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, SanDisk, 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 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.
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, Sandisk, 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.
Milpitas is also home to one of Santa Clara County’s two correctional facilities, the Elmwood Correctional Facility, which houses over 3,000 inmates.
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.
The Santa Clara County Library system operates the Milpitas public library.
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.
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.
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 Commuter 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. An extension of Bay Area Rapid Transit from Fremont to San Jose is being constructed, and will include a major multi-modal station in Milpitas that is scheduled to open in 2017.
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