Gilroy (pronounced /ˈɡɪlrɔɪ/) is the southernmost city in Santa Clara County, California, United States, and in the San Francisco Bay Area. The population was 52,027 at the 2010 census. Gilroy is well known for its garlic crop and for the Gilroy Garlic Festival which occurs annually, featuring various garlicky foods including garlic ice cream. Gilroy also produces mushrooms in considerable quantity. Gilroy’s nickname is “Garlic Capital of the World,” although Gilroy does not lead the world in garlic production. While garlic is grown in Gilroy, its nickname comes from the fact that Gilroy Foods processes more garlic than any other factory in the world; most pickled, minced, and powdered garlic come from Gilroy.
Approximately eight miles northeast of Gilroy, via Gilroy Hot Springs Road, lies the famous Victorian resort Gilroy Yamato Hot Springs, a California Historical Landmark. Gilroy also is home to the Gilroy Premium Outlets, a large shopping center consisting entirely of outlet stores.
Long-time local landmarks include Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park, formerly Treehaven and then Hecker Pass. The park is located along California State Route 152 west of town. Past Gilroy Gardens on Highway 152 about twelve driving miles west of town is Mount Madonna County Park. Another large presence is the Gilroy Foods plant at 37°00′06″N 121°32′27″W / 37.00167°N 121.54083°W / 37.00167; -121.54083.
Trailblazers led by Father Junípero Serra began to arrive in the area in the 1770s, and in 1797 Mission San Juan Bautista was established near the Pajaro River. In 1809, Ygnacio Ortega was granted the 13,066-acre (52.88 km2) Spanish land concession Rancho San Ysidro. The village of San Ysidro (not to be confused with the present-day San Diego community) grew nearby, at the foot of Pacheco Pass which linked the El Camino Real and the Santa Clara Valley with the San Joaquin Valley. California’s main export at this time was tallow and thousands of barrels were produced and shipped to the rest of New Spain. Trade and diplomatic intercourse with foreigners was strictly forbidden by the royal government but was quietly performed by Californios desperate for luxury goods.
During the War of 1812, the armed merchantman Isaac Todd was sent by the North West Company to seize Fort Astoria, an American trading post at the mouth of the Columbia River. The ship departed from Portsmouth, England, made its way around Cape Horn and proceeded up the Pacific coast of the Americas, stopping at Spanish ports for supplies along the way. In January 1814, the Todd arrived at the Presidio of Monterey. During the visit, ordinary seaman John Gilroy (a Scotsman who had changed his name from John Cameron when he went to sea to avoid recognition) either jumped ship or, depending on the historical source, was left ashore to recover from scurvy. In any event he found his way to San Ysidro, converted to Roman Catholicism and became the first non-Spanish settler in Alta California legally recognized by the Spanish crown. More Americans and Europeans entered the region over time, but the area remained under the control of Spain (and after 1821, independent Mexico); Gilroy married the daughter of his employer and eventually became alcalde of the village himself.
When the annexation of California by the United States in 1848 was followed by the discovery of gold in the Sierra Nevada, the trickle of immigrants from the eastern states became frequent. As many of the original Californio landowners sold off their land, lost it to squatters or were dispossessed through title hearings, the area around San Ysidro became known as Pleasant Valley. On March 12, 1870 it was officially incorporated by the state legislature as the town of Gilroy (John Gilroy had died in 1869). By then the town center had been relocated west of the El Camino Real (the locale of the original village is today a sparsely populated area known as Old Gilroy). Cattle ranching and timber from the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains were important to the economy for some time, but as in the rest of the valley agriculture was the town’s greatest source of income. Farming remains significant, but in the 1970s the city began evolving into a bedroom community for Silicon Valley to the north.
There are a number of extant historical buildings dating from the mid-19th century. Built in 1857, the Christian Church at 160 Fifth Street is the oldest wood framed church in Santa Clara County in continuous use. Blacksmith George Eustice’s house at 213 Fifth Street was constructed in 1869; Eustice was an American Civil War veteran who fought at Gettysburg. Samuel Moore was a long time Gilroy postmaster, whose home was built in the 1870s at 7151 Church Street. Nearby to the northeast is the historic resort site Gilroy Yamato Hot Springs, developed in the late 19th century.
Continental Telephone offered manual telephone service until the arrival of dial phones in the late 1940s. Manual service in Gilroy used magneto phones which required the user to turn a crank in order to generate ringing battery, ringing the operator’s switchboard. There were dry cell batteries inside the phones to provide talk battery.
Some manual service in rural Gilroy was on party lines with complicated ringing schemes. Users heard their own rings and rings directed at other party line users. In theory, subscribers only answered their own ring. One rancher reported his ring to be, “two long and two short.” Users could call someone on their own party line if they knew their ring. If their ring was “two short,” for example, the user would turn the magneto crank to generate two short rings and then wait on the line. If the user didn’t know their ring, the operator would help. Some manual service customers had private lines. With the acquisition of ConTel by General Telephone in the 1980s, Gilroy now has service from Verizon (General Telephone, or GTE, became part of Verizon in June 2000).
