2009 was not a great year. Financial markets were dry, real estate was depressed, unemployment was at a 26-year high, and just about every major project in San Jose was either on-hold or cancelled. If you looked at the very core of San Jose, the Downtown residential high-rises were selling at an abysmal rate, and there was little hope that any of the dozen or so planned towers would move forward. Yet, there was still reason to be optimistic.
San Jose has a unique history. 60 years ago, the economy was mostly agrarian and the population consisted of barely 100,000 residents. To put that in perspective San Francisco had 775,000 and Oakland was up to 365,000 people at that time. Over those 60 years, San Jose experienced unprecedented growth to become 10-fold larger and is now the base of one of the strongest if not the strongest economic engines in the world. That is quite a turn around for a little farming town. The one thing that did not grow as quickly as the population was culture and community pride. Even many San Jose residents felt like it was a second class city. Then something happened...
The masses slowly started caring. A culture based around innovation and constant improvement began emerging. Communities of people excited with every new potential San Jose project popped up. The Usuals opened up shop and started selling I "Heart" SJ shirts, and people actually put them on. San Jose started getting ranked on National Top 10 lists: #1 Top Job Market in the US, #1 Happiest City of Young Professionals, #1 City for Patent Creation, #1 Highest Median Household Income, #1 Top Cleantech City in the US, #1 Healthiest City for Women, #1 Safest Large City in the US, #1 Highest Salaries for [Fill in the Blank], etc., etc. etc. Of all the stats, perhaps the one I was most proud of was getting technically and objectively ranked as a "World Class" City for the first time ever.
Now, we are in an era where our culture is growing, our city is growing, and national recognition is growing. Here is a list of some of the things that either currently exist or are in progress today that seemed unfeasible and out of reach four years ago:
- Four completely full residential high-rises Downtown
- A brand new San Jose Earthquakes Stadium
- The San Pedro Square Market
- The South Bay 49ers
- A Downtown with 250 restaurants
- Premier Retail (i.e. launching here before SF and LA) in Santana Row and Valley Fair
- Little Italy
- Art projects of this calibur
- BART to San Jose
- One billion new miles of new bike lanes (don't quote me on the number)
- MUJI Downtown
- Office HQs that look like this
- Virgin and ANA flights at SJC
- A Shark's Stanley Cup Win (had to throw that one in)
And of course, the big news that I have been harassed about for taking so long to mention...
|Thanks to David Cheung for the photo. Also read this and this.|
ONE SOUTH MARKET BROKE GROUND!!! San Jose is getting a new tower! There will be some sort of TSJB celebration and I will be buying the first round of beers. More details on this soon.
In parting, I would just like to say a huge thanks to Jen, Jarrod, and Alvin for their contributions to this blog over the years; you guys area amazing! Also a heartfelt thanks to all the readers out there for stopping by, for believing in San Jose, and contributing to its future successes. Our city is a better place because of people that believe making a difference is possible. Even something as small as shopping at a local vendor can have a big impact. Happy Friday!