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Learn About Mountain View History

Mountain View History

Castro St., 1904From its earliest days as Native American Ohlone land, from the agricultural paradise known as The Valley of the Heart’s Delight to the Silicon Valley tech boom, Mountain View’s transformation has been amazing.

In 1842, over 8,000 acres—encompassing most of present-day Mountain View-- were granted to the Castro family by the Mexican government. They named their vast property Rancho Pastoria de las Borregas. Another, smaller land grant, called Rancho Posolmi, was owned by Inigo Lope on his ancestral Ohlone land in the North Bayshore area.

Mountain View began as a stagecoach stop between San Jose and San Francisco in 1849. A blacksmith shop, store, hotel, saloon, and school were built along what is now El Camino Real. When the railroad was built in 1864, the center of town shifted to Castro Street, near the train tracks.

Mountain View History Slideshow

Mountain View History Center

Rogers and Rogers General MerchandiseThe Mountain View History Center, located on the second floor of the Library, houses information about Mountain View's past. We collect and preserve books, maps, photographs, directories, newspapers, school yearbooks, and other materials pertaining to Mountain View's heritage. We display artifacts that reflect both the changing and enduring natures of the area once known as The Valley of the Heart’s Delight. The collection is owned jointly by the Library and the Mountain View Historical Association.

Much of our collection comes from donations of personal items. Potential additions to the collection are evaluated on an individual basis. Due to the unique nature of the collection, materials stored in the History Center do not circulate.

Fire engineWe enjoy sharing our local history with children. Contact us to arrange a class tour that highlights the history of our city and our agricultural past.

The History Center is open Tuesdays from 1–5 p.m., or by appointment. Call 650-903-6890 during open hours or use the Contact Us form.

Mountain View Photographs and Oral Histories Online

The Mountain View History Center’s archive of historic photographs is available online at This collection includes audio recordings of oral interviews from Mountain View’s Japanese, Mexican, and Spanish immigrants. These materials are made available by California Revealed, a state Library-funded project to scan and digitize local history collections.

Books about Mountain View

CALL # 979.473
TITLE Bittersweet : memories of Old Mountain View, an oral history / prepared by The Mountain View Public Library
Link to the Library Catalog

CALL # 979.473 Ignoffo
AUTHOR Ignoffo, Mary Jo, 1955-
TITLE Milestones : a history of Mountain View, California / by Mary Jo Ignoffo.
Link to the Library Catalog

CALL # 979.473 Perry
AUTHOR Perry, Nicholas.
TITLE Mountain View / Nicholas Perry ; photographs by Kimberly Chan.
Link to the Library Catalog

CALL # 979.473 Perry
AUTHOR Perry, Nicholas.
TITLE Mountain View / Nicholas Perry.
Link to the Library Catalog