The town of Los Gatos is a small, upscale community nestled in the foothills of the verdant, forested Santa Cruz Mountains, southwest of San Jose. Los Gatos is one of the oldest communities in the area, with its roots dating back to the 1840s when it was part of a 6,600 acre Alta California land-grant. The area was originally, informally known as La Rinconada de Los Gatos (Cats Corner), a reference to the many mountain lions that could be heard prowling the hills nearby.
The first real development in the town was a Flower Mill built in 1854 by James Alexander Forbes, a Scottish settler and former Vice-Counsel in San Francisco for Britain. Recognizing the need for a mill that could process the grain produced by the nearby farms in San Jose, Forbes built his mill along Los Gatos Creek amidst the 3,000 acres of land he had purchased in 1850. The establishment of the mill marked a turning point in the history of the area – a new era following the Mexican-American War when land ownership began to shift from the Californio Dons to the settlers arriving from the east. The town that began to grow up around the mill was first called Forbes Mill, then Forbestown, and then finally Los Gatos. The town was fully incorporated in 1887. Although the original 4-story mill building was torn down in the 1920s, a two-story annex that was built in 1880 still exists today and serves as museum.
A portion of the town known as the Los Gatos Historic Commerical District is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and features numerous buildings originating from the early 1900s with varied architectural styles. The town is also known for its many well-restored Victorian homes, upscale boutique-shops, and antique stores.
One of the wealthiest communities in Silicon Valley, the median home value in the town is one of highest in the nation. Although Los Gatos is composed mostly of residential homes and light commercial zoning, it is also home to the headquarters of Netflix.