Almaden Valley, San Jose

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Almaden Valley)
Spanish: Almadén
Almaden Valley
Spanish: Valle de Almadén
Almaden Valley Panorama (cropped).jpg
Almaden Lake Park 1.4.jpg
USA-San Jose-Almaden Winery-Administration Building-3 (cropped).jpg
La Casita de Adobe New Almaden 2977.jpg
Almaden Lake Park 1.1 (cropped).jpg
Clockwise: panorama of Almaden Valley; the Old Almaden Winery; Almaden Lake Park; New Almaden Historic District; Almaden Lake Park.
Almaden is located in San Jose, California
Location within San Jose
Coordinates: 37°13′17″N 121°51′44″W / 37.2214°N 121.8622°W / 37.2214; -121.8622
CountryUnited States
CountySanta Clara
CitySan Jose
Zip Code

Almaden Valley (Spanish: Valle de Almadén),[1] commonly known simply as Almaden (Spanish: Almadén),[2] is a valley and neighborhood of San Jose, California, located in South San Jose. It is nestled between the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west and the Santa Teresa Hills to the east.

Almaden, named after the ancient Spanish mining town of Almadén, traces its history back to the 1820s, when Mexican miners discovered mercury deposits on Rancho Los Capitancillos, which later led to the establishment of the New Almaden mines. Almaden Valley, known for its abundant parkland, is one of the most expensive neighborhoods to live in San Jose and is consistently ranked as one of the most expensive areas in the country.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9]


Almaden was originally inhabited by the Tamien nation of Ohlone people, prior to the arrival of the Spanish. The Ohlone had long utilized the area for its cinnabar, which they used for paint production.[10]

During the Mexican era, the area of what is now Almaden was divided between two rancho grants: Rancho San Vicente, granted to José de los Reyes Berryessa, and Rancho Los Capitancillos, granted to Justo Larios. Rancho Cañada de los Capitancillos and Rancho Cañada de Oro were later divided from these original ranchos.

Nueva Almadén[edit]

The Hacienda de Beneficio in New Almaden, shown in 1852.
View of Almaden Valley (William Rich Hutton, c. 1847–1852).

Almaden Valley's origins go back to the early 1800s in what is now its southernmost neighborhood, known as New Almaden (Spanish: Nueva Almadén). In the 1820s, there were several attempts by local Californio officials from the Pueblo of San José to mine the area for silver, including an 1824 venture led by Don Antonio Suñol, a prominent local figure, and Luis Chaboya, of Rancho Yerba Buena.[11]

Quicksilver (mercury) was only successfully identified in 1845, by Mexican cavalry captain Andrés Castillero, who was able to obtain a grant to mine the area by Governor Pío Pico.[11] However, occupied with his military responsibilities, Castillero sold his claim to the mines to Alexander Forbes, then serving as the British Consul to Mexican California.[11] The area was named after the ancient Spanish mining town of Almadén, where mercury has been mined since Roman times.[12][11]

Mercury was extracted from the New Almaden mines from the time of the California Gold Rush until 1975. Many of the names in Almaden retain their mercury mine themes, such as Silver Lode Lane and Silver Mine Drive. Many places in Almaden still use the name Quicksilver.

Post-conquest Era[edit]

The Old Almaden Winery, founded in 1852, was the first commercial winery established in California.

Following the American Conquest of California, Almaden Valley attracted a significant amount of settlers from the East Coast and Europe.

In 1852, Charles LeFranc founded Almaden Vineyards, the first commercial winery in California,[13] with his father-in-law Éthienne Thée, using vine cuttings from his native France. Following Prohibition, the winery and the company had great success with their blush wine and the White Grenache Rosé, one of the first popular pink wines in the United States. Almaden Vineyards has since moved its winery to Madera, California, while the historic remains of the property are now known as the Old Almaden Winery, which serves as a public park and California Historic Landmark.[14]

Beginning in the late 1800s, Almaden was home to the Graystone Quarry (originally the Goodrich Quarry), one of the most significant quarries in the Bay Area, used in the construction of landmarks including San Francisco City Hall, Stanford University, Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph, among numerous others. Today, the area where Graystone Quarry once existed and where the Pfeiffer family once lived is occupied by the neighborhood of Pfeiffer, also known as, the Graystone of Almaden, thus named after the quarry's stone master Jacob Pfeiffer and the Quarry[15][16] [17][18]

20th century[edit]

A community picnic in 1908 at the Casa Grande in the New Almaden neighborhood of Almaden Valley.

