Sunnyvale (/ˈsʌnivl, vəl/) is a city located in Santa Clara County, California. As of the 2010 United States Census, the population was 140,095.

Sunnyvale is the seventh most populous city in the San Francisco Bay Area and one of the major cities comprising Silicon Valley. It is bordered by portions of San Jose to the north, Moffett Federal Airfield to the northwest, Mountain View to the west, Los Altos to the southwest, Cupertino to the south, and Santa Clara to the east. It lies along the historic El Camino Real and Highway 101.

As part of California's high-tech area known as Silicon Valley, Sunnyvale is the headquarters location of many technology companies and is a major operating center for many more. It is also home to several aerospace/defense companies. Sunnyvale was also the home to Onizuka Air Force Station, often referred to as "the Blue Cube" due to the color and shape of its windowless main building. The facility, previously known as Sunnyvale Air Force Station, was named for the deceased Space Shuttle Challenger astronaut Ellison Onizuka. It served as an artificial satellite control facility of the United States armed forces until August 2010 and has since been decommissioned and demolished.

Sunnyvale is one of the few U.S. cities to have a single unified Department of Public Safety, where all personnel are trained as firefighters, police officers, and EMTs, so they can respond to an emergency in any of the three roles.

Library services for the city are provided by the Sunnyvale Public Library, located at the Sunnyvale Civic Center.


Libby Water Tower, a heritage landmark in Sunnyvale[8]

When the Spanish first arrived in the 1770s at the Santa Clara Valley, it was heavily populated by the Ohlone Native Americans.[9] However early on with the arrival of the Spaniards, smallpox, measles and other new diseases greatly reduced the Ohlone population.[9] In 1777, Mission Santa Clara was founded by Franciscan missionary Padre Junipero Serra and was originally located in San Jose (near what is now the San Jose International Airport runway).[9]


In 1842, Rancho Pastoria de las Borregas was granted to Francisco Estrada and his wife Inez Castro. Portions of the land given in this grant later developed into the cities of Mountain View and Sunnyvale. Two years later, in 1844, another land grant was provided to Lupe Yñigo, one of the few Native Americans to hold land grants. His land grant was first called Rancho Posolmi, named in honor of a village of the Ohlone that once stood in the area. Rancho Posolmi was later known as Rancho Ynigo.

Martin Murphy Jr. came to California with his father as part of the Stephens-Townsend-Murphy Party in 1844. In 1850, Martin Murphy Jr. bought a piece of Rancho Pastoria de las Borregas for $12,500. Murphy established a wheat farm and ranch named Bay View. Murphy had the first wood frame house in Santa Clara County; it was shipped from New England. The house was demolished in 1961 but was reconstructed in 2008 as the Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum. When he died in 1884, his land was divided among his heirs.

In 1860, The San Francisco and San Jose Rail Road was allowed to lay tracks on Bay View and established Murphy Station. Lawrence Station was later established on the southern edge of Bay View.

In the 1870s, small fruit orchards replaced many large wheat farms, because wheat farming turned uneconomical due to county and property tax laws, imports and soil degradation.[10] In 1871, Dr. James M. Dawson and his wife Eloise (née Jones) established the first fruit cannery in the county.[10][11] Fruit agriculture for canning soon became a major industry in the county. The invention of the refrigerated rail car further increased the viability of an economy based upon fruit. The fruit orchards became so prevalent that in 1886, the San Jose Board of Trade called Santa Clara County the "Garden of the World".

In the 1880s, Chinese workers made up roughly one third of the farm labor in Santa Clara County.[12] This percentage reduced over time after the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed. In the following decade, the 1890s, many immigrants from Italy, the Azores, Portugal, and Japan arrived to work in the orchards.

In 1897, Walter Everett Crossman bought 200 acres (809,000 m2) and began selling real estate. He advertised the area as "Beautiful Murphy" and later, in the 1900s, as "the City of Destiny". Also in 1897, Encina School opened as the first school in Murphy. Previously, children in the town had to travel to Mountain View for school.


