Santa Clara County
The Santa Clara Valley runs south-southeast from the southern end of San Francisco Bay in Northern California in the United States. The northern, urbanized end of the valley is part of a region locally known as the "South Bay" and also part of the electronics research and manufacturing area known as Silicon Valley. Most of the Santa Clara Valley is in Santa Clara County, including its county seat, San Jose. The valley, named after the Spanish Mission Santa Clara, was for a time known as the Valley of Heart’s Delight for its high concentration of orchards, flowering trees, and plants. Until the 1960s it was the largest fruit production and packing region in the world with 39 canneries.
The valley with its scenic beauty, mild climate, and thousands of acres of blooming fruit trees was known as "The Valley of Heart's Delight." Prunes were the major crop and were shipped internationally. Water was supplied from an artesian aquifer. When the water table dropped wells were pumped. Many orchards were small with housing and fruit growing in a dispersed pattern. Del Monte and Sunsweet are two brands which originated in the Santa Clara Valley.
The need for workers greatly exceeded the local population. In the nineteenth century Chinese and Japanese immigrants met that need. Toward the end of the nineteenth century many Italians and other immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe came to the valley and worked in the orchards and canneries. During the 20th century there were Filipino immigrants and increasing numbers of immigrants from Mexico who during World War II became the dominant agricultural workforce. Italians, who often had experience with raising fruit trees in the old country, did well. The town of San Jose was dominated by its business community, in some part Irish Catholic (San Jose was never dominated by Anglo-Saxon Protestants), who had a self-contained social life which did not include immigrant labor. However, in the twentieth century 3 Italian Catholic churches were established as was a Portuguese. There was marked prejudice against Asians, particularly Chinese, who gradually left the valley.