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Sunnyvale is the 7th most populous city in the San Francisco Bay Area and one of the major cities comprising Silicon Valley. It is bordered by portions of San Jose to the north, Moffett Federal Airfield to the northwest, Mountain View to the northwest, Los Altos to the southwest, Cupertino to the south, and Santa Clara to the east. It lies along the historic El Camino Real and Highway 101.
As part of California's high-tech area known as Silicon Valley, Sunnyvale is the headquarters location of many technology companies and is a major operating center for many more. It is also home to several aerospace/defense companies. Sunnyvale was also the home to Onizuka Air Force Station, often referred to as "the Blue Cube" due to the color and shape of its windowless main building. The facility, previously known as Sunnyvale Air Force Station, was named for the deceased Space Shuttle Challenger astronaut Ellison Onizuka. It served as an artificial satellite control facility of the U.S. military until August 2010 and has since been decommissioned and demolished.
Sunnyvale is one of the few U.S. cities to have a single unified Department of Public Safety, where all personnel are trained as firefighters, police officers, and EMTs, so that they can respond to an emergency in any of the three roles.
Library services for the city are provided by the Sunnyvale Public Library, located at the Sunnyvale Civic Center.
When the Spanish first arrived in the 1770s at the Santa Clara Valley, it was heavily populated by the Ohlone Native Americans. However early on with the arrival of the Spaniards, smallpox, measles and other new diseases greatly reduced the Ohlone population. In 1777, Mission Santa Clara was founded by Franciscan missionary Padre Junipero Serra and was originally located in San Jose (near what is now the San Jose International Airport runway).
In 1843, Rancho Pastoria de las Borregas was granted to Francisco Estrada and his wife Inez Castro. Portions of the land given in this grant later developed into the cities of Mountain View and Sunnyvale. Two years later, in 1844, another land grant was provided to Lupe Y?igo, one of the few Native Americans to hold land grants. His land grant was first called Rancho Posolmi, named in honor of a village of the Ohlone that once stood in the area. Rancho Posolmi was later known as Rancho Ynigo.
Martin Murphy Jr. came to California with his father as part of the Stephens-Townsend-Murphy Party in 1844. In 1850, Martin Murphy Jr. bought a piece of Rancho Pastoria de las Borregas for $12,500. Murphy established a wheat farm and ranch named Bay View. Murphy had the first wood-frame house in Santa Clara County; it was shipped from New England. The house was demolished in 1961 but was reconstructed in 2008 as the Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum. When he died in 1884, his land was divided among his heirs.
In 1860, The San Francisco and San Jose Rail Road was allowed to lay tracks on Bay View and established Murphy Station. Lawrence Station was later established on the southern edge of Bay View.
In the 1870s, small fruit orchards replaced many large wheat farms, because wheat farming turned uneconomical due to county and property tax laws, imports and soil degradation. In 1871, Dr. James M. Dawson and his wife Eloise (n?e Jones) established the first fruit cannery in the county. Fruit agriculture for canning soon became a major industry in the county. The invention of the refrigerated rail car further increased the viability of an economy based upon fruit. The fruit orchards became so prevalent that in 1886, the San Jose Board of Trade called Santa Clara County the "Garden of the World".
In the 1880s, Chinese workers made up roughly one third of the farm labor in Santa Clara County. This percentage reduced over time after the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed. In the following decade, the 1890s, many immigrants from Italy, the Azores, Portugal, and Japan arrived to work in the orchards.
In 1897, Walter Everett Crossman bought 200 acres (809,000 m2) and began selling real estate. He advertised the area as "Beautiful Murphy" and later, in the 1900s, as "the City of Destiny". Also in 1897, Encina School opened as the first school in Murphy. Previously, children in the town had to travel to Mountain View for school.
In 1901, the residents of Murphy were informed they could not use the names Encinal or Murphy for their post office. Sunnyvale was given its current name on March 24, 1901. It was named Sunnyvale as it is located in a sunny region adjacent to areas with significantly more fog.
Sunnyvale continued to grow and in 1904, dried fruit production began. Two years later, Libby, McNeill & Libby, a Chicago meat-packing company, decided to open its first fruit-packing factory in Sunnyvale. Today, a water tower painted to resemble the first Libby's fruit cocktail can label identifies the former site of the factory.
Also in 1906, the Joshua Hendy Iron Works relocated from San Francisco to Sunnyvale after the company's building was destroyed by fire after the 1906 earthquake. The ironworks was the first non-agricultural industry in the town. The company later switched from producing mining equipment to other products such as marine steam engines.
In 1912, the residents of Sunnyvale voted to incorporate, and Sunnyvale became an official city.
Fremont High School first opened in 1923.
In 1924, Edwina Benner was elected to her first term as mayor of Sunnyvale. She was the second female mayor in the history of the state of California.