In December 1959, the Regents of the University of California selected Almaden Valley to be the site of the next campus of the University of California system.[19] Unfortunately, news of this decision caused property values in the area to increase so rapidly that the Regents could no longer afford to buy the needed land.[19] After another year of study, the Regents selected another site much farther south, which opened in 1965 as the University of California, Santa Cruz.[19]

In 1968, Calero County Park was established around Calero Lake in the Calero area of southern Almaden.[20] Calero Lake was created in 1935, when Arroyo Calero was damned.[21]

In 1975, the New Almaden mines closed after 135 years of operation. Santa Clara County Parks subsequently purchased the vast property surrounding the mines, in order to transform it into a regional park. Almaden Quicksilver County Park opened a few years later after an extensive clean-up of the area. It is declared a National Historic Landmark and a California Historical Landmark.


Almaden Lake Park.

The neighborhood is southeast of Los Gatos, southwest of the Blossom Valley, and west of the Santa Teresa.

The Santa Teresa Hills are to Almaden's east, separating it from Santa Teresa, and the Capitancillos Hills of the Sierra Azul are to Almaden's west and south.

Notable neighborhoods within Almaden Valley include New Almaden and Calero.

Mount Umunhum, in the Sierra Azul, is the former site of the Almaden Air Force Station.

Almaden Valley includes all the areas within the 95120 zip code.


Almaden Quicksilver County Park from the Guadalupe Reservoir.
View of the Calero neighborhood of Almaden Valley. In the center is Calero Lake and Calero County Park.

Almaden Valley is home to over 15 parks including 3 county parks, 3 lakes, 1 regional park, 1 open space preserve and several neighborhood parks:


Almaden Valley is home to an expansive trail system, including:

  • Los Alamitos Creek Trail is a 9.4-mile out-and-back trail[22]
  • Almaden Lake Loop Trail, a 1.4-mile trail[23]
  • Almaden Quicksilver County Park, 4163 acres with several trails across the park[24]
  • Calero Creek Trail and Mine Trail, 18 miles of unpaved hiking trails
  • Guadalupe Creek Trail, is a 1.7-mile trail[25]
  • Mount Umunhum trail, a 7.7 mile trail in the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve to the summit of the mountain
  • Senador Mine Trail, Mine Hill Trail, and Castillero Trail, a 12.7 mile trail
  • Webb Canyon, New Almaden, Cinnabar, Mine Hill, Randol and Prospect #3 Loop Trail, a 5.4-mile trail
  • New Almaden, Mine Hill and Guadalupe Trail Loop, a 13.6-mile loop trail

Also notably, Bay Area Ridge Trail, the 550-mile hiking, cycling, and equestrian trail being built on the ridgelines around all of San Francisco Bay Area includes Almaden Valley's Los Alamitos Creek Trail, Calero Creek Trail, Mount Umunhum Trail and Almaden Quicksilver County Park.


Integral to Silicon Valley, Almaden is home to numerous high tech companies. It is notably home to the IBM Almaden Research Center, which has played an important role in the discovery and development of new technologies.[26][27][28]


Almaden Valley is part of District 10[29] in the legislative structure of the San Jose City Council and is represented by councilmember and Silicon Valley technology executive Arjun Batra.[30][31]

Arjun Batra is the first Indian-American councilmember for Almaden Valley and District 10[32], and the first for San Jose since Ash Kalra left in 2016 to serve as the first Indian-American on the California State Legislature.

Prior to this, Matt Mahan, was the council member representing Almaden Valley and District 10, before being elected as the current Mayor of San Jose.


Saint Basil the Great Church.

The neighborhood is primarily an affluent residential area. The average income per household in Almaden Valley is $235,212[33]

The 2010 United States Census and the American Community Survey (ACS) conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau reported that, as of 2019,[34] Almaden Valley had a population of 38,122, with 12,877 housing units.

The racial makeup of Almaden Valley was 20,726 (54.4%) White, 13,866 (36.4%) Asian, 2,700 (7.1%) Hispanic or Latino, 741 (1.9%) African American, 124 (0.3%) Native American, 2184 (5.7%) from two or more races and 442 (1.2%) of some other race.

The population was spread out, with 9430 (24.7%) children under the age of 18, 21,243 (55.7%) adults aged 18 to 64, and 7,449 (19.5%) adults aged 65 years or older. The median age was 46.3 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.4 males.


Almaden Branch Library of the San José Public Library

Almaden Valley students attend primary, middle and high schools across 3 different school districts, San José Unified School District, Campbell Union School District and Los Gatos Union School District. While most neighborhoods are in San José Unified School District, some in the northwest are in the Campbell Union School District, and some in the southwest bordering Los Gatos are in the Los Gatos Union School District.[35]

Almaden Valley is served by the Almaden Branch Library of the San José Public Library.