In 1901, the residents of Murphy were informed they could not use the names Encinal or Murphy for their post office. Sunnyvale was given its current name on March 24, 1901. It was named Sunnyvale as it is located in a sunny region adjacent to areas with significantly more fog.[13]

Sunnyvale continued to grow and in 1904, dried fruit production began. Two years later, Libby, McNeill & Libby, a Chicago meat-packing company, decided to open its first fruit-packing factory in Sunnyvale. Today, a water tower painted to resemble the first Libby's fruit cocktail can label identifies the former site of the factory.

Also in 1906, the Joshua Hendy Iron Works relocated from San Francisco to Sunnyvale after the company's building was destroyed by fire after the 1906 earthquake. The ironworks was the first non-agricultural industry in the town. The company later switched from producing mining equipment to other products such as marine steam engines.

In 1912, the residents of Sunnyvale voted to incorporate, and Sunnyvale became an official city.

Fremont High School first opened in 1923.

In 1930, Congress decided to place the West Coast dirigible base in Sunnyvale. This naval airfield was later renamed Moffett Naval Air Station and then Moffett Federal Airfield and is commonly called Moffett Field.

In 1939, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA, the forerunner of NASA) began research at Ames Laboratory.

During World War II, the war economy began a change from the fruit industry to the high-tech industry in Santa Clara County. The Joshua Hendy Iron Works built marine steam engines, naval guns and rocket launchers to aid in the war effort. As the defense industry grew, a shortage of workers in the farm industry was created. Immigrants from Mexico came to Sunnyvale to fill this void of workers.

Following the war, the fruit orchards and sweetcorn farms were cleared to build homes, factories and offices. In 1956, the aircraft manufacturer Lockheed moved its headquarters to Sunnyvale. Since then, numerous high-tech companies have established offices and headquarters in Sunnyvale, including Advanced Micro Devices and Yahoo. The first prototype of Pong, one of the first arcade videogames, was installed in Sunnyvale in August 1972, in a bar named Andy Capp's Tavern,[14][15] now Rooster T. Feathers.[16] By 2002, the few remaining orchards had been replaced with homes and shops. However, there are still city-owned orchards, such as the Heritage Orchard next to the Sunnyvale Community Center.

In 1979, an indoor mall called Sunnyvale Town Center opened in what used to be a traditional downtown shopping district. After years of successful operation, the mall started to decline in the 1990s. After numerous changes in plans and ownership, the mall was demolished in 2007.


Sunnyvale celebrated its one-hundredth anniversary on August 25, 2012.

In November 2009, previously closed portions of the main streets in downtown Sunnyvale were reopened as part of the ongoing downtown redevelopment of the Sunnyvale Town Center mall, marking the first time in over three decades that those street blocks have been open to vehicle and pedestrian traffic. In December 2009, work was started to finish the exteriors of the residential buildings on McKinley Ave and Washington Ave, the two office towers on Mathilda and weatherize the remaining partially completed Redwood Square buildings until the project's resolution can be determined. The two office towers are now fully occupied by Apple and Nokia.

Mixed-use developments have been built at the former Town and Country location near the Plaza del Sol just north of Murphy Avenue. As of mid-2015 there are new mulitistory apartment complexes plus a number of ground-floor businesses.


Sunnyvale is located at 37°22′7.56″N 122°2′13.4″W / 37.3687667°N 122.037056°W / 37.3687667; -122.037056.[17]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 22.7 sq mi (58.8 km2), of which, 22.0 sq mi (56.9 km2) of it is land and 0.69 sq mi (1.8 km2) of it (3.09%) is water. Its elevation is 130 feet above sea level.


