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What San Jose, CA looked like at the Turn of the 20th Century

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.

#1 San Fernando & Second Street, San Jose, 1906

San Fernando & Second Street, San Jose, 1906

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#2 Annex to Russ House, San Jose, 1906

Annex to Russ House, San Jose, 1906

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#3 Ruins of Native Sons Hall, April 18, 1906

Ruins of Native Sons Hall, April 18, 1906

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#4 2nd Street, 1906

2nd Street, 1906

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#5 Vendome Hotel, San Jose, 1903

Vendome Hotel, San Jose, 1903

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#6 Photo from the Von Dorsten family album. Chinatown, San Jose, 1906

Photo from the Von Dorsten family album. Chinatown, San Jose, 1906

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#7 Trinity Episcopal Church, 1902

Trinity Episcopal Church, 1902

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#8 View of Palms on the car line, East San Jose, 1900

View of Palms on the car line, East San Jose, 1900

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#9 San Jose High School, 1903

San Jose High School, 1903

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#10 Unique Theatre, 1906

Unique Theatre, 1906

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#11 Saint James Hotel, San Jose, 1900

Saint James Hotel, San Jose, 1900

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#12 Church at San Jose, 1906

Church at San Jose, 1906

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#13 Santa Clara Street, San Jose, 1905

Santa Clara Street, San Jose, 1905

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#14 Horse drawn delivery trucks in front of San Jose Laundry Association Works, 1905

Horse drawn delivery trucks in front of San Jose Laundry Association Works, 1905

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#15 Shack in San Jose, 1900s

Shack in San Jose, 1900s

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#16 Photo from Von Dorsten family album. Company B leaving San Jose for Spanish American war, 1906

Photo from Von Dorsten family album. Company B leaving San Jose for Spanish American war, 1906

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#17 San Jose Parade with a float by Gas Light & Fuel Co, 1907

San Jose Parade with a float by Gas Light & Fuel Co, 1907

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#18 St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, San Jose, 1907

St. Joseph's Catholic Church, San Jose, 1907

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#19 Street scene at T&D Theatre, San Jose, 1900s

Street scene at T&D Theatre, San Jose, 1900s

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#20 San Jose Fire Department Hook & Ladder Truck, 1900s

San Jose Fire Department Hook & Ladder Truck, 1900s

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#21 San Jose Rubber Works interior. Left to right Jack Bean, Herb Bean, Charlie Bean, 1905

San Jose Rubber Works interior. Left to right Jack Bean, Herb Bean, Charlie Bean, 1905

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#22 Fire Damage on South 2nd Street, San Jose, 1906

Fire Damage on South 2nd Street, San Jose, 1906

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#23 70 East Julian, San Jose, 1900s

70 East Julian, San Jose, 1900s

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#24 Eilers Music Co., with San Jose Transfer truck, 1900s

Eilers Music Co., with San Jose Transfer truck, 1900s

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#25 San Jose Laundry Association trucks in front of the laundry works about 1906. Corner of Tenth and Saint James Streets.

San Jose Laundry Association trucks in front of the laundry works about 1906. Corner of Tenth and Saint James Streets.

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#26 Oldest theater still in business in San Jose is the Jose, at 64 South Second Street built in 1904 for Monterey investor David Jacks.

Oldest theater still in business in San Jose is the Jose, at 64 South Second Street built in 1904 for Monterey investor David Jacks.

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#27 Downtown San Jose, 1908

Downtown San Jose, 1908

Woman crossing the street as Car #8 travels eastbound on Santa Clara Street at First Street. Wooden streetcars of this type were abandoned by San Jose railroads during the 1920s after the introduction of the Birneys.

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#28 Normal School, San Jose, California, 1900s

Normal School, San Jose, California, 1900s

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#29 Second San Jose State Normal School building, 1900

Second San Jose State Normal School building, 1900

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#30 The Post Office, from St. James Park, San Jose, 1907

The Post Office, from St. James Park, San Jose, 1907

On reverse: The Post Office, from St. James Park, San Jose, Cal. San Jose is a flourishing city of about 40,000 with unusually fine public buildings for a city of its size.

