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By John Pearley Huffman
Photos by Morgan Segal

Silicon Valley is the most American of places: a boomtown, one where the future is being designed, coded, engineered and marketed.

Read the full article from New Roads magazine below:

In Silicon Valley, extraordinary things happen in ordinary places. Here, a lack of permanence and the constant quest to spot the next big thing go hand in hand. Small cities like Palo Alto, Los Altos, Cupertino, Menlo Park, Sunnyvale and Mountain View-once commuter bedrooms for San Francisco-are now home to some of the most valuable technology companies on Earth.

The 250-mile drive to the edge of the Santa Clara Valley from my home in Santa Barbara is a uniquely Californian jolt of time travel. Through this endless stretch of farmland, there's no glamour, no hint of high technology. Drive north on one of the less-traveled roads that parallel the main highway, U.S. Route 101, and you'll see the fading remnants of the valley's pre-20th-century history: orchards, small ranches and villages.

A scant 30 miles separates the southern Santa Clara Valley agricultural town of Gilroy from the city of San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley. Suburban Morgan Hill, with its big-box retail stores, is the buffer between a world similar to the one most of us live in and another that is quite different.

Apple's otherworldly new campus in Cupertino brings that contrast into sharp focus. Its spaceship-like design fits the place that brand faithful refer to as "the mothership." When complete, the four-story structure will accommodate about 13,000 employees. It will be encased in miles of curved glass and run on clean power. Much of the land under it was once Hewlett-Packard's campus, but Apple will transform the site into 80 percent greenspace that brings back the landscaping once native to this area of Silicon Valley.


The new Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park (430,000 square feet) is largely undivided on the inside, with nine acres of park-like greenspace on the roof. Like Apple's new digs, it's tremendously cutting edge, and, similarly, its location also underscores one of the themes of Silicon Valley-the 22-acre site originally housed Sun Microsystems in the 1980s. The Sun logo remains on the back of the Facebook sign, left there as a reminder that there is no such thing as permanence in Silicon Valley.

But Silicon Valley is about more than new empires building atop the old-it's a vital listening post.  Walk into any San Jose copy store, and you'll see people busy tweaking and making duplicates of presentations. Silicon Valley is full of stories about these places being frequented by curious eyes, ambitious people looking to see what others are up to-or simply eager to network with someone about a new opportunity.

The intellectual firepower of the valley is such that General Motors has established its Advanced Technology Silicon Valley Office there. "It's our eyes and ears in Silicon Valley," said Frankie James, the office's managing director. "It's where we network with other innovators and spot trends."


From the street, Buck's of Woodside looks like any unpretentious neighborhood watering hole. The lunch crowd tells a different story. It's one of the valley's key intersections between idea people and money people. The number of suits in an otherwise extremely casual place clues in the observant. PayPal was demonstrated here for the first time, and Hotmail was even incorporated here.

A visitor to the Los Altos home where Apple started might be surprised by how modest it looks. One difference: signs telling the curious to stay off the property and that all photography must be done from the street.

You’ll likely get more out of places like Intel’s corporate museum in Santa Clara, which peeks behind the scenes to show how computer processors are made (they’re printed on silicon chips, the ubiquitous substance that lends the valley its name).

The Computer History Museum in Mountain View is essential and engaging. It entertains while effectively demystifying many of the concepts that underlie Silicon Valley and our digital dependency.

And there are so many prototype autonomous cars running around Mountain View, they're almost impossible to miss. Even if actual collisions are rare.

One day, what now seems ordinary around Silicon Valley may be preserved as artifacts of a crucial turning point in history. But right now, it's a hard-working network of towns that's reinventing the rest of the world in its image, and what's going on there today is shaping the future.



The General Motors Advanced Technology Silicon Valley Office provides GM the opportunity to be part of the community, culture and overall creative vibe. It's the ideal place to observe the early adoption of technology trends and how they might affect vehicle design and mobility.

Most of all, having a presence there provides insight into how forward-thinking people see vehicles fitting into their lives.

Consumer demand for in-vehicle connectivity through personal devices was a key Silicon Valley observational breakthrough. Infotainment was the first prominent blending of automotive and personal technology. Now, greater implementation of ride-sharing services (such as Lyft) and autonomous-vehicle research looms large.

Vehicle power systems also will be key, and the all-new, all-electric Chevrolet Bolt EV, available late 2016, opens a new era. Priced as low as $30,0002 after federal tax credit, the Bolt EV is expected to offer more than 200 miles of range.3

Its range, size and maneuverability make the Bolt EV ideal for urban or suburban-to-urban commutes. The spacious and well-appointed interior easily integrates personal devices and offers a 10.2-inch-diagonal tablet-like center display.

Available is a surround vision system that creates a virtual bird’s-eye view, as well as a rear camera mirror that projects a wide-angle view of the area behind the Bolt EV in the rearview mirror.


  • Estimated more than 200 miles of range per charge.3
  • Up to 25 EV miles per hour of charge possible with available 240-volt charger (professional installation required).4
  • Available built-in OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi.5
  • 94.4 cu. ft. of passenger space.
  • 56.6 cu. ft. of maximum cargo space.6


  • Learn more about Chevrolet Bolt

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