In Town, San Jose
About 90,000 people of Vietnamese decent live in San Jose... that is nine percent of the city's total population. This is said to be the largest population of Vietnamese outside of Vietnam anywhere in the world.
The heaviest concentration of Vietnamese businesses in San Jose is located south of downtown along Story Road between Kelley Park and McLaughlin Ave. Another large cluster of Vietnamese businesses is nearby on Tully Road. The Viet Museum is located in Kelly Park just off Sentry Road near the city's Municipal Stadium. Here you will find numerous little Vietnamese restaurants packing small shopping centers.
I first heard of this neighborhood when a big fight erupted over naming the neighborhood "Little Saigon" or a potentially less confrontational name like Vietnamtown. I have been to Vietnam and enjoyed the food and culture, so I wanted to visit the area and see what all the buzz was about. When we attended an event in nearby Municipal Stadium, I had to make a small detour and check out this unique neighborhood. I was amazed at the huge number of Vietnamese restaurants here, but I didn't get a chance to do anything other than eat a light dinner.
San Jose Municipal Stadium is the home of the Single-A San Jose Giants baseball team. It was built in 1942 of reinforced concrete at a cost of just 80,000 dollars. The grass surface is a beautifully maintained Baby Bermuda Grass that is soft as pillows under the feet, while the infield clay in packed hard, creating a beautiful playing surface.
While the stadium has historically seen few changes, in the past few years some significant improvements have occurred. In 1994 the bathrooms and clubhouses were renovated, in 1996 three new rows of box seats were built, in 1997 the dugouts were expanded, in 2005 the video screen was installed, and in 2007 the outfield fences were moved in 10 to 20 feet. If you park around back you might be surprised at the bad shape the old outfield fence was in... it's full of holes from spikes, and has lots of dents from ball in its aluminum panels--I'm amazed it lasted as long as it did! The stadium has just one set of restrooms, along with a few beer and food stands, including Turkey Mikes BBQ.
The San Jose Giants have called the stadium home since 1988. Since then, about 20 percent of well over 500 of the team's players have played at least once game in the big leagues and at least 12 former San Jose Giants have played in the World Series. Furthermore numerous MLB Hall of Famers played here in San Jose including Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Reggie Jackson, Don Drysdale, Kirby Puckett, Joe Morgan, and Don Sutton, as well as future HOFers Ken Griffey Jr, Pedro Martinez, and Mike Piazza.
The Guadalupe River is important as it is the river on which the Spanish Mission Santa Clara de Asís and el Pueblo de San José were founded in 1777. While the mission were eventually moved away from the river becoming the city of Santa Clara, the pueblo grew into the modern city of San Jose. After years of development then flooding, the banks of the river were finally designated for parkland, much of which has become Guadalupe River Park & Gardens.
The area's Master Plan calls for gardens that reflect the history of San Jose as the Garden City.
Today this series of parks stretches about three miles along the edge of downtown and includes Guadalupe Gardens, Arena Green, Ryland Park, McEnery Park, Children’s Discovery Park, Columbus Park, and Almaden Lake Park. It also forms part of the 11-mile long Guadalupe River Trail.
Guadalupe Gardens northern edge is just south of the San Jose Airport and immediately west of the river. Beginning in 1975, over 630 homes were removed from this area because of airport noise and safety concerns. In 1986, the city proposed the creation of recreational areas within this recently cleared airport approach zone. This area now consists of Courtyard Garden & Taylor Street Rock Garden, a Visitor & Education Center, the Heritage Rose Garden, and the Historic Orchard.
One of the more unique monuments in San Jose is the Olympic Monument at San Jose State University. This is a statue of the controversial moment at the 1968 Mexico Olympics when two American athletes chose to use the podium as a platform for a political statement. The athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, had both studied at San Jose State. They had just finished first and third in the 200 meter run and wore black gloves and raised their fists in protest of civil rights and racial injustice in America. The protest was frowned upon by the IOC because the Olympics have historically been a time when political differences were set aside in favor of international unity, and the athletes were suspended from the games. Some have praised their acts as bravery while others said the athletes disgraced America on an international stage.
The monument was just unveiled in 2007 and is located on the SJSU campus beside Tower Hall.