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Milpitas, California
City
City of Milpitas
Milpitas City Hall
Milpitas City Hall
Official seal of Milpitas, California
Seal
Location in Santa Clara County and the state of California
Location in Santa Clara County and the state of California
Country  United States of America
State  California
County Flag of Santa Clara County, California.png Santa Clara
Settled 1852
Incorporated January 26, 1954
Area
 • Total 13.641 sq mi (35.328 km2)
 • Land 13.591 sq mi (35.200 km2)
 • Water 0.050 sq mi (0.128 km2)  0.36%
Elevation 20 ft (6 m)
Population (2015)
 • Total 77,604
 • Density 5,689.03/sq mi (2,196.67/km2)
  City population is a 2015 estimate by the Census Bureau.
Time zone Pacific (UTC−8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC−7)
ZIP codes 95035, 95036
Area code(s) 408/669
FIPS code 06-47766
GNIS feature IDs 1659759, 2411113
Website www.ci.milpitas.ca.gov

Milpitas /mɪlˈptəs/ is a city in Santa Clara County, California. It is located with San Jose to its south and Fremont to its north, at the eastern end of State Route 237 and generally between Interstates 680 and 880 which run roughly north/south through the city. With Alameda County bordering directly on the north, Milpitas sits in the extreme northeast section of the South Bay, bordering the East Bay and Fremont. Milpitas is also located within the Silicon Valley. The corporate headquarters of Maxtor, LSI Corporation, Adaptec, Intersil, FireEye, Viavi and Lumentum (formerly JDSU), KLA-Tencor, SanDisk, and View, Inc. sit within the industrial zones of Milpitas. Flex and Cisco also have offices in Milpitas. The population was 66,790 at the 2010 census.

History

Milpitas was first inhabited by the Tamyen (also spelled Thomien, Tamien, Thamien, or Tamiayn), a linguistic subgroup of the Muwekma Ohlone people who had resided in the San Francisco Bay Area for thousands of years. The Ohlone Indians lived a traditional life based on everyday hunting and gathering. Some of the Ohlone lived in various villages within what is now Milpitas, including sites underneath what are now the Calvary Assembly of God Church and Higuera Adobe Park. Archaeological evidence gathered from Ohlone graves at the Elmwood Correctional Facility in 1993 revealed a rich trade with other tribes from Sacramento to Monterey.

During the Spanish expeditions of the late 18th century, several missions were founded in the San Francisco Bay Area. During the mission period, Milpitas served as a crossroads between Mission San José de Guadalupe in modern-day Fremont and Mission Santa Clara de Asis, in present Santa Clara. The land in modern-day Milpitas was divided between the 6,353-acre (25.71 km2) Rancho Rincon de Los Esteros (Spanish for "corner of the wetlands") granted to Ygnacio Alviso; the 4,457.8-acre (18.040 km2) Rancho Milpitas (Spanish for "little corn fields") granted to José María Alviso; and the 4,394.35-acre (17.7833 km2) Rancho Los Tularcitos (Spanish for "little tule marshes") granted to José Higuera. Jose Maria Alviso was the son of Francisco Xavier Alviso and Maria Bojorquez, both of whom arrived in San Francisco as children with the de Anza Expedition. (A son of Ygnacio Alviso was also named Jose Maria Alviso, this has led to some confusion by researchers.) Due to Jose Maria Alviso's descendents' difficulty securing his claims to the Rancho Milpitas property, portions of his land were either swindled from the Alviso family or were sold to American settlers to pay for legal fees.

Jose Maria Alviso adobe 1920
Jose Maria Alviso Adobe, ca. 1920

Both landowners had built prominent adobe homes on their properties. Today, both adobes still exist and are the oldest structures in Milpitas. The seriously eroded walls of the Jose Higuera Adobe, now in Higuera Adobe Park, are encapsulated in a brick shell built c.1970 by Marian Weller, a descendant of pioneer Joseph Weller.

The Alviso Adobe can be seen mostly in its original form with one kitchen addition made by the Cuciz family after they purchased the adobe from the Gleason family in 1922. Prior to the city acquiring the Alviso Adobe in 1995, it was the oldest continuously occupied adobe house in California dating from the Mexican period and today is still gradually being restored and undergoing seismic upgrades by the City of Milpitas. Alviso Adobe History Park is to be opened, after the exterior restoration of the adobe and outbuildings is completed, as an educational museum with historic items, trees, buildings, and documents.

