The city of Salinas is the seat of Monterey County and has a population of 148,350. Salinas is a suburban city located about eight miles from the Pacific Ocean, so it enjoys a Mediterranean climate. The city is well known for its primarily agriculture-based economy, as it is located in one of California's richest farming regions. Known as the “Salad Bowl of America,” Salinas produces a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Eighty percent of lettuce grown in the United States is grown in the Salinas Valley; therefore, many major produce companies are headquartered in Salinas.
Salinas is probably most well known as the hometown of Nobel Prize laureate, Pulitzer Prize winner, and famed 20th century writer John Steinbeck. The National Steinbeck Center, the Steinbeck House, and the John Steinbeck library are all located in downtown Salinas. The city's historic downtown area, which was recently revitalized, holds a great deal of fine Victorian architecture. Salinas is currently planning a mixed-use development project for the site of the old Cominos Hotel, which was torn down in the early 1990s due to earthquake damage. Plans are also underway for the restoration of the old Chinatown (featured in Steinbeck's East of Eden). This project also calls for mixed-use planning and development.
Some notable events in Salinas include the California International Airshow, which takes place at the Salinas Airport and features top-tier aerobatic teams, such as the U.S. Navy Blue Angels; and the Salinas Rodeo. The city is a major stop on the professional rodeo circuit. Each third week in July, the Salinas Sports Complex plays host to Big Week, a rodeo and bullriding extravaganza. Other rodeo-related events including cowboy poetry, wine tasting, a carnival, barbeques, and a gala cowboy ball.