Santa Clara Valley
- For the valley in Ventura County, California, see Santa Clara River Valley. For the California wine region, see Santa Clara Valley AVA. For a discussion of the technological aspects of the Santa Clara Valley, see Silicon Valley.
||It has been suggested that this article be merged into South Bay (San Francisco Bay Area). (Discuss) Proposed since June 2012.|
The Santa Clara Valley (also known as Silicon Valley) is a valley just south of the San Francisco Bay in Northern California in the United States. Much of Santa Clara County and its county seat, San José, are in the Santa Clara Valley. The valley was originally known as the Valley of Heart’s Delight for its high concentration of orchards, flowering trees, and plants. Until the 1960s it was the largest fruit production and packing region in the world, with 39 canneries. Once primarily agricultural because of its highly fertile soil, it is now largely urbanized, although its far southern reaches south of Gilroy remain rural. Silicon Valley is roughly coterminous with the Santa Clara Valley, although since the former is as much a state of mind as an actual location, people often refer to parts of the San Francisco Peninsula as being part of Silicon Valley as well. Locally, the Santa Clara Valley is also referred to as the "South Bay." Few traces of its agricultural past can still be found, but the Santa Clara Valley American Viticultural Area remains a large wine-making region. It is the first commercial wine-producing region in California (and possibly the United States), utilizing high-quality French varietal vines imported from France.
The northern end of the Santa Clara Valley is at the southern tip of the San Francisco Bay, and the southern end is in the vicinity of Hollister. The valley is bounded by the Santa Cruz Mountains on the southwest and by the Diablo Range on the northeast. It is about 30 miles (50 km) long and about 15 miles (20 km) wide. The valley's largest city, by an 86.7% margin, is San Jose. The population of the valley is approximately 1.8 million.
Cities and towns 
Cities and towns in the Santa Clara Valley include (in alphabetical order):
- Los Gatos
- Los Altos
- Los Altos Hills
- Monte Sereno
- Morgan Hill
- Mountain View
- San Jose
- Santa Clara
Because so much high-tech industry has spread out from the Silicon Valley, Fremont and Newark, even though they are not in the Santa Clara Valley, are often included in discussions about the Silicon Valley or, in the case of Fremont, is referred to as the Gateway to the Silicon Valley (a title also claimed occasionally by San Jose, Union City, and several other locations). Similarly, Palo Alto, while in Santa Clara County and considered part of Silicon Valley, is on the San Francisco Peninsula. Santa Clara Valley has a Mediterranean semi-arid climate.
Santa Clara Valley was created by the sudden growth of the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Diablo Range during the later Cenozoic era. This was a period of intense mountain building in California when the folding and thrusting of the Earth's crust, combined with active volcanism, gave shape to the present state of California. Hence, Santa Clara Valley is a structural valley, created by mountain building as opposed to an erosional valley, or a valley which has undergone the wearing away of the Earth's surface by natural agents. The underlying geology of the Santa Cruz Mountains was also formed by the sediment of the ancient seas, where marine shale points to Miocene origin. Today one can still find evidence of this in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where shark's teeth and the remains of maritime life are still found as high as Scotts Valley, a city nestled in the mountains. The highest peak on the Santa Cruz Mountains side of the valley is Loma Prieta at 3,790 feet. The highest peak in the Diablo Range side of the valley is Mount Hamilton, specifically Copernicus Peak at 4,370 feet elevation. This is the highest peak in Santa Clara County.
- "Early History". Santa Clara County: California's Historic Silicon Valley. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-01-18.