California (Santa Clara County)


A few decades ago Santa Clara County, California, was a tranquil expanse of apricot, prune and cherry orchards. Now it’s the place where American industry is thrusting out its newest branches and roots. The city of San José today has a greater population than Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and it is at the center of the fastest growing industrial region in the United States. Electronics is the name of the game. San José can aptly be called California’s “first city’’, as it lays claim to the following: first civilian settlement (November, 1777); first State Capitol (December, 1849) and home of its first governor; site of the first public school in California (1795) and first institution of higher learning (San José State College, 1857); home of the first radiobroadcasting station in America (1909).

The electronics industry employs a large number of skilled workers, engineers, researchers, etc., tens of thousands of unskilled and semiskilled workers. The overwhelming majority are women. Of these, most are Chicano,” Filipino, Japanese, Chinese and Black.

In the world of high finance Santa Clara County is known as “Silicon Valley’’. With sales of $2.5 billion annually, the valley accounts for about eight per cent of total U.S. sales in electronics and some forty per cent of the nation’s semicon: ductor output. Many of the companies in the area are among the 500 largest industrial corporations in the United States: General Electric,” Lockheed,* IBM,* etc.

Another basic industry in Santa Clara County is auto. Both Ford and General Motors* have assembly plants in the area employing some fifteen thousand workers. Other industries include steel production and food processing, especially canneries.

There are a number of colleges in the county. Stanford University* is the largest and the most lucrative. The University owns Stanford Industrial Park, which comprises 660 acres and accomodates fifty-five electronics corporations employing seventeen thousand people. The University caters predominantly to students from white, upper-middle-class families. It is a major center for industrial research and development.

San José State University and the University of Santa Clara are the other four-year colleges in the area. Santa Clara is a Catholic-run institution, and San José is one of eighteen state colleges in California. Combined they have a student population of approximately 50,000.

At the state and community colleges* many, if not the majority of students are employed, often as unskilled workers in electronics, the canneries and various service industries such as hospitals, restaurants and supermarkets.

During the twenty-year period of industrial boom in Santa Clara County, land speculators, financiers and industrial developers have plowed through what was once a lush and beautiful agricultural valley, tearing it up in a ruthless drive to maximise their wealth and profits.