<![CDATA[Walking San Jose's Rose Garden Area - Walking Blog]]>Wed, 30 Dec 2015 20:54:10 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Bikes, Guns and Fast Feet @ Lincoln High School]]>Mon, 15 Sep 2014 06:53:59 GMThttp://twofeet.weebly.com/walking-blog/bikes-guns-and-fast-feet-lincoln-high-school
Don Bowden Track & Field @ Lincoln High School, 555 Dana Avenue, San Jose, CA 95126
If you've walked the neighborhood enough you'll soon run into fellow walkers at our Lincoln High School Track, one of only two running tracks in our neighborhood. For serious runners and walkers not wanting to trip on broken sidewalks while looking at the many beautiful homes and gardens it is an efficient way to get a workout. I know of a group of moms that meet regularly at the track after drop off to do just that.

San Jose Unified School District allows neighborhood walkers to use the outside three lanes of their track during daylight hours. You can enter the track from either the non-ADA turnstile on Olive Avenue behind the bleachers or by going through the front of Lincoln High School @ 555 Dana Avenue. Sadly the bathrooms are usually locked up, but the school district compromised and you can use the United porta-potty if you really need to go.

PictureBig Bone Trophy
Lincoln High School's Don Bowden's Track and Field is home to Lincoln High School's Football team in the Fall and Track and Field team in the Spring. 

During the Fall football season you can frequently hear the roar from the football field from the 7pm Friday night games (Sept-Nov) where the Lincoln Lion's play against Santa Teresa, Aragon, Willow Glen, Westmont, Sobrato, Evergreen, Live Oak, Silver Creek, and Gunderson high schools. The last game of the year is called the Big Bone Game and is against longtime rival San Jose High School Bulldogs. This game is played over at San Jose City College's football field. The trophy has a fun story that goes back to 1944.

What you might not know is the wild history behind Lincoln's famed Don Bowden's Track and Field.


Lincoln High School;s Don Bowden wins First Place running the 880 at a record 1:57.1
Lincoln High School's track and field is named after it's most famous alumni Don Bowden. Don is the kind of athlete every high school wishes they had. He is the first American to break the 4 minute mile. He went on to UC Berkley and the the 1956 Olympic Games, If you like the rubberized surface at Lincoln's track you can thank Don for helping to develop the concept!

Rose Garden Dog Park

In walking the maze of cyclone fencing behind Lincoln High School's Bowden track and field I came across a neighborhood gem.

Since the Municipal Rose Garden bans dogs in their park, there really hasn't been a dog park in our neighborhood until Ed Hodges and Bob Walker of the Lincoln Hound Society was able to negotiate a special agreement with San Jose Unified on using a fenced off patch of grass between the baseball field and the track. It is open during non-school hours for neighborhood dog walkers. There is a suggested $10 yearly fee to help pay for doggie doo bags and general maintenance.

If you are walking your dog through the area and want a fenced off area to unleash your dogs then stop by. Just wish they had more benches and trees for folks to socialize!

The Garden City Velodrome

PictureSan Jose's Boarded Saucer June 11, 1936
Before it was Lincoln High School it was Dewey Maxwell's 1/8th mile outdoor wooden bicycle track originally known as the Garden City Velodrome and later renamed the San Jose "Burbank Velodrome". It was in existence from 1936 to 1941 and was the home of the Garden City Wheelmen. It was San Jose's 3rd Velodrome (the first one was built in 1892 at nearby Race & Park Ave). Famed San Jose historian Clyde Arbuckle was a huge cyclist and was made a referee at the track.

It was built with the school district's blessing to convert Dana's Spinach farm into a state of the art bicycle velodrome. It was paid for using Work Progress Administration funds. It featured grandstands that could seat 3,000 an under track entrance for riders to get in and out without stopping a race during the May - Sept racing season. Bicycle crashes and fist fights both horrified and entertained the crowds. They even allowed motorcycles to race on the track until an accident sent one motorbike into the wooden grandstands. Admissions was only 25 cents, but it was WWII that sent San Jose's idyllic youth off to war and lead to the closure of the track in Feb of 1942.

