Incorporated on July 1, 1983, the City of San Ramon is located in Contra Costa County on 11 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, suburban charm, 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.
Since 1980, the population of San Ramon has increased by over 80% from 22,356 to an estimated 41,000 in 1995.
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 mllion square feet of office space. The office park currently is home to approximately 200 companies including such Fortune 500 companies as Pacific Bell, Chevron, AT&T, Toyota, and United Parcel Service. San Ramon is an attractive, expanding City and it is expected that over 16,000 jobs will be added within the next 15 years. This represents a 58% increase over the current 27,643 jobs in San Ramon. The City is also an affluent community with the average household income for 1990 estimated to be $79,245. This compares to a county-wide average of $59,432.
Today San Ramon is a dynamic young city, one ofCalifornia's new outstanding urban villages. It has a variety of homes and shops and a major employment center - all in a setting of remarkable beauty.
It was once home to Seunen Indians, Coastanoans who lived adjacent to the Valley creeks and traded with other Bay Area tribes. In the 1800's it was Mission San Jose grazing land, later becoming part of Jose Maria Amador's enormous rancho San Ramon.
San Ramon Creek was named after a vaquero, Ramon, who tended Mission sheep here and who was later the administrator at Mission San Jose. Don Amador, in a land title case in 1855, explained that "San" was added to the creek's name to conform with Spanish custom.
American settlers came to San Ramon in 1850, when Leo Norris purchased 4,450 acres from Don Amador. He and his partner William Lynch built the first frame house (made of redwoods from Oakland) and planted the first barley crop. In 1852 Joel and Minerva Fowler Harlan built their first home on today's county line; James Dougherty bought 10,000 acres from Amador; and Major Samuel Russel settled on 600 acres near Norris Canyon.
Many of the people who founded San Ramon are remembered today because their names grace various canyons, hills and streets. Some of these pioneers were Norris, Lynch, Harlan, McCamley, Crow, Cox, Bollinger, Fereira, Boone, Meese, Glass and Wiedemann. Several houses still survive as prideful reminders of these first families: the Glass house (1860) and Harlan house (1858) stand just west of San Ramon Valley Boulevard and the Wiedemann house (1865) is in Norris Canyon. Initially the Americans called the area Brevensville, Lynchville and Limerick, after early settlers Eli Breven, William Lynch and the large Irish popoulation. The first villiage developed adjacent to San Ramon Creek at the intersection of Old Crow Canyon Road and San Ramon Valley Boulevard. When a permanent post office was established in 1873, it was called San Ramon.
A Village Develops. In the decade of the 1860's, the village of San Ramon 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 Catholic church was dedicated in 1860, the general store (which was the post and stage office) was built in 1863, and students left their home-based classrooms to attend the new San Ramon Grammar School in 1867. Saloons, a jail, Chinese laundries and blacksmith shops also lined County Road No. 2 which later became Highway 21 and then San Ramon Valley Boulevard.
With the arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad's San Ramon branch line in 1891, other changes took place. The name "San Ramon" permanently replaced Limerick. Crops and passengers were now able to travel to and from the area, no matter what the weather did to the roads. Until 1909 it was the terminus for the line and the most prosperous village in the Valley.
In 1895 attorney Thomas Bishop bought 3,000 acres of Norris land on which he raised cattle and sheep and planted hay and grain. Bishop Ranch Shropshire purebred sheep earned numerous awards in the early 20th century. Later huge pear and walnut orchards covered the land, helping to make the valley the "pear capital of the world".
Community groups developed over the years including the Grange, the International Organization of Odd Fellows, the San Ramon Valley Farm Bureau Women, the Rebeccas, and the Ramona Club which later became the San Ramon Women's Club. The San Ramon Community Hall became the community's center early in the 1900's, drawing farm and ranch families to dances, school programs, and plays. It was still standing in the 1960's.
Modern San Ramon
As with the entire Valley, agriculture was the basis for San Ramon's economy until the 1960's when the new state highway, I-680, was completed. Developers Ken Volk and Bob McClain built the first suburban homes at the County line: "Country quiet, City close" was their radio theme song. A special district, the Valley Community Services District (VCSD) provided urban services for these new homes, including parks, sewer, water, fire protection and garbage collection.
"San Ramon Village" appeared as a separate census designation for the first time in 1970 with a count of 4,084 people, part of the San Ramon Valley population of 25,899. San Ramon had 12,782 people in 1975, 22,356 people in 1980, and 40,000 today.
Homeowners Associations such as the South San Ramon Homeowners and the Homeowners Association of Twin Creeks organized and commented on County development proposals. These groups joined with service clubs to provide a local voice for San Ramon as new homes and shopping centers were built in the north and south.
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. Eventually part of the land did become homes and, in the early 1980's, 585 acres became a premier modern office development called Bishop Ranch Business Park.
In 1983, San Ramon voters decided by an overwhelming vote to incorporate as a separate city and took control over development, police, parks and other services. A new library, community center, city hall, park and hospital testify to the energy which the new city released. No longer a quiet outskirt of the Bay Area, San Ramon looks to the future and values its past.