Sunnyvale is one of the most populous cities in both Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay region. It lies on the northern edge of Silicon Valley, its northern-most border being the southern-most point of San Francisco Bay itself. Sunnyvale is home to more than 140,000 residents and, unlike some of its other Silicon Valley neighbors, Sunnyvale is home to both high-tech companies as well as major aerospace and defense contractors including Honeywell and Northrop Grumman.
As with other Santa Clara County and Silicon Valley cities, Sunnyvale traces its roots to early Spanish land grants which were followed by logging and agricultural settlements. Sunnyvale’s most direct lineage is said to be traced to Walter Everett Crossman, who in 1897 purchased 200 acres in the area and began selling lots. That same year a school was built, and in 1901 a post office followed. After some debate, local residents chose the name “Sunnyvale” for the post office address.
Agriculture, especially fruit and dried fruit production, continued to be the primary economic driver for the area, with the exception of the Joshua Hendy Iron Works, which relocated to the city after the San Francisco earthquake in 1906. It was on the eve of World War II that economy began to move toward high-tech and research areas. Intensive activity began at Moffett Field and the Ames Research Laboratory, located adjacent to Sunnyvale. The Joshua Hendy Iron Works was contracted to produce heavy equipment for the Navy.
Today, Sunnyvale is divided between a heavily residential southern half and a largely commercial northern half. The city is known for its many urban parks, including Las Palmas Park, Ortega Park, and Washington Park, its two outstanding public golf courses, and Full Circle Farm — recognized as the largest community-based urban farm in the entire region. Residents are also proud of Charles Street Gardens, the area’s largest urban community garden.
Sunnyvale has very active community and downtown development associations, and major initiatives have been underway in recent years to enhance the already widely-recognized and highly-livable downtown area focused around McKinley and Washington Avenues. Restaurants, shops, galleries, cultural interests and other pedestrian-friendly attractions are all served by easy auto and light rail access.