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Overview of San Jose,  California

"Some information from Wikipedia"

San Jose California Overview

San Jose, California

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

San Jose is the third-largest city in California and the tenth-largest in the United States. It is the county seat of Santa Clara County. For the past several years, it has held the title of The Safest Big City in America. San Jose is located in Silicon Valley, at the south end of the San Francisco Bay. With an estimated population of 953,000, San Jose is the largest city in Northern California.

San Jose was the first town in the Spanish colony of Nueva California (later Alta California), founded in 1777. Originally, the city served as a farming community to provide food for nearby military installations. It served as the first capital of California after it gained statehood in 1850. After over 150 years as an agricultural center, increased demand for housing from soldiers and other veterans returning from World War II and starting families, as well as aggressive expansion during the 1950s and 1960s led to San Jose being a bedroom community for Silicon Valley in the 1970s, which attracted more businesses to the city. By the 1990s, San Jose's central location within the booming technology industry in the area earned the city the nickname as the Capital of Silicon Valley.

On April 3, 1979, the city council adopted San Jose as the spelling of the city name on the city seal and official stationery; however, the name is still more commonly spelled without the diacritical mark. The official name of the city is The City of San Jose.


Site chosen by De Anza

For thousands of years before the arrival of European settlers, the area now known as San Jose was inhabited by several groups of Ohlone Native Americans. Permanent European presence in the area came with the 1770 founding of the Presidio of Monterey and Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo by Gaspar de Portolà and Father Junípero Serra, about sixty miles (100 km) to the south. Don Pedro Fages, the military governor at Monterey, passed through the area on his 1770 and 1772 expeditions to explore the East Bay and Sacramento River Delta. Late in 1775, Juan Bautista de Anza led an expedition to bring colonists from New Spain to California and to locate sites for two missions, one presidio, and one pueblo (town). He left the colonists at Monterey in 1776, and explored north with a small group. He selected the sites of the Presidio of San Francisco and Mission San Francisco de Asís in what is now San Francisco; on his way back to Monterey, he sited Mission Santa Clara de Asís and the pueblo San Jose in the Santa Clara Valley. De Anza returned to Mexico City before any of the settlements were actually founded, but his name lives on in many buildings and street names.

Early Spanish pueblo

El Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe (The Town of Saint Joseph from Guadalupe) was founded by Jose Joaquin Moraga on November 29, 1777, the first settlement not associated with a mission or a military post (presidio) in Alta California. (Mission Santa Clara, the closest mission, was founded earlier in 1777, three miles (5 km) from the original pueblo site in neighboring Santa Clara. Mission San Jose was not founded until 1797, about 20 miles (30 km) north of San Jose in what is now Fremont.) The town was founded by the colonists led to California by de Anza, as a farming community to provide food for the presidios of San Francisco and Monterey. In 1778, the pueblo had a population of 68. In 1797, the pueblo was moved from its original location, near the present-day intersection of Guadalupe Parkway and Taylor Street, to a location in what is now Downtown San Jose, surrounding Pueblo Plaza (now Plaza de Cesar Chavez).

Early statehood

During the Bear Flag Revolt, Captain Thomas Fallon led a small force from Santa Cruz and captured the pueblo without bloodshed on July 11, 1846. Fallon received an American flag from John D. Sloat, and raised it over the pueblo on July 14, as the California Republic agreed to join the United States following the start of the Mexican-American War. Fallon would later become the tenth mayor of San Jose.

During the California Gold Rush period, the New Almaden Mines just south of the city were the largest mercury mines in North America (mercury was used to help separate gold from ore). The cinnabar deposits were discovered in 1845 by a Mexican cavalry captain, Don Andres Castillero, when he recognized the red powder used by local Ohlone Indians to decorate the chapel at Mission Santa Clara. Mining operations began in 1847 at what was the first operating mine in the province, just in time for the Gold Rush. The importance of the mercury industry at the time explains why the local newspaper is named the Mercury News.

On March 27, 1850, San Jose became the first incorporated city in the U.S. state of California; the first mayor was Josiah Belden. It also served as the state's first capital with the first and second sessions of the California Legislature, known as the Legislature of a Thousand Drinks, being held there in 1850 and 1851. The legislature was unhappy with the location, as no buildings suitable for a state government were available in the city, and took up State Senator Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo's offer to build a new capital on land he donated to the state in what is now Benicia.

In 1884, Sarah L. Winchester (nee Pardee), the widow of William Winchester and heiress to the empire that manufactured the Winchester rifle, was told that the Winchester family was cursed and haunted by ghosts who were killed by the rifle. She moved from Connecticut to San Jose and began a construction project of such magnitude that it was to occupy the lives of carpenters and craftsmen until her death: the house was continually under construction for thirty-eight years. It is believed that she built the massive, bewildering house to confuse these spirits. Before the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, the Winchester Mystery House reached a height of 7 stories; today it stands three stories with approximately 160 rooms. Many visitors to the house claim to have felt the presence of ghosts.

San Jose has historically been known for ghost sightings, especially the East foothills. Tragically, the early 1940s consisted of a string of murders by one farming family. Their house still stands 2 miles behind Cliff Drive in San Jose. There have been many reports of missing tools and strange behavior in the neighborhood near Old Piedmont Road. Every member of the family was found and prosecuted except for the youngest son. There have been numerous sightings of Frederick Wallace in this haunted area of old orchards.


