Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday Wishlist: San Joseans to Stop Referring to SF as "The City"

This really drives me nuts.  When San Franciscans do it, it sounds arrogant and self-indulgent.  However, it's even worse when San Joseans refer to our smaller neighbor up north as "the city." Every time we do this we are continuing to perpetuate a nickname that is degrading to San Jose, and many other Bay Area cities like Oakland.

Leigh Weimers is a former columnist from the San Jose Mercury News that has recently passed away (his memorial service is Monday, 3:30 at St. Joseph's Basilica). One of his few regrets was: "I'm sorry I haven't gotten more San Joseans to stop calling San Francisco "the city." It's "a city" -- so is San Jose -- but not "the city." That's so last century. (Source)

I'm hoping that Sal Pizarro, who has taken over Leigh's position, will take the baton and continue to fight to get that reference out of San Josean's vocabulary. I think the way things are going in San Jose, we can do it, but like anything it will take some time and conscious effort.

30 comments:

  1. Let me see: pop. of San Jose is 967,000, industry-high tech, downtown-vibrant, airport-modern with flights to Japan, shopping-Santana Row, big city amenities like opera, ballet, museums-California theater, Tech museum and transit-lightrail and bart comming soon.

    That does qualify as its own city. What's the matter with San Joseans? San Francisco is The City for areas north of San Mateo county line, and San Jose is The City south of Santa Clara county line.

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  2. Oh come on...everyone calls SF "the city" even people from outside the area (even some East-Coasters call SF "the city"). Seriously, what's problem? San Jose is San Jose. Let's be ourselves. In 10 years time the population gap will be be even bigger due to all the available land down here, the better weather, etc etc. But San Francisco will still be "the city".

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    1. It's an insult and and I'm going to do my part to not perpetuate it. Every time someone says "the city" I will always ask "which one?"

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    2. Fair enough :)

      I'm not one of the "haters" that follows your blog. I live in San Jose too and love this place and I really like your blog. I'm just not too worried about this one!

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    3. The Angry San JoseanSeptember 19, 2012 at 3:27 PM

      San Francisco is too small to be called the city, and its downtown is a sewer. San Jose population is 1,000,000 and SF population is 800,000. San Jose has just as much culture san SF, and most of the touring acts like Lady Gaga and Pink go to San Jose. San Jose has all the big city amenities you can think of. It also has different ethnic neighborhoods like Japantown, Little Saigon and Little Italy. San Jose is The CITY!

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  3. I am so on board with this. I refuse to call SF "the city" too. I like your idea of saying "which one?" when someone refers to "they city," I'm going to use that in the future.

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  4. Why not just start referring to San Jose as "The BIG City!" I believe back east Manhattan is also referred to as "The City." Perhaps it has something to do with skyscrapers, bridges and waterfronts (?).

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  5. For years, whenever someone says "I went to The City last night," I always say "You went to New York and back in one day? You must be exhausted." Anyone who thinks SF is 'The' city needs to get out more.

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  6. I think this cheesey argument only perpetuates San Jose's perceived or real second place. Do you think San Francisco is looking over its shoulder? Nah...

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    1. This isn't about whether or not SF is looking over its shoulder. SF is irrelevent: It's about how San Joseans see themselves.

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  7. Oh for crying out loud. People don't say "the city" to insult our precious South or East bay egos, or as a comparison, or as any other derogatory reason you can invent. We say it because it's less syllables than San Francisco. It's less confusing than SF which is often mistaken for SFO specifically, and it's less douchey than Frisco or SanFran. Of course you can be upset over laziness, but to project your own insecurities and competitive attitude over regional colloquialisms is just silly.

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    1. Hmm, SF is just as easy to say and I don't remember anyone I've talked to ever getting confused between SF and SFO.

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  8. Wednesday Wishlist:

    San Jose rids of its inferiority complex and embraces the things that make San Jose great - near perfect climate, good for families, high paying jobs, a healthy and intelligent populace, relatively safe, close to global attractions (Napa, Carmel, SF, Tahoe, Yosemite, etc.) and the list goes on.

    And as Amy said, saying "The City" is not a jab at San Jose. People have been saying it forever. My grandparents said it. And I'm not sure why we're trying to separate ourselves from one of the most iconic and unique cities in the world. I feel lucky to live in THE Bay Area and have access to such amazing places such as San Francisco.