Like most of the San Francisco Bay Area, Sunnyvale has a Mediterranean climate, with mild, moist winters and comfortably warm, very dry summers. Average daytime summer temperatures are in the high 70s, and during the winter, average daytime high temperatures rarely stay below 50 °F (10 °C). Snowfall is rare, but on January 21, 1962, and February 5, 1976, measurable snowfall occurred in Sunnyvale and most of the San Francisco Bay Area. Sunnyvale was briefly hit by tornados in 1998, but otherwise they are extremely rare.[18][19][20][21]

Climate data for Sunnyvale, California
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 75
Average high °F (°C) 58
Average low °F (°C) 40
Record low °F (°C) 21
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.24
Source: National Weather Service[22]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1930 3,094
1940 4,373 41.3%
1950 9,829 124.8%
1960 59,898 509.4%
1970 95,976 60.2%
1980 106,618 11.1%
1990 117,229 10.0%
2000 131,760 12.4%
2010 140,081 6.3%
Est. 2016 152,771 [7] 9.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[23]
Standard marker at city entrances

The 2010 United States Census[24] reported that Sunnyvale had a population of 140,081. The population density was 6,173.9 people per square mile (2,383.8/km2). The racial makeup of Sunnyvale was 60,193 (43.0%) White, 2,735 (2.0%) African American, 662 (0.5%) Native American, 57,320 (40.9%) Asian, 638 (0.5%) Pacific Islander, 12,177 (8.7%) from other races, and 6,356 (4.5%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 26,517 persons (18.9%). Non-Hispanic Whites were 34.5% of the population in 2010,[25] compared to 74.7% in 1980.[26]

The Census reported that 139,232 people (99.4% of the population) lived in households, 380 (0.3%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 469 (0.3%) were institutionalized.

There were 53,384 households, out of which 18,614 (34.9%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 28,583 (53.5%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 4,629 (8.7%) had a female householder with no husband present, 2,341 (4.4%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 2,386 (4.5%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 357 (0.7%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 13,457 households (25.2%) were made up of individuals and 3,775 (7.1%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61. There were 35,553 families (66.6% of all households); the average family size was 3.15.

The population was spread out with 31,435 people (22.4%) under the age of 18, 9,350 people (6.7%) aged 18 to 24, 50,919 people (36.3%) aged 25 to 44, 32,721 people (23.4%) aged 45 to 64, and 15,656 people (11.2%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35.6 years. For every 100 females there were 101.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.9 males.

There were 55,791 housing units at an average density of 2,458.9 per square mile (949.4/km2), of which 25,623 (48.0%) were owner-occupied, and 27,761 (52.0%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.1%; the rental vacancy rate was 4.4%. 68,895 people (49.2% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 70,337 people (50.2%) lived in rental housing units.

Demographic profile[27] 2010
Total Population 140,081 (100.0%)
One Race 133,725 (95.5%)
Not Hispanic or Latino 113,564 (81.1%)
White alone 48,323 (34.5%)
Black or African American alone 2,533 (1.8%)
American Indian and Alaska Native alone 292 (0.2%)
Asian alone 57,012 (40.7%)
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone 594 (0.4%)
Some other race alone 381 (0.3%)
Two or more races alone 4,429 (3.2%)
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 26,517 (18.9%)


Yahoo! headquarters

Largest employers

According to the City's 2016 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[28] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Lockheed Martin Space Systems 5,045
2 Apple Inc 4,000
3 Yahoo! Inc 3,993
4 Juniper Networks Inc 3,180
5 Google 3,176
6 NetApp 3,081
7 LinkedIn 1,840
8 A2Z Development Center Inc 1,834
9 Northrop Grumman Marine Systems 1,198
10 West Valley Staffing 1,056

Government and politics

The mayor and vice-mayor of Sunnyvale are not directly elected. Instead they are selected from the city council members by the city council, serving two-year and one-year terms, respectively.[2]

In the California State Legislature, Sunnyvale is in the 13th Senate District, represented by Democrat Jerry Hill, and in the 24th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Marc Berman.[29]

In the United States House of Representatives, Sunnyvale is in California's 17th congressional district, represented by Democrat Ro Khanna.[30]

As of August 16, 2016, Sunnyvale had 56,030 registered voters.[31]


For elementary and middle schools, most of the city is in the Sunnyvale School District, while some parts are in the Cupertino Union School District and the Santa Clara Unified School District.[32][33]

For high schools, most of the city is in the Fremont Union High School District (the parts that are part of the Sunnyvale School District or Cupertino Union School District for primary schools), and those areas of Sunnyvale are divided between Fremont High School and Homestead High School. Some parts of the city are in the Santa Clara Unified School District.