San Jose lies near the San Andreas Fault; a major source of earthquake activity in California. Significant quakes rocked the city in 1839, 1851, 1858, 1864, 1865, 1868,1891 and 1906. The Daly City Earthquake of 1957 caused some damage. Most recently, the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 also caused some major damage to parts of the city. The most serious earthquake, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, with its epicenter slightly off the coast of San Francisco near Golden Gate Park[6] , devastated many buildings in San Jose. The city was still primarily rural and the population much smaller than San Francisco, so houses and businesses were not so closely built, providing no opportunity for a major fire like the one that destroyed the city up the Peninsula. The all-brick Agnews Asylum (later Agnews State Hospital) suffered possibly the worst damage in the San Jose area, killing over 100 people as the walls and roof collapsed. The 8-year-old San Jose High School's three-story stone and brick structure also collapsed, and many other buildings were severely damaged. There have been many other numerous earthquakes felt in San Jose that cause little or no damage other than causing a "stir" around town and a few broken bottles or windows. Although most damages from earthquakes are quickly repaired, if you look closely, earthquake damage may be seen around town in the way of cracked sidewalks, raised curbs, slanted or cracked walls, patched freeway divider walls. The other faults near San Jose are the Monte Vista Fault, South Hayward Fault, Northern Calaveras Fault, and Central Calaveras Fault.


San Jose lies near the San Andreas Fault; a major source of earthquake activity in California. The most serious earthquake, in 1906, damaged many buildings in San Jose as described earlier. Earlier significant quakes rocked the city in 1839, 1851, 1858, 1864, 1865, 1868, and 1891. The Daly City Earthquake of 1957 caused some damage. The Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 also did some damage to parts of the city. The other faults near San Jose are the Monte Vista Fault, South Hayward Fault, Northern Calaveras Fault, and Central Calaveras Fault.

The Guadalupe River runs from the Santa Cruz Mountains (which separate the South Bay from the Pacific Coast) flowing north through San Jose, ending in the San Francisco Bay at Alviso. Along the southern part of the river is the neighborhood of Almaden Valley, originally named for the mercury mines which produced mercury needed for gold extraction from quartz during the California gold rush as well as mercury fulminate blasting caps and detonators for the U.S. military from 1870 to 1945.

The lowest point in San Jose is at sea level at the San Francisco Bay in Alviso; the highest is 4,372 feet (1,333 m) at Copernicus Peak, Mount Hamilton, which is technically outside the city limit. Due to the proximity to Lick Observatory atop Mount Hamilton, San Jose has taken several steps to reduce light pollution, including replacing all street lamps with low pressure sodium lamps. To recognize the city's efforts, the asteroid 6216 San Jose was named after the city. Some residents object to the deep yellow color of the streetlights, saying they are distracting because they are the same shade of yellow as traffic lights and other illuminated traffic warnings.


San Jose, like most of the Bay Area, has a Mediterranean climate tempered by the presence of the San Francisco Bay. Unlike San Francisco, which is exposed to the ocean or Bay on three sides and whose temperature therefore varies relatively little year-round and overnight, San Jose lies more inland, protected on three sides by mountains. This shelters the city from rain and makes it more of a semiarid, near-desert area, with a mean annual rainfall of only 14.4 inches (366 mm), compared to some other parts of the Bay Area, which can get up to four times that amount. It also avoids San Francisco's omnipresent fog most of the year.

However, temperatures are generally moderate. January's average high is 59 F (15 C) and average low is 42 F (6 C), with overnight freezes several nights each year; July's average high is 84 F (29 C) and average low is 58 F (14 C), with heat exceeding 100 F (38 C) several days each year. The highest temperature ever recorded in San Jose was 109 F (42.8 C) on June 14, 2000; the lowest was 17 F (-8.3 C) on January 9, 1920 and January 10, 1920. Temperatures between night and day can vary by 30 or 40 F (17 to 22 C).

With the light rainfall, San Jose experiences over 300 days a year of full or significant sunshine. Rain occurs primarily in the months from October through April or May, with hardly any rainfall from June through September. During the winter, hillsides and fields turn green with native grasses and vegetation, although deciduous trees are bare; with the coming of the annual summer dry period, the vegetation dies and dries, giving the hills a golden cover, which some find beautiful but which also provides fuel for frequent grass fires.

The snow level drops as low as 2,000 ft (610 m) above sea level, or lower, occasionally each winter, coating nearby Mount Hamilton, and less frequently the Santa Cruz Mountains, with snow that normally lasts a few days. This sometimes snarls traffic traveling on State Route 17 towards Santa Cruz. Snow occasionally falls in San Jose, but until recently, the most recent snow to remain on the ground was in February of 1976 when many residents around the city saw as much as 3 inches on car and roof tops. However, in March of 2006, a smaller amount, up to one inch of snow fell in downtown San Jose as well as other areas around the city at elevations of only 90 feet to 200 feet above sea level.

Again, like most of the Bay Area, San Jose is made up of dozens of microclimates. Downtown San Jose experiences the lightest rainfall in the city, while South San Jose, only 10 miles (16 km) distant, experiences more rainfall and slightly more extreme temperatures.
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