Morgan Hill is a city in Santa Clara County, California, at the southern tip of Silicon Valley, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Morgan Hill is primarily an upscale residential community for Silicon Valley, as well as the seat for several high tech companies, including Anritsu, Flextronics, Velodyne LiDAR, and TenCate Advanced Composites. Morgan Hill is a prominent dining, entertainment, and recreational destination in Silicon Valley, owing to its Michelin star chefs, luxury hospitality, nature parks, and wineries.
Hiram Morgan Hill, a Missouri entrepreneur, and Diana Murphy, a California heiress, founded Morgan Hill.
Prior to the arrival of Spanish colonists, the area of the Santa Clara Valley was inhabited by the Ohlone people for more than 6,000 years. In the area of what is now Morgan Hill, the Matalan tribe lived in a hunter-gatherer society.
Before the area was colonized as part of the Alta California province of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, the 1772 Spanish expedition, led by Pedro Fages and Father Juan Crespí, camped in what is now Morgan Hill, alongside Llagas Creek. The location of their camp subsequently became a popular campsite for Spanish soldiers on their way from New Spain to Alta California. With the founding of Mission Santa Clara de Asís, in 1777, the lands of present-day Morgan Hill were granted to the Roman Catholic Church.
Following Mexico’s independence from Spain, land was redistributed to Mexican citizens across California and the land encompassing modern-day Morgan Hill was granted to Juan Maria Hernandez, in 1835. In 1845, Martin Murphy, Sr., an Irish-born American pioneer, acquired the area and named it Rancho Ojo del Agua de la Coche.
Downtown’s historic Votaw Building was built in 1905.
In 1850, Martin Murphy, Sr.’s youngest son, Daniel Murphy, married Maria Fisher, heiress of the neighboring 19,000-acre (7,700 ha) Rancho Laguna Seca, thus combining the two estates. In 1853, Martin Murphy, Sr.’s father, Bernard Murphy, died leaving the majority of the estate to Martin Murphy, Sr., but a substantial portion to a Martin Murphy, Sr.’s mother, Catherine, who then married James Dunne. By 1870, the Murphy family had acquired around 70,000 acres (28,000 ha) of the Morgan Hill area. In the history of Morgan Hill, the Murphy, Dunne, and Hill families are of the most prominent significance.
In 1882, Daniel and Maria Murphy’s favorite daughter, Diana Murphy, fell in love with Missouri businessman Hiram Morgan Hill. They married in secret, on account of his being a Quaker and her being from a prominent Roman Catholic family. When Daniel Murphy died, Diana and Hiram Morgan Hill inherited the 4,500 acres (1,800 ha) surrounding the original Murphy estate, near Murphy’s Peak (now known as El Toro). In 1884, the Hills built their weekend estate, as the family primarily lived in San Francisco and in Nevada, dubbed Villa Mira-Monte (Italian for Mountain-View Estate).
By 1886, the family chose to live primarily at the Ojo del Agua estate, as they jointly inherited 22,000 acres (8,900 ha) around the estate. However, the move was temporary, as scandal caused by the marital complications of Hiram Morgan Hill’s prominent socialite sister, Sarah Althea Hill, and her husband, Senator William Sharon, made the Hills a source of social ridicule, thus causing them to start spending the majority of their time between San Francisco and Washington, D.C., thus leaving their Ojo del Agua estate untouched for long periods of time.
Students saluting the flag; Morgan Hill Elementary School, c. 1930.
In 1892, Hiram Morgan Hill contracted land developer C. H. Phillips to divide and liquidate the Ojo del Agua estate, only retaining the Villa Mira Monte estate and the surrounding 200 acres (81 ha), which the Hill family would hold until 1916. By 1898, a significant community had built around what was then known as Morgan Hill’s Ranch, and a Southern Pacific Railroad station was built in the Huntington area. Rather than ask to stop at Huntington station, passengers would ask to stop at “Morgan Hill’s Ranch”, which eventually shortened to “Morgan Hill”.