The southern half of Sunnyvale is predominantly residential, while most of the portion of Sunnyvale north of Highway 237 is zoned for industrial use.[34]

Within this southern half are several neighborhoods that account for a large number of Eichler homes throughout residential Sunnyvale. More specifically, there are 16 housing tracts containing over 1100 Eichler homes.[35]

The far eastern section of El Camino Real in Sunnyvale has a significant concentration of businesses owned by Indian immigrants.[36]


There are 476 acres of parks in the Sunnyvale Area.[37] These include Las Palmas Park,[38] Ortega Park, Seven Seas Park[39] Washington Park[40] near downtown, two public golf courses,[41] and Baylands Park,[42] site of the annual Linux Picnic.

Charles Street Gardens,[43] Sunnyvale's oldest and largest community garden, is located adjacent to Sunnyvale's Public Library. In 2017 the Santa Clara Unified School District has taken over operation of Full Circle Farm Sunnyvale which leased the land from the district, and plan is under way to focus the farm on education.[44]


Route 82 at the intersection with Mathilda Avenue.

Several major roads and freeways go through Sunnyvale:

State Route 82 runs through the center of the city, following the historic El Camino Real.

Public transportation

Sunnyvale is served by Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (light rail and buses) and by Caltrain commuter rail. Two Caltrain stations are located in Sunnyvale: the Sunnyvale Station in the Heritage District downtown, and the Lawrence Station in eastern Sunnyvale, north of the Ponderosa neighborhood.


Sunnyvale has been listed by the League of American Bicyclists as a Bicycle Friendly Community at the bronze level.[45]

The Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee advises the city council on the continued development of the bicycle plan for the city.


For commercial passenger air travel, Sunnyvale is served by three nearby international airports:


Sunnyvale has consistently ranked as one of the safest ten cities (for cities of similar size) in the United States according to the FBI's crime reports. From 1966 to at least 2004, Sunnyvale never placed below fifth in safety rankings among U.S. cities in its population class.[46] In 2005, Sunnyvale ranked as the 18th-safest city overall in the U.S., according to the Morgan Quitno Awards.[47] In 2009, Sunnyvale was ranked 7th in U.S. by Forbes Magazine in an analysis of America's safest cities.[48][49]


A long-standing legend of Sunnyvale is of a ghost that haunts the town's Toys 'R' Us store. A purported psychic, Sylvia Browne, claimed to have made contact with the ghost on the 1978 TV show That's Incredible! and named him Johnny Johnson. This story was also explored in a 1991 episode of Haunted Lives: True Ghost Stories. Brown stated that he had been a Swedish preacher who worked as a farm hand in the orchard where the toy store now stands and that he bled to death from an accidental, self-inflicted axe injury to his leg.[50][51][52]

Notable people







News and journalism




Twin towns – sister cities

Until 1970, Sunnyvale had a Sister City relationship with Chillán, Chile. In 2013, the city entered into a three-year Friendly Exchange Relations Agreement with Iizuka, Japan; in July 2016 the city council voted to change this to a Sister City relationship.[75]

