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According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 126.3 km² (48.8 mi²). 78.2 km² (30.2 mi²) of it is land and 48.1 km² (18.6 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 38.07% water.
As of the census of 2000, there are 116,760 people, 39,601 households, and 28,235 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,493.3/km² (3,867.9/mi²). There are 41,219 housing units at an average density of 527.2/km² (1,365.4/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 35.97% White, 23.69% African American, 0.66% Native American, 24.16% Asian, 1.09% Pacific Islander, 7.88% from other races, and 6.56% from two or more races. 15.92% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 39,601 households out of which 36.5% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.1% are married couples living together, 16.5% have a female householder with no husband present, and 28.7% are non-families. 22.7% of all households are made up of individuals and 8.0% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.90 and the average family size is 3.43.
In the city the population is spread out with 27.6% under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 29.6% from 25 to 44, 22.6% from 45 to 64, and 11.2% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 35 years. For every 100 females there are 93.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 89.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $50,030, and the median income for a family is $56,805. Males have a median income of $40,132 versus $32,129 for females. The per capita income for the city is $20,415. 10.1% of the population and 7.7% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 12.2% are under the age of 18 and 8.9% are 65 or older.
For one week in 1852, Vallejo was the capital of California. One year later, it was again the capital. This time, it lasted for one month. The legislature left in 1853, but the government established a navy yard here which helped the town overcome the loss. The yard functioned for over a hundred years, finally closing in 1996.
The city was named for a Mexican military officer, Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, who helped to settle the area. He wanted the site named Eureka, but the other citizens of the area wanted to name the new city after the general. The man mostly responsible for the founding of the city is John B. Frisbie who married Vallejo's daughter. He was responsible for seeing that the city remained together and helped to establish the city's government.