|City of Milpitas|
Milpitas City Hall
Location in Santa Clara County and the state of California
|Incorporated||January 26, 1954|
|o Mayor||Richard Tran|
|o Vice Mayor||Marsha Grilli|
|o Councilmember||Garry Barbadillo|
|o Councilmember||Bob Nunez|
|o Councilmember||Anthony Phan|
|o Total||13.62 sq mi (35.27 km2)|
|o Land||13.58 sq mi (35.17 km2)|
|o Water||0.04 sq mi (0.10 km2) 0.36%|
|Elevation||20 ft (6 m)|
|o Estimate (2016)||77,528|
|o Density||5,708.56/sq mi (2,204.08/km2)|
|City population is a 2015 estimate by the Census Bureau.|
|Time zone||UTC−8 (Pacific)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC−7 (PDT)|
|ZIP codes||95035, 95036|
|GNIS feature IDs||1659759, 2411113|
Milpitas 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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
Milpitas is located at  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.(37.434586, -121.895059).
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)
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.
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|
|Record high °F (°C)||79
|Average high °F (°C)||58
|Average low °F (°C)||41
|Record low °F (°C)||24
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||3.03
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.
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.
The city is headed by five-member city council consisting of a mayor, a vice mayor, and three councilmembers. As of 2015, the mayor is Rich Tran, the vice mayor is Marsha Grilli, and the councilmembers are Garry Barbadillo, Bob Nunez and Anthony Phan. The city manager is . The police chief is Steve Pangelinan. The fire chief is Robert Mihovich. The finance director is Will Fuentes. The city clerk is Mary Lavelle.
The Milpitas Town Seal was the idea of member Betty McDermott's husband John, who came up with the idea for a seal of the Minuteman from one of his son's history books. He designed the seal and took it to Arnie's Signs and had 4,000 decals made. The city's seal shows Daniel Chester French's Minuteman statue, musket in hand, standing in the Santa Clara Valley, with the golden hills of Milpitas rising to the east. He faces defiantly south toward San Jose because early residents of Milpitas considered themselves as minutemen when they defeated efforts by San Jose to annex newly incorporated Milpitas.
Milpitas ranks first in the United States with the largest percent of residents employed in the computer and electronic products industry. 34.1% of Men and 26.9% of Women are employed in this industry.
While over 75% of people who live in Milpitas work out of the city; the daytime population of Milpitas actually increases by nearly 20% as there are more people living in other cities who work in Milpitas than people living in Milpitas who work in other cities. This results in heavy traffic commutes along key arterial roads twice each day.
Milpitas is home to the headquarters of Adaptec, Intersil, Viavi Solutions and Lumentum Holdings (formerly JDSU), KLA-Tencor, Linear Technology, LTX-Credence, SCA, Sigma Designs, and Flex. Many other companies have offices in Milpitas including Quantum, Maxtor, Cisco Systems, Avaya, Seagate Technology, LifeScan, Phoenix Technologies and International Microsystems Inc.
According to the City's 2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:
|#||Employer||# of Employees|
|6||Milpitas Unified School District||865|
Milpitas' public schools are run by the Milpitas Unified School District (MUSD). The school district was originally Milpitas Elementary S.D. when it was started as a separate district in the 1950s. Formerly, James Lick High School in Alum Rock was the closest high school to Milpitas. Samuel Ayer High School (now the Milpitas Sports Center, Teen Center, Calaveras Hills HS., and Adult Education Center) on Calaveras Road was built as the only high school located in the city. In the late 1960s MUSD was formed and included Ayer High which had previously been part of East Side Union High School District. In the 1970s, Milpitas High School was built on Escuela Parkway and, due to declining enrollment, Samuel Ayer High School closed. Currently Milpitas High is one of the biggest high schools in the county, with approximately 3000 students. The continuation school, Calaveras Hills High School is one of the best schools for "at risk" students in the state. CHHS was designated a California Model Continuation High School.
Milpitas unified API score for 2013 is 851. Additionally, Milpitas schools have consistently attained API growth year over year. In 2013, two Milpitas Elementary schools, Sinnott and Curtner achieved scores of 927 and 922 respectively.
|Elementary School||2013 API Score|
|Middle School||2013 API Score|
|High School||2013 API Score|
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.
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.
In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Milpitas voters enacted measures to protect the west-facing hillsides east of the city from development.
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.
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.
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 with two swimming pools 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.
