San Jose History

San Jose History

April 06, 2020

Many know that San Jose is the largest city in the Bay Area and in NorCal—and the third largest city in California. But not all visitors dig into the interesting history of this Silicon Valley city.

For thousands of years, this area was inhabited by several groups of Ohlone Native Americans.

El Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe was the first pueblo not associated with a mission or a military post (presidio) in upper Las Californias, founded in 1777. This tiny farming community of Mexican colonists was formed to provide food to the presidios of San Francisco and Monterey.

In 1781, the Spanish Governor designated the first two secular pueblos in California: Los Ángeles and San José.

San Jose also had a role in the Gold Rush. Ohlone people had decorated the chapel at Mission Santa Clara with red powder from cinnabar deposits: the largest mercury mines in North America, just south of the city. Mercury was so important during the Gold Rush that to this day, our local paper is dubbed the Mercury News.

In 1850, San Jose became the first incorporated city in the U.S. state of California, and served as the state’s first capital.

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