Milpitas view2
Monument Peak is the most visible landmark in Milpitas and has long been a symbol of Milpitas. (Click on the image for a detailed description)

In the 1850s, large numbers of Americans of English, German, and Irish descent arrived to farm the fertile lands of Milpitas. The Burnett, Rose, Dempsey, Jacklin, Trimble, Ayer, Parks, Wool, Weller, Minnis, and Evans are among the early settlers of Milpitas. (Today many schools, streets, and parks have been named in honor of these families.) These early settlers farmed the land that was once the ranchos. Some set up businesses on what was then called Mission Road (now called Main Street) between Calaveras Road (now called Carlo Street) and the Alviso-Milpitas Road (now called Serra Way). By the late 20th century this area became known as the "Midtown" district. Yet another influx of immigration came in the 1870s and 1880s as Portuguese sharecroppers from the Azores came to farm the Milpitas hillsides. Many of the Azoreans had such locally well-known surnames like Coelho, Covo, Mattos, Nunes, Spangler, Serpa, and Silva.

There is a local legend that in 1857, when the U.S. Postal Service wanted to locate a Post Office in Frederick Creighton's store near the intersection of Mission Road and Alviso-Milpitas Road to serve the newly created Township, there was some support for naming it Penitencia, after the small Roman Catholic confessional building that had served local Indians and ranchers and had once stood several miles south of the village near Penitencia Creek which ran just west of the Mission Road. A local farmer and first Assistant Postmaster, Joseph Weller, felt the Spanish word Penitencia might be confused with the English word "penitentiary." Instead of choosing Penitencia, he suggested another popular name for the area, Milpitas, after the name of Alviso's property, Rancho Milpitas. Thus was born "Milpitas Township."

For over a century, Milpitas served as a popular rest stop for travelers on the old Oakland−San Jose Highway. At the north side of the intersection of that road with the Milpitas-Alviso Road, for many years stood "French's Hotel" that had been originally built by Alex Anderson prior to 1859, when Alfred French bought it from Austin M. Thompson. South of the site of French's Hotel, was a saloon dating from at least 1856 when Agustus Rathbone purchased the land and "improvements" from Richard Greenham. The first murder in Milpitas was committed in the early 1860s in "Rathbone's Saloon" (alas, the murderer escaped). Later the saloon was replaced by a hotel that is shown on the 1893 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map as "Goodwin's Hotel" (perhaps the same Henry K. Goodwin who, in 1890, loaned money to prominent local rancher Marshall Pomeroy) Presumably, this hotel burned down and "Smith's Corner," which still stands, was built in 1895, by John Smith, as a saloon that served beer and wine to thirsty travelers for a century before becoming a restaurant in 2001. Around this central core, grocery and dry goods stores, blacksmithys, service stations, and, in the 1920s, one of America's earliest "fast food" chain restaurants, "The Fat Boy", opened nearby. Another of Milpitas' most popular restaurants was the "Kozy Kitchen" established in 1940 by the Carlo family in the former "Central Market" building. Kozy Kitchen was demolished soon after Jimmy Carlo sold the restaurant in 1999. Even in the early 1950s, Milpitas served a farming community of 800 people who walked a mere one or two blocks to work.

2009-0723-CA-MilpitasLibrary
The new Milpitas Library (2009) integrates the historic Milpitas Grammar School building (1915).

On January 26, 1954, faced with getting swallowed up by a rapidly expanding San Jose, Milpitas residents incorporated as a city that included the recently built Ford Auto Assembly plant. When San Jose attempted to annex Milpitas barely seven years later, the "Milpitas Minutemen" were quickly organized to oppose annexation and keep Milpitas independent. An overwhelming majority of Milpitas registered voters voted "No" to annexation in the 1961 election as a result of a vigorous anti-annexation campaign. Following the election, the anti-annexation committee, who had compared themselves to the Revolutionary War Minutemen who fought the British on Lexington Green—a role filled in this case by the neighboring city of San Jose - adopted the image of Daniel Chester French's Minuteman statue, that stands near the site of the Old North Bridge in Concord, MA, as part of the official city seal. In the 1960s, the city approved the construction of the Calaveras overpass. Formerly at a junction with the Union Pacific railroad, Calaveras Boulevard had a bridge passing over six sets of railroad tracks after the construction was completed. Though the result was that local residents could now drive over the train tracks without waiting for a slow freight to pass, it resulted in the loss of the historical residential area. Here houses owned by city leaders had to be purchased by the city at full market value and either moved or demolished.

