Los Gatos

The Town of Los Gatos is an incorporated town in Santa Clara County located at the southwest corner of San Jose in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Homes are mostly upscale, varying from century-old one million-dollar cottages in the downtown area to 10 - 20 million-dollar large custom homes in the surrounding hills.

 

The population of Los Gatos as of July 2009 was approximately 29,501. The town is noted for its small, pedestrian-friendly downtown, with many boutique shops, up-scale restaurants, and thriving arts community. It is also a preferred destination for antique shopping.

 

The name Los Gatos is Spanish, meaning the cats. The name derives from the 1839 Alta California land-grant that encompassed the area, which was called La Rinconada de Los Gatos, ("Cat's Corner"), where "the cats" refers to the cougars that are indigenous to the foothills in which the town is located.

 

The town's founding dates to the mid-1850s with the building of a flour operation, Forbes Mill, by James Alexander Forbes along Los Gatos Creek. The mill's two-story stone storage annex has been preserved as a museum just off of Main Street.  The settlement that was established in the 1860s was originally named for the mill, but the name was changed to Los Gatos after the Spanish land grant. The town was incorporated in 1887 and remained an important town for the logging industry in the Santa Cruz Mountains through the end of the 19th century.

 

In the early 20th century, the town became a thriving agricultural town with apricots, grapes and prunes being grown in the area.  Along with much of the Santa Clara Valley, Los Gatos became a suburban community for San Jose beginning in the 1950s, and the town was mostly built-out by the 1980s.

 

Downtown Los Gatos has retained and restored many of its Victorian-era homes and commercial buildings. Other notable buildings are the Forbes Mill annex, dating to 1880 and now housing a history museum; Los Gatos High School, which dates from the 1920s; and the Old Town Shopping Center, formerly the University Avenue School (the school was established in 1882; the current buildings date to 1923).  A number of brick buildings in Downtown Los Gatos were destroyed or heavily damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, though the district was quickly rebuilt and has made a full recovery.

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