • Glenwood Elementary School- San Rafael
  • Miller Creek Middle School- Marinwood/San Rafael
  • Sun Valley Elementary School- San Rafael
  • St. Mark's School - San Rafael
  • St. Raphael's- San Rafael
  • St. Isabella- San Rafael
  • Santa Venetia Valley School- Santa Venetia/San Rafael
  • Hamilton Elementary School- Novato
  • Hill Middle School- Novato
  • Loma Verde Elementary School- Novato
  • Lynwood Elementary School- Novato
  • Montessori School Of Novato- Novato
  • North Bay Christian Academy- Novato
  • Olive Elementary School- Novato
  • Our Lady Of Loretto Catholic School- Novato
  • Pleasant Valley Elementary- Novato
  • Rancho Elementary School- Novato
  • Reed School - Tiburon
  • San Jose Middle School- Novato
  • San Ramon Elementary- Novato
  • Sinaloa Middle School- Novato
  • Tomales Elementary School- Tomales
  • Vallecito Elementary School- Terra Linda
  • Wade Thomas Elementary School- San Anselmo
  • West Marin School- Point Reyes Station
  • White Hill Middle School- Fairfax

High schools[]


Mill Valley:



San Anselmo:

San Rafael:



Colleges and universities[]


Marin county is considered in the California Floristic Province, a zone of extremely high biodiversity and endemicism. There are numerous ecosystems present, including coastal strand, oak woodland, chaparral and riparian zones. There are also a considerable number of protected plant and animal species present: fauna include the Northern Red-legged Frog and California freshwater shrimp, while flora include Marin Dwarf Flax, Hesperolinon congestum; Tiburon Jewelflower, Streptanthus niger; and Tiburon Indian paintbrush, Castilleja neglecta.

A number of watersheds exist in Marin County including Arroyo Corte Madera del Presidio, San Rafael Creek, Pickleweed Creek and Americano Creek.


As of the census² of 2000, there were 247,289 people, 100,650 households, and 60,691 families residing in the county. The population density was 184/km² (476/sq mi). There were 104,990 housing units at an average density of 78/km² (202/sq mi). The racial makeup of the county was 84.03% White, 2.89% Black or African American, 0.43% Native American, 4.53% Asian, 0.16% Pacific Islander, 4.50% from other races, and 3.47% from two or more races. 11.06% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 80.8% spoke English, 9.6% Spanish, 1.4% French and 1.1% German as their first language.

In 2005 76.9% of Marin County's population was non-Hispanic whites. 12.6% of the population was Latino (mostly concentrated in the Canal Area of San Rafael). 5.3% of the population was Asian and 3.1% was African-American.

In 2000 there were 100,650 households out of which 27.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.4% were married couples living together, 8.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.7% were non-families. 29.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 2.90.

In the county the population was spread out with 20.3% under the age of 18, 5.5% from 18 to 24, 31.0% from 25 to 44, 29.7% from 45 to 64, and 13.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 98.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.4 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $71,306, and the median income for a family was $88,934. Males had a median income of $61,282 versus $45,448 for females. The per capita income for the county was $44,962. About 4.7% of families and 9.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.9% of those under age 18 and 2.5% of those age 65 or over. Marin County has the second highest median household income in California behind Santa Clara County.

Marin County has the highest per capita income of any county in the United States. This is driven in particular by expensive enclaves in Belvedere, Kentfield, Larkspur, Ross, Tiburon, Mill Valley, Sausalito, San Anselmo and portions of San Rafael and Novato where displays of conspicuous consumption, especially luxury cars, are common. The county has the highest density of BMW cars (locally known as 'Basic Marin Wheels') in the United States, according to dealers in the county [1].