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#31 Main Entrance to City Hall, San Jose, 1907

Main Entrance to City Hall, San Jose, 1907

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#32 Carnegie Library, San Jose, California, 1907

Carnegie Library, San Jose, California, 1907

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#33 Market and San Fernando On margins Post Office, San Jose, 1908

Market and San Fernando On margins Post Office, San Jose, 1908

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#34 Militia in St. James Park, San Jose, 1906

Militia in St. James Park, San Jose, 1906

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#35 St. James Park, 1903

St. James Park, 1903

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#36 Grauman’s Unique Theater, San Jose, 1904

Grauman's Unique Theater, San Jose, 1904

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#37 San Jose showing adobe structures and Fallon House, 1900

San Jose showing adobe structures and Fallon House, 1900

Fallon House in centre of picture taken from the roof of the courthouse building, looking west There are at least 6 adobe building in view.

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#38 Men in front of Grauman’s Unique Theatre, 1904

Men in front of Grauman's Unique Theatre, 1904

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#39 City Hall, San Jose, 1900s

City Hall, San Jose, 1900s

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#40 Bedroom with a double bed, McMahon house, San Jose, 1909

Bedroom with a double bed, McMahon house, San Jose, 1909

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#41 San Jose Normal School quadrangle, 1905

San Jose Normal School quadrangle, 1905

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#42 San Jose Hospital ground-breaking, 1900s

San Jose Hospital ground-breaking, 1900s

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#43 Lowell Grammar School First Grade, 1900s

Lowell Grammar School First Grade, 1900s

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#44 Electric light tower seen at end of street, 1900

Electric light tower seen at end of street, 1900

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#45 Market Street Station, San Jose, 1907

Market Street Station, San Jose, 1907

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#46 Twelve Mile House was a Stagecoach stop on way to Monterey from San Jose, CA. 12 miles from San Jose on Monterey Road at Coyote, 1907

Twelve Mile House was a Stagecoach stop on way to Monterey from San Jose, CA. 12 miles from San Jose on Monterey Road at Coyote, 1907

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#47 The Italia Hotel, San Jose, 1900

The Italia Hotel, San Jose, 1900

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#48 Smith Creek Hotel, San Jose, 1903

Smith Creek Hotel, San Jose, 1903

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#49 Knapp Plow Company offices located in downtown San Jose, 1900s

Knapp Plow Company offices located in downtown San Jose, 1900s

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#50 City Hall, San Jose, 1901

City Hall, San Jose, 1901

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#51 Hotel Vendome, San Jose, 1900s

Hotel Vendome, San Jose, 1900s

Opened in 1889, hotel was located on 1st street near Empire. Three-story building, built of redwood, including three towers.

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#52 Trinity Church from Park San Jose, 1907

Trinity Church from Park San Jose, 1907

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#53 Letcher Garage on North First Street, San Jose, California, 1905

Letcher Garage on North First Street, San Jose, California, 1905

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#54 Market St., San Jose, 1908

Market St., San Jose, 1908

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#55 House on North San Pedro Street, 1900s

House on North San Pedro Street, 1900s

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#56 Ruins of Agnews Insane Asylum, San Jose, 1906

Ruins of Agnews Insane Asylum, San Jose, 1906

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#57 San Jose, Los Gatos Interurban Railroad Work Car, 1904

San Jose, Los Gatos Interurban Railroad Work Car, 1904

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#58 Enterprise Grocery and Theodore Lenzen Offices, 1906

Enterprise Grocery and Theodore Lenzen Offices, 1906

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#59 McKune Home, South Whitney Street, San Jose, 1902

McKune Home, South Whitney Street, San Jose, 1902

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#60 Hotel St. James & Park, San Jose, 1909

Hotel St. James & Park, San Jose, 1909

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#61 Hotel St. James, San Jose, California, 1904

Hotel St. James, San Jose, California, 1904

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#62 Market Street, San Jose, 1907

Market Street, San Jose, 1907

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#63 Bicycle track at Agricultural Park, 1901

Bicycle track at Agricultural Park, 1901

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#64 The Post Office, St. Joseph’s Church and Electric Tower, 250 feet high, San Jose, 1907

The Post Office, St. Joseph's Church and Electric Tower, 250 feet high, San Jose, 1907

