City neighborhoods thrive amid urban sprawl

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Viewed from the air, San Jose seems a sprawling city, with a small downtown and vast areas of suburban-style housing and low-rise office complexes.

Yet there are a few distinctive neighborhoods spread around the city.

Located downtown is the city's oldest neighborhood, San Pedro Square, which recently underwent a $1.5 million improvement plan.

The street's public spaces were repaved with expanded sidewalks to accommodate more pedestrian traffic and patio dining.

New landscaping was installed, including new trees, benches and street lights.

There is seating capacity for hundreds of people to eat outside of the modern office buildings and historical structures.

The area includes two of San Jose's oldest buildings -- the Peralta Adobe, built around 1797, and the Fallon House, the former home of a 19th century mayor.

According to the convention and visitors bureau, the goal of city officials is to have the area's restaurants expand to the street, taking advantage of San Jose's mild weather and almost year-round sunshine to create a European-style plaza.

Also downtown is the area of South First Street, which local civic promoters have dubbed SoFa.

It is the city's arts and entertainment district, with some of Silicon Valley's most popular nightclubs.

Some of San Jose's best-known restaurants are located in the area, including Eulipia, Sal & Luigi and Pasquale's. There also are art galleries and movie theaters.

When the area was given a face-lift in the 1980s, colored paving stones were laid in a diagonal pattern along the sidewalks, which are lined with palm and jacaranda trees.

One of San Jose's most elegant and handsome neighborhoods is Willow Glen, which is less than 10 minutes from downtown by car.

The area is known for its charming collection of housing styles and variety of shops, some of which date to the late 1800s.

The main street is Lincoln Avenue, a milelong shopping district that has nearly 30 restaurants.

Several festivals are held each year in Willow Glen, including a June street dance, a Founder's Day weekend in September, an arts and crafts festival and a holiday season tree-lighting ceremony.

One of San Jose's oldest ethnic neighborhoods is Japantown, which dates back to the late 1800s when single men migrated to Santa Clara Valley from Japan to work in the orchards and farms.

The streets today are lined with cherry blossom trees.

There are several buildings of note, including the Issei Memorial Center, home of the Japanese-American Historical Museum; a Buddhist church built in 1937, and the Wesley United Methodist Church, built in 1941.

Japantown is home to several restaurants that serve sushi, teriyaki and other Japanese specialties.

In nearby Kelley Park is the Japanese Friendship Gardens, patterned after the Korakuen Garden in San Jose's sister city of Okayama, Japan.

The park features ponds with koi and quaint footbridge.

San Jose CVB
Phone: (408) 295-2265
Web: www.sanjose.org

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