LIFE + LEISURE
Welcome to Campbell!
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Ranked the #2 best suburb to live in on the West Coast by Sunset Magazine, Campbell offers a lifestyle unlike many others. The vibrant downtown with many dining and shopping options, plus the soon to be revamped Pruneyard Center make living in Campbell a real treat. Enjoy weekly farmer’s markets with fresh, local organic produce every Sunday in the heart of Downtown, summer concert series on Thursdays, and various holiday festivals throughout the year. Other events in Campbell include a Spring and Fall wine walk, First Fridays and Second Saturdays with art and street entertainment, Boogie on the Avenue, and Oktoberfest. Take a drive through the town and you’ll quickly realize why so many people in the Bay Area are choosing Campbell as their new home.
A little Campbell history ….
In 1851, five years after arriving in California, Benjamin Campbell purchased 160 acres of former Mission grazing land. He then traveled back east to Missouri to marry his sweetheart, Mary Louise Rucker. In 1852, Benjamin Campbell led a wagon train back to Campbell, California. The Campbells, like many others, soon built a farmhouse and began growing wheat. The tree-lined driveway to the Campbell ranch house is now Campbell Avenue.
In the 1870s, as fruit orchards sprung up throughout the valley, the Campbells and other ranchers granted the South Pacific Coast Railroad a right of way through their land to help transport crops to outside markets. In 1886, with the building of a small depot called “Campbell Station,” the town became a hub of activity. In 1888, Ben and Mary Campbell started to subdivide their land, eventually becoming downtown Campbell.
The completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 allowed Santa Clara Valley farmers to open up the agricultural market to consumers back East. Fruit orchards and small family farms became a way of life in the valley. Campbell became known as the “Orchard City.” Its economy and population began to develop around the thriving food-growing industry.
As early as 1887 many local orchardists began to pool their crops to sell to packers in the Santa Clara Valley. By banding together in cooperatives, farmers found they could weather the ups and downs of a fickle economy. In 1892, the Campbell Fruit Growers Union formed. Grower-owned companies and cooperatives became the industry standard. By 1917, Campbell’s two main cooperatives, the Campbell Fruit Growers Union and the Campbell Farmers Union Packing Company were absorbed into the statewide California Prune and Apricot Growers Union (which was widely known as Sunsweet).
Vast improvements in commercial canning methods occurred during the 1890s. The town was becoming renowned for its fruit products and some of the finest canneries in California. By 1900, the advent of new canning machinery was making mass production a reality. While family–run orchards still surrounded the town, canneries and drying yards provided work for hundreds of people, creating an economy that helped the tiny town grow and develop.
In 1952, the City of Campbell finally voted for incorporation. Today, Campbell proudly retains its small town identity. The valley orchards have given way to highways, homes, and high tech industries. Through all of these changes the people of this valley – their energy, creativity, and industry – continue to make Campbell a part of the “Valley of Heart’s Delight.”
In the early 1990s, the Ainsley House a unique English Tudor-style house built in 1925, was moved from its original site at the corner of Hamilton and Bascom Avenues (the current site of eBay’s headquarters) to the downtown quad and furnished with many of the Ainsley family's original furnishings. It has become the centerpiece for the Ainsley House and Campbell Historical Museum, which houses additional exhibits in the nearby old firehouse. The Ainsley House was built in the style of English country cottages for John Colpitts Ainsley, a canning pioneer in Santa Clara County, which was at the time known for its vast spreads of fruit orchards.
The Campbell Community Center is located on the northwest corner of Winchester and Campbell Avenues, in the building that used to be Campbell High School, the original school in the Campbell Union High School District. The Redwood Tree, which stands at the corner of Winchester Boulevard and Campbell Avenue was originally planted there on May 11, 1903 by then President, Teddy Roosevelt. The city acquired the property on August 1, 1985, five years after the school shut down. The Heritage Theater, formerly the high school's auditorium, was reopened after renovations in 2004 as an entertainment and event venue. The Community Center holds classes, and portions are available to be rented for various events.
The Campbell Water Tower is a highly visible remnant of Campbell's "small town" past and located on the site of the original city water company and pumping plant near downtown.
For the better part of a century, the water tower has stood as the symbol of Campbell, with its logo adorning city street signs and community fliers. Its historical significance to the city today can be traced back more than a 100 years, when the Orchard City really lived up to its nickname.
These days, the Campbell water tower serves simply as a beacon of the community that houses it. As the bustling downtown district eventually develops with mixed-use and multi-story buildings, the Campbell water tower will continue to stand tall as the constant link to the city’s agricultural past.
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