The traditionally middle class towns of Corte Madera, Fairfax, Novato and San Rafael (where per capita incomes typically paralleled the California state average as late as 1985) also have experienced especially sharp rises in real estate values, due in part to their proximity to the "prestige" address areas. The county's resistance to urban sprawl and its preservation of open space have also had an upward impact on housing prices by reducing the number of new subdivisions built in the area since 1970. The precedent for this was set after a huge development project that would have put a suburb atop the Marin Headlands called Marincello was defeated in court.

The trend of increased affluence has not held true for two neighborhoods in particular, populated almost exclusively by low-income minority groups (not including the successful Asian "minority" group): Marin City (which shares a zip code with Sausalito) and the Canal Neighborhood in San Rafael. Government policies have both forbidden property owners from raising rents and have also subsidized housing prices in these neighborhoods for tenants who do not report incomes higher than 200% of the poverty level on their IRS tax return. Marin City has a population of 3,000 and is ethnically diverse with large East Asian, Hispanic, and African American populations. Many families live in public housing apartment buildings. The population in The Canal is largely Hispanic, with many households residing in over-crowded apartment units. San Rafael has asserted to the Federal Government that this population is significantly undercounted by the U.S. Census due to the high percentage of illegal immigrants, depriving the city of tax funds for improved social services. They assert that the 6.6% of the county-wide population listed as below the poverty line is both under-reported, and heavily concentrated in The Canal. Nevertheless, if it weren't for these two neighborhoods, the service industry of Marin County would not function because the only other working-class neighborhoods are across the San Francisco Bay.


For most of the 20th century, Marin County was a Republican stronghold in presidential elections. From 1880 until 1984, the only Democrats to win there were Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. However, the brand of Republicanism prevailing in Marin County was historically a moderate one. Like most of the historically Republican suburbs of the Bay Area, it became friendlier to Democrats as the demographics of the area changed and the national party embraced social and religious conservatism. In 1984, it very narrowly voted for Walter Mondale and has supported the Democratic candidate in every presidential election since then. Out of all California counties, only San Francisco County voted more Democratic in the 2020 presidential election.

United States presidential election results for Marin County, California[2]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 24,612 15.79% 128,288 82.33% 2,930 1.88%
2016 21,771 15.48% 108,707 77.27% 10,205 7.25%
2012 30,880 22.92% 99,896 74.14% 3,955 2.94%
2008 28,384 20.19% 109,320 77.77% 2,866 2.04%
2004 34,378 25.40% 99,070 73.21% 1,877 1.39%
2000 34,872 28.32% 79,135 64.26% 9,148 7.43%
1996 32,714 28.17% 67,406 58.04% 16,020 13.79%
1992 30,479 23.32% 76,158 58.27% 24,070 18.42%
1988 46,855 39.73% 69,394 58.85% 1,671 1.42%
1984 56,887 49.02% 57,533 49.58% 1,630 1.40%
1980 49,678 45.78% 39,231 36.16% 19,598 18.06%
1976 53,425 52.52% 43,590 42.86% 4,700 4.62%
1972 54,123 52.10% 47,414 45.64% 2,346 2.26%
1968 41,422 50.05% 36,278 43.84% 5,055 6.11%
1964 28,682 38.06% 46,462 61.65% 220 0.29%
1960 37,620 57.29% 27,888 42.47% 157 0.24%
1956 33,792 65.94% 17,301 33.76% 151 0.29%
1952 31,178 67.08% 14,824 31.90% 475 1.02%
1948 18,747 57.06% 12,540 38.17% 1,568 4.77%
1944 13,304 47.69% 14,516 52.04% 76 0.27%
1940 10,974 48.47% 11,365 50.20% 301 1.33%
1936 6,211 33.44% 12,152 65.43% 209 1.13%
1932 6,480 38.13% 9,764 57.45% 752 4.42%
1928 7,862 57.44% 5,686 41.54% 140 1.02%
1924 5,780 53.52% 656 6.07% 4,364 40.41%
1920 5,375 68.80% 1,688 21.61% 750 9.60%
1916 4,328 50.05% 3,789 43.82% 530 6.13%
1912 0 0.00% 2,849 44.52% 3,551 55.48%
1908 2,732 68.25% 983 24.56% 288 7.19%
1904 2,199 70.71% 772 24.82% 139 4.47%
1900 1,681 63.58% 904 34.19% 59 2.23%
1896 1,448 61.41% 874 37.07% 36 1.53%
1892 1,186 53.59% 949 42.88% 78 3.52%
1888 936 52.76% 802 45.21% 36 2.03%
1884 851 53.62% 727 45.81% 9 0.57%
1880 761 56.58% 561 41.71% 23 1.71%

