Gilroy is the southernmost city in Santa Clara County, California, USA. According to the United States 2000 Census, the city population was 41,464. The California Department of Finance estimates that the population had grown to 51,173 as of January 1, 2008, making it the 173rd largest city in the state. Gilroy is well known for its garlic crop; the Gilroy Garlic Festival which occurs annually, featuring various garlicky foods including garlic ice cream. Gilroy also produces mushrooms in considerable quantity.
Approximately eight miles northeast of Gilroy, via Gilroy Hot Springs Road, lies the famous Victorian resort Gilroy Yamato Hot Springs, a California Historical Landmark. Gilroy also is home to the Gilroy Premium Outlets, a large shopping center consisting entirely of outlet stores.
Long-time local landmarks include Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park, formerly Treehaven, Hecker Pass...A Family Adventure, (a venue for corporate picnics and birthday parties). The park is located along SR152 west of town. Past Gilroy Gardens on SR152 about 12 driving miles west of town is Mount Madonna County Park. Another large presence is the Gilroy Foods plant at .
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 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, the Todd arrived at the Presidio of Monterey. 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 jumped ship or, depending on the historical source, was left ashore to recover from scurvy. In any event he found his way to San Ysidro, converted to Roman Catholicism and became the first non-Spanish settler in Alta California legally recognized by the Spanish crown. More Americans and Europeans entered the region over time, but the area remained under the control of Spain (and after 1821, independent Mexico); Gilroy married the daughter of his employer and eventually became alcalde of the village himself.
When the annexation of California by the United States in 1848 was followed by the discovery of gold in the Sierra Nevada, the trickle of immigrants from the eastern states became frequent. As many of the original 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 (the locale of the original village is today a sparsely populated area known as Old Gilroy). 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-nineteenth 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 a 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 to the northeast is the historic resort site Gilroy Yamato Hot Springs, developed in the late 1800s.
Continental Telephone offered manual telephone service until the arrival of dial phones in the late 1940s. Manual service in Gilroy used magneto phones which required the user to turn a crank in order to generate ringing battery, ringing the operator's switchboard. There were dry cell batteries inside the phones to provide talk battery.
Some manual service in rural Gilroy was on party lines with complicated ringing schemes. Users heard their own rings and rings directed at other party line users. In theory, subscribers only answered their own ring. One rancher reported his ring to be, "two long and two short." You could call someone on your own party line if you knew their ring. If their ring was "two short," for example, you would turn the magneto crank to generate two short rings and then wait on the line. If you didn't know their ring, the operator would help you. Some manual service customers had private lines. With the acquisition of ConTel by General Telephone in the 1980s, Gilroy now has service from Verizon (General Telephone, or GTE, became part of Verizon in June 2000).
Gilroy is located at (37.012048, -121.580080). 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 (19.2 mi) inland from the Pacific Coast. 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 41.1 km² (15.9 mi²). 41.1 km² (15.9 mi²) 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. In addition, the Gilroy Foods plant east of Highway 101 generates a garlicky odor that can spread all the way to the southern suburbs of San Jose, about north.
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. The age distribution is: 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 $77,120, and the median income for a family was $65,330. Males had a median income of $45,759 versus $34,710 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,071. 10.4% of the population and 7.3% of families were below the poverty line. 12.8% of those under 18 and 6.5% of those 65 and older are below the poverty line.