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#65 Photo from the Von Dorsten family album. Refugee Camp, 1906

Photo from the Von Dorsten family album. Refugee Camp, 1906

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#66 Lyndon Block-Eaton and Eaton Printing Company 173 West Santa Clara Street San Jose, 1908

Lyndon Block-Eaton and Eaton Printing Company 173 West Santa Clara Street San Jose, 1908

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#67 Parade, South First Street, July 4, 1907

Parade, South First Street, July 4, 1907

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#68 Horse-drawn cart outside Bennett, Patterson & Co. furniture store, 1900

Horse-drawn cart outside Bennett, Patterson & Co. furniture store, 1900

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#69 A glimpse of the Cafe, Alum Rock Park near San Jose, 1902

A glimpse of the Cafe, Alum Rock Park near San Jose, 1902

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#70 F. M. Jones Bicycle Store, San Jose, 1906

F. M. Jones Bicycle Store, San Jose, 1906

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#71 President McKinley in St. James Park, 1901

President McKinley in St. James Park, 1901

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#72 Library at Santa Clara Street and Twenty-third Street, 1908

Library at Santa Clara Street and Twenty-third Street, 1908

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#73 Alum Rock Park Springs near San Jose, 1902

Alum Rock Park Springs near San Jose, 1902

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#74 Schuetzen Inn, Monterey Road, 1908

Schuetzen Inn, Monterey Road, 1908

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#75 Horses and buggies at Alum Rock Park near San Jose about 1908

Horses and buggies at Alum Rock Park near San Jose about 1908

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#76 Police Court, San Jose, 1905

Police Court, San Jose, 1905

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#77 15 Boston Avenue San Jose, 1900

15 Boston Avenue San Jose, 1900

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#78 Scottish Rite Temple – Cornerstone Ceremony, San Jose, 1909

Scottish Rite Temple - Cornerstone Ceremony, San Jose, 1909

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#79 Berryessa School group posed in front of school building, 1906

Berryessa School group posed in front of school building, 1906

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#80 One of the Mercury News downtown locations, or one of its predecessor newspapers, 1900s

One of the Mercury News downtown locations, or one of its predecessor newspapers, 1900s

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#81 Alum Rock Park, San Jose, 1903

Alum Rock Park, San Jose, 1903

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#82 West Hall, University of the Pacific, San Jose, 1908

West Hall, University of the Pacific, San Jose, 1908

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#83 O’Brien’s Candy Factory, Wholesale and Retail, located at 30 South First Street, 1900s

O'Brien's Candy Factory, Wholesale and Retail, located at 30 South First Street, 1900s

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#84 Alum Rock Park, San Jose, 1903

Alum Rock Park, San Jose, 1903

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#85 Pasetta family home, San Jose, 1905

Pasetta family home, San Jose, 1905

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#86 O’Connell Brothers Meat Market & Grocery, San Jose, 1908

O'Connell Brothers Meat Market & Grocery, San Jose, 1908

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#87 Two cars of Alum Rock Steam Railroad at Alum Rock Park, San Jose, 1900s

Two cars of Alum Rock Steam Railroad at Alum Rock Park, San Jose, 1900s

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#88 The original Oak Grove School was located on Downer Avenue near Snell. Downer is now Blossom Hill Road in San Jose, 1908

The original Oak Grove School was located on Downer Avenue near Snell. Downer is now Blossom Hill Road in San Jose, 1908

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#89 Edwin Markham house, 432 South Eighth Street, 1900

Edwin Markham house, 432 South Eighth Street, 1900

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#90 Court House and Hall of Records, San Jose, 1903

Court House and Hall of Records, San Jose, 1903

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#91 South First Street Looking East on San Fernando Street, 1907

South First Street Looking East on San Fernando Street, 1907

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#92 San Francisco From Fairmont Hotel, 1908

San Francisco From Fairmont Hotel, 1908

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#93 First Street, San Jose, 1907

First Street, San Jose, 1907

Union Pacific and Royal Shaving Parlor are shown on right, with horse-drawn carriages and early automobiles on the street.

