The unincorporated community of Blackhawk, noted for its elaborate houses and smattering of celebrities, is located in the rolling hills of Tassajara Valley east of Danville. Established as a ranch in 1917 by San Francisco capitalist Ansel Easton, the ranch was used first as a summer home and later as a working ranch. The ranch gained a worldwide reputation for pure-bred Shorthorn cattle and prize Shire horses. The name Blackhawk actually came from a famous Irish race horse that the Easton family owned at one time. Walnut trees also were grown there, and for many years the ranch was known as one of Contra Costa County’s most productive. The original 1,250 acre ranch changed hands several times, growing to about 6,500 acres until it was sold in 1973 to the Blackhawk Corp, controlled by Ken Behring (eventual owner of the Seattle Seahawks of the NFL). Behring originally planned 4800 homes on 4200 acres, which caused heated battles with environmental groups looking to preserve the rural, pastoral setting of the ranch. Behring finally agreed to cut the number of homes in half to 2400, and donate 2000 acres of land to the Mt. Diablo State Park. Beginning in the late 1970′s, the corporation began selling lots to builders and individuals who today live in the exclusive 9-square mile community. Blackhawk became famous and controversial in short order for selling large, exclusive luxury homes behind a security gate surrounded by the rolling ranch lands of Tassajara Valley. Shortly after the opening of Blackhawk, the Tassajara Valley saw a boom in building, with large subdivisions sprouting up along Camino Tassajara adjacent to Blackhawk, leading to more conflict with environmental groups committed to keeping the pastoral setting of the Tassajara Valley, a battle which continues to this day.
Blackhawk is actually comprised of a luxury gated golf course community, plus six individual gated communities, some inside the main gates of Blackhawk, and some adjacent to the main development. Blackhawk is built around the Blackhawk Country Club, a world-class exclusive private facility with 2 golf courses and a club house. There is also Blackhawk Tennis club, a high end tennis facility with 20 tennis courts, club house, and pro shop, as well as the Blackhawk Swim Club, with a competition sized Olympic pool and spa.
The homes in Blackhawk are mostly known for their opulence and grandeur, although there are condos, townhouses, and smaller tennis villas that are part of the development. But many of the homes in Blackhawk are well over 5000 sq ft, and a handful are truly sprawling mansions, including the Behring estate, which is over 28,000 sq ft. Blackhawk is located at the foot of Mt. Diablo, and has breathtaking views of the East Bay landmark, along with sweeping views of the surrounding valleys and open space. The schools in Blackhawk are part of the San Ramon Valley School District, arguably one of the top school districts in the Bay Area.
Blackhawk also includes the posh Blackhawk Shopping Plaza, which is an upscale shopping center with fine dining, boutique stores, a movie theatre, office buildings, the Blackhawk Automotive Museum famous for displaying the private collection of vintage and collector cars belonging to Ken Behring, and the University of California, Berkeley Museum of Art, Science and Culture.