San Jose is a large city surrounded by rolling hills in Silicon Valley, a major technology hub in California’s Bay Area. Architectural landmarks, from the 1883 Italianate-style Oddfellows building to Spanish Colonial Revival structures, make up the downtown historic district. The downtown area is also home to the Tech Museum of Innovation, devoted to the exploration of science and technology.
Before the arrival of the Spanish, the area around San Jose was inhabited by the Tamien nation of the Ohlone peoples of California. San Jose was founded on November 29, 1777, as the Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe, the first city founded in the Californias. It then became a part of Mexico in 1821 after the Mexican War of Independence. Following the American Conquest of California during the Mexican–American War, the territory was ceded to the United States in 1848. After California achieved statehood two years later, San Jose became the state’s first capital. Following World War II, San Jose experienced an economic boom, with a rapid population growth and aggressive annexation of nearby cities and communities carried out in the 1950s and 1960s. The rapid growth of the high-technology and electronics industries further accelerated the transition from an agricultural center to an urbanized metropolitan area. Results of the 1990 U.S. Census indicated that San Jose had officially surpassed San Francisco as the most populous city in Northern California. By the 1990s, San Jose and the rest of Silicon Valley had become the global center for the high tech and internet industries, making it California’s fastest-growing economy.
San Jose became part of the First Mexican Empire in 1821, after Mexico’s War of Independence was won against the Spanish Crown, and in 1824, part of the First Mexican Republic. With its newfound independence, and the triumph of the republican movement, Mexico set out to diminish the Catholic Church‘s power within Alta California by secularizing the California missions in 1833.
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Nicknamed the capital of Silicon Valley, San Jose is a diverse area with an innovative spirit. While it has a distinct downtown, San Jose is a sprawling metro area that is as much defined by its suburban neighborhoods and large tech campuses as it is by the high-rises in its business district. San Jose’s proximity to other tech headquarters in Silicon Valley, including Google in Mountain View and Apple in Cupertino, cements San Jose’s position in the tech hub. But the metro area also retains its character with quirky attractions like the 160-room, maze-like Winchester Mystery House; a 120-acre flea market complete with ponies; and a larger-than-life Monopoly board.
Cradled by the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains and Diablo Range, San Jose offers a prime environment for outdoorsy residents, with its proximity to the ocean, the Sierra Nevada and the vineyards – not to mention about 300 sunny days a year.
The cost of living in San Jose is one of the highest in the nation. While spurring a hiring surge, the tech boom has also made much of the metro area unaffordable to those unable to pull in high-tech salaries. Housing prices here are much higher than they are in most other parts of the country, and residents often find themselves paying more for everyday necessities, such as groceries, utilities and gas, than the average American.
The San Jose climate is Mediterranean, consisting of hot, dry summers and mild winters. Residents might have a hard time remembering rain. Droughts are common and can result in water use restrictions and yellow lawns.
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