Gilroy is a city located in Northern California’s Santa Clara County. The city’s population was 48,821 at the 2010 United States Census. It is well known for its garlic crop and for the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival, featuring various garlicky foods such as garlic ice cream, leading to the city’s nickname as the “Garlic Capital of the World”. Gilroy also produces mushrooms in considerable quantity. Boutique wine production is a large part of Gilroy’s western portion, mostly consisting of family estates around the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west.
Spanish explorers led by Juan Bautista de Anza first passed through the Santa Clara Valley area in 1776, and in 1797 Mission San Juan Bautista was established near the Pajaro River. In 1809, Ygnacio Ortega was granted the 13,066-acre (5,288 ha) Spanish land concession Rancho San Ysidro. The village of San Ysidro (not to be confused with the present-day San Diego community) grew nearby, at the foot of Pacheco Pass which linked the El Camino Real and the Santa Clara Valley with the San Joaquin Valley. California’s main exports at this time were hides and tallow, of which thousands of barrels were produced and shipped to the rest of New Spain. Trade and diplomatic intercourse with foreigners was strictly forbidden by the royal government but was quietly carried on by Californians desperate for luxury goods.
During the War of 1812, the armed merchantman Isaac Todd was sent by the North West Company to seize Fort Astoria, an American trading post at the mouth of the Columbia River. The ship, with a Royal Navy escort, departed from Portsmouth, England, made its way around Cape Horn and proceeded up the Pacific coast of the Americas, stopping at Spanish ports for supplies along the way. In January 1814, having fallen behind its escort, the Isaac Todd arrived at Monterey, California, Spanish colonial government center for Alta California. During the visit, ordinary seaman John Gilroy (a Scotsman who had changed his name from John Cameron when he went to sea to avoid recognition) either (depending on the historical source) jumped ship or was left ashore to recover from scurvy.
John Gilroy (1794–1869) spent the next few years moving around among the missions, pueblos and ranchos, plying his trade as a cooper (barrel maker). At first, by his own account in an 1856 letter to Thomas O. Larkin, Gilroy was one of only two English-speakers resident in Alta California. Eventually, he found his way to Rancho San Ysidro, converted to Roman Catholicism and became the first naturalized English-speaking settler in Alta California. In 1821, the same year Mexico won its independence from Spain, Gilroy married a daughter of his employer, ranchero Ygnacio Ortega. Upon Ygnacio’s death in 1833, the rancho was divided among his three children – including Gilroy’s wife Maria Clara. In 1867, under U.S. property law, the Rancho San Ysidro (Gilroy) was patented to John Gilroy.
After the Gold Rush
When gold was discovered in 1848 in the Sierra Nevada foothills, the trickle of immigrants from the eastern states and abroad became a flood. As many of the earlier Mexican and Californio landowners sold off their land, lost it to squatters, or were dispossessed through title hearings, the area around San Ysidro became known as Pleasant Valley. On March 12, 1870 it was officially incorporated by the state legislature as the town of Gilroy (John Gilroy had died in 1869). By then the town center had been relocated west of the El Camino Real (Old Gilroy is today a sparsely populated agricultural area). Cattle ranching and timber from the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains were important to the economy for some time but, as in the rest of the valley, agriculture was the town’s greatest source of income. Farming remains significant, but in the 1970s the city began evolving into a bedroom community for Silicon Valley to the north.
There are a number of extant historical buildings dating from the mid-19th century. Built in 1857, the Christian Church at 160 Fifth Street is the oldest wood framed church in Santa Clara County in continuous use. Blacksmith George Eustice’s house at 213 Fifth Street was constructed in 1869; Eustice was an American Civil War veteran who fought at Gettysburg. Samuel Moore was a long time Gilroy postmaster, whose home was built in the 1870s at 7151 Church Street. Nearby in the foothills of the Diablo Range to the northeast is the historic resort site Gilroy Yamato Hot Springs, developed in the late 19th century (now closed to the public).
Gilroy is located at 37°00′43″N 121°34′48″W. It is approximately 26 km (16 mi) south of San Jose, California (Bailey Avenue (37.206770, -121.729150) to Monterey/Day Road (37.038210, -121.584480)) on U.S. Route 101 and 31 km (19 mi) inland from the Pacific Coast. Despite its apparently close proximity to San Jose, it is important to note that Gilroy City Hall lies at a distance of 33.3 miles from San Jose City Hall. Lying in a southern extension of the Santa Clara Valley at an elevation of about 61 m (200 ft) above MSL, it is bounded by the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west and the Diablo Range to the east. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 16.2 square miles (42 km2). 16.1 square miles (42 km2) of it is land and 0.06% is water.
Contributing to environmental noise are primarily U.S. Route 101, El Camino Real, Leavesley Road and other major arterials. The number of people exposed to sound levels above 60 CNEL is approximately 4,000.
Due to the moderating influence of the Pacific Ocean, Gilroy enjoys a warm, Mediterranean climate. Temperatures range from an average midsummer maximum of 32.3 °C (90.2 °F) to an average midwinter low of 0.9 °C (33.6 °F). Average annual precipitation is 480 mm (18.9 in), and the summer months are typically dry. Snowfall is rare, about once every 20 years, and is light and short-lived when it occurs. Summer months are characterized by coastal fog which arrives from the ocean around 10 p.m. and dissipates the next morning by 10 a.m. Winter months have many sunny and partly cloudy days, with frequent breaks between rainstorms. The local terrain is inconducive to tornadoes, severe windstorms, and thunderstorms. The local climate supports chaparral and grassland biomes, with stands of live oak at higher elevations.
