Welcome to Danville
For over 130 years, Danville’s history has been one of change and growth. Often referred to as the “Heart of the San Ramon Valley.” Danville was first populated by Indians who lived next to the creeks and camped on Mount Diablo in the summer. Later it was part of Mission San Jose’s grazing land and a Mexican land grant called Rancho San Ramon.
Churches, schools, farmers unions and fraternal lodges began as the community evolved. The Union Academy, a private high school began by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, served the County from 1859 to 1868 until it burned down. The Danville Presbyterian Church was dedicated in 1875, following a vote of Protestants regarding what denomination it should be.
The twentieth century found Danville affected by the wars, the Spanish flu and the depression. The Valley became a melting pot of Chinese, Portuguese, German, and Japanese immigrants. They often began working in the hay fields or as cooks and
gardeners, later becoming blacksmiths, landowners, teachers and storekeepers. Residents worked diligently to improve their community. In 1910 a public high school district was organized and San Ramon Valley Union High School was built. A library
supervised by Lillian Close opened in 1913 with 104 books. St. Isidore’s Catholic Church was first established at Hartz and Linda Mesa in 1910, and an improvement league spearheaded the first streetlights and paved roads in 1915.
Danville continued to be farm country well into the 1940s. The whole valley had 2,120 people in 1940, growing to 4,630 by 1950. Developments such as Montair and Cameo Acres were built, the water and sewer districts extended their boundaries, and the new I-680 freeway which sliced through Danville in the mid 1960s altered Danville permanently.
The Valley population leapt from 12,700 in 1960 to 25,900 in 1970, to 41,100 in 1975 to 57,300 in 1980. The 1980 census showed that 82 percent of Danville’s 26,500 had arrived after 1970. In 2000, Danville’s population was 41,715. The days when everyone knew everybody else were long gone. In 1982, Danville citizens showed their strong sense of identity by voting to incorporate their community, allowing themselves to shape future changes more directly.
After 130 years, the small settlement on the banks of the creek has grown from a blacksmith shop to a thriving community
Excerpts from summery written by Beverly Lane, with the assistance of Irma Dotson, Charlotte Wood, Wilson Close,
and Marilyn Cozine. www.ci.danville.ca.us
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