Benicia, the jewel of Solano County, was named in 1847 after Mexican General Mariano Vallejo sold the land from his vast land grant to Robert Semple. The General intended that the city be named "Francisca" after his wife, but this name was dropped when the former city of "Yerba Buena" changed its name to "San Francisco," so her second given name was used instead. It is said that first word of the gold discovery found at Sutter's Mill was leaked at a Benicia tavern thus starting the Gold Rush. Benicia became a way station on the way to the goldfields.

Founded in 1849, historic Benicia was the third city to incorporate in the State in 1851. It became the third State capital in 1853. After it was learned that the legislature was unhappy with muddy San Jose, Benicians rushed to erect the red brick capitol building. By making the bricks on site, the construction was finished in just 4 months. Benicia was the State Capital for 13 months before the legislature moved the capital to Sacramento. The building is now a State Park and a historic landmark open for tours.

Benicia was home to a military Arsenal, which supplied weapons to U.S. troops in battles and wars beginning in 1849. The Arsenal housed camels after a failed attempt to incorporate the dromedaries into the army as pack animals. Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, and other notables passed through the Arsenal. The Benicia Arsenal was decommissioned in 1964, and the area is now home to a thriving industrial park, museum, and art colony.

As a waterfront community, Benicia was a shipbuilding center until just after World War I and home to thriving waterfront industries, such as canneries and tanneries, well into the 20th century.

Please visit the links below for more information on Benicia's history: