Some days it feels like Google is taking over the world. For the residents of Mountain View, California, that feeling is personal. Two weeks ago, Google signed a deal for its very own airport just east of the Googleplex, complete with a blimp hangar large enough to house the Hindenburg. But building a better blimp probably isn't the reason that Google is leasing the historic Moffett Federal Airfield from the US government. At the same time the search giant is building robots and self-driving cars, Google is on a hometown real-estate binge — and Moffett Field could be the missing piece Google needs to reshape the city in its own image.

In 1999 Google moved into its first Mountain View office at 2400 Bayshore Parkway, with fewer than 50 employees to its name. Fifteen years later, it's the city's biggest employer. Though Microsoft, Symantec, Intuit, and LinkedIn each have a major presence in Mountain View, all are dwarfed by Google: in 2013, Google employed 9.7 percent of the city's entire workforce and owned 10.7 percent of all taxable property. In other words, Google represented one-tenth of Mountain View as of last year.

And it’s only getting bigger.