See also


  1. ^ "California Cities by Incorporation Date" (Word). California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions. Retrieved August 25, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Sunnyvale, CA - City Council". sunnyvale.ca.gov. Retrieved January 26, 2018. 
  3. ^ "Office of the City Manager". City of Sunnyvale. Retrieved 2018-02-26. 
  4. ^ "2016 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Jun 28, 2017. 
  5. ^ "Sunnyvale". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved December 16, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Sunnyvale (city) QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 30, 2016. 
  7. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017. 
  8. ^ "Heritage Resources and Landmark Alteration Inventory" (PDF). City of Sunnyvale Heritage Preservation Commission. Retrieved 2012-10-07. 
  9. ^ a b c "Historical Information - Mission Santa Clara de Asís". Santa Clara University. Retrieved 2018-03-27. 
  10. ^ a b "1870-1918, City Expansion". San Jose History. 2013-11-07. Retrieved 2018-03-27. 
  11. ^ Feroben, Carolyn. "James M. Dawson - Pioneer fruit packer, Santa Clara Valley, 1871". he Valley of Heart's Delight, Santa Clara County Biography Project. Retrieved 2018-03-27. 
  12. ^ Chan, Sucheng (1989). This Bittersweet Soil: The Chinese in California Agriculture, 1860-1910. Google Books. University of California Press. p. 305. ISBN 0520067371. 
  13. ^ Capace, Nancy (1999). Encyclopedia of California. North American Book Dist LLC. Page 447. ISBN 9780403093182.
  14. ^ "pong [coin-op] arcade video game, atari, inc. (1972)". Arcade-history.com. Retrieved 2014-02-06. 
  15. ^ Scott Cohen, Zap! The Rise and Fall of Atari, ISBN 0-07-011543-5 (McGraw-Hill, 1984)
  16. ^ "City of Sunnyvale Heritage Bicycle Tours" (PDF). Google.com. 2010-11-01. Retrieved 2010-11-09. 
  17. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  18. ^ Sunnyvale and Los Altos, CA Tornadoes, San Francisco State University, Department of Geosciences
  19. ^ Hit and Run: Freak tornado injures no one, but leaves behind costly damage,, The Sun (Sunnyvale's Newspaper), May 6, 1998
  20. ^ Monteverdi, John P.; Warren Blier; Greg Stumpf; Wilfred Pi; Karl Anderson (November 2001). "First WSR-88D Documentation of an Anticyclonic Supercell with Anticyclonic Tornadoes: The Sunnyvale–Los Altos, California, Tornadoes of 4 May 1998". Monthly Weather Review. American Meteorological Society. 129 (11): 2805. doi:10.1175/1520-0493(2001)129<2805:FWDOAA>2.0.CO;2. Retrieved 2008-12-15. 
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  25. ^ "Sunnyvale (city), California". State & County QuickFacts. U.S. Census Bureau. 
  26. ^ "California - Race and Hispanic Origin for Selected Cities and Other Places: Earliest Census to 1990". U.S. Census Bureau. 
  27. ^ "Demographic Profile Bay Area Census". Census.gov. Retrieved 2012-02-06. 
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  29. ^ "Statewide Database". UC Regents. Retrieved November 29, 2014. 
  30. ^ "California's 17th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved 2013-03-14. 
  31. ^ "ROV Post-Election Report Aug 16 2016 Special Election" (PDF). sccgov.org. Retrieved 2016-11-28. 
  32. ^ "Sunnyvale Schools - Sunnyvale California School Ratings - Public and Private". GreatSchools.org. 
  33. ^ "Index of /geo/maps/dc10map/sch_dist/st06_ca/c06085_santa_clara". United States Census Bureau. 
  34. ^ City of Sunnyvale Zoning Map, north of 101
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  36. ^ A 'Little Madras' here too ..., The Hindu, Online edition of India's National Newspaper, May 2, 2004 (article about the South Indian business district along El Camino Real in Sunnyvale)
  37. ^ "City of Sunnyvale: Parks". sunnyvale.ca.gov. Retrieved 2016-07-15. 
  38. ^ Sunnyvale Department of Parks and Recreation, Las Palmas Park
  39. ^ Sunnyvale Department of Parks and Recreation, Ortega Park
  40. ^ Sunnyvale Department of Parks and Recreation, Washington Park
  41. ^ Sunnyvale Department of Parks and Recreation, Sunnyvale Golf Courses
  42. ^ Sunnyvale Department of Parks and Recreation, Baylands Park
  43. ^ http://www.charlesstreetgardens.org/
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  45. ^ "League of American Bicyclists 2016 Bicycle Friendly Communities" (PDF). BikeLeague.org. Retrieved 2016-11-28. 
  46. ^ City of Sunnyvale News Release No. 11-08, November 22, 2004 Archived February 1, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
  47. ^ Morgan Quitno Awards, 11th Annual America's Safest (and Most Dangerous) Cities (undated)
  48. ^ Forbes Magazine, America's Safest Cities
  49. ^ Per Forbes, Bay Area Indo American, America's Safest Cities
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External links