On November 10, 1906, the planned community, a result of the divisions of C. H. Phillips, was incorporated as the Town of Morgan Hill. Hiram Morgan and Diana Hill’s only child, Diana Murphy Hill, married the French nobleman, Baron Hadouin de Reinach-Werth, and thus Baron Hadouin started to help manage Hiram Morgan Hill’s properties between California and Nevada. However, the baron was called back to France to serve in the military and never returned. In 1913, Hiram Morgan Hill died at his Elko estate in Nevada, thus leaving his properties to his daughter. Diana Murphy Hill later remarried, in 1916, to Sir George Rhodes, thus causing the Murphy heiress of the Morgan Hill estate to relocate to the United Kingdom, taking her and Hiram Morgan Hill’s daughter, Diana Murphy Hill, thus finally selling off the Villa Mira Monte and ending the Hill family presence in the community named after them.
View of El Toro Mountain.
Morgan Hill is approximately 39 km (24 mi) south of downtown San Jose, 21 km (13 mi) north of Gilroy, and 24 km (15 mi) inland from the Pacific coast. Lying in a roughly 6 km-wide (4-mi-wide) southern extension of the Santa Clara Valley, it is bounded by the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west and the Diablo Range to the east. At the valley floor, Morgan Hill lies at an elevation of about 107 m (350 ft) above MSL.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city encompasses an area of 12.9 square miles (33 km2), all land. Although there are no natural lakes or ponds within the city limits, there are several flood-control and water storage reservoirs in the adjacent hills which are operated by the Santa Clara Valley Water District, with recreational activities such as boating, etc., administered by the Santa Clara County Department of Parks and Recreation.
Anderson Lake reservoir and park, in northeastern Morgan Hill.
Morgan Hill and El Toro, in the southern Santa Clara Valley.
Morgan Hill is located within the seismically active San Francisco Bay region. The significant earthquakes in the region are generally associated with crustal movements along well-defined, active fault zones. The nearest known active faults are the San Andreas Fault, approximately 19 km (12 mi) southwest, and the Calaveras Fault, approximately 1.6 km (0.99 mi) northeast. Both faults have produced major earthquakes in the past, and have estimated maximum credible Richter magnitudes of 8.3 and 7.3 respectively. The 1984 Morgan Hill earthquake registered at a 6.2 magnitude.
The Sargent-Berrocal Fault, a potentially active fault, lies 16 km (9.9 mi) away from the sites and has an estimated maximum credible Richter magnitude of 7.4. The Coyote Creek Fault is located in Morgan Hill and is classified as potentially active as well. In addition, several unnamed faults traverse the western slopes of the upland areas. Geomorphic evidence suggests that these faults were active during recent geologic time. However, these fault-related geomorphic features are not as fresh as those of the active Calaveras Fault and are considered to be somewhat older.
Morgan Hill is one of very few sources for a type of semi-precious gemstone marketed under the name “Morgan Hill poppy jasper“. According to geologists, this local variety of orbicular jasper formed through a combination of volcanic and seismic activity on the slopes of El Toro. Known extant deposits of the mineral are located on private lands, not accessible to the public. A local business, El Toro Brewing Company, has a collection of poppy jasper on display at their rural Morgan Hill brewery and on a large bar top inlaid with the stone at their brewpub in downtown Morgan Hill. Examples are also on display at the Morgan Hill Museum and at the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center. The local Poppy Jasper Film Festival is also named after the mineral.
The highlight of local geography is El Toro. According to a local legend of the early 1900s, author Bret Harte named the hill when he climbed it and discovered two bulls fighting near the summit (they subsequently chased him back down). The official name shown on the U.S. Geological Survey‘s maps is simply “El Toro”, although locals may refer to the hill as “Murphy’s Peak”. Visitors, not aware of the origin of the town’s name, often mistakenly assume that El Toro is “Morgan” Hill. It is USGS Feature ID# 223063 in the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS), maintained by the United States Board on Geographic Names. Elevation at the summit is about 435 m (1427 ft). The iconic hill overshadowing the town to the west, has been incorporated into the city’s seal and official logo.
Due to the moderating influence of the Pacific Ocean, Morgan Hill enjoys a mild, 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.
The 2000 U.S. Census reported there were 33,556 people, 10,846 households, and 8,633 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,875.4 people per square mile (1,110.2/km2). There were 11,091 housing units at an average density of 950.3/sq mi (366.9/km2). The ethnic makeup of the city was 72.40% White, 1.71% African American, 1.08% Native American, 6.02% Asian, 0.23% Pacific Islander, 13.43% from other races, and 5.13% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 27.50% of the population.
There were 10,846 households out of which 44.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63.2% were married couples living together, 11.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20.4% were non-families. 15.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.05 and the average family size was 3.38.
