Santa Clara Valley

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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.

The Santa Clara Valley runs south-southeast from the southern end of San Francisco Bay in Northern California in the United States. The northern, urbanized end of the valley is part of a region locally known as the "South Bay" and also part of the electronics research and manufacturing area know as Silicon Valley. Most of the Santa Clara Valley is in Santa Clara County, including its county seat, San Jose. The valley, named after the Spanish Mission Santa Clara, was for a time 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.[1][2]


"Valley of the Heart's Delight", mid 20th century

Once primarily agricultural because of its highly fertile soil, it is now largely urbanized, although its far southern reaches south of Gilroy remain agrarian. The most northern urban areas are also part of "Silicon Valley", although since it is not an actual valley, parts of the San Francisco Peninsula farther north are included in Silicon Valley as well. Locally, the urbanized areas of Santa Clara Valley are also referred to as part of the South Bay (San Francisco Bay Area).

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 was one of the first commercial wine-producing regions in California (and possibly the United States), utilizing high-quality French varietal vines imported from France.[3][4]

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 approximately 30 miles (50 km) long by 15 miles (20 km) wide. The valley's largest city, by an 86.7% margin, is San Jose. The population of the valley is 1.81 million along with approximately 865,700 wage and salary jobs.[5] Santa Clara Valley has a Mediterranean semi-arid climate.

Cities and towns[edit]

Looking west, across the valley, from Alum Rock Park over northern San Jose (downtown is at far left) and other parts of the valley. The valley runs north to south in the picture.

Cities and towns in the Santa Clara Valley include (in alphabetical order):

Because so much high-tech industry has spread out from the Silicon Valley, Fremont and Newark, even though they are not in Santa Clara County, 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.

San Jose is the major city of the South Bay
South San Francisco Bay viewed from Mission Peak Regional Preserve in Fremont, California

San Francisco South Bay[edit]

The South Bay is a subregion of the San Francisco Bay Area, California, United States and is roughly synonymous with the Santa Clara Valley, Silicon Valley, and Santa Clara County (in general). The South Bay is one of several Subregions in the Bay Area including: San Francisco, the North Bay including parts of the Wine Country, the Peninsula, and the East Bay, among others.

In addition to the primary cities listed above, although physically separated by the Santa Cruz mountains and in another county (Santa Cruz County), the following incorporated cities are sometimes considered part of the region:

Many other cities, towns or census-designated places are also sometimes considered part of the region, such as the San Lorenzo Valley towns between Saratoga and Santa Cruz.

Some cities in the East Bay or especially on the Peninsula sometimes are referred to as part of the region. Many of these cities including Menlo Park, Redwood City, Newark, and Fremont are considered part of the Silicon Valley (and therefore the South Bay) because of their relative peripheral location to Santa Clara County, history, or concentration of high-tech companies. The conception of the South Bay as a region is relatively new compared to that of the Peninsula and coastal East Bay, and the cities of northwestern Santa Clara County (Palo Alto, Los Altos, Mountain View, and sometimes as far as Cupertino and Sunnyvale) maintain an identity more strongly connected to the Peninsula and the Stanford campus than the City of San Jose. Additionally, the counties of Santa Cruz and San Benito are considered part of the South Bay by the Bay Area media although the two counties are often considered to be their own subregion centered on the city of Santa Cruz.

Notable structures[edit]

Palm trees are common throughout the city of San Jose and Silicon Valley

There are a number of well known structures and sites of interest in the South Bay:


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.[6] 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.


  1. ^ Valley of Heart's Delight : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive. (2001-03-10). Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
  2. ^ Golden Harvest...Fifty Years of Calpak Progress : California Packing Corporation, Industrial and Public Relations Department : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive. Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
  3. ^ Santa Clara. Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
  4. ^ Almaden Winery History from NCD. (1997-01-23). Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ "Early History". Santa Clara County: California's Historic Silicon Valley. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-01-18. 

Coordinates: 37°22′01″N 121°59′02″W / 37.36694°N 121.98389°W / 37.36694; -121.98389