Thursday, July 21, 2011

US Summer 2011: Historic Tour In and Around San Jose, California!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda


Date: July 6, 2011
Location: Los Gatos, Santa Clara,Historic Downtown San Jose (all in California)

San Jose, California's history stretches way back 1777, when El Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe was ceded by the King of Spain to the United States as part of the territory of California.

Yea that was such a long, long time ago huh. But my good friend, uncle John Senior (not calling him old, ok!), has opened the door for us to see the visible reminders of San Jose, California's historical and cultural heritage.


Aboard uncle John's not so new, vintage, colonial,(alright, alright I'll stop the euphemism) but very dependable old car that completed our ensemble for the historic tour, we have stepped into the past and had a glimpse of San Jose's historic sites and buildings that give it a unique character and sense of place.

(picture taken of downtown San Jose aboard his old car. noticed the eyeglasses?)

And believe me. If there's one person I know, who has this unique connection and knowledge of every historic homes,streets, districts or towns in and around San Jose, California, it would be uncle John.

1. San Jose Downtown Historic District
Also known as San Jose Commercial District
E. Santa Clara, South First, Second, Third and E. San Fernando Sts. , San Jose
(4 acres, 28 buildings)


The San Jose Downtown Historic District is listed in the US National Register of Historic Places because of its architecture and commercial significance as Santa Clara Valley's mercantile and financial center for the past 100 years. As we drove, I have seen many old buildings showcasing different architectural styles which reflects Santa Clara County's broad historic commercial architecture during 18th and the 19th Century.


Within the historic district, our eyes feasted upon six different architectural styles: Italianate, Romanesque Revival, Victorian, Edwardian, Neoclassical, Mission Revival, and Spanish Colonial Revival.


An example of such architecture is this beautiful home on the northeast corner of Empire and 4th Street.I heart this house!


True to being San Jose Commercial District, the area reflects downtown commercial architecture of the period.


Hotel Sainte Claire located at South Market Street is a hexagonal six-story hotel listed in the US National Register of Historic Places for its architectural significance. The hotel was built in 1926 reflecting the late 19th and 20th Century Revivals, Renaissance architecture.


A wonderful example of Carpenter architecture is the Trinity Episcopal Church built in 1863. It's at the corner of Second Street and St. John.


At the corner of First Street and San Carlos is a popular downtown restaurant that has survived the decades - Original Joe's in 1956.


The best remaining example of downtown commercial architecture of the 1870s and 1880s is the Oddfellows Building at the corner of Santa Clara and Third streets built in 1883.


The Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph is listed as a California Historical Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The original St. Joseph's Church was built on the site of the current basilica in 1803, and was the first non-mission parish built in California.

2. Original Town of Willow Glen


Willow Glen is a a district in central San Jose, California which includes all of the original town of Willow Glen founded in 1927 which was annexed by San Jose in 1936.


"Downtown Willow Glen" is on Lincoln Avenue (the community's main street and more simply known as "The Avenue") and has a small growing business district which includes various restaurants, professional offices and many small retail businesses.


Just a stroll passed The Avenue is the prestigious tree lined street where I enjoyed and drooled over lovely Victorian homes with lush landscaping and towering trees.


This I believe is an example of a Queen Anne mansion in Willow Glen that have stood the test of time. It is uncle John's personal favorite.


Now I remember Willow Glen as the place where I watched a "Charlie Brown" Christmas Tree display (small lighted Christmas trees in front of each house) during my December visit a decade ago.

3. The Alameda Street

Built in the late eighteenth century by native American neophytes at Mission Santa Clara de Asís, the Alameda is a historic street in San Jose and Santa Clara California.


The Alameda is now a major thoroughfare in the Silicon Valley which runs from Santa Clara University past the HP Pavilion, and into downtown San Jose. It used to be a part of the longer and more well known El Camino Real.


Driving along The Alameda is a great way to view prime examples of the high-end residential architecture of the early 1900s.



4. Los Gatos Historic Commercial District
Santa Cruz Ave., University Ave. and W. Main St. , Los Gatos
(50 acres, 19 buildings)


Originally named La Rinconada de Los Gatos (or Cat’s Corner), Los Gatos is one of Santa Clara County’s oldest communities. The Town was incorporated in 1887 from a land patent granted by the Mexican government in 1840.


Downtown Los Gatos is listed on the National Register of Historic Places with its many historic buildings representing the Romanesque, Mission/Spanish Revival, Queen Anne architectural style common in the various eras in the Town's history.


I truly had fun during the driving tour. As a little side note, I guess my name and my being a princess (at least for my prince! hehe) has something to do with why I am attracted to every Queen Anne architectural inspired houses that I see.


(This is part of the 5-week US Summer Vacation series, which took place from June 30, 2011 to August 3,2011 particularly in California)

1.Four Countries In One Day

2. Enjoying Cable Cars in San Francisco

3. Enjoying Union Square and Downtown San Francisco

4. Commuting Easy With Panoramic Views

5. Mad About Museum in Sacramento California

6.Museums Trekking in Sacramento,California

7. Catching Gold Fever In Coloma,California

8. Psyched With Mormon Battalion In Coloma,California

9. Eureka! Sacramento, California

10. Highway 49 Summer Adventures

11. At Home In Daly City, California

12. Fourth of July Double Beachy Celebration

13.Attending Court Hearing In Hayward,California

14.Discovering VTA and Exploring Downtown San Jose,California

15. Smelling the Roses and More in Santa Clara,California

16. Getting Freebies While Dining in San Jose,California

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