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#94 Court House & Hall of Records, San Jose, 1907

Court House & Hall of Records, San Jose, 1907

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#95 The Southern Pacific Broad Gauge Depot, San Jose, 1908

The Southern Pacific Broad Gauge Depot, San Jose, 1908

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#96 Postcard of the Driveway of the Garden City Sanitarium, San Jose, 1900s

Postcard of the Driveway of the Garden City Sanitarium, San Jose, 1900s

Postcard of the Garden City Sanitarium showing the driveway leading to the facility with sanitarium buildings on the right. Individuals are standing at the front of the closest building as well as occupying the balcony.

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#97 Hotel Vendome, San Jose Calif, 1900

Hotel Vendome, San Jose Calif, 1900

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#98 Adobe house on the Berryessa Place, one of the first built in this county near San Jose, 1903

Adobe house on the Berryessa Place, one of the first built in this county near San Jose, 1903

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#99 St. James Hotel, Park & McKinley Monument, San Jose, 1909

St. James Hotel, Park & McKinley Monument, San Jose, 1909

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#100 Rose Carnival 1901, Florence Cunningham San Jose State Normal School Float (ca) Market & Santa Clara Streets, 1901

Rose Carnival 1901, Florence Cunningham San Jose State Normal School Float (ca) Market & Santa Clara Streets, 1901

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#101 Trestle On Line of The San Jose and Los Gatos Interurban Road, 1903

Trestle On Line of The San Jose and Los Gatos Interurban Road, 1903

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#102 New Cars of the San Jose and Los Gatos Interurban R. R., 1900s

New Cars of the San Jose and Los Gatos Interurban R. R., 1900s

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#103 Near line of the San Jose and Los Gatos Interurban R.R., 1900s

Near line of the San Jose and Los Gatos Interurban R.R., 1900s

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#104 Old Post Office building, San Jose, 1901

Old Post Office building, San Jose, 1901

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#105 Branding Claves near San Jose and Los Gatos Interurban R. R., 1905

Branding Claves near San Jose and Los Gatos Interurban R. R., 1905

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#106 Phelan Building, 1906

Phelan Building, 1906

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#107 Lick Stables, 1900

Lick Stables, 1900

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#108 People on the Street After the Devastation, 1906

People on the Street After the Devastation, 1906

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#109 Native Sons Hall, 1906

Native Sons Hall, 1906

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#110 Lord & Westlake’s Stables, 1900

Lord & Westlake's Stables, 1900

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#111 Rail Tracks Cleared, 1906

Rail Tracks Cleared, 1906

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#112 Toward State Normal School, 1900

Toward State Normal School, 1900

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#113 Old City Hall, Cogswell monument, 1906

Old City Hall, Cogswell monument, 1906

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#114 Fredericksburg Bottling Co. Castle Building, 1900

Fredericksburg Bottling Co. Castle Building, 1900

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#115 Stanford Campus, 1906

Stanford Campus, 1906

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#116 Carnegie Library, 1907

Carnegie Library, 1907

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#117 Victorian home on Julian Street with a rocker on porch, 1900s

Victorian home on Julian Street with a rocker on porch, 1900s

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#118 Horace Mann School, 1909

Horace Mann School, 1909

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#119 Two story building with cupola, possibly a school, 1905

Two story building with cupola, possibly a school, 1905

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#120 Southern Pacific Railroad depot in Santa Clara, 1900

Southern Pacific Railroad depot in Santa Clara, 1900

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#121 Adults and children at Campbell Union High School event, 1900s

Adults and children at Campbell Union High School event, 1900s

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#122 Tents in a park setting, Santa Clara County, 1906

Tents in a park setting, Santa Clara County, 1906

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#123 4th of July Parade, 1909

4th of July Parade, 1909

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#124 Two-story residence with two different types of finishes, appears to be among elm and redwood trees, 1902

Two-story residence with two different types of finishes, appears to be among elm and redwood trees, 1902

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#125 Woodrow Undertaking Co, 1900s

Woodrow Undertaking Co, 1900s

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#126 Lick Observatory buildings on top of Mount Hamilton, 1900

Lick Observatory buildings on top of Mount Hamilton, 1900

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#127 West Hall, University of Pacific (Emory Street near Elm), 1902

West Hall, University of Pacific (Emory Street near Elm), 1902

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