city, Marin county, western California, U.S. Located about 30 miles (50 km) north of San Francisco, it lies along Novato Creek, between San Pablo Bay (east) and Point Reyes National Seashore (west). The area was once the territory of Miwok Indians. Ownership of the land was granted to Fernando Feliz in 1839, and his Rancho de Novato made up part of what is now the city of Novato. Also significant to area history was the grant in 1843 of Olompali (Rancho del Indio) to Carmilo Ynitia, son of the last chief of the Miwok. Francis C. DeLong and Joseph Sweetser acquired the land in 1856; they planted an enormous orchard, said to be one of the largest in the world, and exported fruit worldwide. In 1888 the Home and Farm Company purchased the land from DeLong's son and founded the community. It remained a small agricultural village until 1935, when Hamilton Field (later Hamilton Air Force Base; deactivated 1975) was established. Development since the mid-20th century has been mainly residential. The city is headquarters for Birkenstock Footprint Sandals, and it has some high-technology businesses. The Buck Institute conducts biomedical research on the aging process. The College of Marin has a campus in Novato. Notable local attractions include the Novato History Museum (1976), housed in a building erected c. 1850, and the Marin Museum of the American Indian. Olompali State Historic Park is located 3 miles (5 km) north of the city, and Samuel P. Taylor State Park is in Lagunitas, some 15 miles (24 km) west of Novato. Inc. 1960. Pop. (1990) 47,585; (2000) 47,630.
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