Often designated as “South Bay,” Santa Clara County is located at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay Area, serving as a dynamic neighbor for San Mateo County and many of the East Bay communities. Rectangular in shape, this hotbed of technological leadership is only slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island. Nevertheless, the advancements spawned within the corporate centers and industrial parks of “Silicon Valley” have driven the world’s transformation into a computer-based reality of daily life.
Constantly propelled by the genius flowing from Stanford University in Palo Alto, this corner of California has managed to attract some of the world’s brightest minds and most innovative thinkers. This is the epicenter of breakthroughs that change the way the world thinks and lives, the place where Stanford graduates Bill Hewlett and David Packard built an audio oscillator in a Palo Alto garage. Their first order was placed by another California visionary, Walt Disney, who recognized the value of these oscillators for his “Fantasia” project.
Another well known fact, Santa Clara County was the place where Stephan Wozniak and his partner Steve Jobs built the first Apple computer. By now, the names of Apple and Hewlett-Packard are household words. Still, a day seldom seems to pass without some entrepreneur or company introducing an innovation in research or technology. Apparently, the adventurous spirit of the “Golden State” has remained undimmed through time.
Santa Clara is the name of the county but also one of its prominent cities. San Jose is the county’s population leader, rapidly approaching the one million mark. The tranquil community of Monte Sereno garners the distinction of the smallest town. Most residents of Santa Clara County are clustered in communities along the flatlands of Santa Clara Valley, a region than spans from the bayfront to Gilroy.
Quality of Life
Wide and plentiful freeways are just the beginning of the county’s vast transportation network. The entire Bay Area claims a superb network of interstates, major highways, amazing bridges, tunnels, and high-speed thoroughfares.
Comprehensive mass transit systems are among the world’s most advanced, providing quick and convenient alternatives to freeways and bridges that become crowded with peak-hour traffic. San Jose International Airport joins the San Francisco and Oakland International Airports as the primary providers of air passenger and cargo transport for the Bay Area.
Just around the corner from home, Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority combines bus and light rail service, the latter connecting to CalTrain at the Tamien Station. The VTA’s light rail is one of the longest ever constructed in the nation–a stretch of 20.8 miles. In addition to a collaboration with Santa Cruz Metro on the Highway 17 Expressway bus service, the VTA contracts with a nationally known day-care provider in the operation of the Tamien Child Care Center. This state-of-the-art facility is conveniently located at the major transportation hub of the Tamien CalTrain and Light Rail Station.
Newcomers to Santa Clara County can look forward to a progressive attitude toward education that rivals the East Coast’s ivy-league prowess, deeply rooted in Stanford University excellence. The entire San Francisco Bay Area is internationally recognized for its advancements and leadership in education, from award-winning public schools to some of the nation’s most respected private and public institutions of higher learning. In fact, the cluster of state universities in the Bay Area are regarded as some of California’s–and some of the nation’s finest.
Hospitals and clinics that enjoy an international reputation for expertise in complex diagnostics and treatment combine with healthcare institutions that offer a variety of specializations. Cardiology, Alzheimer’s treatment, cancer care, mental health, women’s health, pediatrics, birthing centers, neonatal care, organ/bone marrow transplants, burn centers, community education, health screenings, fitness programs, family health and hospice services–a very imaginable need can be addressed in one of Santa Clara County’s premier hospitals or major medical centers.
Beautiful older homes can be found east of Bascom Avenue, where mature foliage and meticulous landscaping create lush neighborhood enclaves. Regardless of the size of the home or its location, properties tend to be carefully maintained in inviting and attractive neighborhoods. Renovated buildings and lovely streetscapes grace the downtown area, home to quaint shops, cafes, restaurants, theater, and coffee houses.
De Anza College serves as a focal point for cultural and educational activities, providing a planetarium and the Flint Center for the Performing Arts. This regional venue presents international talent that ranges from the San Francisco Symphony to Beijing Acrobats.
After-school programs, sports leagues and facilities, artistic classes, and recreational facilities are highly developed. Other amenities include golf courses, the college art gallery, a nature preserve, thirteen parks, a racquet club, senior and community centers, sports center, ice-skating rink, and city museum. The expansive Vallco Fashion Park features over 180 shops and restaurants.
A relative “young city” of homes primarily built between 1950 and 1980, Cupertino sprang up rapidly from its roots as a farm village into an emerging suburb in the last decades of the 1990s. Constructed to meet middle class needs and tastes, most homes represent some variation of a three-bedroom design; although executive homes and even mansions can also be found. De Anza Boulevard seems to form a vague dividing line between the older homes to the east and newer neighborhoods to the west.
Public schools are among the state’s finest, even garnering top honors nationally. Just one of fifteen local parks, the family-oriented Oak Meadows-Vasona Park is a point of pride for the entire county. Concerts, golf, tennis, miles of trails for hiking and biking, bocce courts and athletic programs combine with clubs for racquetball and swimming to offer a diversity of leisure activities.
Tract developments dominate the scene, a neighborhood atmosphere that outsiders often label as “land” to the chagrin of loyal residents. What may be lacking in style or innovative architecture is usually off-set by lush landscaping and interior decorating. In cultural amenities as well as in high-tech leadership, San Jose shines. It seems that the world-class amenities that were once relegated to San Francisco have ‘found the way’ to San Jose, including professional sports teams, international stars, symphony, opera, light opera, ballet, and repertory theatre.
Like San Jose and Cupertino, the city stands tall as one of the high-tech meccas within Silicon Valley. This fact is even more impressive when you consider that Santa Clara intensely and aggressively courted and won the favor of leading corporations like Intel, Applied Materials, 3-Com, and Synoptics. The city’s rapid economic development was a direct result of ingenious strategic planning.
Reflecting the affluence of their owners, most of the homes feature custom landscaping, elegant styling, unique designs, and picture-perfect interiors. The area surrounding Villa Montalvo and the hills off Big Basin Way are punctuated by particularly opulent mansions and estates. West Valley Community College is situated in the heart of town, adding a wealth of wonderful facilities and activities that range from workout rooms to arts and crafts classes.
The charming “old town” district combines with excellent public and private schools, abundant cultural amenities, and superb recreational programs and facilities. As part of the county park system, Villa Montalvo offers an elegant performing arts venue as well as an arboretum. Jazz and pop concerts are regular features of the Mountain Winery. Other leisure attractions and amenities include the Shakespeare Festival, the Hakone Gardens, community theater, and a bevy of lush parks.