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  9. Well said Amy & Anonymous (9:37)...how can this blog go from sensible discussions on new office complexes (downtown vs. North 1st Street, High-rise vs. Low-rise campus etc) into a complete degeneration into this nonsense about "the City"??? It's embarrassing!!!! San Francisco (there, I won't call it "the City") is one of the most wonderful places in the world. Period. End-of-story. We are lucky to be so close. I for one, however, would not live anywhere else but San Jose. And I've lived in Europe, Australia, and many parts of the US. We don't do ourselves any favors by this kind of discussion. It makes us look so lame.

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    1. It's not embarrassing, it's a legitimate complaint. This is a rare scenario in other regions because you usually have one anchor city which is surrounded by suburbs which are then surrounded by agriculture. So when you say "the city" it's pretty obvious. San Jose somehow managed to go from agriculture, to suburb, to anchor city, all within a very short time frame. There is no other place in the US where you will find two anchor cities within 50 miles that have around the same population.

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    2. Not true. What about dallas fort worth?

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    3. You dug deep into the archives there Anonymous, this post is over a year old =) I would argue that Dallas is clearly the anchor city. It has a population of 1.2 million versus 700k for Fort Worth. If Fort Worth had around 1.5 million people, then that would be more like our situation.

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  10. The three comments above from Amy and the two Anons (off-topic, just put a name to your comment please, so it's easier to identify whom we are referring to) are pretty genuine in intentions. Alas, they are also indicative of the exact thing Josh is mentioning: that some San Joseans, and the rest of the Bay Area residents (except for Oaklanders) live in perpetual deference to SF.

    I almost never hear Oaklanders refer to SF as "The City". It's time San Jose natives have the same zeal and pride for their city of San Jose, and stop thinking that they are "lucky to be so close" to SF.

    If you say San Jose is a great city, then embrace it for what it is and what it offers as a city. Don't say it's a great city because "we should be lucky to be so close" to SF. So is it a great city by itself, or is it a great city because it's "so close to SF"?

    I'm not a homer by any mean. I like SF, and it's beautiful, I admit it. It's blessed with picturesque beauty. Heck, I even took my outdoor wedding shoot there. But I will not defer to it. Period.

    Amy says it's colloquialism...true...but it's ancient and no longer applicable. You grandparents might refer to it as "The City", because in their time, it WAS. But time has changed...

    You can call it inferiority complex. I call it asserting myself as a proud native of THE largest and most economically powerful city in the entire Bay Area.

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  11. Now I'm going to be fair. From my observation, I don't get "The City" thrown at me very often. Usually when I get that term, it's from a transplant from outside the area, and from someone who has lived a very long life, way way before the time of San Jose's ascendancy.

    Now I don't see as an insult, I see it as just ignorance (from people who are transplants and deferential South Bay folks) and old-ways-die-hard (from people who are much older in age).

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  12. I was born and raised in San Francisco. I confess I never gave San Jose much thought until I moved to the South Bay in the '90s. Now I love San Jose, too! It has been a great place to raise my family. I, for one, will stop calling San Francisco "The City." As of today.

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  13. San Jose will never be "the City" unless they make Santana Row the new downtown and build out from there. High Density multifamily dwellings built in close proximity to retail and other attractions are the hallmark of any real City. The architecture from block to block isnt even cohesive.

    As it stands, I go to "The City' to party on the weekends and back to my san jose suburb for raising my kids and sleeping. Any other delusions of city-hood leave as soon as you enter SF proper.

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    1. You're wrong. San Jose is the City since it has a real vibrant downtown already. Santana Row is now only secodary to downtown and contains mainly high end shopping and 20 restaurants.

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    2. Don't forget about Willow Glen or Japantown either!

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    3. Don't forget about Willow Glen or Japantown either!

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  14. Anon (off-topic, guys, stop using Anon, just put a name up, false name is fine, but be consistent, so we know at least which Anon we are referring to....*sigh*)

    San Jose is not SF and do not want to be SF. We are our own city, the largest and strongest in the Bay Area, with a huge sphere of influence and wields an expanding amount of political power. We need OUR OWN PEOPLE, San Jose natives and residents, to be cognizant of those facts, and display the proper civic pride that will inevitably lead us to continue building up this city to fulfill its potential.

