Looking back at Cupertino

Today, Apple is Cupertino’s largest jobs provider, accounting for nearly 10 times the number of jobs as the city’s second-largest employer.  During Cupertino’s humble beginnings in the 1800s, the economy was largely based around fruit.

West Side

The thriving city of 58,000 was once a little village crossed by Stevens Creek Road and Saratoga-Mountain View Road (now De Anza Blvd.).  Situated within Freemont Township, locals in the 19th century called it West Side.  Where today there are streets and buildings and homes and neighborhoods, back then virtually all of the land that makes up present-day Cupertino was lush with cherry, apricot, plum and prune orchards.

In addition to work to be found in the thriving agricultural economy, there was also opportunity at a winery that looked out across the valley from Montebello Ridge.  Life was simple, and hard work paid off.  The country had yet to see a world war.  Technology was all about industry and transportation.

The city took its name from the original name of Stevens Creek: Arroyo San Jose de Cupertino.  A Spanish explorer named the creek after Saint Joseph of Cupertino, who was named for Copertino, a small Italian town.  The name Cupertino became more well known after a San Francisco attorney used it to name his winery on McClellan Road.  By the time the 1900s rolled around, folks had let go of the former West Side and began calling the area Cupertino.

Post-WWII growth

As is the goal of progress, it wasn’t long before the sprawling farmlands were criss-crossed with dirt roads, electric railways and railroads.  The construction of the electric railway led to Cupertino’s first housing tract – Monte Vista – built in the mid-1900s.  As the country emerged from World War II, the Santa Clara Valley saw large shifts in population, demographics and economics that would soon lead to the establishment of what we know today as Silicon Valley.  Right in the big middle of this transformation, Cupertino on October 10, 1955 became Santa Clara County’s 13th incorporated city.

The early 1960s saw the creation of VALLCO Business and Industrial Park, a joint effort on the parts of 17 of Cupertino’s largest land owners.  Six other land owners sold out to Varian and Associates, who along with the Leonard, Lester, Craft and Orlando families made up the acronym VALLCO.  An outdoor shopping center that was originally Vallco Fashion Park and today is Vallco Shopping Mall was developed within the business and industrial park.

De Anza College opened its doors in 1967 on a 112-acre parcel that was the Beaulieu Winery in the early 1900s.  A mansion originally owned by Charles and Ella Baldwin is now the California History Center.  The college has experienced steady growth, with about 22,000 students currently attending.

Significant rise in home prices

The landscape soon began filling up with housing developments that included the Seven Springs, Monte Vista, Fairgrove and Garden Gate neighborhoods.  The low-cost housing of Cupertino’s early years quickly gave way to million-dollar homes.  As more and more successful high-tech firms landed in Silicon Valley, the entire region saw a massive increase in property values.

Through the ensuing years, with Apple leading the charge and surrounded by the likes of eBay, Oracle, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and a score of others, Silicon Valley has grown to become known worldwide as one of the most exclusive – and expensive – places to live in the United states. And Cupertino hasn’t missed a step in keeping up with the progress.

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