Ford Motor Plant/Great Mall of the Bay Area


In 1952, Ford Motor Corporation decided to relocate its northern California assembly plant from Richmond, where it had outgrown the available site, to Milpitas. At the time, Milpitas was unincorporated county land to the northeast of San Josť. However, the Western Pacific Railroad had bought up 1,600 acres of mostly west and northwest Milpitas after 1946 to create an industrial park. Much of the acreage was marshy wetlands. The railroad dug drainage ditches, connected to potable water, and started building a sewer system so that Santa Clara County would issue permits for the industrial park.  The Ford company purchased about 160 acres from the Western Pacific Railroad. Since the closest city to the plant was San Josť, Ford called their new plant the San Jose Ford Motor Assembly Plant.

Our city formed as a defensive incorporation in 1954 to keep the Ford plant and the village from being swallowed up by a growing San Josť. In 1960, an election was held to determine whether young Milpitas would join with the expanding San Josť. The local activists in favor of remaining independent of the larger city to the south saw themselves as fighting off a behemoth. Because they thought of their campaign against incorporation into San Josť as the same kind of fight for independence that our forefathers waged in the Revolutionary War against the British, they made their symbol the minuteman and following their overwhelmingly lopsided victory in the election, they made the image of the famous minuteman statue part of the official city seal.

In the early 1980s the Ford plant stopped operations. Gradually, machinery was removed from the lines and moved to other facilities.  In 1992, Ford determined to transform the defunct plant into a modern enclosed shopping mall called The Great Mall of the Bay Area.

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