San Jose: Introduction

Once a quiet, medium-sized city at the center of a thriving agricultural area, San Jose was transformed in less than 30 years into a huge metropolis and a phenomenon in U.S. economic history. As the result of the computer revolution, San Jose became the capital of the "Silicon Valley," a vast complex of electronics industries that stretches throughout California's Santa Clara County. From 1950 to 1980, a period of tremendous growth and prosperity, the population of San Jose increased fourfold. Like other major urban areas, however, the city has been forced to confront the problems that come with unbridled development: traffic congestion, air pollution, housing shortages, and a strained infrastructure. A 1985 recession in the Silicon Valley produced a stagnant economy, from which the city recovered by the twenty-first century. San Jose consistently ranks high in polls that rate cities for business climate, livability, and fun.