Known for its technology industry, diverse culture, and rich history, San Jose is a city with a unique blend of old and new. From its founding as a Spanish colony in 1777 to its current status as a hub for innovation and progress, San Jose has a lot of fascinating facts and stories to share. So, whether you’re a local or planning a visit, read on to discover some interesting San Jose facts that you may not have heard before.

aerial photo san jose at sunset

1. San Jose used to be the capital of California

In 1849, San Jose was made the state capital of California and was the first city of the state. The Capitol was a two-story adobe hotel, with the Assembly on the upper floor and the Senate on the lower. Unfortunately, an 1853 fire destroyed the building. All that remains of the former Capitol site is a marker. Today, the San Jose Fairmont Hotel stands in its place.

2. Before it was San Jose, the city was named El Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe

The city was founded by the Spanish on November 29, 1777, and was named El Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe in honor of both Saint Joseph and the Guadalupe River.

3. San Jose has 8 siblings

President Dwight D. Eisenhower created the national Sister Cities program in the 1950s to promote peace and understanding between different cultures. The program encourages cultural exchange and economic development between cities in different countries. San Jose’s oldest relationship is with its sister city Okayama, Japan. San Jose’s other “siblings” include San Jose, Costa Rica, Veracruz, Mexico, Tainan, Taiwan, Dublin, Ireland, Pune, India, Ekaterinburg, Russia, and Guadalajara, Mexico.

4. San Jose is known for its vibrant art scene

While San Jose is the heart of Silicon Valley, it boasts a vibrant arts scene as well. There are dozens of art museums and galleries throughout the city, such as the San Jose Museum of Art, MACLA, Anno Domini Gallery (Gallery A.D.), and more. San Jose also hosts numerous festivals and events celebrating the arts each year, like the San Jose Jazz Festival, which features world-renowned jazz musicians, and the Cinequest Film Festival, which showcases independent and international films.  

5. San Jose is home to many technology companies and innovations

You’ll find dozens of tech companies here, from start-ups to major companies like eBay, Cisco Systems, and IBM. And with San Jose’s deep history in modern technology, it should be no surprise that many notable inventions were developed here. For example, IBM developed the floppy disk, eBay (one of the first e-commerce companies) was founded in San Jose in 1995, and more.

6. San Jose residents can have no more than 5 licensed pets

San Jose laws limit the number of animals owners can have, which is five licensed animals total with no more than three dogs. 

7. Before San Jose was the heart of Silicon Valley, it was an agricultural hub

San Jose has a rich agricultural history that dates back to the 18th century when the city was first founded. The city’s mild climate and fertile soil made it an ideal location for growing crops, and agriculture has been an important part of San Jose’s economy and culture ever since. In the early days of the city, the primary crops grown were grains such as wheat, barley and oats, as well as fruits such as apples, peaches, and plums. As the population grew and the city expanded, the focus shifted towards more profitable crops such as prunes, apricots, and berries.

8. San Jose is the most populous city in the Bay Area

Out of all the cities that make up the Bay Area, San Jose has them beat when it comes to population with about one million residents.

9. San Jose has been issued the most number of patents

In fact, there is a U.S. Patent & Trademark Office located in downtown San Jose at San Jose City Hall. 

10. San Jose takes credit for the invention of “The Wave”

The Wave was created by “Krazy” George Henderson, a San Jose State cheerleader, in 1981 at the Oakland A’s and New York Yankees playoff game.

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