Originally, the Danville area of Northern California was home to a group of indigenous Bay Miwok Indians and Mexican ranchers. Its fertile lands and moderate temperatures were perfect for raising livestock and agriculture. But in 1848 when gold was found at nearby Sutter’s Mill, thousands of forty-niners rushed to California and everything changed. One of those gold miners, Daniel Inman, used his newly-acquired wealth to purchase 10,000 acres and Danville, as we know it today, was born.
“Fortune Magazine” once listed Danville as one of the top 100 places to live in the United States. Undoubtedly, the town’s 42,000 residents would agree. Some of the people who have called Danville home over the years include playwright Eugene O’Neill, cartoonist Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert), and football analyst John Madden. Phineas and Ferb, the titular characters from the cartoon of the same name, live in a “fictionalized” version of Danville. And did you know that celebrity supermodel Christy Turlington grew up here too? Yes, she did.
Here’s an interesting tidbit: Danville is not officially a city. That’s right. In 1982 when citizens officially incorporated their community, they chose to refer to themselves as the Town of Danville. Perhaps this was a way for the locality to maintain their small-town heritage. Perspective is everything, as they say.
Unquestionably Danville is a small town with a rustic and woodsy tint. It is only 18 square miles, after all. But it is also a super ritzy place to live. Businessweek.com once tagged Danville as the 41st most expensive area in the United States. And it remains the wealthiest suburb in the San Francisco Bay Area. As a result, the landscape is rife with exclusive country clubs and upscale homes.
But where is all that personal income coming from? The largest employer in Danville is Costco. And the town is home to the global headquarters of Asia Pacific Airlines. Danville’s elite have prospered from real estate ventures, farming ventures, and opportunities up and down the peninsula. Keep in mind that Silicon Valley is just a commute distance away. And as we all know, the business culture in this area is booming.
While not technically located in California’s world famous Wine Country, Danville is nonetheless part of Northern California’s celebrated wine heritage. After Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley, Danville and its neighbors in the Tri-Valley area offer the most concentrated selection of vineyards in California. If you’re a wine lover, take a drive to Livermore (just 19 miles away from downtown Danville). The expansive vineyards and wineries offer incredible wine tasting tours.
And finally, as mentioned earlier, Eugene O’Neill lived in Danville for a short period of his life from 1937 to 1944. O’Neill is widely considered to be one of the best playwrights in the English-speaking world. During his time in Danville he wrote his last six plays, including A Moon for the Misbegotten, The Iceman Cometh, and his most iconic play, Long Day’s Journey Into Night. His house was declared a National Historic Landmark back in 1971 and is open (via reservations) for group tours. Visit www.eugeneoneill.org for more information.