But, there was a price to pay...
Silicon Valley's growth over the centuries hasn't been without turmoil. Technological advances have had pages of San Jose history blotched with the razing of many memorable landmarks. Boom times inflicted a painful blow on the architectural heritage of some fine monuments and buildings of the Valley and many are on the endangered list.
It was somewhere around in the 80s that land speculators foresaw a boom in the offing. The real estate market was hot and developers went on a buying spree. City ordinances and civic council laws came breathing down on old buildings and many were razed to the ground, as space became scarce. Housing projects sprung up all over as hundreds of new jobs were created and thousands new people came to live in Silicon Valley. For example, in the 1960s, much of the downtown areas of cities such as San Jose and Santa Clara were flattened to make way for new buildings.
Obviously there was public outcry. Fortunately, it did dawn on the authorities that there was something called the character of communities that needed to be preserved as well. As a result, many historic landmarks of Silicon Valley were preserved at exorbitant cost. Many of them today have been converted into museums for posterity's sake.
Today, it's "San Jose Beautiful..."
San Jose was cited by Financial World Magazine as one of the best-managed cities of America. San Jose is committed to its mission of delivering the highest quality service in a most cost-effective manner. It has a budget of 1.6 billion dollars, which allows the city to a range of top quality services to its residents and businesses. The budget is broken up into a General Fund, a Capital Fund and a Special Fund. Each of these funds have budget provisions for things like Public Safety, Community Services, Transportation, Water Pollution Control Plants, Sewage Management, Housing and so on.
In 1986 the Mayor and the City Council launched an initiative called "San Jose Beautiful". The prime objective was to foster a greater sense of pride in the community and to re-establish the colorful, fruitful heritage of San Jose. Grants are provided for beautification projects in highly visible areas such as Theme, Cultural or Educational gardens, landscaping projects, Life Lab projects that teach science nutrition and the benefits of horticulture through active participation and curriculum. Provide educational enrichment opportunities for residents and visitors. Promote and preserve the cultural heritage of the community by enlisting participation and secure long-term maintenance assurances. At the school level, a competition is held each year to determine the cleanest school campus in the city of San Jose. This helps create the opportunity to expand environmental awareness and to encourage students to think about the important role they can play in caring for their city.
Today the Silicon Valley can boast of 37 cultural festivals each year, 125 art groups, 208 parks spread across a total area of 3620 acres, 19 libraries, 2200 miles of street and an International Airport that can handle annual traffic exceeding 10.5 million passengers. Not to mention pot-holed free roads and city streetlights that burn with no fear of power failure. Where life is hectic and yet there's enough time for those who wish to enjoy it. Where the powers-that-be cares for the city and community and where one takes pride to be a part of the only one of its kind - THE Silicon Valley.
Rich, New kids on the block...
Stock markets dip, turn and rise. Financial newspaper headlines shout aloud achievements on a day-to-day basis. Tinkering sounds can be heard in garages, the types that give birth to start-ups. Success stories are topics of discussion in bars and restaurants. Not to mention street corners. Buy-over, acquisitions, mergers, alliances are constantly in the news. No gossip. Just facts. And all this can happen only in Silicon Valley.
Marc Andreessen was just a student in the University of Illinois and he was already working on the web browser. Soon, he and Jim Clarke founded Netscape Communications Corporation, which was later acquired by America Online.
Two Stanford University graduates, Jerry Yang and David Filo were breaking their heads in compiling information for the Internet. Their idea was good. Someone invested and after they went IPO, the duo made millions. They had created "Yahoo!"
A typically real-life situation gave Pierre Omidyar the idea of an online auction. All he was trying to do was help his girlfriend sell her collection of Pez dispensers. He created "ebay" in 1998 that revolutionized retailing and today Omidyar is a happy member of the billionaires club.
And then there is Steve Jobs, who founded Apple Corporation. Steve has had his share of ups and downs but his dynamic spirit and relentless enthusiasm reflects the Silicon Valley attitude. Not to mention the millions his product, the Macintosh has raked in.
Like someone said "Silicon Valley isn't about the place; its about a state of mind."