The San Jose population increased rapidly after World War II as a result of diversification efforts and aggressive annexation. City Hall moved from downtown in 1958 due to the burgeoning population. The opening of Valley Fair, the area’s first shopping center, signaled the decline of downtown. The downtown was revitalized during the last quarter of the 20th century.
Over the years, efforts were made to bring the capital back to San Jose. Still, for the most part, the town settled into being a farming community that supported the agriculture industry that was booming in the Santa Clara Valley. When World War II ended, the valley was the last vast undeveloped land surrounding San Francisco Bay; San Jose had a population of less than 100,000 in 1950.
Here are some stunning vintage photos that show San Jose, California in the 1950s.
Cheim Lumber Company was located at Lenzen Avenue and The Alameda, San Jose. The fire was started on the afternoon of April 14th by three children playing with matches. It quickly spread to the Pacific Hardware & Steel Company and the Prime Rib Dining Room, located at the back of the Cheim Lumber property.
North Market Street in downtown San Jose, California near intersection of West St. John Street. View overlooking street and City of San Jose Public Parking Lot No. 1. Greyhound bus and cars driving past on street in foreground. North San Pedro Street businesses and residences are visible on the other side of the parking lot, as well as the intersection of San Pedro and St. John Street. Stores visible behind the parking lot are American Welding Supply (75 North San Pedro) and C & D Automotive Service (85 North San Pedro).
The fire began at 1400 The Alameda at Lenzen Avenue on the afternoon of April 14th when three children were playing with matches. It quickly spread to the Pacific Hardware & Steel Company and the Prime Rib Dining Room, located at the back of the Cheim Lumber property. The heat from the fire was so intense that it damaged several hoses and put one engine out of commission. Seventy-seven firemen worked to control the fire.
City Hall as it looked in the 1950s. Designed by the architect Theodore Lenzen, and constructed in 1887, it originally housed the jail on the ground floor, council chambers on the main floor, and public library on the third floor. This City Hall continued in use until it was demolished in 1958.