In the city, the population was spread out with 30.5% under the age of 18, 7.6% from 18 to 24, 31.7% from 25 to 44, 22.7% from 45 to 64, and 7.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 98.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.9 males.
According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the city was $99,243, and the median income for a family was $108,611. Males had a median income of $61,999 versus $42,003 for females. The per capita income for the city was $33,047. About 3.3% of families and 4.7% of the population were below the poverty threshold, including 5.4% of those under age 18 and 4.9% of those age 65 or over.
Substantial expansion of the population of Morgan Hill occurred from the late 1980s onward. This population expansion was enabled by the removal of a growth constraint in the form of sewage treatment capacity.
Statue to town founders H. Morgan Hill and Diana Murphy’s family.
The historic United Methodist Church on Monterey Street.
The 2010 U.S. Census reported that Morgan Hill had a population of 37,882. The population density was 2,940.8 people per square mile (1,135.4/km²). The ethnic makeup of Morgan Hill was 24,713 (65.2%) White, 746 (2.0%) African American, 335 (0.9%) Native American, 3,852 (10.2%) Asian, 125 (0.3%) Pacific Islander, 5,779 (15.3%) from other races, and 2,332 (6.2%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 12,863 persons (34.0%).
The Census reported that 37,496 people (99.0% of the population) lived in households, 164 (0.4%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 222 (0.6%) were institutionalized.
There were 12,326 households, out of which 5,538 (44.9%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 7,581 (61.5%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 1,469 (11.9%) had a female householder with no husband present, 646 (5.2%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 660 (5.4%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 89 (0.7%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 1,998 households (16.2%) were made up of individuals and 757 (6.1%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.04. There were 9,696 families (78.7% of all households); the average family size was 3.39.
The population was spread out with 10,838 people (28.6%) under the age of 18, 2,909 people (7.7%) aged 18 to 24, 10,000 people (26.4%) aged 25 to 44, 10,537 people (27.8%) aged 45 to 64, and 3,598 people (9.5%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36.8 years. For every 100 females there were 97.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.5 males.
There were 12,859 housing units at an average density of 998.2 per square mile (385.4/km²), of which 8,793 (71.3%) were owner-occupied, and 3,533 (28.7%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.7%; the rental vacancy rate was 2.6%. 26,148 people (69.0% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 11,348 people (30.0%) lived in rental housing units.
Morgan Hill’s economy can be defined by its place within Silicon Valley, which characterizes the economy into two main categories: its status as an upscale leisure and residential community for Silicon Valley, which drives Morgan Hill’s real estate, recreation, hospitality, and entertainment industries, and its participation in the high-technology industries of Silicon Valley, which drive Morgan Hill’s technology companies, start-ups, and research & development firms.
Numerous companies of other industries are based in Morgan Hill as well, such as the Gryphon Financial Group (finance), Specialized Bicycle Components, (major global manufacturer of high performance bicycles), and the Paramit Corporation (high tech medical device manufacturer).
Morgan Hill is served by the weekly Morgan Hill Times, founded in 1894 and published by New SV Media. The biweekly Morgan Hill Life, lifestyle publication, founded in 2013, is published by Morgan Hill Life, LLC.
Notable high tech companies that are headquartered or have their American headquarters in Morgan Hill include Anritsu (Japanese telecommunications company), Flextronics (the world’s 2nd largest electronics-manufacturing service provider), Velodyne (sensor and laser developer), TenCate Advanced Composites (Dutch advanced composite materials manufacturer), and the Paramit Corporation (high tech medical device manufacturer).
High tech companies that have research & development or manufacturing facilities in Morgan Hill include the Harris Corporation(information & defense contractor), Infineon Technologies (semiconductor & chip manufacturer), and NxEdge Inc. (semiconductor & business solutions company).
Downtown Morgan Hill on Monterey Street (top and center) and Third Street Plaza (bottom).
Parks and Recreation
The Morgan Hill Community Playhouse Theatre, downtown.
- Anderson Lake County Park,immediately east of Morgan Hill
- Coyote Creek Parkway,north of Morgan Hill, extending to San Jose
- Henry W. Coe State Park, the second-largest state park in California
- Uvas Canyon County Park, located a few miles west of Morgan Hill in the Santa Cruz Mountains
- Galvan Park
- Morgan Hill Community Park, including a skate park and off-leash dog park
- Centennial Recreation Center, with gymnasium, indoor swimming pool, senior center, youth center and computer facility
- Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center, amphitheater and satellite campus of Gavilan College
- Morgan Hill Aquatic Center
- Morgan Hill Outdoor Sports Center
Morgan Hill’s government is composed of the Morgan Hill City Council, its legislative branch, the Mayor of Morgan Hill, its semi-executive branch, and the departments of Morgan Hill City Hall. The current Mayor of Morgan Hill is Steve Tate, who has served as such since 2006. The current Morgan Hill City Manager is Steve Rymer.
