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Santa Clara County, California
Seal of Santa Clara County, California
Map of California highlighting Santa Clara County
Location in the state of California
Map of the U.S. highlighting California
California's location in the U.S.
Founded 1850
Seat San Jose
Largest city San Jose
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

1,304 sq mi (3,377 km²)
1,291 sq mi (3,344 km²)
13 sq mi (34 km²),
 - (2000)
 - Density

1,303/sq mi (503/km²)
Time zone Pacific: UTC-8/-7

Santa Clara County is a county located in the San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S. state of California. It is the primary site of Silicon Valley. As of 2000 it had a population of 1,682,585. The county seat is San Jose.

History[edit | edit source]

Santa Clara County was one of the original counties of California, formed in 1850 at the time of statehood. The original inhabitants included the Ohlone, residing on Coyote Creek and Calaveras CreekÂ. Part of the county's territory was given to Alameda County in 1853.

The county is named after Mission Santa Clara, which was established in 1777, and named for Saint Clare of Assisi, Italy. The name "Clare" or "Clara" means "clear" or "bright."

In 1882, Santa Clara County tried to levy taxes upon property of the Southern Pacific Railroad within county boundaries. The result was the U.S. Supreme Court case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, 118 U.S. 394 (1886), in which the Court extended Due Process rights to artificial legal entities.

After two centuries of an agricultural economy started by the Spanish missionaries, the focus has shifted to technology. This trend is not new. Hewlett Packard was founded in 1939, and Fairchild Semiconductor along with other early innovators were located in the county by the late 1950s. The term "Silicon Valley" was itself coined in 1971. The trend accelerated in the 1980s and 1990s, and agriculture has been nearly eliminated from the northern part of the county. Today, Santa Clara County is the headquarters for such companies as Apple Computer, Hewlett Packard, Quest, Intel, Google, Yahoo, and many others. The county is the main area of the Silicon Valley, which includes several other counties both north and south of Santa Clara.

Geography[edit | edit source]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 3,377 km² (1,304 sq mi). 3,343 km² (1,291 sq mi) of it is land and 34 km² (13 sq mi) of it (1.02%) is water.

The San Andreas Fault runs along the Santa Cruz Mountains in the south of the county.

Adjacent Counties[edit | edit source]

Note:There is a four way county border between Alameda, San Joaquin, Santa Clara, and Stanislaus Counties.

Demographics[edit | edit source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1900 60,216
1910 83,539 38.7%
1920 100,676 20.5%
1930 145,118 44.1%
1940 174,949 20.6%
1950 290,547 66.1%
1960 642,315 121.1%
1970 1,064,714 65.8%
1980 1,295,071 21.6%
1990 1,497,577 15.6%
2000 1,682,585 12.4%

As of the census² of 2000, there were 1,682,585 people, 565,863 households, and 395,538 families residing in the county. The population density was 503/km² (1,304/sq mi). There were 579,329 housing units at an average density of 173/km² (449/sq mi). The racial makeup of the county was 53.83% White, 2.80% Black or African American, 0.67% Native American, 25.56% Asian, 0.34% Pacific Islander, 12.13% from other races, and 4.66% from two or more races. 23.98% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 54.7% spoke English, 17.6% Spanish, 5.7% Vietnamese, 5.3% Chinese or Mandarin, 3.3% Tagalog and 1.2% Korean as their first language. By 2010, the demographics of Santa Clara County are expected to change to the point where Hispanics (many from Southern California and rural Mexico) become a majority population.

There were 565,863 households out of which 34.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.90% were married couples living together, 10.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.10% were non-families. 21.40% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.92 and the average family size was 3.41.

In the county the population was spread out with 24.70% under the age of 18, 9.30% from 18 to 24, 35.40% from 25 to 44, 21.00% from 45 to 64, and 9.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 102.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 101.90 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $74,335, and the median income for a family was $81,717. Males had a median income of $56,240 versus $40,574 for females. The per capita income for the county was $32,795. About 4.90% of families and 7.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.40% of those under age 18 and 6.40% of those age 65 or over.

Santa Clara County has the highest median household income of any county in California. However, as demographics change and the economy shifts towards lower-end manufacturing and fewer (but higher-paying) professional jobs, Santa Clara County's income level will exhibit a greater wealth gap (but remain constant if not increase).

