About This Place
Novato ( /nəvɑːtoʊ/ nə-vah-toh) is a city located in the North Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, in northern Marin County. Novato is located about 10 miles (16 km) north-northwest of San Rafael, at an elevation of 30 feet above sea level (nine meters). The 2010 U.S. Census estimated the city population to be about 51,904. Novato is about 30 miles (48 km) north of San Francisco on U.S. 101.
What is now Novato was originally the site of several Coast Miwok villages: Chokeche, near downtown Novato, Puyuku, near Ignacio, and Olompali, at the present Olompali State Historic Park.
In 1839 the Mexican government granted the 8,876-acre (35.92 km2) Rancho Novato to Fernando Feliz. The rancho was named after a local Miwok leader who had probably been given the name of Saint Novatus at his baptism. Subsequently four additional land grants were made in the area; Rancho Corte Madera de Novato to John Martin in 1839, Rancho San Jose to Ignacio Pacheco in 1840, Rancho Olompali awarded in 1843 to Camilo Ynitia, son of a Coast Miwok chief, and Rancho Nicasio, by far the largest at 56,621 acres (229.1 km2), awarded to Pablo de la Guerra and John B.R. Cooper in 1844. Novato, along with the rest of California, became part of the United States on February 2, 1848. Early pioneers included Joseph Sweetser and Francis De Long who bought 15,000 acres (61 km2) in the mid-1850s and planted orchards and vineyards.