Schools in Almaden include:

Public schools
Private schools
  • Almaden Country Day School [36]
  • Challenger School[37]
  • Holy Spirit Catholic School[38]
  • Stratford School[39]


Almaden is home to numerous annual cultural events, including the Almaden Art & Wine Festival, the Almaden Harvest Festival, and the San Jose Water Lantern Festival.[40][41][42]

Sporting events held in the area include the Quicksilver Endurance Runs and the Quicksilver Trail Challenge.[43][44]


Casa Grande[edit]

Casa Grande, home of the New Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum.

Casa Grande was constructed in 1854, under the direction of the mine's general manager, Henry Halleck, who used the building until 1920 as a personal and official residence for the New Almaden Mining Company. John McLaren, of Golden Gate Park fame, assisted in designing the five acres of formally landscaped grounds around the house.

In 1997, Santa Clara County purchased the building to house the Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum, which started as a private collection by Constance Perham, who displayed it in her house in New Almaden. The new museum opened in 1998. The building underwent extensive renovation from 2009 to 2010 to restore it to its configuration when it was a mine manager's residence from 1854 to 1925. It reopened in January 2011. It houses interpretive exhibits and displays on the history of the New Almaden mines and on the lives of its workers and their families.[45]

Hacienda Hotel[edit]

The historic Hacienda Hotel, now home to La Forêt, one of San Jose's most famous French restaurants.

In the mid-1800s, just a few years before the great California Gold Rush, Andres Castillera, a Mexican officer with the Artillery discovered cinnabar in New Almaden, a precious metal also known as quicksilver which bought Castillera lot of riches. As the word spread, New Almaden was thriving with miners trying to mine more cinnabar themselves.

In 1848, a boarding house was constructed by the creek in New Almaden as a house for boarding for the miners. Hot meals were served in the rustic dining room downstairs. This was the first two-story lodging in California. Fire destroyed the building in 1875 but it was rebuilt and stayed in operation in this capacity until the 1930s.

It was then converted into Cafe Del Rio which served New Almaden for almost 40 years.

In 1992, La Foret, a high-end French restaurant opened in the building. The restaurant, still in operation, is a local landmark in San Jose and well known across the Bay Area for its fine dining[46][47][48]

New Almaden Historic District[edit]

Old Watchtower of New Almaden.

A two-teacher school was built in the 1860s on a flat near Casa Grande. Enrollment came chiefly from the Hacienda along with some children from nearby ranches. One of the oldest buildings in the district is the Carson-Perham Adobe, built between 1848 and 1850 by Mexican miners, and later the home of George Carson, the mine company bookkeeper, postmaster, telegraph operator, and Wells Fargo agent. Constance Perham lived in the adobe house for many years and established a private museum there in 1949, the collections of which were purchased in 1983 by Santa Clara County.[49]



Almaden Expressway is the primary arterial road that intersects through Almaden Valley, linking it to the rest of Santa Clara Valley with connections to the West Valley Freeway (CA 85) and the Guadalupe Freeway (CA 87)

Blossom Hill Road, an important artery for South San Jose and Los Gatos also passes through Almaden.


Until 2019, Almaden station of the VTA light rail was the main rail connection in the area. Since its closure, the closest VTA light rail station is Ohlone/Chynoweth station (VTA) on the VTA blue line.


Popular culture[edit]

Notable residents[edit]

Pat Tillman, NFL player, Army Ranger, and Purple Heart recipient.

Following are some of the notable past or present residents of the Almaden Valley:

Further reading[edit]

  • The United States vs. Andres Castillero New Almaden (multiple volumes) (1923), by Andrés Castillero
  • Cinnabar Hills-the Quicksilver Days of New Almaden (1976) by Milton and Laurence Bulmore Lanyon
  • Almaden is My Life (1984), by Ruth Teiser, Morris H. Katz, William A. Dieppe
  • New Almaden (2006) by Michael Boulland
  • Memoir On the Mines and Works of Almaden (2010), by H Kuss


