At the turn of the 20th Century, San Jose was a thriving city of 21,000 surrounded by orchards and fields. The valley’s agricultural industry was centered on finance, retail, manufacturing, and services. The Carnegie Building of the San Jose Public Library opened in 1903. Charles Herrold founded the first commercial radio station in San Jose in 1909.
The 1906 earthquake destroyed many buildings in San Jose. The city was still primarily rural, and its population was much smaller than that of San Francisco. Buildings on the peninsula were not as close together as they were on the peninsula, thus reducing the risk of major fires. Over 100 people were killed when the walls and roof of the all-brick Agnews Asylum (later Agnews State Hospital) collapsed. San Jose High School’s three-story stone and brick structure, which was8 years old, also collapsed, and many other buildings were severely damaged. Numerous other moderate earthquakes have been felt in San Jose without causing much damage. Most earthquake damage is quickly repaired, but some effects may still be visible, such as cracked sidewalks and raised curbs.
Here are some stunning historical photos that show San Jose in the 1900s.