Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The San Jose Century

San Jose City Hall (Photo: Tak)

Not long ago, I came across a book called The San Francisco Century. Its a lavish book about San Francisco during the 20th century. The City by the Bay certainly had it pretty good during the last hundred years. But the book got me thinking about San Francisco's sister to the south, San Jose. The 20th century, particularly the latter half, was also very good to San Jose. In the space of one hundred years, our city was transformed from a sleepy agricultural town into the technological center of the world. And so I wondered about what the 21st century would hold for the Silicon Capital.

Santa Clara Street (Photo: Michael Patrick)

As I see it, the 21st century will continue to be good to America's great cities, such as San Francisco. However, I predict the emergence of a new tier of cities. Over the course of the next hundred years, places such as San Diego, Salt Lake City, Portland, Miami, and Austin will emerge to challenge the nation's traditional centers of power, like Los Angeles, Boston, and Chicago. I believe San Jose will be on the forefront of these 21st century cities. Indeed, San Jose should be.

Evergreen Valley (Photo: lisa.amorao)

But in order for San Jose to take its place amongst the premier cities of the 21st century, nationally but also internationally, some thinking in the city will have to change. Specifically, the city's leaders will have to expand their vision of what San Jose can and should be. Small-town thinking by city leaders and developers over the past few decades has left San Jose with a lot of catching up to do. Likewise, the biggest obstacle the city must overcome is its own perception of itself. San Joseans have always had to endure snubs from prickly San Franciscans, but the worst smears come from San Joseans themselves. Too many San Joseans think in NIMBY-ish and short-sighted terms, preferring instead for the city to stay a grand suburb. But great cities aren't built upon suburban hopes. Instead, great cities set forth to create unique identities for themselves. San Jose will never be San Francisco. And we shouldn't try. We can be something different. Something our own. A city as diverse as ours deserves nothing less.

Downtown Ice (Photo: Michael Patrick)

And so, hopefully SJ/21 will do its part in contributing to a new dialogue in the city. With downtown San Jose in the midst of unprecedented development, now is the time for serious questions to be asked and unique visions to be heard. This site may not always have nice things to say about those that make the decisions, but SJ/21's purpose is to push the boundaries of the San Jose that can be. Let's be aggressive in our pursuit of the San Jose of tomorrow. In the future, we'll look at all sorts of issues pertaining to the future development of the city. Its an interesting time to live in the city, for sure. With major issues, such as BART, North First, and Coyote Valley, and fascinating proposals, like those of the San Jose Downtown Association and 1stAct, there should be plenty to talk about.

Alum Rock Park (Photo: So Sylvie )

This website would also like to thank all of those at Skyscraper City's San Jose Development News thread. Its very informed participants, many of whom we hope will contribute here, served as SJ/21's inspiration. Likewise, SJ/21 hopes its readers will contribute to the dialogue. Please feel free to comment anytime. This site will always welcome all perspectives. Links on your sites are also appreciated.

Okay, now let's get to work...



Anonymous said...

Interested to see what you have in mind. Good luck!!

Sammy, SJ said...

With our current mayor, any groundbreaking vision could be tough.

Baron, Santa Clara, CA said...

San Jose always feels like a city waiting to happen. I dont know what its gonna take to push it to the edge. It could be a very exciting place if theyd just let things happen. I agree this mayor lacks vision. Thats too bad.