Starting in 1955, with the construction of the Ford Motor Assembly Plant, and accelerating in the 1960s and 1970s, extensive residential and retail development took place. Hayfields in Milpitas rapidly disappeared as industries and residential housing developments spread. Soon, the once rural town of Milpitas found itself a San Jose suburb. The population jumped from about 800 in 1950 to 62,698 in 2000. Several local farmers and businessmen who had chipped in from $2 to $50 to file for incorporation, had become millionaires within ten years. Most of them then moved away.

In 1961, Ben F. Gross, a civil rights activist, became Milpitas' first black city councilman with the backing of the UAW. This election was recognized nationally and received attention from Look and Life magazines. In 1966, Ben F. Gross became California's first black mayor when he was elected by the city's residents and "the only black mayor of a predominantly white town in California". Mayor Gross was reelected in 1968 and continued fighting against Milpitas' annexation by San Jose.

The Ford San Jose Assembly Plant closed in 1984, later being converted into a shopping mall, "The Great Mall of the Bay Area", which opened in 1994.

In the early 21st century, Milpitas light rail transit system station was added, making it the northeasternmost light rail destination in the region. On January 26, 2004, the city celebrated its 50th anniversary of incorporation and issued the book Milpitas: Five Dynamic Decades to commemorate 50 years of Milpitas' history as a busy, exciting crossroads community.

Etymology of the name Milpitas

The name Milpitas is the plural diminutive of milpa, a Mexican-Spanish word for cornfield. So it signifies "Place of little cornfields". The word milpa is derived from Nahuatl milli, meaning "agricultural field," and pan, meaning "on."

The name Milpitas, perhaps used by Jose Maria Alviso to name his land grant, Rancho de las Milpitas, may have meant that previously there were small Native American gardens nearby because of the rich alluvial soils of the area.

The first deed of property sale in Milpitas is found in the Santa Clara County Records General Index 1850-1856 (K-143), and dated February 14, 1856 from Juana Galindo Alviso, widow of Jose Maria Alviso, to Michael and Ellen Hughes for 800 acres of land that is today the Main Street area south of Carlo Street, however, the deed gives the name of the Rancho as "Rancho San Miguel", not as "Milpitas".

Geography

Milpitas mtns2
The southeastern foothills of Milpitas

Milpitas is located at 37°26′5″N 121°53′42″W / 37.43472°N 121.895°W / 37.43472; -121.895 (37.434586, -121.895059). Milpitas lies in the northeastern corner of the Santa Clara Valley, which is south of San Francisco. Milpitas is generally considered to be a San Jose suburb in the South Bay, a term used to denote the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 13.6 sq mi (35.3 km2). 13.6 sq mi (35.2 km2) of it is land and 0.050 sq mi (0.13 km2) of it (0.36%) is water.

The median elevation of Milpitas is 19 feet (6 m). At Piedmont Road, Evans Road, and North Park Victoria Avenue, the elevation is generally about 100 feet (30 m), while the western area is almost at sea level. The highest point in Milpitas is a 1,289-foot (393 m) peak in the southeastern foothills.

To the east of Milpitas is a range of high foothills and Mountains, part of the Diablo Range which runs along the east side of San Francisco Bay. Monument Peak, the most prominent summit in the eastern Milpitas hills, is one of the oldest and most well-known symbols of Milpitas. It currently has a broadcasting antenna which provides several television channels to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Although not within Milpitas' city limits, Monument Peak, Calaveras Reservoir, Arroyo Hondo, Laguna Valley, and the surrounding region are culturally and historically considered part of Milpitas. (Loomis, Patricia - Milpitas: A Century of Little Cornfields) Many Portuguese farmers from the Azores have settled there, including the Coelho, Covo, Mattos, Serpa, and Silva families. They are often nicknamed by longtime Milpitans as the "hill people." These Azorean families still own the undeveloped lands in the Milpitas foothills, such as the Silvas living on Old Calaveras Road. The southeasternmost hills belong to the City of Milpitas, which then leases the lands to cattle livestock companies.

There are also many creeks in Milpitas, most of which are part of the Berryessa Creek watershed. Calera Creek, Arroyo de los Coches, Penitencia Creek and Piedmont Creek are some of the creeks that flow from the Milpitas hills and empty into the San Francisco Bay. (See Berryessa Creek)

Urban layout

Milpitas kristin ridge way
Large, new homes on Kristinridge Way, Milpitas. Located south of the Parktown development and adjacent to Hillcrest.

