Great Western Cities ‘On-the-Air’ tour: Mt. View, California

The seventh in this series.

If at any time during the life of this site (now 21 months young) you have dropped on by and read all or a portion of any of the now 365 Air Quality Matters posts, by now you no doubt know, Fresno, in the middle of California’s 24,000-square-mile San Joaquin Valley, is where I reside. And, the “Valley” is just one of many … Golden State (California) – and right now golden – valleys.

Aerial view of San Francisco taken from space
Aerial view of San Francisco taken from space

It’s another valley – Silicon Valley, mostly centered around the San Francisco Bay Area’s southern third on both sides and south of the Bay bearing the same name and which encompasses an area roughly the size of the Santa Clara Valley – that I am going to concentrate on today, focusing on the community of Mountain View in particular. Flanked by both San Francisco and San Jose, Mountain View lies far closer to the latter than it does to the former.

It just so happens, Mountain View is where I made my home if only for a brief period of time. It was for just about a year that I was there, working in neighboring Sunnyvale. That was in the late 1970s. Though others might disagree, to me in this place there is little if anything out of place. And, by that, I mean, I didn’t notice anything that really, really stood out with the possible exception of Moffett Federal Airfield, with an on-site ginormous airship hanger.

Don’t say a word. I know what you might be thinking: if not extraordinary, why write about the community, especially after I’ve already covered two other California cities in this series – Long Beach and San Luis Obispo? Truth is, there is some extraordinary-ness about Mountain View.

Being a San Francisco peninsula-based city, Mountain View is what’s called a conurbation, meaning it is part of a cluster of contiguous or side-by-side communities. Perhaps uncommon at one time, this is no longer the case.

But this is not what makes this city – sandwiched between the Bay on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west – different or special.

Steeped in high-tech history

If you remember earlier my mentioning of Silicon Valley, well, Mountain View has a high-tech tradition and as such a storied past. This is where in 1956, as a matter of fact, the very first semiconductor devices, the transistor among them, were created.

In fact, some of the world’s most recognizable names in the high-tech sector are headquartered here. And speaking of high-tech and history, the two come together under one roof in the Computer History Museum.

The three T’s: Traffic, trains, trolleys

Traffic on the California 101 freeway at times can be considerable; to the point of being backed-up even, and on an alternate route, Central Expressway, it can be more of the same.

320px-FLV_California_train[1]If every cloud has a silver lining, the good news is that there are a number of transportation options to choose from; everything from the Caltrain commuter rail and Santa Clara Valley (there’s that “valley” word again) Transportation Authority light rail to the soon-to-be-arriving or should I say “soon-to-be-passing-through” statewide high-speed rail system, that is, if all goes as planned.

Cleaner air, more comfortable climate

If there is one thing that really shines here besides the sun, it is air. And the climate, well, it shines too in that there is not much variation between temperature extremes as the yearly average high and low temps, according to Wikipedia, are 69.6 degrees and 48.7 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively.

What’s in a name

Last but by no means least, is the Mountain View name. Just in case you’re wondering, it is none other than the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains from which the town name is derived.

Upper image: NASA

– Alan Kandel