Campbell is a city in Santa Clara County, California, a suburb of San Jose, and part of Silicon Valley, in the San Francisco Bay Area. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, Campbell’s population is 39,349. Although not a major high-tech city like many of its neighbors, Campbell is the original home of eBay and of its creator, Pierre Omidyar. Campbell is home to the Pruneyard Shopping Center, a sprawling open-air retail complex which was involved in a famous U.S. Supreme Court case that established the extent of the right to free speech in California. Today the Pruneyard Shopping Center is home to the South Bay offices of the FBI.
Campbell is bordered on the east and north by San Jose, on the south by Los Gatos, and on the west by a small portion of Saratoga. The 2010 United States Census reported that Campbell had a population of 39,349. Barracuda Networks, Move and YouSendIt are among the companies based in Campbell.
Campbell was founded by Benjamin Campbell, after whom the city was named. He came to California in 1846 with his father, William Campbell. William started a sawmill in Saratoga and surveyed the cities of San Jose and Santa Clara. In 1851, Benjamin bought 160 acres in southern Santa Clara Valley and cultivated hay and grain on it. This area later became Campbell’s historical downtown core. About a third of Campbell was a part of the 1839 Alta California Rancho Rinconada de Los Gatos land grant. The Northern extent of the granted land was along present-day Rincon Avenue and across the North end of John D. Morgan Park in central Campbell.
In 1878, Campbell sold his land for $5 an acre to a railroad company. By 1887, the first subdivision was recorded west of the railroad from Campbell Avenue to the spot where the Water Tower Plaza now stands. The area became the center for shipping fruit grown in the surrounding area, and within a short time, the drying grounds and canneries made Campbell an important rail center. The Campbell Fruit Growers’ Union became a well-known cooperative with its 17-acre drying yard. J.C. Ainsley Packing Company, Hyde Cannery, and Payne Cannery were the main fruit packing companies. The Bank of Campbell was founded in 1895.
Campbell was officially incorporated as a city in 1952. The city then grew rapidly as orchard lands disappeared tract by tract. Today, Campbell is a suburban residential neighborhood in the southern part of the Santa Clara Valley.