Milpitas is divided into three sections by Interstates 680 and 880. To the west of I-880 is a largely industrial and commercial area. Between I-880 and its eastern counterpart freeway, I-680, is an industrial zone in the south and residential neighborhoods in the north. Other residential neighborhoods and undeveloped mountains lie east of I-680.

In reality, Milpitas has no concentrated downtown "center," but instead has several small retail centers generally located near residential developments and anchored by a supermarket. The so-called "Midtown" area, the oldest part of Milpitas, has few remaining historic residences and was the only commercial district that existed before 1945. Midtown is situated in the region where Main and Abel Streets run parallel to each other bordered by Montague Expressway in the south and Weller Street at the north end. A USPS post office, Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church, Elementary & Junior High Catholic School, the Milpitas Public Library (which incorporates the old Milpitas Grammar School building), the Smith/DeVries mansion, the Senior Center, and Elmwood Correctional Facility are all in the Midtown section of Milpitas. The Milpitas Civic Center, which includes City Hall, is not located in Midtown, but stands at the intersection of Milpitas and Calaveras Boulevards. The Civic Center is separated from Midtown by the Calaveras overpass. The boundaries that divide major Milpitas neighborhoods and districts include Calaveras Boulevard running from east to west and the Union Pacific railroad, which runs from north to south. The newest retail centers are west of Interstate 880. There are several predominantly Asian retail centers with store signs written in Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean.

Climate

MtHamilton wb
Typical oak savannah landscape. Photo of Mount Hamilton, a peak southeast of Milpitas.
See also: San Jose's climate

Set within a warm Mediterranean climate zone in Santa Clara County, Milpitas enjoys warm, sunny weather with few extreme temperatures. Rainfall is confined mostly to the winter months. During winter, temperatures are relatively warm at an average of 31 °F to 59 °F (-0.5C to 15C). Showers and cloudy days come and go during this season dropping most of the city's annual 15 inches (380 mm) of precipitation, and as spring approaches, the gentle rains gradually dwindle. In summer, the grasslands on the hillsides dehydrate rapidly and form bright, golden sheets on the mountains set off by stands of oak. Summer is dry and warm but not hot like in other parts the Bay Area. Temperatures infrequently reach over 100 °F (38 °C) with most days in the mid 70s to the high 70s. From June to September, Milpitas experiences little rain, and as autumn approaches, the weather gradually cools down. Many temperate-climate trees drop their leaves during fall in the South Bay but the winter temperature is warm enough for evergreens like palm trees to thrive.

Climate data for Milpitas, California
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 79
(26.1)
81
(27.2)
87
(30.6)
95
(35)
101
(38.3)
109
(42.8)
108
(42.2)
105
(40.6)
104
(40)
101
(38.3)
85
(29.4)
79
(26.1)
109
(42.8)
Average high °F (°C) 58
(14.4)
63
(17.2)
68
(20)
72
(22.2)
76
(24.4)
80
(26.7)
83
(28.3)
83
(28.3)
81
(27.2)
74
(23.3)
65
(18.3)
58
(14.4)
71.8
(22.08)
Average low °F (°C) 41
(5)
44
(6.7)
46
(7.8)
48
(8.9)
53
(11.7)
56
(13.3)
58
(14.4)
58
(14.4)
57
(13.9)
50
(10)
45
(7.2)
39
(3.9)
49.6
(9.77)
Record low °F (°C) 24
(-4.4)
26
(-3.3)
30
(-1.1)
35
(1.7)
37
(2.8)
42
(5.6)
47
(8.3)
47
(8.3)
42
(5.6)
36
(2.2)
21
(-6.1)
19
(-7.2)
19
(-7.2)
Precipitation inches (mm) 3.03
(77)
2.84
(72.1)
2.69
(68.3)
1.02
(25.9)
0.44
(11.2)
0.10
(2.5)
0.06
(1.5)
0.07
(1.8)
0.23
(5.8)
0.87
(22.1)
1.73
(43.9)
2.00
(50.8)
15.08
(383)

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1960 6,572
1970 26,561 304.2%
1980 37,820 42.4%
1990 50,686 34.0%
2000 62,698 23.7%
2010 66,790 6.5%
Est. 2015 77,604 16.2%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010

The 2010 United States Census reported that Milpitas had a population of 66,790. The population density was 4,896.5 people per square mile (1,890.6/km²). The racial makeup of Milpitas was 13,725 (20.5%) White, 1,969 (2.9%) African American, 309 (0.5%) Native American, 41,536 (62.2%) Asian, 346 (0.5%) Pacific Islander, 5,811 (8.7%) from other races, and 3,094 (4.6%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 11,240 persons (16.8%).

