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San Ramon


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Location: Incorporated on July 1, 1983, the City of San Ramon is located on 17.98 square miles of the San Ramon Valley approximately 25 miles east of the City of Oakland in the San Francisco Bay Area. The San Ramon Valley has long been considered one of the most desirable living areas in the Bay Area because of its scenic beauty, good climate, excellent schools and parks, and proximity to the Bay Area's major employment centers. San Ramon is at the heart of the valley and is surrounded by the prosperous communities of Alamo, Blackhawk, Danville, and Diablo and is is one of the San Francisco Bay Area's premier residential communities..

Population: San Ramon is governed by the City Council/City Manager form of government.  The City's population is approximately 59,002 with an expected build-out population of approximately 90,000.Since 1980, the population of San Ramon has increased from 22,356 to 74,378 in 2012.

Income and Labor Until the early 1980's the City of San Ramon was primarily a bedroom community for the major employment centers in the Bay Area: San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose/Silicon Valley. The development of Bishop Ranch, in 1982, transformed San Ramon into a significant regional employment center. With the development of major new employment centers, employees are attracted from such far away distances as Sacramento and San Joaquin Counties.

The Bishop Ranch Office Park consists of 580 acres of land with 5.9 million square feet of office space. The City encompasses a major regional employment center, Bishop Ranch, which is home to over 200 companies, including Global 500 companies such as ChevronTexaco, Bank of America, IBM, and SBC.  Over 21,000 office workers commute daily to the employment center, and 16,000 jobs are expected to be added over the next 15 years. The City is also an affluent community with the average household income for 2000 estimated to be $95,856. This compares to a county-wide average of $63,675.

San Ramon is dedicated to continuous improvement of the quality of life which make its citizens proud.  With easy access and a full range of services, it is little wonder that San Ramon is one of Contra Costa County's most exciting and progressive cities.


Today San Ramon is a dynamic young city, one of California's outstanding urban villages.  It has a variety of homes, parks and stores and a major employment center --- all in a setting of remarkable beauty.

It was once home to the Seunen Indians, Ohlone/Costanoans who lived adjacent to the valley creeks. After 1797 it was Mission San Jose grazing land; later it included Jose Maria Amador's 16,000 plus acre Rancho San Ramon.

San Ramon Creek was named after an Indian vaquero, Ramon, who tended mission sheep here.  In an 1855 land title case, Don Amador explained that "San" was added to the creek's name to conform with Spanish custom.

American settlers first came to San Ramon in 1850 when Leo and Mary Jane Norris purchased 4,450 acres of land from Amador.  Other early landowners were William Lynch, James Dougherty, and  Major Samuel Russell.  In 1852 Joel and Minerva Harlan bought land from Norris and built a house on what became the Alameda-Contra Costa County line in 1853.

Many of San Ramon's founding families are remembered today because their names grace various canyons, hills and streets.  Some of these pioneers were Norris, Lynch, Harlan, McCamley, Crow, Bollinger, Meese, Glass, and Wiedemann.  Both the Harlan home (1858) at 19251 San Ramon Valley Blvd. and the Wiedemann home (1865) near Norris Canyon still stand in their original locations. The Glass House (1877) has been moved to Forest Home Farms.

San Ramon had several names in the nineteenth century.  It was called Brevensville (for blacksmith Eli Breven), Lynchville (for William Lynch) and Limerick (for the many Irish settlers).  The first village developed at the intersection of today's Deerwood Road and San Ramon Valley Blvd.   In 1873 when a permanent post office was finally established, it was called San Ramon.

During the 1860s the village became a hub of community activity.  In 1864 a stage line established by Brown and Co. ran from San Ramon through the valley to Oakland.  A church was dedicated in 1860, the general store was built in 1863 and students left their home-based classrooms to attend the San Ramon Grammar School beginning in 1867.  Saloons, a jail, Chinese wash houses and blacksmith shops lined County Road No. 2 (later San Ramon Valley Blvd.).

With the arrival of the San Ramon Branch Line of the Southern Pacific in 1891, other changes took place. The name "San Ramon" permanently replaced references to "Limerick."  Crops and passengers could travel in and out of the area, no matter what the weather.  Until 1909 San Ramon was the terminus for the line and boasted a two-story depot, the engine house and a turnaround for the locomotive.

In 1895 attorney Thomas Bishop acquired 3,000 acres of Norris land (after a divorce case in which Bishop's law firm represented Margaret Norris).  The Bishop Ranch raised cattle and sheep and was planted to hay, grain, diversified fruit crops and walnuts.  Bishop Shropshire purebred sheep earned numerous awards.  The Ranch was partially irrigated from an underground aquifer and at one point possessed the world's largest single orchard of Bartlett pears.The San Ramon Community Hall became the community's center early in 1911, drawing farm and ranch families to dances, school programs and plays.  It was still standing in 1960.  Residents belonged to several community groups over the years, including the Danville Grange No. 85, Odd Fellows, SRV Farm Bureau Women, Rebeccas, Ramona Club, and Mother's Club.

As with the entire Tri-Valley, agriculture was the basis for San Ramon economy until suburban development began.  In 1966 the new Interstate 680 freeway was completed through San Ramon to Dublin.   For years a sign "San Ramon Population 100" accurately reflected the number of people in the area, with the whole San Ramon Valley having just over 2000 people for many decades.

The designation "San Ramon Village" first appeared in the 1970 census with a count of 4,084 people, part of a San Ramon Valley population of 25,899.  Developers Ken Volk and Bob McClain built the first San Ramon suburban homes close to the county line.  A special district, the Valley Community Services district (VCSD) provided the water, parks, sewer, fire protection and garbage collection for the new homes.

In 1970 Western Electric purchased 1,733 acres of the Bishop Ranch and proposed a "new town" complete with a variety of housing, green belts, stores and light industry, placed in the center of San Ramon.  Eventually part of the land became new homes and, in 1978, 585 acres became today's Bishop Ranch Business Park, a premier modern office development.

Before San Ramon incorporated, homeowners groups such as the South San Ramon Homeowners and the Homeowners Association of Twin Creeks represented residents' interests before the county.  They joined service clubs and others in providing a local voice as developments replaced orchards.

In 1983 San Ramon voters decided overwhelmingly to incorporate as a separate city and took control over development, police, parks and other services.  A new library, community center, parks and hospital testify to the energy which the new city displayed.  No longer a quiet outskirt of the Bay Area, San Ramon looks to the future and values its past.

Produced by the Museum of the San Ramon Valley, 205 Railroad Ave., Danville 94562  (925) 837-3750,  More historical information is available at the museum.








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