  1. ^ Telemundo Area de la Bahia Incendio de maleza en San José provoca evacuaciones
  2. ^ City of San José Twitter
  3. ^ "America's Most Expensive Zip Codes, 2016, Forbes". Forbes. Retrieved 2021-07-01.
  4. ^ "America's Most Expensive Zip Codes 2017, Forbes". Forbes. Retrieved 2021-07-01.
  5. ^ "America's Most Expensive Zip Codes Lookup, Forbes". Forbes. Retrieved 2021-07-01.
  6. ^ "Most Expensive US Zip Codes in 2020, based on Closed Home Sales data". 18 November 2020. Retrieved 2021-07-01.
  7. ^ "Most Expensive US Zip Codes in 2019, based on Closed Home Sales data". 18 November 2019. Retrieved 2021-07-01.
  8. ^ "Most Expensive US Zip Codes in 2018, based on Closed Home Sales data". 17 November 2018. Retrieved 2021-07-01.
  9. ^ "Most Expensive US Zip Codes in 2017, based on Closed Home Sales data". 19 December 2017. Retrieved 2021-07-01.
  10. ^ NPS Santa Clara guide
  11. ^ a b c d Southern California Review (Volume 46, Issue 1) - University of California Press
  12. ^ "Almaden Valley timeline, Mercury News". Mercury News. March 29, 2008. Retrieved Jul 6, 2021.
  13. ^ Lichine, Alexis (1967). Alexis Lichine's Encyclopedia of Wines and Spirits. London: Cassell & Company Ltd. p. 64.
  14. ^ California Office of Historic Preservation, Santa Clara
  15. ^ "Stanford's signature sandstone, Mercury News, KQED". Aug 16, 2020. Retrieved Jul 6, 2021.
  16. ^ "Santa Clara County Parks Archive". Jan 1, 1967. Retrieved Aug 16, 2020.
  17. ^ "Graystone Quarry and surrounding land purchase by Open Space Authority, Mercury News". Mercury News. May 18, 2017. Retrieved Jul 6, 2021.
  18. ^ "History of Pfeiffer neighborhood in Almaden Valley". Retrieved Jul 6, 2021.
  19. ^ a b c Stadtman, Verne A. (1970). The University of California, 1868–1968. New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 412–413.
  20. ^ County of Santa Clara - Calero County Park Trails Master Plan Program Development Report
  21. ^ "Santa Clara Valley Water District: Calero Dam and Reservoir". Archived from the original on 2017-06-20. Retrieved 2017-07-03. Calero Reservoir provides water directly to drinking water treatment plants, which treat and test it for safety. The district then distributes the water to water retailers to sell to the county's 1.8 million residents. Calero also captures and stores winter runoff to recharge groundwater basins, helps store water from the nearby Almaden Reservoir watershed and accepts imported water.
  22. ^ Los Alamitos Creek Trail information on City of San Jose website
  23. ^ Almaden Lake Park information on City of San Jose website
  24. ^ Quicksilver County Park information on Santa Clara County website
  25. ^ Guadalupe Creek Trail information on City of San Jose website
  26. ^ "Gathering of the Most Brilliant Minds in Energy Storage to Take Place". AZOM. June 23, 2009. Retrieved Jul 6, 2021.
  27. ^ "IBM Research Demonstrates Path for Extending Current Chip-Making Technique". Web Wire. February 20, 2006. Retrieved June 9, 2012.
  28. ^ "IBM Scientists Discover Nanotech Communication Method". Science Daily. Feb 7, 2000. Retrieved June 9, 2012.
  29. ^ Council Districts on City of San Jose website
  30. ^ "Arjun Batra wins second vacant San Jose city council seat filled through appointment". The Mercury News. Retrieved 2023-01-26.
  31. ^ "Arjun Batra wins last seat on San Jose City Council". San Jose Spotlight. Retrieved 2023-01-26.
  32. ^ "Batra is the first Indian-American councilmember since Ash Kalra left in 2016". The Mercury News. Retrieved 2023-01-26.
  33. ^ "95120 Income Statistics - Current Census Data for Zip Codes". Retrieved 2021-07-01.
  34. ^ "ACS DEMOGRAPHIC AND HOUSING ESTIMATES". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2021-07-01.
  35. ^ Santa Clara School District Finder website
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^ Holy Spirit School website
  39. ^
  40. ^ San Jose Water Lantern Festival at the Almaden Lake
  41. ^ Art & Wine Festival
  42. ^ Almaden Harvest Festival information on City of San Jose website
  43. ^ 50k & 100k
  44. ^ Trail Challenge
  45. ^ "A Visual and history of Casa Grande" (PDF). Mar 28, 2015. Retrieved Jul 6, 2021.
  46. ^ "Almaden Valley timeline, Mercury News". Mercury News. Mar 29, 2008. Retrieved Jul 6, 2021.