The Census reported that 64,092 people (96.0% of the population) lived in households, 104 (0.2%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 2,594 (3.9%) were institutionalized.

There were 19,184 households, out of which 8,616 (44.9%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 12,231 (63.8%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 2,279 (11.9%) had a female householder with no husband present, 1,105 (5.8%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 760 (4.0%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 100 (0.5%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 2,470 households (12.9%) were made up of individuals and 742 (3.9%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.34. There were 15,615 families (81.4% of all households); the average family size was 3.61.

The population was spread out with 15,303 people (22.9%) under the age of 18, 5,887 people (8.8%) aged 18 to 24, 21,827 people (32.7%) aged 25 to 44, 17,434 people (26.1%) aged 45 to 64, and 6,339 people (9.5%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36.1 years. For every 100 females there were 104.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 104.6 males.

There were 19,806 housing units at an average density of 1,452.0 per square mile (560.6/km²), of which 12,825 (66.9%) were owner-occupied, and 6,359 (33.1%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.2%; the rental vacancy rate was 3.1%. 42,501 people (63.6% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 21,591 people (32.3%) lived in rental housing units.

Demographic profile 2010
Total Population 66,790 - 100.0%
One Race 63,696 - 95.4%
Not Hispanic or Latino 55,550 - 83.2%
White alone 9,751 - 14.6%
Black or African American alone 1,836 - 2.7%
American Indian and Alaska Native alone 137 - 0.2%
Asian alone 41,308 - 61.8%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone 316 - 0.5%
Some other race alone 93 - 0.1%
Two or more races alone 2,109 - 3.2%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 11,240 - 16.8%

2000

As of the census of 2000, there were 62,698 people, 17,132 households, and 13,996 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,785.2/km² (4,622.9/mi²). There were 17,364 housing units at an average density of 494.4/km² (1,280.3/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 51.81% Asian, 30.87% White, 3.66% African American, 0.62% Native American, 0.63% Pacific Islander, 7.48% from other races, and 4.94% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 16.61% of the population.

There were 17,132 households out of which 43.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 65.1% were married couples living together, 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 18.3% are nonfamilies. 11.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 2.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.47, and the average family size was 3.72.

In the city, the population was spread out with 24.6% under the age of 18, 9.5% from 18 to 24, 38.0% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 7.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females, there are 110.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 111.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $84,429, and the median income for a family was $84,827 (these figures had risen to $85,186 and $91,232 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). Males had a median income of $51,316 versus $36,681 for females. The per capita income for the city was $27,823. About 3.3% of families and 5.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.5% of those under age 18 and 6.4% of those age 65 or over.

Compared to rural parts of California, living in Milpitas is more expensive, as it is throughout Silicon Valley. Compared to other South Bay bedroom communities Milpitas is considered affordable. For example, a regular one-story, detached single-family home with a 1,300-square-foot (140 m²) size sells for between $600,000 to $700,000 in the city. These prices are slightly more affordable than the rest of the San Francisco Bay Area, as a similar sized house may cost well over a million dollars in more affluent cities such as Palo Alto, Cupertino or Saratoga. Reasons for the expensive housing in the South Bay Area include the regional high tech industries, mild climate, strong foreign investment in the West Coast's housing, and a huge demand for limited homes. With the decline in the housing market, however, median sales prices in Milpitas have declined from nearly $700,000 to less than $500,000, and single-family new house construction building permits have plummeted from a 2004 average price of $949,900 to $269,400 in 2007.

2014

In 2014, Money Magazine ranked Milpitas 29th out of 50 for the best places in the USA to live.

Issues and concerns

Milpitas is a suburban community in the South Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area, and like all cities it has a few areas of concern to its citizens. Dominant among these are overcrowded schools, lack of adequate open parkland, traffic congestion, and air quality. Seekers of public offices typically face stiff competition at election time.

Pollution

Milpitas occasionally experiences odorous air traveling downwind from bay salt marshes from the Newby Island landfill from the anaerobic digestion facility at Zero Waste Energy Development Company and from the San Jose sewage treatment plant's percolation ponds. Most malodorous during the autumn, it is especially pungent west of Interstate 880 because of its close location to the San Francisco Bay and the direction of the prevailing winds out of the north-northwest. The City of Milpitas would like to remedy this air quality problem to the extent it can and encourages its residents to file odor complaints.

