The Best of Silicon Valley 2014

Metro's Best of Silicon Valley 2014 This year's Best of Silicon Valley cover design is the work of San Francisco-based artist Michael Murphy. Synthesizing eras that span generations, Murphy''s work takes iconic images and injects flashes of color, speed and gravity. His respect for California''s architectural history—and passion for innovation—inverts that which is time-tested to modern, making the forgotten familiar. His work can be found at the SFMOMA store and at

The mid-20th Century was Santa Clara Valley's defining era. It transformed a charming, blossoming agricultural region into an industrial powerhouse. That critical age's physical remnants, out of short-term financial expediency, are being deleted from the landscape's memory files. IBM's modernist Building 25 burned down a few years ago. The Retro Dome was demolished, and the Century domes on Winchester Boulevard are staring down the barrel of the same cruel fate. If Lozano's Brushless Car Wash is ever razed to make way for a New Urbanist housing complex, we know it's all over. Hilly, chilly San Francisco now calls itself a "valley." It should seek therapy instead.

As Moffett Field's Hangar One shivers in the wind, awaiting delivery of its new clothes, we felt the time was right to invite artist Michael Murphy to create an iconic image celebrating the valley's industrial heritage. The progenitor of the "Forgotten Modernism" series that graces contemporary art museums, Murphy chose the former dirigible crib on a decommissioned military base along Highway 101 from a selection of so-last-century landmarks as the cover image for this issue.

Murphy's quest for beauty and soul and character hidden in plain view is familiar to us. We've been stalking just that for almost 30 years as we prepare each year's Best of Silicon Valley issue. With the help of more than 3,000 readers who spent, more often than not, at least a half an hour completing a survey, we are able to recognize many longstanding institutions, like Paul & Eddie's Monta Vista Inn, Original Joe's or the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum. Balloters also found plenty of love for more recent yet classically soulful establishments like The Usuals, Smoking Pig and Blackbird Tavern.

Our super-smart readers know about many good things in the valley and have generously shared their favorites. To add to their picks, as usual, our writers have contributed a few spots of their own.

Just as the builders of the Century domes didn't set out to create handsome mid-century icons with retro spaceship looks, our actions today shape future history. For those who grew up in the Bay Area, the Centuries were just a place to go to the movies, with wide, curved screens and high, arching ceilings. They fell victim to economics and digital convenience.

Consumerism can be as powerful an urban scalpel as a crane or a wrecking ball. The best way to vote is with dollars. If there's a small bookstore, toy shop, clothing store or restaurant that you'd miss if it vanished, patronize it. The quality of the physical world around us depends on our ability to balance the global and digital with the local and non-virtual.

Please join us in the continuing quest for the best.