From 1891 when the Southern Pacific Railroad opened its San Ramon branch, the Tri-Valley region’s momentum toward a hub of culture, commerce and community was set in motion.
Making for an unexpected beginning, the roots of Bishop Ranch trace all the way back to one of Northern California’s earliest divorce cases. Thomas Bishop served as a lawyer in the separation of a Mr. and Mrs. Norris in 1891, eventually getting paid in 960 acres of beautiful, sprawling farm land. Over the following decades, Bishop and his family expanded the ranch with pear trees, walnut groves and herds of sheep.
Planted in 1911, Bishop Ranch’s Bartlett pear orchard grew to be recognized as the single largest orchard in the world by the 1940s. At the same time, the San Ramon Community Hall drew in the many surrounding ranching families to one welcoming spot for plays, dances and school programs—an early ancestor for what was to come.
With the opening of the I-680 freeway, one of the Bay Area’s most well-traversed thoroughfares, San Ramon extended its reach significantly. Capitalizing on this new accessibility, Western Electric bought Bishop Ranch, proposing the creation of a so-called “model city” with a master-planned collection of parks, housing, stores and more, marking the transition from agricultural hotspot to a new era of expansion and development.
In 1978, Sunset Development purchased Bishop Ranch from Western Electric, overseeing the area’s transition to stunningly scenic, suburban destination. Jobs and new housing continued to thrive along the Tri-Valley area, and Bishop Ranch grew right along with them.
San Ramon was incorporated as a new city in 1983, and one year later, Chevron made the move to the Bishop Ranch campus. Not far behind, Pacific Bell completed the largest corporate relocation in United States history to date, bringing 7,500 employees to the city.
Reaching 10 million square feet of office, retail and hotel space, Bishop Ranch came into its own as one of America’s premier corporate locations, complete with a dedicated transportation center as part of Bishop Ranch’s award-winning transportation management plan.
The new San Ramon City Hall debuted in 2016 at Bishop Ranch, solidifying the site as a focal point for regional and local leadership. The opening of City Center in fall 2018 signals a new era in an always-innovative destination designed to serve the community in which it resides, promising to be a true icon for the Bay Area’s Tri-Valley region.