Mezlan at Westfield Valley Fair Mall in Santa Clara is proud to be a part of the San Jose lifestyle and community. The Story of San Jose is our tribute video celebrating San Jose’s 236th birthday. Watch it to learn more about this spectacular city and its history.
From all of us at Mezlan, Happy Birthday, San Jose!
Here is the full transcript and footage credits.
The City of San Jose is known throughout the world as the capital of Silicon Valley, a center of progressive innovation that sets the standard for technological advancement across the globe. What most don’t know, however, is the humble beginnings from which this powerhouse of a metropolis originated. This is the story of San Jose.
Prior to European contact, the area now known as San Jose and the Santa Clara Valley was inhabited by the Ohlone people, a coalition of approximately 10,000 that stretched from the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula to Big Sur in the South.
On November 29, 1777 San Jose was founded as El Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe by Lieutenant Jose Joaquin Moraga. Moraga, acting on the orders of the Spanish viceroy of Mexico, led nine soldiers, five families of settlers, and one cowboy to start what would be California’s first civilian settlement. The town was founded to serve as a farming community that would provide food to nearby military installations at San Francisco and Monterrey.
In 1821, San Jose became part of Mexico when it gained its independence from Spain.
In May of 1846, the United States declared war on Mexico. Two months later Captain Thomas Fallon led 19 men into San Jose and raised the US flag over town hall. At that time, the town’s primary inhabitants were Spanish Californians, Mexicans, Peruvians, Chileans, and Natives. In February of 1848 the war ended as Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ceding 55% of its pre-war land claims, including modern-day California.
In the weeks prior to the treaty, gold had been discovered in the bed of the American River, leading to the California Gold Rush. An influx of Americans seeking to strike it rich pushed out many of the previous residents and turned San Jose into a supply center for the prospective miners. With the influx came a push for statehood.
On December 15, 1849, the first California State Legislature convened in San Jose. The session was controversial as California had not attained statehood yet. Remaining in session for 4 months, the legislator divided the state into 27 counties, set annual property and poll taxes, and set salaries for the state’s executive positions.
On September 9, 1850 California became the 31st state, with San Jose as its capital. The winter of 1850-1851 proved unusually wet however, complicating travel and leading to the move of the state government. The capital was relocated several times before settling in Sacramento. Today, the location of the original capitol building is marked by the Circle of Palms located on Market Street near Cesar Chavez Park in downtown San Jose.
In 1862, the California Legislator founded San Jose State University, then known as California State Normal School. The school, which had previously operated as the Minns’ Evening Normal School in San Francisco, became the founding member of the California State University System and stands as the oldest public institution of higher education on the West Coast. Today the campus serves 30,000 students, offering over 130 degree programs.
In 1909, Charles David Herrold, the son of a Santa Clara Valley farmer, started the world’s first public radio station. By designing omnidirectional antennas and placing them on buildings around the city, Herrold created the “San Jose Calling.” Although direct radio-to-radio communications had previously been conducted, Herrold pioneered this new method of distributing a signal over a specific geographic area. Borrowing a term farmers used to describe tossing seeds in all directions, Herrold called his innovation “broadcasting.” Today, the “San Jose Calling” operates as KCBS in San Francisco.
True to its agricultural roots, the economy of San Jose and the Santa Clara Valley remained heavily based on fruit and vegetable production for nearly 200 years. In 1922 the first commercial broccoli farming operation in the United States was opened in San Jose by brothers Stephano and Andrea D’Arrigo. So many orchards dotted the area growing crops such as prunes, grapes, and apricots that the scent of ripening fruit earned it the nickname “The Valley of Heart’s Delight.” But as the mid-20th century approached, the valley’s longstanding reputation as a center of agriculture would transition to an industry still in its infancy.
In 1942, technology giant IBM established their West Coast headquarters in San Jose and within 13 years had opened a research facility downtown and a manufacturing plant in the St. Teresa neighborhood, where disk drives would later be invented.