Politics[edit | edit source]

Santa Clara County Government Center

Presidential election results
Year DEM GOP Others
2004 63.9% 386,100 34.6% 209,094 1.4% 8,622
2000 60.7% 332,490 34.4% 188,750 4.9% 26,889
1996 56.9% 297,639 32.2% 168,291 11.0% 57,361
1992 49.2% 296,265 28.4% 170,870 22.4% 134,920
1988 51.3% 277,810 47.0% 254,442 1.7% 9,276
1984 43.7% 229,865 54.8% 288,638 1.5% 8,136
1980 35.0% 166,995 48.0% 229,048 17.0% 80,960
1976 46.9% 208,023 49.5% 219,188 3.6% 15,927
1972 45.6% 208,506 51.9% 237,334 2.5% 11,453
1968 48.4% 173,511 45.6% 163,446 6.0% 21,410
1964 63.1% 202,249 36.6% 117,420 0.3% 858
1960 47.1% 117,667 52.7%' 131,735 0.3% 690

Santa Clara is a strongly Democratic county in Presidential and congressional elections. The last Republican to win a majority in the county was Ronald Reagan in 1984.

In the House of Representatives, all of California’s 15th and 16th districts, as well as some of the 11th and 14th districts, are in the county and are all held by Democrats: Jerry McNerney in the 11th, Anna Eshoo in the 14th, Mike Honda in the 15th, and Zoe Lofgren in the 16th.

In the State Assembly, all of the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th districts, as well as parts of the 20th, 21st, 27th, and 28th districts are in the county. The districts are all held by Democrats; in order of district number they are Alberto Torrico, Ira Ruskin, Sally Lieber, Joe Coto, Jim Beall, John Laird, and Anna Caballero.

In the State Senate, all of the 13th as well as parts of the 10th, 11th, and 15th districts are in the county. The 10th, 11th, and 13th districts are held by Democrats, Ellen Corbett, Joe Simitian, and Elaine Alquist, respectively. The 15th is held by Republican Abel Maldonado.

Transportation[edit | edit source]

Freeways and expressways[edit | edit source]

The county has an extensive freeway system (now nearing completion) and a separate expressway system. Expressways in California are distinct from freeways; although access to adjoining properties is eliminated, at-grade intersections are allowed. However, unlike expressways virtually everywhere else in California, the Santa Clara County expressways were built, signed, and maintained as county roads; they are not maintained by Caltrans, although they are patrolled by the California Highway Patrol.

Many journalists and mapmakers from outside California do not understand the important difference between freeways and expressways, and incorrectly describe or depict Silicon Valley as criss-crossed by a "web" of freeways when many of the lines on the map are really expressways.

There is also a large street network dominated by four- and six-lane arterials. Some of the newer boulevards (primarily in the West Valley) are divided with landscaped medians.

Major highways[edit | edit source]

Mass transit[edit | edit source]

Santa Clara County has consolidated its transportation services into the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, which operates a rapidly expanding light rail system and a large system of bus routes. It also manages certain county-funded highway and expressway projects.

Besides SCVTA, the County is also served by Caltrain commuter rail service, and the ACE Train system, which runs between San Jose and Stockton.

County routes[edit | edit source]

Ports[edit | edit source]

The county's main airport is Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport (SJC). Moffett Federal Airfield (NUQ), a former Naval Air Station, is used by the Air National Guard, NASA, Lockheed Martin, and Google.[1] There are also smaller general aviation airports in Palo Alto (PAO), San Jose (RHV), and San Martin (E16).

The county has no seaports. Like all other Bay Area counties, it is dependent upon the Port of Oakland for transport of ocean cargo.

Cities, towns, and neighborhoods[edit | edit source]

Incorporated Places[edit | edit source]

There are 15 incorporated cities and towns in the county:

Unincorporated communities[edit | edit source]

Census Designated Places[edit | edit source]

Other unincorporated communities[edit | edit source]

Parks[edit | edit source]

Santa Clara County has an extensive park system, much of it founded in the major park expansion of the late 1970s. Some of the parks within the county are:

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Maps and aerial photos

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Santa Clara County, California. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.
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