Sunnyvale, California -- the name alone brings to mind warm summer days, outdoor activities, and … silicon. As one of the preeminent cities that comprise the world-renowned Silicon Valley, Sunnyvale is bustling with economic activity, home to a number of high-tech companies that make the products and software people love; Palm, Inc., AMD, and Yahoo! -- to name a few -- have their headquarters here. Only a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Pacific Ocean, California's redwoods, and Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevadas, Sunnyvale provides a peaceful, small-town respite combined with intellectual vigor.
Originating as a settlement from the stagecoach lines that linked San Jose with the San Francisco area in the mid-1800s, the city has seen a number of changes in its relatively short history. Originally a site for wheat farming, towards the end of the 19th century soil degradation led to orchards replacing wheat as the primary agricultural crop. It would take until 1912 for the city to become officially incorporated, and it has only grown since. Following the arrival of NACA (the precursor to NASA), the city began its life as a hub of scientific research and development. Shortly after World War II, aircraft manufacturer Lockheed settled in the area, beginning a veritable high-tech exodus to the city.
Located near the greater San Francisco Bay Area, Sunnyvale is best described as having a Mediterranean climate: mild, wet winters followed by warm, dry summers, with daytime summer temperatures averaging in the high 70s. This combination produces a locale perfect for outdoor sports, which the city itself promotes via its prize-winning park system. Better yet, the city also provides two public golf courses, so whether you enjoy soccer, ultimate frisbee, or pretty much any other sport, the weather rarely gets in the way of your outdoor pursuits.
Sunnyvale's location makes public transportation to and from the city a breeze. In close proximity to three airports (Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International, San Francisco International, and Oakland International), with bus and light rail service provided by the Valley Transportation Authority, getting from the surrounding Bay Area to the city is easy.
The city itself has a population of around 130,000, with a diverse makeup. Spread out over around 20 square miles, the city provides a nice combination of suburban and urban elements, without feeling overcrowded or boisterous. By and large, the southern half is largely residential, with most portions of the city above Highway 237 set aside for industrial use. As a testament to its small-town feel, Sunnyvale is one of the few cities in the United States that features a single Department of Public Safety, unifying the usually disparate collections of civil safety workers. All personnel are trained as police offers, firefighters, and EMTs so that they can respond appropriately to any emergency.
Speaking of safety, Sunnyvale is also ranked consistently as one of the ten safest cities (when compared with cities of a similar size) in the United States. Since 1966, Sunnyvale has yet to place lower than fifth in rankings for safety in its population class.