Average temperatures in December, the coldest month, are a maximum of 60 °F (16 °C) and a minimum of 38 °F (3 °C). Average temperatures in July, the hottest month, are a maximum of 88 °F (31 °C) and a minimum of 55 °F (13 °C). There are an average of 7.4 days with highs of 100 °F ( 37.8 °C) or higher and an average of 17.7 days with lows of 32 °F (0 °C) or lower. The record high temperature of 115 °F was on July 15, 1972. The record low temperature of 17 °F was on December 22–24, 1990.
The 2010 United States Census reported that Gilroy had a population of 48,821. The population densitywas 3,021.7 people per square mile (1,166.7/km2). The racial makeup of Gilroy was 28,674 (58.7%) White, 942 (1.9%) African American, 831 (1.7%) Native American, 3,448 (7.1%) Asian, 111 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 12,322 (25.2%) from other races, and 2,493 (5.1%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 28,214 persons (57.8%).
The Census reported that 48,015 people (98.3% of the population) lived in households, 642 (1.3%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 164 (0.3%) were institutionalized.
There were 14,175 households, out of which 7,111 (50.2%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 8,160 (57.6%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 2,212 (15.6%) had a female householder with no husband present, 964 (6.8%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 996 (7.0%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 102 (0.7%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 2,136 households (15.1%) were made up of individuals and 908 (6.4%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.39. There were 11,336 families (80.0% of all households); the average family size was 3.69.
The population was spread out with 14,983 people (30.7%) under the age of 18, 4,514 people (9.2%) aged 18 to 24, 14,104 people (28.9%) aged 25 to 44, 11,122 people (22.8%) aged 45 to 64, and 4,098 people (8.4%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32.4 years. For every 100 females there were 98.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.1 males.
There were 14,854 housing units at an average density of 919.4 per square mile (355.0/km2), of which 8,624 (60.8%) were owner-occupied, and 5,551 (39.2%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.7%; the rental vacancy rate was 4.6%. 27,798 people (56.9% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 20,217 people (41.4%) lived in rental housing units.
As of the United States 2000 Census, there were 41,464 people, 11,869 households, and 9,590 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,615.2 per square mile (1,010.1/km2). There were 12,152 housing units at an average density of 766.5 per square mile (296.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 58.9% White, 1.8% African American, 1.6% Native American, 4.4% Asian, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 27.7% from other races, and 5.4% from two or more races. 53.8% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 11,869 households out of which 47.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.8% were married couples living together, 14.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 19.2% were non-families. 14.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.46 and the average family size was 3.74.
In the city, the population was spread out with 32.6% under the age of 18, 10.0% from 18 to 24, 32.7% from 25 to 44, 18.0% from 45 to 64, and 6.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 99.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $66,401, and the median income for a family was $80,371. Males had a median income of $45,759 versus $34,710 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,071. About 7.3% of families and 10.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.8% of those under 18 and 6.5% of those 65 and older.
Although affected by the Great Recession of 2008, with unemployment peaking at 15.30%, job growth over the next ten years is predicted to be 21.74%.
Two of the largest employers in Gilroy are Christopher Ranch and Olam Spices & Vegetables.
Gilroy is twinned with:
- Angra do Heroísmo, Azores
- Takko, Aomori Prefecture 
- Tecate, Baja California, Mexico
- Koror, Republic of Palau
- Saint-Clar, France
- Monticelli d’Ongina, Italy
Parks and Recreation
- Coyote Lake-Harvey Bear Ranch County Park, immediately east of Gilroy
- Gilroy Gardens, west side of Gilroy on State Route 152.
- Henry W. Coe State Park
In the United States House of Representatives, Gilroy is split between California’s 19th congressional district, represented by Zoe Lofgren(D–San Jose) and California’s 20th congressional district, represented by Jimmy Panetta (D–Carmel Valley).
Gilroy Unified School District operates public schools.
- Gilroy High School
- Gilroy Early College Academy(GECA)
- Christopher High School
- Madonna Continuation High School
- South Valley Middle School
- Brownell Middle School
- Ascencion Solorsano Middle School
- Rucker Elementary School
- Elliot Elementary School
- Glen View Elementary School
- Las Animas Elementary School
- Antonio del Buono Elementary School
- Luigi Aprea Elementary School
- El Roble Elementary School
- Rod Kelley Elementary School
- Gilroy Prep School, a charter school
- Mary School, a private Catholic school serving transitional kinder through 8th grades
- Pacific Point, a private Christian school serving Pre-K through 8th grade
- Ivie Anderson(1905–1949) – jazz singer best known for performing with Duke Ellington‘s Orchestra from 1931 to 1942
- Maryedith Burrell(born 1952) – film and television producer, writer, actress and comedian
- Reginald B. Desiderio(Born 1918) – U.S. Medal of Honor recipient, Korean War
- Jeff Garcia(born 1970) – quarterback for NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Chris Gimenez(born 1982) – professional baseball player for Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays, and Texas Rangers