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Geography and environment
Gilroy is located at 37°00′43″N 121°34′48″W / 37.012048°N 121.580080°W / 37.012048; -121.580080. It is approximately 26 km (16 mi) south of San Jose, California (Bailey Avenue (37.206770, -121.729150) to Monterey/Day Road (37.038210, -121.584480)) on U.S. Route 101 and 31 km (19.2 mi) inland from the Pacific Coast. Lying in a southern extension of the Santa Clara Valley at an elevation of about 61 m (200 ft) above MSL, it is bounded by the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west and the Diablo Range to the east. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 41.1 km² (15.9 mi²). 41.1 km² (15.9 mi²) of it is land and 0.06% is water.
Contributing to environmental noise are primarily U.S. Route 101, El Camino Real, Leavesley Road and other major arterials. The number of people exposed to sound levels above 60 CNEL is approximately 4,000.
Due to the moderating influence of the Pacific Ocean, Gilroy enjoys a warm, Mediterranean climate. Temperatures range from an average midsummer maximum of 32.3°C (90.2°F) to an average midwinter low of 0.9°C (33.6°F). Average annual precipitation is 480 mm (18.9 in), and the summer months are typically dry. Snowfall is rare, about once every 20 years, and is light and short-lived when it occurs. Summer months are characterized by coastal fog which arrives from the ocean around 10 p.m. and dissipates the next morning by 10 a.m. Winter months have many sunny and partly cloudy days, with frequent breaks between rainstorms. The local terrain is inconducive to tornadoes, severe windstorms, and thunderstorms. The local climate supports chaparral and grassland biomes, with stands of live oak at higher elevations.
Average January temperatures are a maximum of around 60°F and a minimum of around 40°F. Average July temperatures are a maximum of around 90°F and a minimum of around 60°F. There are an average of 33.0 days with highs of 100°F ( 37.7°C) or possible higher and an average of 18.0 days with lows of 32°F (0°C) or possible lower. The record high temperature of 115°F was on July 15, 1972. The record low temperature of 17°F was on December 22, 1990.
There are an average of 58 days with measurable precipitation. The wettest year was 1983 with 37.76 inches and the dryest year was 1977 with 11.17 inches. The most rainfall in one month was 14.64 inches in January 1914.
As of the United States 2000 Census, there were 41,464 people, 11,869 households, and 9,590 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,615.2/mi² (1,010.1/km²). There were 12,152 housing units at an average density of 296.0/km² (766.5/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 58.91% White, 1.80% African American, 1.59% Native American, 4.37% Asian, 0.25% Pacific Islander, 27.73% from other races, and 5.35% from two or more races. 53.78% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 11,869 households out of which 47.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.8% were married couples living together, 14.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 19.2% were non-families. 14.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.46 and the average family size was 3.74.
In the city the population was spread out with 32.6% under the age of 18, 10.0% from 18 to 24, 32.7% from 25 to 44, 18.0% from 45 to 64, and 6.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 99.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $66,401, and the median income for a family was $80,371. Males had a median income of $45,759 versus $34,710 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,071. About 7.3% of families and 10.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.8% of those under 18 and 6.5% of those 65 and older.
Annual cultural events
Parks and recreation
- Coyote Lake-Harvey Bear Ranch County Park, immediately east of Gilroy
- Gilroy Gardens, a few miles west of Gilroy on State Route 152.
In the state legislature Gilroy is located in the 13th Senate District, represented by Democrat Elaine Alquist, and in the 28th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Anna M. Caballero. Federally, Gilroy is located in California’s 15th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D +14 and is represented by Democrat Mike Honda.
- Gavilan College
- Gilroy High School
- Gilroy Early College Academy (GECA)
- Christopher High School
- Mt. Madonna High School
- South Valley Middle School
- Brownell Middle School
- Ascencion Solorsano Middle School
- Rucker Elementary School
- Elliot Elementary School
- Glen View Elementary School
- Las Animas Elementary School
- Antonio del Buono Elementary School
- Luigi Aprea Elementary School
- El Roble Elementary School
- Rod Kelley Elementary School
- U.S. Route 101
- State Route 152 – Several proposals to improve eastbound State Routes 152 and 156 are stalled because of funding concerns.
- The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority provides local buses and express buses to San Jose and Sunnyvale.
- Caltrain provides weekday rush-hour commuter rail service to the Santa Clara Valley and the San Francisco Peninsula.
- Amtrak California‘s Capitol Corridor line runs a San Jose-Santa Barbara Thruway Motorcoach connection with a stop in Gilroy.
- Monterey-Salinas Transit‘s Line 55, which stops in Gilroy, is a rush-hour San Jose-Monterey express bus that also serves as an Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach connection.
- San Benito County Express provides intercounty bus service to Hollister and San Juan Bautista.