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It began as a Mexican land grant to an Irish settler, John Thomas Reed, who became a Mexican citizen in 1834. He built the first saw mill in California, the "Old Mill" in Mill Valley. The population was 13,600 at the 2000 census.

Mill Valley is located on the western and northern shores of Richardson Bay, fed by Pickleweed Inlet and Arroyo Corte Madera del Presidio which traverse through Mill Valley. Beyond the flat coastal area, it occupies narrow wooded canyons, mostly of second-growth redwoods, on the eastern slopes of Mount Tamalpais.

Mill Valley's growth, and the simultaneous growth of its neighboring towns, ousted the native Miwok population once and for all. In 1852, a census counted 218 full-blooded Miwoks remaining. By 1888, there were only six. Today, there are none who claim even fifty-percent ancestral heritage among the Miwok.

The city is named for a saw mill established by John Reed in the 19th century, the site of which is now Old Mill Park. When the wooded area had been completely logged over, it was divided into small and irregular building lots, which were sold at auction. Many of the vacation homes built at that time were converted to residences during the Great Depression of the 1930s, especially after the Golden Gate Bridge eased access to San Francisco.

It is now an affluent residential suburb, much of which is reached by narrow, winding roads created in the early 20th century that often incorporated the old logging roads carved out in the previous century.


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