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Fresno's Laughingstock No More! Smile Instead!

May 14, 2000 (Updated May 14, 2000)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:River Park Shopping Center, museums, California State University, Sunken Museum, Closeness to Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Park, concerned citizens

Cons:Crime, corruption, gang-banging

Either you are on Freeway 99 or Freeway 41 as you enter this town on your way to Yosemite and Kings Canyon. All you see at first is the blithe and high density of fog. As you get midway on the freeway, you look on your right or your left and only observe dilapidated buildings. You don't seem to see life in downtown Fresno. You may wonder, "why did most Fresnans flee the downtown?" You keep thinking that this city's downtown area does not look anything like Seattle, San Francisco and New York. Then you switch the knob or the push button of your car radio to a local station. The news vary from drive-by shootings, local FBI investigations of some important local names, shooting of a car businessman by a former minister, chaplain pastor, sheriff over an affair with the dead man's wife.

Your spouse and children ask you to check out the various used car lots that litter the sides of the freeway. Then you somehow hear about a former tv actor's name as one of the candidates for mayor. You suddenly realize this guy, Alan Autry, used to be starring on "In The Heat Of The Night." What else can you add? If elected mayor, this guy may work with the concerned citizens of the city to change the image of a city that has been the laughingstock of many movie directors and actors. Comedy shows find some great material from using the name of the city. The contexts have never been making justice to this city's image. You can now understand why there is a new campaign to resell, reposition Fresno to the rest of the country and the world.

Let me say that there is more than what you may hear and see while heading up to Yosemite or the Sierra Summit. I will never forget what I once overhead from a man of law, "As for me, I am worried about the repetitive drive-by shootings and break-ins in this city. These things must stop."

I am inviting you to keep a positive attitude as I give you a tour of the many centers of attraction in Fresno. I want to remind you it is not all bad. Fresno is agriculture-based. Agribusiness is the lord of all commerces. You will understand why Fresno county produces all kinds of agricultural crops you can imagine. About a 45-minute drive, you will find a small town called Reedley which is called "The fruit basket of the world."

Let's look at the Fresnans' faces. Fresno has a wealth of diversity. You will find the Hmong, Armenians, Hispanics, African-Americans, Japanese, Sikhs, Vietnamese, Koreans, Caucasians from all types of mixture and backgrounds, Nigerians, and many others. A large group of religious entities are also represented in the valley. They are found in all sectors of the local economy. Just like most immigrants to this valley, they are hard-working and thrifty. The local saying goes that most local convenience stores are owned by natives of India, Pakistan, Iran etc. It is not all true, I think. These people are great entrepreneurs. You will find lots of them working in the fertile vineyards of the valley.

Fresno is well on its way to change its perennial image. Its geographical position could make it the next Valley Internet hot zone. Houses are still affordable. In fact, you will find a lot of Bay Area transplants around the city's limits in places such as Madera, Kingsburg, Selma, Oakhrust and Mariposa county.

If you are on your way to the mountains, make sure you stop at the new developments on the other site of Herndon. You can find anything you want at River Park Shopping Center. You can reach it heading north on 41 or using the 180 junction from 99. Tim McDonald from the 49er has a shop/bar there. It is the cool place to hang over there. If you want to check the town's universities, you have Fresno State, Fresno Pacific University, National University, the California School of Professional Psychology, and many community college sites. Valley Children's Hospital just moved out of Fresno to Madera. It is easily reached from freeway 41. Don't forget the underground gardens on 99 and Shaw. You will have a grand time. There are lots of museums and recreation parks. Check to find directions to the local businesses.

Good luck to you!

Recommend this product? Yes

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