In 1930, Congress decided to place the West Coast dirigible base in Sunnyvale after "buying" the 1,000-acre (4.0 km2) parcel of farmland bordering the San Francisco Bay from the city for $1.
This naval airfield was later renamed Moffett Naval Air Station and then Moffett Federal Airfield and is commonly called Moffett Field.
In 1939, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA, the forerunner of NASA) began research at Ames Laboratory.
During World War II, the war economy began a change from the fruit industry to the high-tech industry in Santa Clara County. The Joshua Hendy Iron Works built marine steam engines, naval guns and rocket launchers to aid in the war effort. As the defense industry grew, a shortage of workers in the farm industry was created. Immigrants from Mexico came to Sunnyvale to fill this void of workers.
In 1950 the volunteer fire department and the paid police department were combined into the department of public safety.
Following the war, the fruit orchards and sweetcorn farms were cleared to build homes, factories and offices. In 1956, the aircraft manufacturer Lockheed moved its headquarters to Sunnyvale. Since then, numerous high-tech companies have established offices and headquarters in Sunnyvale, including Advanced Micro Devices and Yahoo. The first prototype of Pong, one of the first arcade videogames, was installed in Sunnyvale in August 1972, in a bar named Andy Capp's Tavern, now Rooster T. Feathers. By 2002, the few remaining orchards had been replaced with homes and shops. However, there are still city-owned orchards, such as the Heritage Orchard next to the Sunnyvale Community Center.
In 1979, an indoor mall called Sunnyvale Town Center opened in what used to be a traditional downtown shopping district. After years of successful operation, the mall started to decline in the 1990s. After numerous changes in plans and ownership, the mall was demolished in 2007.
Sunnyvale celebrated its one-hundredth anniversary on August 25, 2012.
In November 2009, previously closed portions of the main streets in downtown Sunnyvale were reopened as part of the ongoing downtown redevelopment of the Sunnyvale Town Center mall, marking the first time in over three decades that those street blocks have been open to vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Part of the project involved building new apartment buildings, however during the Great Recession the property was repossessed by Wells Fargo in 2009; the developer countersued, leaving the project in legal limbo through 2015.
The two office buildings are now fully occupied by Apple and Nokia. Mixed-use developments have been built at the former Town and Country location near the Plaza del Sol just north of Murphy Avenue. By mid-2015 new multistory apartment complexes had opened, including a number of ground-floor businesses, and the lawsuit against Wells Fargo was resolved in the bank's favor. The development was sold to Sares Regis in late 2016. Redwood Square reopened as a park in 2017. The unfinished apartments are set to be complete and placed for rent in late 2018, with a Whole Foods Market and an AMC Theatres multiplex opening in 2019.
In the 2010s, Sunnyvale became home to operations from numerous major technology companies, including Apple, LinkedIn (now headquartered in Sunnyvale), Google, Walmart Labs, and 23andMe. Google in particular has announced major development plans in the Moffett Park area, adjacent to Moffett Field.
Sunnyvale is located at 37°22?7.56?N 122°2?13.4?W.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 22.7 sq mi (58.8 km2), of which, 22.0 sq mi (56.9 km2) of it is land and 0.69 sq mi (1.8 km2) of it (3.09%) is water. Its elevation is 130 feet above sea level.
Like most of the San Francisco Bay Area, Sunnyvale has a Mediterranean climate, with mild, moist winters and comfortably warm, very dry summers. Average daytime summer temperatures are in the high 70s, and during the winter, average daytime high temperatures rarely stay below 50 °F (10 °C). Snowfall is rare, but on January 21, 1962, and February 5, 1976, measurable snowfall occurred in Sunnyvale and most of the San Francisco Bay Area. Sunnyvale was briefly hit by tornadoes in 1998, but otherwise they are extremely rare.
Climate data for Sunnyvale, California
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 75
Average high °F (°C) 59
Average low °F (°C) 41.1
Record low °F (°C) 21
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.30
Source: Northwest Climate Toolbox
Census Pop. %±
1930 3,094 —
1940 4,373 41.3%
1950 9,829 124.8%
1960 59,898 509.4%
1970 95,976 60.2%
1980 106,618 11.1%
1990 117,229 10.0%
2000 131,760 12.4%
2010 140,081 6.3%
Est. 2019 152,703 9.0%
U.S. Decennial Census
Standard marker at city entrances
The 2010 United States Census reported that Sunnyvale had a population of 140,081. The population density was 6,173.9 people per square mile (2,383.8/km2). The racial makeup of Sunnyvale was 60,193 (43.0%) White, 2,735 (2.0%) African American, 662 (0.5%) Native American, 57,320 (40.9%) Asian, 638 (0.5%) Pacific Islander, 12,177 (8.7%) from other races, and 6,356 (4.5%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 26,517 persons (18.9%). Non-Hispanic Whites were 34.5% of the population in 2010, compared to 74.7% in 1980.