From north to south, the major east-west roads in Milpitas are Dixon Landing Road, Jacklin Road, Calaveras Boulevard, and Landess Avenue/Montague Expressway. From east to west, the major north-south roads are Piedmont Road, Evans Road, Park Victoria Drive, Milpitas Boulevard, Main Street, Abel Street, and McCarthy Boulevard. Milpitas roads that reach into the hills are, from north to south, Country Club Drive, Old Calaveras Road, Calaveras Road, and a private ranch drive, the historic Urridias Ranch Road.
As with many other Californian suburbs, Milpitas has divided roads that are maintained well by the local city government. Street signs are in green, as opposed to San Jose's blue ones. Like the San Jose public works system, all pedestrians must manually press a button in order to turn the pedestrian signal lights on (unlike the South Bay cities, San Francisco has automatic pedestrian lights at intersections and does not have "press to cross" buttons for pedestrians).
Not all streets in Milpitas have bicycle lanes or sidewalks. It has a walk score of 44. Piedmont Road, Evans Road, and Jacklin Road have excellent bike lanes and sidewalks with ample spacing, but Montague Expressway and South Milpitas Boulevard have limited sidewalks and narrow bike lanes, which causes some problems for workers commuting by bike or on foot. The roads most favorable for recreational jogging and biking are Evans and Piedmont Roads.
State Route 237, Interstate 680, and Interstate 880 link Milpitas to the rest of the Bay Area. Interstates 680 and 880 lead north to Fremont and south to downtown San Jose. On the other hand, Highway 237 begins at Milpitas and goes west to Sunnyvale and Mountain View.
The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) runs light rail (high-speed transit) and local buses for public transportation. The northernmost stations of the Alum Rock - Santa Teresa light rail line serve the city. Three light rail stations lie within city limits: Montague, Great Mall/Main, and I-880/Milpitas. VTA bus routes in Milpitas are 46, 47, 66, 70, 71, 77.
The Altamont Corridor Express provides 4 morning express train service towards Milpitas from neighboring cities in San Joaquin and Alameda County, and 4 returning evening trips. Although the nearest stop is located near Great America Park, in San Jose, shuttle buses are provided with stops in Milpitas.
The nearest airports to the city are the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) and Reid-Hillview Airport in East San Jose, the latter which is for small private airplanes. Although Milpitas is bordered by the San Francisco Bay in the extreme northwest, that area is not accessible to ships and boats. But, someday if the un-incorporated city of Alviso becomes part of Milpitas, one would be able to access Alviso marina and it can be made as a boat launching spot. Being landlocked, the city depends on the Port of Oakland for oceangoing freight and on the Union Pacific Railroad for cargo transport.
Like most other Bay Area cities, USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL are readily available to Milpitas. The USPS post office on Abel Street is Milpitas' main office for postal mail and is the only USPS post office in the city. ZIP code 95035 is exclusively for Milpitas and is the only standard ZIP code for the city. 95036 is a new ZIP that is used sometimes for post office boxes in Milpitas. Until the merge with SBC, Milpitas had relied on Pacific Bell for its telecommunications services. American Telegraph and Telephone (AT&T) acquired Southern Bell (SBC) in 2006 and became the land-line telephone provider in the city. As part of the agreement for the merger of AT&T with SBC, Milpitas residents were offered high speed DSL internet access with AT&T for only $10 per month until December 2009, although few residents were aware of the offer.
On Earth Day, April 22, 2009, the public-private partnership Silicon Valley Unwired announced the implementation of a free municipal WiFi wireless network for the entire city. After the Google WiFi network in Mountain View, it is the second municipal wireless network, providing free Internet access.
The Milpitas Monster was filmed in the town in 1976. Originally started as a high school project it developed into a feature-length film. In the quiet town of Milpitas, California, a gigantic creature is spawned in a polluted, overflowing waste disposal site. The townspeople rally to destroy the creature, which has an uncontrollable desire to consume large quantities of garbage cans.
The movie River's Edge was inspired by the true story of a murder that happened in Milpitas in 1981. It is a story about a teenage boy that murders a classmate and shows off the body to his friends. The names and races of the individuals involved were changed. The story was "Hollywood-ized" for dramatic purposes. The filmmakers added stories that did not occur and characters that did not exist. It starred some relatively unknown actors at the time, including Keanu Reeves, Crispin Glover and Ione Skye, as well as veteran actor Dennis Hopper. The movie was inspired by the murder of Marcy Renee Conrad who was killed by a fellow teen named Anthony Broussard. He later dumped her body in a ditch in the east foothills of Milpitas.
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The following books on Milpitas have been used as significant references for this article. Many of the books are not available at a regular store or are out of print, but all are available at the Milpitas branch of the Santa Clara County Library. These books are also recommended as resources for further reading.