Tracy is located in San Joaquin County, about 60 miles east of San Francisco. The city is accessible to points east and south via Interstate I-580. Other major thoroughfares servicing Tracy include Interstates I-5 and I-205; with California State Highway 120 also nearby. Surrounding communities include Stockton (to the northeast), Modesto (to the southeast), and Livermore (to the west).
The origins of Tracy are related to the mid-19th century construction of Central Pacific Railroad lines running from Sacramento through Stockton and to the San Francisco Bay Area. A number of small communities sprang up along these lines, including the one named for railroad director Lathrop J. Tracy. Incorporated in 1910, Tracy grew rapidly and prospered as an agricultural area even when railroad operations began to decline in the 1950s. Beginning in the 1980s, Tracy experienced a growth spurt as people migrated to the city looking for a more affordable alternative to Bay Area home prices and also for a less hectic lifestyle. A steady period of growth ensued, as many companies found Tracy an ideal location for their distribution facilities. The city today is home to several of these distribution facilities and is setting its sights on newer industries, including expansion of hi-tech companies from their existing Silicon Valley bases.
Tracy's largest event is its annual Dry Bean Festival. Originally held in early August when it began in 1987, the downtown event now takes place during the second weekend of September. The festival draws tens of thousands annually, earning the city the nickname of "Dry Bean Capital of the World". Tracy's premiere cultural site is the Tracy Historical Museum, housing an impressive collection of photos, articles, clothing and artifacts. Volunteers provide visitors with a narrative interpretation of the displays and relate little-known facts about the city's history. Outdoor recreational sites in the surrounding San Joaquin Valley include the Bethany Reservoir State Recreation Area, Carnegie State Vehicle Recreation Area, and Caswell Memorial State Park. Most of Northern California's top attractions can be found within 100 miles of Tracy, including Old Sacramento, Yosemite, and all of San Francisco's world class tourist sites.