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Welcome to San Jose

San Jose is the third-largest city in California, and the tenth-largest in the United States. San Jose is located at the southern end of the Bay Area, a region commonly referred to as Silicon Valley. It is the county seat of Santa Clara County. Once a small farming city, San Jose became a magnet for suburban newcomers in new housing developments between the 1960s and 1990s, and is now the largest city in Northern California.

  • Area: 178.2 sq mi (City)
  • Elevation: 85 ft
  • ZIP codes: 95101-95103, 95106, 95108-95139, 95141, 95142, 95148, 95150-95161, 95164, 95170-95173, 95190-95194, 95196
  • Area code: 408
  • Official City Website: www.sanjoseca.gov
  • History of San Jose
  • Surrounding Cities and towns: Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Jose, Santa Clara, Saratoga, Sunnyvale

Looking west over northern San Jose (downtown is at far left) and other parts of Silicon Valley.  San Jose lies near the San Andreas Fault; a major source of earthquake activity in California. The most serious earthquake, in 1906, damaged many buildings in San Jose as described earlier. Earlier significant quakes rocked the city in 1839, 1851, 1858, 1864, 1865, 1868, and 1891.[citation needed] The Daly City Earthquake of 1957 caused some damage. The Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 also did some damage to parts of the city. The other faults near San Jose are the Monte Vista Fault, South Hayward Fault, Northern Calaveras Fault, and Central Calaveras Fault.

The Guadalupe River runs from the Santa Cruz Mountains (which separate the South Bay from the Pacific Coast) flowing north through San Jose, ending in the San Francisco Bay at Alviso. Along the southern part of the river is the neighborhood of Almaden Valley, originally named for the mercury mines which produced mercury needed for gold extraction from quartz during the California Gold Rush as well as mercury fulminate blasting caps and detonators for the U.S. military from 1870 to 1945.

San Jose, like most of the Bay Area, has a Mediterranean climate.  Unlike San Francisco, which is exposed to the ocean or Bay on three sides and whose temperature therefore varies relatively little year-round and overnight, San Jose lies farther inland, protected on three sides by mountains. This shelters the city from rain and makes it more of a semiarid, near-desert area, with a mean annual rainfall of 14.4 inches compared to some other parts of the Bay Area, which can get up to four times that amount. It also avoids San Francisco's omnipresent fog most of the year.

With the light rainfall, San Jose experiences over 300 days a year of full or significant sunshine. Rain occurs primarily in the months from October through April or May, with hardly any rainfall from June through September. During the winter, hillsides and fields turn green with grasses and vegetation, although deciduous trees are bare; with the coming of the annual summer dry period, the vegetation dies and dries, giving the hills a golden cover, which also provides fuel for frequent grass fires.

The large concentration of high-technology engineering, computer, and microprocessor companies around San Jose has led the area to be known as Silicon Valley. As the largest city in the valley, San Jose has billed itself "the capital of Silicon Valley." Area schools such as the University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Santa Cruz, San José State University, San Francisco State University, California State University, East Bay, Santa Clara University, and Stanford University pump thousands of engineering and computer science graduates into the local economy every year.

High economic growth during the tech bubble caused employment, housing prices, and traffic congestion to peak in the late 1990s. As the economy slowed in the early 2000s, employment and traffic congestion diminished somewhat. In the mid-2000s, traffic along major highways again began to worsen as the economy improved. San Jose had 405,000 jobs within its city limits in 2006, and an unemployment rate of 4.6%. In 2000, San Jose residents had the highest median household income of any city with a population over 300,000, and currently has the highest median income of any city with over 280,000 people.

San Jose lists 25 companies with 1,000 employees or more, including the headquarters of Adobe Systems, BEA Systems, Cisco, SunPower and eBay, as well as major facilities for Flextronics, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Hitachi and Lockheed Martin. Sizable government employers include the city government, Santa Clara County, and San José State University.

The cost of living in San Jose and the surrounding areas is among the highest in California and the nation. Housing costs are the primary reason for the high cost of living, although the costs in all areas tracked by ACCRA are above the national average. Despite the high cost of living in San Jose, households in city limits have the highest disposable income of any city in the U.S. with over 500,000 residents.

San Jose residents produce more U.S. patents than any other city. Thirty-five percent of all venture capital funds in the U.S. are invested in San Jose and Silicon Valley companies.


  • Population: 989,496
  • Age:
    • Under 18: 26.4%
    • 18 to 24: 9.9%
    • 25 to 44: 35.4%
    • 45 to 64: 20.0%
    • 65+ years  : 8.3%
  • Ethnicity:
    • 51.9% White (31.7% non-Hispanic-White alone)
    • 3.8% Black or African American
    • 1.1% American Indian and Alaska Native,
    • 32.5% Asian
    • 0.6% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
    • 13.5% from some other race
    • 3.2% from two or more races
    • 31.3% Hispanic or Latino of any race

Arts and architecture
The city is home to many performance arts, including Opera San Jose, Symphony Silicon Valley, Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley, Children's Musical Theater of San Jose (recognized as the largest and most talented youth theatre company in the nation), the San Jose Repertory Theatre, and American Musical Theatre of San Jose. San Jose also is home to the San Jose Museum of Art, one of the nation's premiere Modern Art museums. In addition, the annual Cinequest Film Festival in downtown has grown to over 60,000 attendees per year, becoming an important festival for independent films.


  • Airports
  • Rail Service
    • Amtrak (the Sacramento-San Jose Capitol Corridor and the Seattle-Los Angeles Coast Starlight)
    • Caltrain (commuter rail service between San Francisco and Gilroy)
    • ACE (commuter rail service to Pleasanton and Stockton)
    • Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) - a local light-rail system connecting downtown to Mountain View, Milpitas, Campbell, and Almaden Valley. VTA also operates many bus routes in San Jose and the surrounding communities, as well as offering paratransit services to local residents. Additionally, the Highway 17 Express bus line connects central San Jose with Santa Cruz.
  • Freeways
    • The San Jose area freeway system includs three Interstate freeways—I-280, I-880, and I-680—in addition to several state and one US Highway, US 101, SR 85, SR 87, SR 17, and SR 237.
    • Additionally, San Jose contains many expressways of the Santa Clara County Expressway System, including the Almaden Expressway, Capitol Expressway, San Tomas Expressway, and Lawrence Expressway.

Potable water is provided primarily by the private-sector San Jose Water Company, with some by the Great Oaks Water Company, and ten percent by the public-sector San Jose Municipal Water System.

Garbage, wastewater treatment, and recycling services are overseen by the city of San Jose's Environmental Services Department. San Jose recycles 64% of its waste, an exceptionally high percentage that is attributed to the recycling program's accepting an unusually long list of recyclable items without requiring that materials be sorted. Among the items accepted are all types of plastic, aerosol cans and paint cans, foam packing materials, aluminum furniture, small metal appliances, pots and pans, and clean fabrics.

Wastewater treatment happens at the San Jose/Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant, which treats and cleans the wastewater of the more than 1,500,000 people that live and work in the 300 square mile  area encompassing San Jose, Santa Clara, Milpitas, Campbell, Cupertino, Los Gatos, Saratoga, and Monte Sereno.

Natural gas and electricity are provided by PG&E. Telephone service is provided primarily by AT&T. Cable television is provided by Comcast.


Sports and event venues

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