Downtown San Jose Walking Tour
This walking tour includes stops at nearly two dozen historical buildings and landmarks before concluding at the Tech Museum of Innovation. Enjoy!
One of the few art deco designed structures in San Jose, the Hotel De Anza first opened its doors in February of 1931. It was built by an organization comprised of local businesses who hoped to attract tourists and convention goers to the area and planning began in the late 1920s. It was designed by Canadian born architect William H. Meeks and construction was overseen by Carl Swenson. The hotel underwent major renovations in the early 1990s and again in 2015. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
This marker indicates the location of California's first chartered women's college: the College of Notre Dame. It was founded in 1851 as a boarding school for young women and grew to become the college in 1868, earning an excellent academic reputation. In terms of size, it eventually encompassed the area between Almaden Blvd., Santa Clara Street, and St. Teresa Street. Commercial development began to encroach by the 1920s and as a result, the school was forced moved to Belmont in 1923.
The Luís María Peralta Adobe is the oldest surviving structure from El Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe, City of San José, the first municipal Spanish settlement in California. The single story, two bedroom building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, and it became a California Historical Landmark in 1974. History San José maintains and operates the site, which has been restored to resemble its original appearance. Located in the heart of downtown San José, tours of the Peralta Adobe are available every weekend in conjunction with a Victorian property located across the street, the Fallon House Historic Site, home to one of San José's early mayors. The two properties are often referred to jointly as the Peralta Adobe -- Fallon House Historic Site.
This statue of Captain Thomas Fallon raising the American flag in San Jose in 1846 during the early period of the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) caused a significant amount of controversy for many years. Artist Robert Glen was commissioned in 1988 to create the statue and it was scheduled to be installed in 1990. However, the Mexican-American community objected to it, arguing that it symbolized oppression of Mexicans and celebrated the United State's annexation of California just two months after the government declared war on Mexico. In response, a historic art committee was formed, which eventually concluded that city art should represent all of the city's history, including the statue. It also called for four other artworks that would depict other aspects of San Jose's history. All of these statues are today on display. It is significant to note that the statue was placed in storage for ten years before being installed during the debate about the propriety of the statue. In 2016, the city moved the statue about ninety feet Pellier Park to allow for the realignment of Julian Street.
This beautiful church was constructed in 1892 and has been the home of the city's first Unitarian Universalist congregation ever since. Architect George Page designed it in the Richardsonian Romanesque style and it features domes, cupolas, square towers, and stained glass windows on the front facade. Restoration efforts began in the 1990s and not completed until 2001 due to devastating fire in October 1995. The congregation itself formed in 1865. The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
A monument to Henry Morris Naglee (1815-1886) is located on the southeastern corner of St. Jamese Park. Naglee served in the U.S. Army as Brigadier General and Lieutenant Colonel and was a veteran of the Mexican-American War and also served the Union in the Civil War. Outside of the military, he worked in banking, civil engineering, and grape farming. He owned over fifty acres of vineyards in San Jose and used the grapes to make brandy.
This marker indicates the location of a building called the Labor Temple, which, from the early 1900s to 1948, was once the heart of San Jose's labor movement. Sometime between 1901-1903, Harry Ryan, the local labor leader, and author Jack London, founded the Labor Temple. It was an informal organization at first but it became official in 1911. London finished his novel the "Call of the Wild" and wrote parts of another book, "Sea Horse," here (in Harry's office). The building was demolished in the 1950s.
The oldest theater in San Jose, the Jose Theater (now known as the San Jose Improv) was built in 1904. The theater was declared a San Jose Historical Landmark in 1990.
Built in 1889, the Letitia Building was named for Letitia Burnett Ryland, the daughter of California's first governor. The building has served numerous functions over its long life and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Listed on both the National Register of Historic Places and as a California Historic Landmark, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph began as a humble Franciscan adobe church in a Spanish civilian settlement, Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe. Due to earthquakes and fires, a total of four St. Joseph's buildings have stood on the site, including the present cathedral, which dates to 1875 [1; 2; 3].
Housed in San Jose's first federal building, a U.S. Post Office built of local sandstone in 1892, the San Jose Museum of Art fuses a National Register of Historic Places site with award-winning modern and contemporary art exhibits [1; 2]. With over 2,500 works in its permanent collection and nine to twelve temporary exhibits annually, the museum also offers arts education to over 40,000 school children annually in the Santa Clara Valley .
The city of San Jose was established in 1777 as El Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe, the first civil settlement chartered in California by the King of Spain [1; 4]. When the town moved to higher ground due to flooding in 1797, the Pueblo de San José centered around the plaza which, in 1993, was renamed in honor of civil rights, Latino, and farm labor leader Cesar E. Chavez, who also championed environmental conservation and consumer rights [3; 5]. The Plaza was also the site of San Jose's City Hall from 1887-1958 and a U.S.O. Hospitality House during the Second World War .
From 1849-1851, San Jose was California's first state capital. The first Assembly met in an unassuming two-story adobe house which was unfinished in December of 1849, requiring the Senate to meet elsewhere, at Isaac Branham's house at the corner of the modern-day Plaza de Cesar E. Chavez [1; 2; 3]. Two historical markers, one in the Plaza and one across Market Street from the Plaza, are dedicated to the site of the capitol building [2; 3]. The adobe statehouse itself was located between the present-day San Jose Museum of Art and the Fairmont Hotel .
Five different locations housed San Jose's Chinatown between the 1860s and 1931. One of these locations was Market Street Chinatown, established in the 1860s and destroyed by an arson fire in 1887 [2; 4]. Prior to its destruction, it was the largest Chinatown south of San Francisco, in spite of intense anti-Chinese sentiment and violence [1; 3]. Stanford University's ongoing Market Street Chinatown Archaeology Project has revealed the neighborhood to have been a highly adaptive, diverse ethnic community [1; 2].
The Dohrman Building was built in 1926 and is one only three buildings remaining in San Jose with a terra cotta-clad facade. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is also a San Jose City Landmark.
Hotel Sainte Claire opened in 1926 as was the premiere hotel in San Jose and one of the city's most recognizable landmarks for many years. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the hotel is now part of the Westin hotel chain.
The Tech Museum of Innovation features 132,000 square feet of interactive galleries and workshops that reflect 'the Spirit of Silicon Valley" and blend fun with education in science and technology. Guests can tour the galleries, participate in workshops, and enjoy educational films in the museum's IMAX theater. The Museum sponsors a number of day-long and multi-day workshops were young adults can explore technology and design their own inventions and innovations.