Sunnyvale and the Giant Can

These days I’m staying in Sunnyvale CA and I’m not entirely sure what to make of the place. On one hand, you’ll find a historical street or two off El Camino Real with cute little cottage-like houses that fit in with the orchard/farming community that was once Sunnyvale. But, a block away is a huge shopping monstrosity and across El Camino is strip mall hell.

Drive a bit further and you see large industrial plants. I’m not sure what kind of industry, but it’s been here a while because entire communities of tiny industrial row housing that have build up around these plants… now inhabited by a mish-mash of interesting cultures.

Drive a bit further through parkland and massive hedges and you’ll find a different kind of industry: tech companies. I think this is where the Silicon in Silicon Valley originally comes from because the old companies are well established in this part of California: Texas Instruments, Lockheed Martin, AMD, Intel, Maxim, Honeywell, AppliedMicro, and Northrop Grumman; companies that got their start building hardware, processors and silicon chipsets for defence and aerospace markets.

There’s not much left in the way of historical buildings in Sunnyvale; it seems buildings are torn down rather frequently. The city archives list a factory or two as historical landmarks. Canning was big before Silicon took over… particularly Libby’s canning. All that remains from the Libby’s era is the Water Tower on California Ave, which makes me think of canned spaghetti every time I see it. I still can’t believe that we still put pre-made food, meat, fruit and vegetables in a can… but that’s something entirely different.

The sign under the tower reads:

Libby, McNeill & Libby opened in 1907 and by 1922 became the world’s largest cannery. The original tower supplied water to the cannery and its workers and was replaced in 1965 by the present structure.

The area surrounding the tower is cute with a small garden, trees and enough space for a dog to play.

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