History of San Jose

The History of San Jose, California

San Jose, CA, is a very old city, founded in 1777. Before white people came to this area, the Ohlone (Oh LONE ee) Indians lived here, along the Guadalupe (gwad uh LOOP ay) River. They were peaceful Indians who lived in huts made from grasses.

In the 18th century, Spaniards came to this area. They found bears, antelope and geese. They founded the Mission Santa Clara near the river. This mission was moved several times because the river flooded. It is now on the grounds of the University of Santa Clara.

The first civil settlement in California was El Pueblo San Jose de Guadalupe (el PWAY blow san hoZAY de gwad uh LOOP ay) founded in November 1777. It was a farming community and they grew food for the military forces in San Francisco and Monterey. These settlers finally moved to the area that is downtown San Jose today. The first census in 1778 showed 68 people of different races living here.

San Jose was the first capital of California, named in 1849 by the people who wanted California to become a new state. San Jose promised a lot, but disappointed the people who visited here. The capital building wasn't finished. There weren't enough rooms for the legislators. People had to sleep in tents and the weather was rainy. The people were so unhappy they moved the capital to Monterey.

Many people came to California looking for gold. Most of them didn't find any gold, but decided to stay here and grow crops. Prunes became the valley's biggest crop, also apples, apricots, cherries, peaches and pears. Canneries were built to can the fruit and ship it to other places. The 1906 earthquake hit San Jose very hard. Business buildings collapsed, homes were damaged and hundreds of people were hurt and killed. When A.P. "Dutch" Hamann was city manger (1950-1969) the city's population grew from 95,000 to 446,000 and from 17 square miles to 136 square miles.

Today this area is known as Silicon Valley because of the powerful high technology economy. It all started with Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett in a garage in Palo Alto in 1938. Today, the Silicon Valley is known everywhere as the center of the computer and software industries.

San Jose still has a diverse population. Ethnic groups today make up about 52 per cent of the city. Large numbers of Vietnamese moved here after the fall of Saigon in 1975 and Asians make up 20% of the population. Hispanics, mostly from Mexico and Central America are about 27%.



The Peralta Adobe (purr AWL ta uh DO Bee) is the oldest building in San Jose, located at 184 St. John Street. It is over 200 years old, probably built by Manuel Gonzales (man WELL gon ZAW less), an Apache (uh PATCH ee) Indian. He died in 1804. In 1807, Luis Peralta became the military deputy of San Jose. He lived in the adobe house which now has his name. During his term, three different flags flew over San Jose: the Spanish, the Mexican, and, finally, the American flag. He died there in 1851 at the age of 91.

Choose the correct answer.

  1. What is the Peralta Adobe?
    An animal like a deer
    The oldest building in San Jose
    Indians who first lived here
    The first name for San Jose



  2. What is "El Pueblo San Jose de Guadalupe"?
    The oldest building in San Jose
    The Indians who first lived here
    The nickname of this area today
    The first name for San Jose



  3. What is an antelope?
    an animal like a deer
    a California Indian
    The first name for San Jose
    the nickname for San Jose



  4. What is Silicon Valley?
    The original name for San Jose
    The nickname for this area
    The oldest building in San Jose
    The location of Los Angeles



  5. What happened in 1906?
    The birth of A.P. "Dutch" Hamann.
    The year of the Declaration of Independence
    The date San Jose was founded
    The year of the great earthquake



  6. What is 52%?
    percentage of Asians in San Jose
    percentage of Hispanics in San Jose
    percentage of ethnic groups in San Jose
    percentage of Indians in San Jose



  7. Why is the date November, 1777 important?
    The year San Jose was founded
    The year of the great earthquake
    The year San Jose became capital of California
    The year Indians first came to Silicon Valley



  8. Who was A.P. "Dutch" Hamann?
    The first Mayor of San Jose
    The Governor of California in 1849
    The City Manager of San Jose from 1950 -1969.
    The man who built the Peralta Adobe.



  9. What happened in 1849?
    The date San Jose was founded
    San Jose became capital of California
    The great earthquake
    The building of the Peralta Adobe



  10. What is "Ohlone"?
    an animal like a deer
    The oldest building in San Jose
    The name of the Indians who lived here first
    The nickname of this area today




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    copyright Janet F. Dixon, 1997