Smaller cities have a laid back atmosphere that allows people to grow to their full potential at their own pace. They are less competitive and more community driven and that may be the reason why you find people more friendly and easy going. St. Helena is a small town in the middle of the famous wine growing area in California. The town has a small population, but it caters to the needs of surrounding wineries and rural communities as well. The climate is fairly comfortable, not too cold in the winter and not too hot in the summer. There is a sense of history about the place with its well preserved historic buildings, and yet St. Helena is also more cosmopolitan, it has good restaurants, a thriving theatre scene and art galleries. It is also dynamic and progressive. Though it is a small place there is much to see in the city and its surrounding.
The site of St Helena once belonged to Native Americans tribe called Onastis, and was annexed by Spanish and Mexican soldiers. In 1841 the area was granted to an English doctor Edward T. Bale, who eventually sold off a portion of the land to settlers in 1844. In the year 1846 the settlers revolted against the Mexican occupation of the area and attacked the Mexican headquarters. The area became part of America after the Mexican American war. Some adventurers discovered the hot springs in the foothills of the mountains and sold the portion of land to developers who started the very first resort called White Sulfur Springs. J. Henry Still, an Englishman bought 126 acres of land from Bale family, built a house and a general store and announced that if anyone else wants to settle in the area, he would donate the land to the people who would work with him to start a small town. This was the beginning of the St. Helena that prospered as a center that catered to needs of surrounding farms. From this humble beginning the town has grown into the culinary capital of the United States of America, and a dynamic and progressive city with a cosmopolitan culture.
The Napa Valley has a very salubrious climate and soil that suits growing of grapes. From a humble beginning the area surrounding St. Helena has become a center of vibrant wine industry. Wines from Napa Valley are famous all over the world. Many tourists come to the city to taste the best wines made in the nearby vineyards, it has become a hub of tourist industry with flourishing hospitality industry and well known hotels. Napa Valley Winery was once the biggest and most famous winery in the world; it now houses the American Culinary Institute, where award winning chefs and cooking experts teach the fine art of gourmet cooking to the eager learners.
The winery business suffered during the great American Prohibition period; however, during the subsequent period it started to slowly recover, to suffer again from the Depression years, which hit the wine industry hard. In 1970 American public discovered the pleasure of drinking sparkling wine and St. Helena was on its way to recovery and prosperity. Soon the friendly climate, zero pollution, air and serene surroundings attracted tourists and the area became a well known tourist attraction.
Many hotels in the city and surrounding areas cater to all types of tourists who generally invade the city during the holiday season. There are big luxury hotels with well kept rooms with antique furniture, impeccable service and cuisine, and there are boutique hotels with comfortable rooms, well equipped modern gyms and swimming pools. There are hotels that exude romantic atmosphere, others that are luxurious; some are well known spas and resorts, and others are famous for their collection of rare wines and exemplary cuisine. The high street in the city boasts of eateries, coffee houses and gourmet restaurants, where prize winning chefs preside over pots and pans and dish out food good enough for the table of an emperor. It is a wonder that in a small city of only 5,814 inhabitants there is so much diversity and variety of things one can do and see.
The census carried out in the year 2010 showed that the population of St. Helena is 5,814 with a very low population density; there were only 1.56 people per square mile. Nearly 77.8 percent of the population are Caucasians, 0.04 percent is African American, Native American, Asian and other races also form part of the population. Business and commercial activities are handed down from generation to generation; there are businesses that are run by the same families for decades. The people of the town know each other and there is a sense of community feeling that is very endearing.
One can go on and on writing about St. Helena, there is so much that is unique and endearing, and worth seeing. In the words of its own citizens the city can amaze visitors, there are so many things that are going around here, there are historic churches to visit, wineries beckon one to stop and taste sparkling wines, and good food to taste in the restaurants and café scattered round the high street. Generally the tourists can relax and take in the atmosphere of the place. The city is progressive, sophisticated and vibrant; it is not commercially vulgar, it is a sophisticated dynamic, vibrant, intellectually and socially stimulating place that is very much alive.