Welcome to Fairfax
Population 7,598 approximate
Fairfax is a groovy little town where time virtually stopped in the late 1960s. Fairfax gives Berkeley a run for its money as being the Bay Area’s most liberal municipal enclave. Tie dyed shirts, organic vegetarian restaurants and a retail outlet selling biodiesel fuel made of vegetable oil, help to make Fairfax the most progressive city in Marin.
Fairfax is the gateway to West Marin for outdoor enthusiasts. Bicyclists and hikers make Fairfax their jumping off point for exploring the miles of trails leading to Alpine, Lagunitas, and Kent Lakes.
Fairfax’s diverse business community offers a variety of unique and eclectic shops, restaurants, cafes and nightclubs. The seasonal June to Sept. Farmer’s Market is held each Wednesday evening in the Fairfax Theatre parking lot and is a gathering place for the entire community.
Downtown Fairfax boasts a vibrant music scene. Evenings are full of music and families strolling through the town. Music fans jam in to watch national and local acts perform at downtown’s popular clubs and cafes. The annual Music in the Park series features jazz, swing, brass bands, bagpipers and Irish folk songs.
The biggest weekend of the year is centered around the annual Fairfax Festival held each June. The downtown area is closed off to make way for thousands of people who come for an only-in-Fairfax parade, food, drink and live music. In 2002 Fairfax was the first city in the county to take issue with the USA Patriot Act, citing civil liberties.
History Of Fairfax
The area now called Fairfax was originally part of the Mexican Land Grant, Canada de Herrera, consisting of 6,658 acres, conferred to Domingo Sais on August 10, 1839, in return for his military service under the government of Mexico.
One of the first Europeans to settle in the area was a Virginian, Dr. Alfred W. Taliaferro, Marin's first and most beloved physician, who was given the park-like glen, the Marin Town and Country Club property, by Domingo Sais. A fellow Virginian, Charles S. Fairfax, also fell in love with the property when he paid the good doctor a visit. Taliaferro transferred the property to Fairfax and in 1855 Fairfax and his wife, Ada, made it their home.
Fairfax got its name from Lord Charles Snowden Fairfax, a Virginian who moved to California in 1849. Charles was lured west by the gold fever. Here at his estate, known as Bird's Nest Glen, he dispensed hospitality in the grand old southern style to those of reputation and to the stranger who happened along.
Active in local, state and national politics between 1851 and 1868, Fairfax was elected a Marin County Supervisor in 1865 and held that office for two years. Charles Fairfax died in 1869 after traveling east as a delegate to the National Democratic Convention. After his death, his widow sold the property to Mary Owens and moved to Fort Ross.
In the 1890's the former Fairfax home became a hotel and restaurant, Pastori's, becoming as renowned as Bird's Nest Glen had been when Charles and Ada Fairfax owned it. Its excellent food, service and setting attracted clientele from near and far, the elite from San Francisco and the famous from across the country.
In 1911 the restaurant burned to the ground, destroying the last vestige of the Fairfax home. Madame Pastori immediately rebuilt in an even grander style. This building still stands today on the Marin Town and Country Club property.
It was after the turn of the century that the Fairfax District began to grow, laying the foundation for the present town. 1907 and 1908 saw three tracts of land subdivided, the Fairfax Tract at Pastori's Station, Ridgeway and Deer Park.
Fairfax was also the setting for dozens of early Western movies. Local extras rode with Broncho Billy Anderson, early Western hero and movie producer, who later employed Ben Turpin and Charles Chaplin. Several movie companies used the area in and around Fairfax from 1910 to about 1923. Fairfax had its own movie studio, United Keanograph Studio, which produced in Fairfax the movie Money in 1915. This film was shown in movie houses across the country.
Fairfax finally came of age in February of 1931 when the town was incorporated as a city of the sixth class, with a five-member council government.
Fairfax today is no longer hay fields, dairy ranches and vineyards but a community of fine neighborhoods nestled in the hills and small valleys of the Upper Ross Valley. Within easy reach of numerous State and National recreation areas, Fairfax offers the best of both work and play and is ideally suited to an easy, friendly lifestyle.