In the California State Legislature, Morgan Hill is represented through the 17th Senate District, represented by Democrat Bill Monning, and in the 30th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Anna Caballero.
The historic Morgan Hill School Building houses the Stratford School .
Primary & Secondary Schools
The Morgan Hill Unified School District serves the community.
Morgan Hill’s public high schools are Live Oak High School, south Santa Clara County’s oldest secondary school (est. 1904), Ann Sobrato High School, and Central High School.
Morgan Hill’s location in southern Silicon Valley makes it very accessible to the numerous, world-known universities and institutions located throughout the Silicon Valley/South Bay Area region, such as Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, Santa Clara University, and Saint Mary’s College of California.
Morgan Hill also hosts a campus of Gavilan College.
Santa Clara County Library District operates the Morgan Hill Library.
Marina Klimova, Soviet Olympian.
- Charles Kellog, famed Californian naturalist and actor
- Wade Dominguez, actor, model, and performer, known for his role in Dangerous Minds
- Tom R. Ferguson, world champion and inductee into the Rodeo Hall of Fame
- Zhang Jinjing, former Chinese Olympic gymnast
- Marina Klimova, former Soviet Olympic ice dancer
- Alatini Saulala, former Tongan rugby player for the American National Team
- Scott Clark, former BMX world champion
- Jared Allen, former football player for the Chicago Bears
- Bob Stoddard, former football player for the Seattle Marinersand the Kansas City Royals
- Bill Berry, former basketball coach for the Chicago Bulls
- Ricky Berry, former basketball player for the Sacramento Kings
- Ron Caragher, former football coach for the San Jose State Spartans
- Rhett Hall, former football player for the Philadelphia Eagles
- Daniel Holloway, cyclist and multiple National Criteriumchampion
- James Hibbard, cycling champion
- Ryan Neufeld, former football player for the Dallas Cowboys
- Jeff Ulbrich, football coach for the Atlanta Falcons, former player for the San Francisco 49ers
- Dave Salzwedel, former soccer player for the San Jose Clash
- Jimmy Vasser, champion IndyCarracer
- Helder Antunes, Portuguese-born Silicon Valleyexecutive, former racecar driver
- Ole Fahlin, Swedish-born aviator and developer for Lockheed Martin
- Seferihisar, Izmir, Turkey
- San Casciano in Val di Pesa, Italy
- San Martín de Hidalgo, Jalisco, Mexico
- Mizuho, Tokyo, Japan
- Headford, County Galway, Ireland
If you have a guest overflow and need hotel rooms there are no less than 13 national hotel chain properties in Morgan Hill with a new downtown hotel under construction that will also house four restaurants. Hotels include Courtyard by Marriott, Hampton Inn, Executive Inn, Residence Inn, Quality Inn, Microtel and Holiday Express.
Morgan Hill is unquestionably the most athletic area in Northern California, bar none. If you are a fitness disciple or outdoor person, there are hundreds of miles of trails all around Morgan Hill where you can walk, bike, run, hike, backpack and ride horseback. The popular Coyote Trail is a wide asphalt pathway that runs 15.5 miles to Hellyer Park in San Jose. Plus there is Henry Coe State Park covering over 80,000 acres crisscrossed with trails and campsites for hikers and backpackers . . . plus all four reservoirs are surrounded by trails.
The Morgan Hill Recreational Center at Centennial Park houses a world-class gym and a huge indoor pool with offers a host of fitness programs. Centennial Park has a dog park, picnic areas, athletic fields, tennis courts and a skateboard park. It’s an amazing place for any city or town to have especially one as small as Morgan Hill. The Morgan Hill Aquatic Center is the aquatics hub for the South Bay with two large waterslides, a water play feature, splash pad, a full size competition pool and a warm instructional pool. And lastly, there is the Morgan Hill Outdoor Sports Center that has two full-size synthetic turf sports fields and nine grass fields. This facility hosts national and regional field sports events throughout the year.