History of Saratoga California

Saratoga California has a long and interesting history spanning over 160 years.

Saratoga Ca was named after Saratoga Springs NY after it was discovered that the two areas shared a similar mineral composition.

Saratoga over the years became well known for orchards featuring apricots, plums and of course grapes. Over time orchards were replaced with suburban homes for people working in Palo Alto, Mountain View and Sunnyvale.

1956 GMC 300 Series 2 Ton Firetruck

1956 GMC 300 Series 2 ton Chassis with a 196-B American LaFrance pumper unit.

325 Gallon Tank with a Meyer H.P. Pump.

Part of the Saratoga Fire Department Rescue Squad photo taken on 6-24.1977 by long term San Jose Resident Willard W. Sorensen 7/10/1918 – 12/6/2013.

This pumper truck saw duty with the Saratoga Fire Department right up until 1977.

Originally equipped with the GMC 316 Cubic Inch Displacement when topped off with a 2bbl carburetor and 7.9 compression ratio this nifty nailhead put out a reasonably healthy 192 Gross HP at 4400 RPM. Interesting to note, GMC did not have their own V8 to use, so these were factory equipped with Pontiac engines instead, then mated to the 4-speed hydromatic transmission. GM division in 1956 used a granny low on the hydromatic because it used a simple fluid coupler and no torque converter multiplication factor without the aid of this very steep 1st gear the trucks acceleration would have been poor to virtually nonexistent!

Paul Masson Winery

Good to the last pop

Paul Masson winery on 13150 Saratoga Ave constructed in 1959 it was a distinctive Saratoga landmark till its closing in 1986. During that short 27-years of operation, Paul Masson managed to bring millions of visitors to Saratoga Ca from every part of the globe.

Older residents knew it well with the spiral staircase that leads eventually to a large tasting room filled with laughter, conversations, and the happy sounds of glasses clinking. The water fountain out front proudly splashing crystal clear water that made for a very special Kodak moment for so many visitors.

Boarded up for about four years eventually the Caterpiller D9 bulldozers rolled and by around February 1990 except in pictures and memories it was gone for good and replaced with a housing development.

Saratoga in the 1940s

Saratoga in the ’40s was a very remote area sure there were a few houses, but there were many country-style cabins, family farms, and fruit trees. It was part of our rich heritage. Saratoga had good soil and a mild climate that made it ideal for growing food.

The invention of the transistor at Bell Labs by a gentleman named William Shockley in 1947 would put the High Tech wheels in motion for this area after he opened Shockley Semiconductor Labs in Mountain View. Sherman Fairchild and seven other employees from Shockley Semiconductor Labs would later leave and in turn start new ventures like Intel, AMD, Nvidia, and other famous silicon valley companies. The vacuum tube was officially on life support as it was systematically being replaced by a far less costly, smaller, lighter and less power consuming transistor.

Transistors now made it feasible to take entertainment on the road in forms of small, lightweight portable electronics that could run for weeks on a couple of small inexpensive batteries.

With all this Silicon Valley invention it brought cash and lots of it as well as the need for assembly labor and development engineers. As companies grew the need for housing exploded, and part of that explosion was the family farm was to become a family neighborhood development, and orchards became shopping malls.

Century Theaters

The Last Time

A most recognizable landmark of San Jose the Century 21, 22, and 23 movie theaters are the latest victims of modernization that have now placed them into memory status. The DOMES as locals called them are no longer; the property now has become part of Santana Row. Gone is the overwhelming smell of butter type oil substance smothered all over the fluffy white popcorn kernels.

The sticky floor that had 100’s of sodas spilled on them and never quite cleaned up properly, the overpriced concessions, video games with cigarette burned buttons. It can be said however in that disarray we will miss the charm of what was and will never be again.

Many will remember the signboard out front proudly displaying Hollywood hits like The Godfather and Star Wars, but those days are “Gone With The Wind.”

We will never pass this way again