Welcome to San Jose
Many of the towns and cities located within Santa Clara County claim to be the historical “center” or “birthplace” of Silicon Valley. However, when push comes to shove, San Jose is often grudgingly acknowledged as the current heart of Silicon Valley. Not only is it the county seat of Santa Clara County, but it is the third largest city by population in California, and also the tenth largest by population in the entire United States. This is of course on top of being the home to numerous technology related research and development centers. By any metric, San Jose is the center of Santa Clara County.
Lay of the Land
San Jose stands as the literal definition of urban sprawl. Located in the general center of the Santa Clara Valley, the city originally covered a modest 17 square miles in 1950 before slowly expanding and absorbing surrounding towns over the subsequent decades on the way to ballooning to its current size of 146 square miles. The aggressive and haphazard absorption of the neighboring towns led to the creation of numerous “neighborhoods” within the city with their own sense of aesthetics, culture, and community values. The end result is a modern city that reflects diversity and growth. The current population stands at just north of a million people with a median household income of $80,977 and median home values of $980,000 in the second quarter of 2015 according to CNN Money.
While San Jose is served by three Interstate freeways and one U.S. Route, it is the largest city in the country that is not served by a primary Interstate. The majority of the Interstate Highway Network was planned while San Jose was a modestly sized town. However, it does serve as the primary transit hub for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. This means that light rail services, bus lines, and commuter traffic of every shape and size offer residents public transit options for travel within the city and to virtually any destination in Santa Clara County. CalTrain Commuter train services also provide easy access to areas outside of the County. Finally, residents also have access to Bay Area Rapid Transit through various local connecting terminals.
Air transportation is provided to residents by the San Jose International Airport. However, residents are also close enough to take advantage of the San Francisco International Airport and the Oakland International Airport if they so desire.
Parks, Gardens, and Outdoor Recreation
San Jose has an impressive 15,950 acres of parkland within its city limits. The largest of these is a portion of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife refuge. Don Edwards contains acres and acres of protected habitat and several endangered species. While many of the smaller parks within San Jose offer general amenities and recreational areas for visitors, many of them also reflect the unique cultural heritage or history of the areas in which they are located. These include everything from cultural gardens to fruit orchards and everything in between.
The city also maintains numerous outdoor walking trails. These trails represent over 53 miles of interconnected walkways throughout the city. The major trails in the network are Coyote Creek Trail, Guadalupe River Trail, Los Gatos Creek Trail, Los Alamitos Creek Trail, Penitencia Creek Trail, and Silver Creek Valley Trail. The interconnected trails are often recognized as the largest urban trail network in the country.
Museums and Cultural Collections
San Jose houses a surprising array of cultural artifacts and unique locations. While it has a standard array of children’s museums and general cultural centers reflecting the history of the town, it also has several unusual collections. These include the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies, which houses the largest collection of Beethoven works and related items anywhere outside of Europe, as well as the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum which holds the largest collection of Egyptian Artifacts in the western United States. Also, notably is the Tech Museum of Innovation which features exhibits highlighting the regions contributions in creating some of the world’s leading technologies.
San Jose is often described as a “global city” because of role in the modern global economy. However, the term could also accurately reflect its current state of cultural growth and diversity. The diversity is reflected in a modern sense in the scope and volume of activities and services available in the city. These include everything from modern fusion dining experiences to professional sports teams which often exist in close geographic proximity to small cultural retail locations. San Jose has the figurative something for everyone.