You may not know that San Jose is bigger than San Francisco and is the biggest city in northern California. Fifty years ago a mere 95,000 people lived here; now there are 1 million. And that living is good living: with the highest median income in the U.S., households in San Jose also have the highest disposable income of any large American city.
San Jose is, of course, the epicenter of Silicon Valley, a sprawling patchwork of suburban office parks and corporate campuses, but its downtown is lifeless. The last time I was here, in 2002, I thought it couldn’t get less exciting, but after spending a couple days here this week, I know it has gotten worse. There are only a handful of nice buildings in downtown, two of which are pictured below. Nothing is too tall since the airport is smack dab in the city, and the skyline is in the flight path (which makes it very cool to stick your head out your hotel window and practically touch landing planes.)
Admittedly, the views outside my hotel (pictured below) to Plaza de Caesar Chavez, where California’s first state capitol once stood, weren’t that bad. Of course the historic seat of government that once stood on the downtown square has been replaced by a fountain, but who cares, right?