In 1950, A. P. Hamann was elected city manager of San Jose and embarked on an aggressive growth campaign. By annexing adjacent areas into the city and spending considerable time on the East Coast selling San Jose as an ideal environment for business expansion, Hamann grew the city from 95,000 people and 17 square miles to 495,000 people and 136 square miles in his 19-year tenure.
In 1956, Williams Shockley, one of the inventors of the semiconductor transistor, founded a laboratory in the valley with the intent of designing and producing semiconductors made with silicon transistors, as opposed to the then industry-standard germanium transistors. Although he was unsuccessful, the engineers who had worked at the lab would go on to carry out the plan, founding Fairchild Semiconductors and Intel.
By the 1970’s, Semiconductor companies, computer firms, programming companies, and other technology-related enterprises had replaced the once-abundant orchards, and The Valley of Heart’s Delight had been transformed into Silicon Valley.
A strong stance against unchecked development led to the implementation of “Smart Growth” strategies by city officials, including restricting development to certain areas and implementing ”pay-as-you-grow” tax policies to fund infrastructure. These policies did little to stunt the rapid growth of San Jose, which saw a boom in the software, Internet, and IT sectors as the 90’s and 2000’s arrived. In 2006, the Wall Street Journal named San Jose the most inventive town in America producing 3,911 patents the previous year.
Today, San Jose rates as one of the safest big cities in the nation and enjoys 300 days of sunshine a year on average. Unemployment rates rank below state and national averages and the area has the largest concentration of technology experts in the world. 6,600 tech companies employing over a quarter million people call the San Jose Metro area home, including eBay, Adobe, Cisco, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, and Hitachi.
The city is home to the National Hockey League’s San Jose Sharks, Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes, the Arena Football League’s San Jose SaberCats, as well as minor league baseball and soccer teams.
The SAP center, home of the Sharks and SaberCats, also serves as one of the highest-selling non-sporting event venues in the world.
For those interested in history, the city offers a variety of educational centers including the Tech Museum of Innovation, Mexican Heritage Plaza, the Portuguese Historical Museum, as well as the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum and many more. The Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies is home to the largest Beethoven collection outside of Europe, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library is the largest public US library west of the Mississippi.
For those with an affinity for the fine arts, San Jose has a thriving gallery scene as well as numerous outlets of artistic expression, including Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley, Symphony Silicon Valley, Opera San Jose, Broadway San Jose, Children’s Musical Theatre San Jose, and the San Jose Museum of Art.
Numerous annual festivals are held in the city, including the Chinese Summer Festival, Italian Family Festival, Juneteenth Celebration, Cinco de Mayo, Christmas in the Park, and many others. The Cinequest Film Festival brings an average of 60,000 attendees to downtown San Jose each year, and the San Jose Jazz Festival has attracted as many as 100,000 attendees.
A lot has changed since San Jose was started as a small farming community in the old Wild West, but today it thrives as a model for forward thinking, artistic appreciation, and technological innovation. Happy Birthday to San Jose: The Capital of Silicon Valley.
Footage and Image Sources
San Jose, California, USA, Capital of Silicon Valley
San Jose – It’s All Right HERE!
Greater San Jose (1951)
Santa Clara Valley / Valley of Heart’s Delight – 1948 Social Guidance / Educational Documentary
San Jose – A City To See (1972)
The Freedom Train in San Jose – 1948
“Lights” – San Jose 1968
San Jose Historical Tour
San Jose Arts and Entertainment
San Jose Arts and Entertainment
Broadcasting’s Forgotten Father, the Charles Herrold Story
How to Make Money in a Gold Rush
Blossomtime in Santa Clara County
AMERICAN EXPERIENCE | Silicon Valley Chapter 1 | PBS
A People’s History of the Mexican Revolution, La Revolución Mexicana
San Jose Earthquakes vs Norwich City FC