This chapter provides an analysis of how and why California developed its network of public colleges and universities by analyzing four major periods of policymaking: the first extending from statehood in 1850 to the turn of the century, the second covering the major reforms of California progressives, the third relating to the Great Depression and the rise of a regional college movement, and the fourth focused on the post-World War II effort to meet growing enrollment demand and the negotiation of the 1960 California Master Plan for Higher Education. Two factors help to explain California’s pioneering effort to expand higher education opportunity. The first relates to an evolving political culture that placed a high value on public higher education. The negotiation of the 1960 Master Plan represents the last major period of policymaking in the history of California public higher education.