  47. ^ "La Forest Restaurant, Mercury News". Mercury News. Aug 19, 2020. Retrieved Jul 6, 2021.
  48. ^ "About La Forest Restaurant". Retrieved Jul 6, 2021.
  49. ^ "New Almaden by National Park Service (NPS)". Jan 24, 2018. Retrieved Jul 6, 2021.
  50. ^ Almaden Times website
  51. ^ Almaden Resident on Twitter
  52. ^ Indian Bengali film set in Almaden Valley, Mercury News
  53. ^
  54. ^ Maxwell, Erin (December 20, 2010). "Florida Film Critics laud 'Inception,' 'Social Network'".
  55. ^ "Michael Bublé's conductor got his start in San Jose". The Mercury News. 2007-08-22. Retrieved 2021-10-15.
  56. ^ "2005 Hall of Fame inductee biographies". San Jose Sports Authority. Archived from the original on August 3, 2010. Retrieved February 24, 2010.
  57. ^ a b "Leland High honors its own with Pat Tillman Legacy Classic". San Jose Mercury News. 31 August 2012. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  58. ^ "Welcome -". Retrieved 2021-10-15.
  59. ^ "Count V - San Jose Rocks". 23 February 2021. Retrieved 2021-10-15.
  60. ^ "Dave Hoffmann - The Pro Football Archives". Archived from the original on 2015-03-28.
  61. ^ "Former Bronco Coach and AD Selected to Hall of Fame". 2001-08-09.
  62. ^ "Herhold: An old exposé continues to haunt Newt Gingrich". The Mercury News. 2011-11-26. Retrieved 2021-10-15.
  63. ^ Goodgame, Dan (December 14, 1992). "David Osborne: A Prophet of Innovation". Time.
  64. ^ "2018 Spur Award Winners". Western Writers of America. 2018-03-10. Retrieved 2021-10-15.
  65. ^ "Low Takes Oath as Newest Assemblymember for 28th District - Assemblymember Evan Low Representing the 28th California Assembly District". Archived from the original on December 22, 2014. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
  66. ^ "Silicon Valley 40 under 40: Evan Low, city of Campbell". Silicon Valley Business Journal. December 13, 2013.
  67. ^ "All-Mercury News baseball from the 1990s - Varsity Extra". May 20, 2010. Retrieved May 11, 2017.
  68. ^ "Jason Hardtke Baseball Statistics [1990-2001]". Retrieved May 11, 2017.
  69. ^ "Jerry Hsu Biography". Emerica Skate. January 3, 2008. Archived from the original on February 18, 2010. Retrieved February 24, 2010.
  70. ^ "The wrath of Leland | After School". Blogs at San Jose Mercury News. January 11, 2008. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  71. ^ Rodriguez, Joe (May 8, 2011). "Art matters, but art students matter more". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  72. ^ a b "Rob Becker: Once an all-star, always a caveman". The Mercury News. 2007-07-09. Retrieved 2021-10-15.
  73. ^ Lipton, Michael A. (January 11, 1993). "This Guy Must Be Serious". Retrieved 2021-10-15.
  74. ^ "Meet San Jose's new mayor, Matt Mahan". November 17, 2022.
  75. ^ Knight, Dennis (November 4, 2004). "Pregame Ceremony to Honor Local Hero". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved November 8, 2007. When Pat Tillman was a freshman at Leland High School, he didn't make the varsity baseball team, despite being one of the best players his age in the South Bay.
  76. ^ "Reggie Smith". Retrieved June 17, 2015.
  77. ^ Knight, Dennis (April 2, 2009). "All-Mercury News basketball teams dating back to 1960". Varsity Extra – San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
  78. ^
  79. ^ Baxter, Kevin (May 6, 2014). "Steve Beitashour wants to play for Iran in World Cup". Los Angeles Times.
  80. ^ Stranzl, Frank (March 31, 2010). "Beitashour a Hometown Hero". San Jose Earthquakes website. Major League Soccer. Retrieved April 8, 2010.
  81. ^ "Sports shorts: Leland to honor alum Steven Beitashour Jan. 15". San Jose Mercury News. 8 January 2014. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  82. ^ Rao, Shobha. "Finn takes helm as LAH mayor, offers to 'celebrate all we have in common'". Los Altos Town Crier. Retrieved 2021-10-15.
  83. ^ "Mt. View music, arts school gets $1M challenge grant - Silicon Valley Business Journal". Archived from the original on 2013-11-11.
  84. ^ "Steven L. Smith: NASA International Space Station Program Liaison to the European Space Agency". Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, NASA. Retrieved February 24, 2010.
  85. ^ "Astronaut Bio: Steven L. Smith 8/98". Retrieved March 24, 2014.

Coordinates: 37°13′17″N 121°51′44″W / 37.2214°N 121.8622°W / 37.2214; -121.8622