The Census reported that 139,232 people (99.4% of the population) lived in households, 380 (0.3%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 469 (0.3%) were institutionalized.
There were 53,384 households, out of which 18,614 (34.9%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 28,583 (53.5%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 4,629 (8.7%) had a female householder with no husband present, 2,341 (4.4%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 2,386 (4.5%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 357 (0.7%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 13,457 households (25.2%) were made up of individuals, and 3,775 (7.1%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61. There were 35,553 families (66.6% of all households); the average family size was 3.15.
The population was spread out, with 31,435 people (22.4%) under the age of 18, 9,350 people (6.7%) aged 18 to 24, 50,919 people (36.3%) aged 25 to 44, 32,721 people (23.4%) aged 45 to 64, and 15,656 people (11.2%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35.6 years. For every 100 females, there were 101.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.9 males.
There were 55,791 housing units at an average density of 2,458.9 per square mile (949.4/km2), of which 25,623 (48.0%) were owner-occupied, and 27,761 (52.0%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.1%; the rental vacancy rate was 4.4%. 68,895 people (49.2% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 70,337 people (50.2%) lived in rental housing units.
Demographic profile 2010
Total Population 140,081 (100.0%)
One Race 133,725 (95.5%)
Not Hispanic or Latino 113,564 (81.1%)
White alone 48,323 (34.5%)
Black or African American alone 2,533 (1.8%)
American Indian and Alaska Native alone 292 (0.2%)
Asian alone 57,012 (40.7%)
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone 594 (0.4%)
Some other race alone 381 (0.3%)
Two or more races alone 4,429 (3.2%)
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 26,517 (18.9%)
Companies based in Sunnyvale include CrowdStrike, Fortinet, Intuitive Surgical, Juniper Networks, LinkedIn, Proofpoint, Inc., Trimble (company) and Yahoo! Inc.
According to the City's 2019 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:
# Employer # of Employees
1 Google 10,695
2 Juniper Networks Inc 5,130
3 Apple Inc 4,000
4 Lockheed Martin Space Systems 3,973
5 LinkedIn 3,261
6 A2Z Development Center Inc 3,091
7 Walmart 2,288
8 NetApp 1,680
9 Intuitive Surgical 1,526
10 Microsoft 1,409
Government and politics
The City of Sunnyvale uses the council-manager form of government, with an city council consisting of seven members elected to fill individual seats. Starting in November 2020, the mayor is directly elected to a four year term in a city-wide election. The six council members are elected to four year terms from six districts in even-year elections. The vice-mayor is selected from the six city council members by the mayor and city council, serving a one-year term The city council hires a city manager to run the day-to-day operations of the city government.
Sunnyvale is the largest city in the United States that uses a consolidated department of public safety, with sworn officers who are fully cross-trained to perform police, firefighting, and emergency medical services. Officer assignments are rotated annually, with some specialtist assignments lasting up to five years. Sunnyvale has had a consolidated DPS since 1950.
In the California State Legislature, Sunnyvale is in the 13th Senate District, represented by Democrat Jerry Hill, and in the 24th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Marc Berman.
In the United States House of Representatives, Sunnyvale is in California's 17th congressional district, represented by Democrat Ro Khanna.
As of August 16, 2016, Sunnyvale had 56,030 registered voters.
For elementary and middle schools, most of the city is in the Sunnyvale School District, while some parts are in the Cupertino Union School District and the Santa Clara Unified School District.
For high schools, most of the city is in the Fremont Union High School District (the parts that are part of the Sunnyvale School District or Cupertino Union School District for primary schools), and those areas of Sunnyvale are divided between Fremont High School and Homestead High School. Some parts of the city are in the Santa Clara Unified School District.
The southern half of Sunnyvale is predominantly residential, while most of the portion of Sunnyvale north of Highway 237 is zoned for industrial use.
Within this southern half are several neighborhoods that account for a large number of Eichler homes throughout residential Sunnyvale. More specifically, there are 16 housing tracts containing over 1100 Eichler homes.
The far eastern section of El Camino Real in Sunnyvale has a significant concentration of businesses owned by Indian immigrants.
There are 476 acres of parks in the Sunnyvale area. These include Las Palmas Park, Ortega Park, Seven Seas Park, Washington Park near downtown, two public golf courses, and Baylands Park, site of the annual Linux Picnic.
Charles Street Gardens, Sunnyvale's oldest and largest community garden is located adjacent to Sunnyvale's Public Library. In 2017 the Santa Clara Unified School District has taken over operation of Full Circle Farm Sunnyvale which leased the land from the district, and plan is under way to focus the farm on education.
Route 82 at the intersection with Mathilda Avenue.
