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Campbell City


Campbell City Hall is located at 70 North First Street, Campbell, CA 95009; phone: 408-866-2100.

John Colpitts Ainsley House, ca. 1925, 300 Grant Street, Campbell, CA, National Register

Photo: John Colpitts Ainsley House, ca. 1925, 300 Grant Street, Campbell, CA. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. Photographed by User:JaGa (own work), 2008, [cc-by-3.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons, accessed May, 2016.

Beginnings [1]

The City of Campbell takes its name from Benjamin Campbell, an early landowner, rancher and farmer of the area. From 1885 to 1888, Benjamin Campbell served as the first Postmaster from his home, which was located on Campbell Avenue between what is today First and Second Streets. On his land was the "flag stop" on the railroad from Santa Clara to Santa Cruz. In 1886, several buildings were constructed on the Campbell property including a train depot known as "Campbell Station" and a town hall for social gatherings. In 1888, the first residential lot in the first subdivision of Campbell's property was sold. Campbell had a fire department and newspaper by 1895, grammar school by 1888, and a high school by 1900.

Campbell's ideal location in the Santa Clara Valley, dubbed the "Valley of Heart's Delight" because of its rich agricultural soils, made it a home to many of the world's largest fruit drying grounds and some of the finest canneries. Campbell became known as the "Orchard City" in the very beginning of its history as most of the land within the area was devoted to agricultural use, primarily orchards. In 1887, the first use of the land for industrial purposes was the development of one of the largest drying grounds in the world. The drying grounds had been built adjacent to the tracks south of the depot. The dried crops included prunes, apricots, plums and apples.

John Colpitts Ainsley founded the J.C. Ainsley Packing Company in Campbell, which was one of the finest canneries in California. The packing company was a vital part of the Campbell community, which operated from 1893 until 1933 when Mr. Ainsley sold the cannery to the Drew Canning Company. Other big company names in Campbell's fruit canning and drying business include the George A. Fleming Company, Frank Buxton's Fruit Drying Works, George E. Hyde and Company, The Orchard City Canning Company, Campbell Horticultural Association, Campbell Fruit Growers' Union, Campbell Farmers Union Packing Company and the California Prune and Apricot Growers Association that marketed fruit under the famous brand name of Sunsweet.

By the time the city was incorporated, on March 28, 1952, there was a well-established downtown center and many of the orchards, which gave Campbell its "Orchard City" nickname, were being replaced by housing, commerce and industry. Today, agriculture is practically non-existent as an industry in Campbell. Campbell prides itself for being a well-balanced community in the center of booming "Silicon Valley." It has a variety of housing options and has many technology firms and professional offices, providing Campbell with a balance of housing and jobs.

  1. City of Campbell, California, The City of Campbell General Plan, 2001, 2014 & 2015, www.ci.campbell.ca.us, accessed May, 2016.
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