Marin has voted for many gubernatorial candidates who went on to become high-profile national figures, including Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Jerry Brown, and Dianne Feinstein.

On November 4, 2008, the citizens of Marin County voted strongly against Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment which eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry, by a 75.1 percent to 24.9 percent margin. The official tally was 103,341 against and 34,324 in favor.[3] Only San Francisco County voted against the measure by a wider margin (75.2% against).[4]

According to the California Secretary of State, as of February 10, 2019, Marin County has 161,870 registered voters. Of those, 89,526 (55.31%) are registered Democrats, 23,380 (14.44%) are registered Republicans, 7,020 (4.35%) are registered with other political parties, and 41,908 (25.89%) have declined to state a political party.[5] Democrats hold wide voter-registration majorities in all political subdivisions in Marin County. Democrats' largest registration advantage in Marin is in the town of Fairfax, wherein there are only 344 Republicans (6.1%) out of 5,678 total voters compared to 3,758 Democrats (66.2%) and 1,276 voters who have declined to state a political party (22.5%).

The last time Marin elected a Republican to represent them in the United States House of Representatives was William S. Mailliard in 1972. The last competitive race for the U.S. House of Representatives in Marin was in 1982 when Barbara Boxer was first elected. The longest serving representative of Marin in congress was Clarence F. Lea who served in the House from 1917 to 1949.

Due to the rapidly expanding nature of California's population, Marin's congressional district has changed numerous times over the decades. The county has been part of the 2nd congressional district of California since 2012; the only other time it was part of the 2nd district was 1902–12. It has also been part of the 1st (1894–1902 and 1912–66), 3rd (1864–94), 5th (1974–82), and the 6th (1972–74 and 1982–2012). The only time the county has not been in a single congressional district was between 1966 and 1972, when it was divided between the northern half in the 1st district and the southern half in the 6th district.


Marin county has several media outlets that serve the local community.

Notable current and former residents[]

Cities, towns and unincorporated districts[]

Adjacent counties[]

In books and films[]

Marin County has been used as the venue for numerous films and books; in some cases these works have also incorporated scenes set in neighboring San Francisco or Sonoma County. The following are representative works produced in whole or in part in Marin County:

  • Marin County lifestyles of the 1970s were spoofed in the 1977 novel The Serial: A Year in the Life of Marin County by Cyra McFadden, and in the subsequent film Serial which was based on the novel.
  • Scenes from The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II were filmed in Marin.
  • Marin County's reputation as a counterculture enclave, especially the town of Bolinas and its isolationist reputation, made it a location of many key events in the 1981 novel Ecotopia Emerging by Ernest Callenbach.
  • Many scenes of the 1971 film Dirty Harry and its sequels were filmed in Marin.
  • The 1996 film Jack was filmed almost entirely in Ross.
  • The 2001 film Bandits was filmed in Marin.
  • In the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark starring Harrison Ford, the college scenes were filmed at Dominican University of California and Indiana Jones' home exteriors was filmed in San Rafael as well.
  • In the book Youth in Revolt: The Journals of Nick Twisp, the Twisp family resides in Oakland and Nick's father is in jail in Marin County.


See also[]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

External links[]

Coordinates: 38°02′N 122°44′W / 38.04, -122.74

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Marin County, California. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.