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The History of Sunnyvale

Martin Murphy Jr. came to California as part of the Stephens-Townsend-Murphy Party

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When the Spanish first arrived in the 1770s at the Santa Clara Valley, the area was heavily populated by the Ohlone Native Americans. In 1777, Mission Santa Clara's Ohlone Christian converts helped build the permanent Mission building.

In 1842, Rancho Pastoria de las Borregas Francisco Estrada and his wife Inez Castro were given a grant to the land. Portions of the land in this grant were later developed into the cities of Mountain View and Sunnyvale. Two years later, in 1844, another land grant was given to Lupe Yñigo, one of the few Native Americans to hold land grants. His land grant was first called Rancho Posolmi, named in honor of Posolmi 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, which was shipped from New England, in Santa Clara County built. The original 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 laid tracks on Bay View and established Murphy Station, which was named in honor of the Murphy family. Lawrence Station was later established on the southern edge of Bay View.

In the 1870s, county property tax laws, imports and soil degradation caused wheat farming to become uneconomical in Santa Clara County. Small fruit orchards replaced the large wheat farms. In 1871, James and Eloise Dawson established the first fruit cannery in Santa Clara County. Fruit agriculture and 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 become 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 48 percent 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, multitudes of immigrants from Italy, the Azores, Portugal, and Japan arrived to work in the orchards.

In 1897, Walter Everett Crossman bought 200 acres and began selling real estate. He advertised the area as Beautiful Murphy. Later, in the 1900s, real estate developer Walter Crossman described it 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. They decided to use the name Sunnyvale for the name of their town.

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 Joshua Hendy Iron Works 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. It served as a military base before the school opened and through World War II. Planes flying to and from Moffett Field, which opened in 1933, commonly stopped here for fuel top-offs. A 1948 yearbook shows a military aircraft parked at one of the buildings as students watch nearby. Fremont High School has old military buildings on its campus including a Quonset hut installed after WWII, now used as a wrestling team facility.

In 1930, Congress decided to place the West Coast dirigible base in Sunnyvale. 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.

Following the war, the fruit orchards and sweet corn 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 September 1972, in a bar named Andy Capps, now Rooster T. Feathers.

By 2002, the few remaining orchards were demolished and 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, and a new downtown shopping district is being constructed in its place.

 

 

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