Several major roads and freeways go through Sunnyvale:
I-280 (CA).svg Interstate 280 (Junipero Serra Freeway)
US 101 (1961 cutout).svg U.S. Route 101
California 82.svg State Route 82 (El Camino Real)
California 85.svg State Route 85 (Stevens Creek Freeway)
California 237.svg State Route 237 (Southbay Freeway)
Sunnyvale is served by Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (light rail and buses) and by Caltrain commuter rail. Two Caltrain stations are located in Sunnyvale: the Sunnyvale Station in the Heritage District downtown, and the Lawrence Station in eastern Sunnyvale, north of the Ponderosa neighborhood.
Sunnyvale has been listed by the League of American Bicyclists as a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community.
The Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee advises the city council on the continued development of the bicycle plan for the city.
See also: List of airports in the San Francisco Bay area
For commercial passenger air travel, Sunnyvale is served by three nearby international airports:
Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC), 9.5 miles from downtown Sunnyvale by car. It is also accessible by Caltrain, VTA light rail, and VTA bus. Caltrain and light rail stations require a transfer to a free shuttle bus to get to the airport terminal.
San Francisco International Airport (SFO), 27.7 miles by car. SFO is transit accessible from Sunnyvale via Caltrain and Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART).
Metropolitan Oakland International Airport (OAK), 37.5 miles by car. Access to Oakland airport by public transit is possible via multiple transfers.
Sunnyvale has consistently ranked as one of the safest ten cities (for cities of similar size) in the United States according to the FBI's crime reports. From 1966 to at least 2004, Sunnyvale never placed below fifth in safety rankings among U.S. cities in its population class. In 2005, Sunnyvale ranked as the 18th-safest city overall in the U.S., according to the Morgan Quitno Awards. In 2009, Sunnyvale was ranked 7th in U.S. by Forbes Magazine in an analysis of America's safest cities. In 2018, Sunnyvale as named the safest city by SmartAsset.com for the third year in a row.
According to Sunnyvale's Department of Public Safety, confirmed gang members make up less than one percent of the population, although 95% of the crime is gang on gang violence. Sunnyvale's Gang Task-force agency as well as the FBI note three main gangs that exist in Sunnyvale, Varrio Via Sol (abbreviated as VVS), Sunnyvale Sur Trece (SST), and Varrio Mountain View (VMV), all allying to either Sure?o or Norte?o families, one existing since the 1960s.
A long-standing legend of Sunnyvale is of a ghost that haunts the town's Toys 'R' Us store (closed in 2018). A purported psychic, Sylvia Browne, claimed to have made contact with the ghost on the 1980 TV show That's Incredible! and named him Johnny Johnson. This story was also explored in a 1991 episode of Haunted Lives: True Ghost Stories. Brown stated that he had been a Swedish preacher who worked as a farm hand in the orchard where the toy store now stands and that he bled to death from an accidental, self-inflicted axe injury to his leg.
Tony Anselmo, animator and voice of Donald Duck
Robert Hawkins, artist and painter
Ashleigh Aston Moore, actress
Teri Hatcher, actress
Imran Khan, Bollywood actor
Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc.
Lee Pelekoudas, Seattle Mariners interim general manager, raised in Sunnyvale.
Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Inc.
Richard Farley, mass murderer
Arthur Davis, animator and director
Timothy Linh Bui, filmmaker
Tony Bui, film director
Steve Kloves, American screenwriter, film director and producer
Antwon, hip-hop artist
Brian MacLeod, musician
The Orange Peels, musical group
Juju Chang, television personality
Martin Ford, entrepreneur, author
Jeff Goodell, writer
Michael S. Malone, multiple talents
Amy Tan, novelist
Tully Banta-Cain professional football player
Brian Boitano, figure skater
Benny Brown, runner
Sean Dawkins, NFL player, lived in Sunnyvale while attending Homestead High School in Cupertino.
Penny Deen, swimmer and coach
Francie Larrieu-Smith, track and field athlete
Peter Ueberroth, Major League Baseball Commissioner 1984–89
Bill Green, former United States and NCAA record holder in Track and Field, 5th in the hammer throw at the 1984 Summer Olympics
Chris Pelekoudas, Major League Baseball umpire, lived and died in Sunnyvale.
Troy Tulowitzki, Major League Baseball player, graduated from Fremont High School
Andrew Fire, 2006 Nobel Laureate in medicine
Landon Curt Noll, astronomer, cryptographer and mathematician
Mark Rober, NASA JPL employee 2004–2011, current scientific YouTuber
Twin towns – sister cities
Until 1970, Sunnyvale had a Sister City relationship with Chill?n, Chile. In 2013, the city entered into a three-year Friendly Exchange Relations Agreement with Iizuka, Japan; in July 2016 the city council voted to change this to a Sister City relationship.
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