Local creeks and the nearby San Francisco Bay suffer somewhat from water pollution originating from street water runoff and industrial wastes. The creeks in Milpitas, especially Calera, Scott, and Berryessa Creeks, used to be prime fishing spots for native steelhead until pollutants from urban development and industry killed the fish starting in the 1950s. While small populations of steelhead and even salmon still may be seen in area streams these cannot legally be fished and consumption of legal catches is limited by mercury contamination.

The I-880 corridor has experienced relatively elevated levels of air pollution from freeway traffic. For example, eight-hour standards for carbon monoxide have been near to maximum levels for the last two decades.

Controversy

Hillside Open Space Initiative

In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Milpitas voters enacted measures to protect the west-facing hillsides east of the city from development.

Culture and recreation

Milpitas Civic Center
The future new Milpitas Senior Center (formerly Milpitas Public Library) is to the right of Milpitas City Hall, and Milpitas Community Center is on the left edge of the panorama.

Milpitas residents enjoy various visual and performing arts. The Milpitas Alliance for the Arts, founded in 1997, is an organization which promotes and funds murals, plays, sculptures, and many other forms of art. The "Art in Your Park" project has put many sculptures in local Milpitas parks, including a ceramic tower in Hillcrest Park, a sundial in Augustine Park, and a historical memorial in Murphy Park. The Celebrate Milpitas Festival is held annually every August, featuring vendors of crafts-type merchandise and providing local talent with a performance venue while selling visitors samplings of exotics like garlic fries or lumpia and even offerings from one or two Californian wineries. The suburb offers a rich variety of food options, including sit-down restaurants and fast food.

The city has many athletic and educational recreational programs which are located in several city buildings, including the city's sports center, teen center, library, community center, and senior center.

Shopping Super Centers

Milpitas is home to the largest Bay Area enclosed shopping mall (in terms of land area), the Great Mall of the Bay Area. The Great Mall is a part of the Simon mall branch and is the biggest mall/outlet shopping center in northern California. There are approximately 200 stores within the mall, with a total of 1,357,000 square feet (126,100 m2) of retail area.

A large outdoor shopping center called Milpitas Square is anchored by the 99 Ranch Market west of Interstate 880. Another shopping center in Milpitas is The Seasons Marketplace anchored by Seafood City. Other Milpitas shopping centers and plazas include Ulferts Center, Milpitas Town Center, Jacklin Square, McCarthy Ranch, Parktown Plaza, Beresford Square, and the City Square.

In the past, Milpitas had a very different culture from that of its modern suburban state. As late as the 1950s, Milpitas was an unincorporated rural town with the Midtown district on Main Street as its main center of business and social activities. Many old businesses include Main Street Gas (operated by the Azorean Spangler brothers), Smith's Corner Saloon, and Kozy Kitchen. The Cracolice Building was one of the oldest commercial buildings in Milpitas and was the site of many political conventions and meetings. "As Milpitas Goes, So Goes the State" used to be a popular slogan around the town. Most of the land now within modern-day Milpitas' boundaries was used for strawberry, asparagus, apricot, and potato cultivation until the postwar boom during the 1950s and 1960s.

Parks

Ed levin park
Ed R. Levin County Park is nestled in the foothills of Milpitas.

Ed R. Levin County Park is the largest county regional park near Milpitas. The County of Santa Clara Parks and Recreation Department runs the park. Monument Peak can be accessed through trails that lead north through the county park. The park also provides facilities for hang gliding and paragliding and includes a newly built dog park that was a joint effort by the county and the city of Milpitas. Two golf courses, Spring Valley Golf Course and Summitpointe Golf Course, are located in the Milpitas foothills. Both have expensive gated residential developments located adjacent to them. Milpitas itself has 17 traditional neighborhood parks which are generally 3 to 10 acres (12,000 to 40,000 m²). There also is a sports complex and sports parks with baseball and tennis play areas fenced off. There are also smaller parks of less than 3 acres (12,000 m2) scattered in newer developments. Milpitas has begun to develop the San Francisco Water District's Hetch Hetchy right-of-way as park land in lieu of using land from new high density residential developments adjacent to it. Together, these parks total 166 acres (670,000 m2) of land area or less than 2% of the city's acreage.

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