Unrest in the German states in the 1800s brought a large migration of Germanic people to the United States. Many settled in Santa Clara Valley where they started businesses and became civic leaders. In the 1880s, Santa Clara had two breweries, both owned by German immigrants. Eberhard Tannery, the first manufacturing firm in Santa Clara, grew into a thriving business under the management of its German owner, Jacob Eberhard.
Immigrants from Portugal, the Azores and Medeira Islands came to California in the late 1890s. Some first lived in Hawaii where they worked in sugarcane and pineapple fields. Santa Clara had mild weather similar to their homeland and they became successful dairymen and farmers. In 1896, Portuguese immigrants founded the SES Hall as a center for their close-knit community. For many years, their annual parade and festival have attracted large crowds.
Mexico ruled this area from 1822, when it took control from Spain, until the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848. Its culture has always had a significant impact on California life. The open border and the vigorous agriculture business attracted Mexican immigrants to the Valley. By 2002, one out of every 10 residents of Santa Clara was of Mexican descent.
Chinese immigrants came to California to help build the railroad and stayed to work first on farms and then in businesses. Japanese immigrants came into the valley to farm. Asian immigrants have continued to flow into Santa Clara to work in technology firms as engineers and skilled workers. In the 2000 census, about one-fourth of all Santa Clara residents were of Asian descent.