The History of Los Gatos, California

By Ben Loomis – DSC_9441.jpg, CC BY 2.0,

The town of Los Gatos is situated at the base of the Sierra Azules, approximately 60 miles south of San Francisco, in the southwestern part of Santa Clara County, where the Santa Clara Valley meets the lower slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Los Gatos is surrounded by the City of San Jose to the north and east; the City of Campbell to the north; the City of Monte Sereno and Saratoga to the west; and the Unincorporated County of Santa Clara and the County of Santa Cruz to the south.

The Los Gatos Planning Area covers a wide range of terrain, ranging from flat topography on the edge of the valley floor to heavily wooded hillsides. The valley and the hillsides are interspersed with creeks, streams and riparian habitat. The strong contrast between the valley floor and the hillsides gives the city a picturesque context.


Los Gatos is one of the oldest villages in Santa Clara County. In 1840, the Mexican government granted Sebastian Peralta and Jose Hernandez a land patent for a 6,600-acre rancho. Los Gatos was originally called La Rinconada de Los Gatos (Cat’s Corner) by the early settlers due to the screams of mountain lions in the night. In 1868, 100 acres of rancho was chosen as the site of the settlement. The town was incorporated in 1887, and by 1890 the population of the town had increased to 1,652. When the first General Plan was implemented in 1963, the town had expanded to nearly 4,000 acres, or 6.3 square miles, with a population of more than 11,750.

At the time of the revision of the first General Plan in 1971, the town had expanded to an area of 9 square miles with a population of 24,350. In 1984, Los Gatos occupied about 10 square miles and had a population of 27,820. Today, the population of the city is estimated to be 30,391 in a 14 square mile area. While most of the growth in the 1970’s was due to new developments, most of the growth in the 1980’s and 1990’s was due to annexations, in-fill development and changing demographics.

The town originally developed at a distance from other population centers and thus developed as an autonomous city of residential , commercial and industrial areas. The economy of the town has shifted from wheat farming, milling, logging, orchards and canning in the 19th and early 20th centuries to the suburban, high-tech, visitor-oriented sector of today. The railroad also played a major role in the growth and development of the Town, with Los Gatos being either the terminus of the railroad or the transfer point from the standard to the narrow gauge at more than one time during the railroad service. The environment and convenient rail access from San Francisco have made Los Gatos an early tourist destination. Today, the city is located within the largest metropolitan area of northern California and is closely connected to Silicon Valley and its fast paced economy. Los Gatos, however, retains a mix of residential, commercial and light industrial uses, still attracts visitors, and continues to retain its small town image.

The town of Los Gatos is served by the VTA (Valley Transportation Authority) which also serves the majority of the county of Santa Clara, including San Jose.

The two Los Gatos Neighborhood Busses operate from Santa Cruz and Main to the Winchester Transit Center, 49 via Los Gatos Boulevard and 48 via Winchester.

For rail transport, the nearby town of Santa Clara has the closest railway station to Caltrain, and the nearby town of Campbell provides access to the VTA light rail network via Winchester, Downtown Campbell and Hamilton stations. The nearest international airports for air travel are San Jose International Airport (SJC), San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Oakland International Airport (OAK). Many of these airports are used for air travel by people around the Bay Area.

Los Gatos prides itself on being a self-contained culture. Over 3,000 businesses serve residents and serve as a hub for tourists who are drawn to its restaurants , hotels and a variety of shops within walking distance of the city centre. The city is also an inclusive environment with a complete mix of age, family size and income. Los Gatos has many parks and green belts, as well as a lively downtown area. Downtown Los Gatos is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a model of what the communities are trying to do in the downtown.

This amazing town of Los Gatos, California prides itself to have many must-see landmarks you don’t want to miss:

  • New Museum Los Gatos
  • Vasona Lake County Park
  • Los Gatos Creek Trail Urban
  • Oak Meadow Park
  • Testarossa Winery
  • Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad 
  • Fantasy Of Lights
  • St. Joseph’s Hill Preserve
  • Venture Christian Church

All of these wonderful landmarks are located just a short distance from our location located at 3880 South Bascom Avenue in San Jose, California! Stop by for a visit anytime!

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