    You say you go to SF now to party on the weekends, but would you not look forward to the days when you don't have to? Sure, you will still go to SF in that future, for vacationing and special occasions, but you would have enough things here (festivals, parties, faires, etc.) in SJ locally for most weekends. Would you not look forward to that future?

    That's what I'm about. I'm still going to go to SF on occasions. No doubt about that! SF could have a 3-story skyline and it would still be beautiful, precisely because of its geography. And I'm going to enjoy it the same as I would a vacation in Napa. But I look forward to the days when I can spend all my weekends here in SJ and have all my wants/desires met :)

    Now, about urbanization. I love it and want it just as much as you do, Anon. Even though a lot of us on here do not have much love for the suburbs, but I believe they can both exist together in any city, San Jose especially. They both have their pros and cons.

    If SF could have room to sprawl, I guarantee you they would have. But they don't have the space, and MUST urbanize (150 years ago). San Jose did not have that space issue, thus we BOTH urbanize (20 years ago) and suburbanize (50 years ago). San Jose can do both. Our spacious land let us have that opportunity to have both an urban culture and a "country" setting, all in one city. We should consider that a blessing.

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  15. I think this is just silly. I lived in San Jose for 11 years, until just recently when a work move prompted my move to "The City".
    I really liked living in San Jose and will always like it.
    Yes I get that its larger than San Francisco, has more companies etc. But the reason why people visit the greater Bay area is still SF. People do no vacation in SJ, they just dont. The draw here is now and for the very foreseable future will be SF.
    I have friends all over the west coast. My SoCal friends refer to SF as The City. My Seattle friends do the same. And just like my New Jersey friends refer to NY as The City, as do many many people out here.
    That does in no way take away what SJ is. There are many great things about living down here. The climate is better, traffic is generally better, houses are larger. There are great restaurants and neighborhoods and bedroom communities. SF grew bigger earlier and for much longer. It's influences on politics still tend to dominate the state, even over MUCH larger cities like LA and San Diego.
    SJ has a long way to go to build its Urban Environment and make its downtown a thriving exciting place to live and be. It's making progress. The current Mayor and Council dont seem to be able to get this done properly, and they're still paying for past mistakes. But when you're primarily a suburban city, its hard to place all focus on one area.
    So thats it. I have never seen it as an insult to the SJ to call SF "The City". And I feel that all this complaining is just more of the inferiority complex that SJ has in regards to SF. Focus on what makes SJ great and make it better.

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    1. Completely agree with your last sentence, but I'm not dropping this topic. I think this will be a long term issue and not a battle that is winnable today. 20 years from now when San Jose is a city of 1.4 million people or more and has multiple thriving districts with a younger population base... this argument will be more compelling. For now, I'll take a few quick wins of converting at least a few people into dropping the phrase and at least increasing awareness that this term can be seen as insulting. I'll probably do a post like this once a year and see how opinions change over time.

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    2. David,

      It's not an inferiority complex that SJ people has. I don't even know why this "inferiority complex" gets brought up every time. Why would Josh, or I, or the ones who endorse getting rid of the "The City" insult, be seen as having an inferiority complex?

      Our city is already the richest city in this region (not even going to reference the fact that we're the richest in the entire country), the largest by land and by population, and the most educated in the region. And despite the recent crime spree, still the safest out of the top 3 anchor cities ;)

      This is about getting San Jose people to wake up to the fact that their city of San Jose is now a power player, if not THE power player, in this region. And they no longer need to defer to any other cities in this region, as their own city of San Jose is now one of the two alpha dogs of the region (sorry Oakland, your time has passed...)

      The sooner we get San Joseans to be cognizant of that fact, the sooner we will get our civic pride up to move our city continually forward, we will fulfill our potential as the anchor city of the Southern half of the Bay Area.

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  16. I've lived in San Jose for majority of my life and I refer to SF as "The City". Hell, Even my friends in Oakland consider SF as the City and Oakland as "The Town" or "Oaktown". I don't really mind calling it the city at all. San Jose is a wonderful place, but it is way behind SF in terms of urbanity. SF is vibrant and SJ is just not up to par in terms of City amenities.

    I love San Jose and the Bay Area -- We're all lucky to live in such a wonderful place!

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    1. Well, hopefully as you see San Jose develop over time you will see this differently (both seeing SJ as more urban and minding about calling it the city).

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