San Jose, California, the seat of Santa Clara County. The city lies near the southern end of San Francisco Bay in the broad Santa Clara Valley. Its center stands about 80 feet (24 m) above sea level, but elevations increase to the east and west toward the nearby Diablo Range and the Santa Cruz Mountains. The city of Santa Clara adjoins San Jose on the west.

San Jose is situated in what is often called Silicon Valley, one of the world's chief centers of high-technology industries. Manufacturing, especially of processed foods and electronic items such as computers and semiconductors, provides the largest share of the city's jobs. Also important are services and wholesale and retail trade. San Jose is a major distribution center for one of the state's richest agricultural areas. Railways, freeways, and Interstate highways provide excellent transportation. Air service is available at the Norman Y. Mineta International Airport and at nearby San Francisco International Airport.

Kelley Park, with a zoo, a Japanese garden, and a historical museum, and Alum Rock Park offer varied recreational facilities. In Rosicrucian Park are an Egyptian museum, a science museum, and a planetarium.

Near Rosicrucian Park is the Winchester Mystery House, a Victorian mansion built from 1884 to 1922. The Lick Observatory, in the Diablo Range, houses one of the world's largest refracting telescopes. San Jose has an opera company, and a theater company. The Tech Museum of Innovation, located downtown, has approximately 250 interactive exhibits, most focusing on applications of technology in daily living. The city's professional hockey team, the Sharks, plays at the San Jose Arena. San Jose State University (1857) is the oldest state institution of higher learning in California.

Facts in brief about San Jose
Population: City--894,943. Metropolitan statistical area—1,735,819.
Area: City--170 mi2 (440 km2). Metropolitan statistical area—2,680 mi2 (6,941 km2).
Climate: Average temperature--January, 50 °F (10 °C); July, 71 °F (22 °C). Average annual precipitation (rainfall, melted snow, and other forms of moisture)—15 in (38 cm).
Government: Council-manager. Terms--4 years for the mayor and the 10 council members; council hires a city manager.
Founded: 1777. Incorporated as a city in 1850.

San Jose was founded in 1777 by a Spanish colonist from Mexico, José Joaquin Morago. It was the first settlement other than a mission in what is now the state of California. The community had only some 500 residents in 1831, but grew fairly rapidly after California became a United States territory in 1848 and the Gold Rush began. San Jose was the seat of the California territorial legislature in 1849 and the first state capital, 1850–51. In 1850 San Jose was incorporated as a city. After the arrival of the first railway in 1864 and as gold prospecting declined, residents turned increasingly to agriculture.

Between 1900 and World War II San Jose, stimulated by the development of agriculture, developed as a food-processing center. Extremely rapid growth came with land annexations and the influx of manufacturing industries after 1950, when the population was roughly 95,000. By 2000, most of the largest electronic firms in the United States had offices in San Jose, creating one of the highest concentrations of high-technology companies in the world.

Largest communities in the San Jose area
San Jose 894,943
Sunnyvale 131,760
Santa Clara 102,361
Mountain View 70,708
Milpitas 62,698
Palo Alto 58,598
Cupertino 50,546
Gilroy 41,464
Campbell 38,138
Hollister 34,413