The sixth largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area, it is one of the larger suburbs of Oakland. The estimated population in 2007 is 155,312. The former suburbs of Mt. Eden and Schafer Park have been incorporated into Hayward.

Downtown Hayward is home to Hayward City Hall and the Hayward Public Library. Located in the City Plaza across the street is the original Hayward City Hall, Centennial Hall, and the Hayward City Center.

The economy of early Hayward was based largely on the Hunt Brothers Cannery, later known as Hunt-Wesson Foods, opened in Hayward in 1895 by the brothers William and Joseph Hunt, fruit packers originally from Sebastopol, California. The Hunts originally packed local fruit, including cherries, peaches, and apricots, then added tomatoes, which became the mainstay of their business. At its height in the 1960s and 1970s, Hunt's operated three canneries in Hayward (A Street, B Street, and C Street at the Southern Pacific railroad tracks), an adjacent can-making company, a pickle factory, and a glass manufacturing plant. From the 1890s until its closure in 1981, Hunt's employed nearly every available person to process its foods. The impact of Hunt's on the Hayward economy was so large that the air around Hayward was permeated by the smell of tomato ketchup for three months of each year. The canneries closed in 1981 because there were no longer enough produce fields or fruit orchards near the cannery to make the plants economically feasible. Much of the production was moved to the Sacramento Valley.


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