For those wanting to know the complete history check out Tracy Ann Delphia's 1994 SJSU thesis, "A History of Bicycle Track Racing in San Jose: The Burbank Velodrome Years, 1935-1941." If you want to experience bicycle racing on a velodrome be sure to check out Hellyer Park Velodromethe 6th Velodrome to be built in San Jose.

Lincoln High School and the Rifle Range

1942 was a big year for the neighborhood. We lost a popular velodrome and gained a new High School and Rifle Range.

The Burbank Velodrome was torn down in Feb of 1942 after the San Jose city school board approved the building of  Lincoln High School and a small bore rifle range for boys and adults on the property! It was a combination civil defense and school project. There was an indoor range for a 25 yard rifle range and classroom and two outdoor ranges of 50 and 100 yards. The school had use of the rifle range on school days until 4pm at which time the rifle club would use it after school hours.

I can't help but wonder if the velodrome was chosen as the site for the rifle range because the wood bicycle track sat on an oval saucer shaped dirt pile which could help constrain any stray bullets from hitting school children and nearby residents.

The only thing to top the high school's rifle range was the huge display of roaring US Army tanks tearing up the fields at Lincoln a year later on April 29, 1943. It was part of the War Department's effort to sell War Bonds, back in the day before budget deficits.

After WWII the range was torn down and was replaced with an athletic track and field for Lincoln High School.

With the recent spike in horrific school shootings I can't help to think about where we've gone wrong as a society. While I doubt we'll be going back to encouraging young boys to learn how to shoot a rifle on school grounds in preparation for going off to war I do think we need to find ways to reverse the the sad trend of young disenfranchised males bringing guns to school to kill fellow students.

Maybe it's time to look at what used to work - giving purpose to kids' lives. Funding schools with enrichment and athletic programs, getting boys to join youth groups like Boy Scouts that promote gun training and safety. Talking more about positive male role models, like intact families with fathers and more male teachers in the schools Get to know your neighborhood kids by name and push for a workplace environment that gives working parents more time to be at home focused on their kids.

<![CDATA[A Tale of Two Subdivides]]>Sat, 02 Aug 2014 01:05:22 GMThttp://twofeet.weebly.com/walking-blog/a-tale-of-two-subdivides"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way." - Charles Dickens, Tale of Two Cities, 1859
@ 846 West Taylor Street
Back in 1934 the owner at this home (Taylor St used to be called Polhemus St) sold cannery produced dried peach pits by the bag or the ton to be used as a source of inexpensive home heating.
@ 940 West Taylor Street
In June of 2014 this home was purchased as a converted 3 plex with upgrades for $948,000. While the subdivide down the street will sell for $4 million this rental produces monthly revenue while retaining its original value.
No one really enjoys seeing a family home torn apart to be converted into multiple residential units. The motivating reason is money. Space is limited so the best way to make money is to subdivide the property into smaller and smaller sizes that can be rented or sold.

So it is with these two homes on busy West Taylor Street between The Alameda and Stockton Avenue that we see the continued loss of single family homes in our neighborhood. This is just the most recent example.

Both houses were recently purchased by out of neighborhood investors looking at the huge housing demand in Silicon Valley's bedroom community of San Jose.

4 DeNardi Homes @ 842-846 West Taylor St
Squeezing four homes with their combined 20 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms on this single family lot meant losing a front yard, back yard and any meaningful greenspace. Gone is the California Redwood, but at least the Oak Trees along the street were saved.

The only neighborly space is the shared driveway with no outdoor seating or pedestrian safe walking area to reach the back units. The lack of a fenced off safe area for kids or pets means they have to stay inside all day. The closest park is a distant Lenzen Park which if you let your kid walk to alone could land you in jail! Sad to think this is a big contributor to society's No Child Left Outside Law.

The DeNardi Home builders would probably claim that only building three $1 million dollar homes and leaving a common green space or larger parking area wouldn't have been profitable. Sadly it is the livability of our neighborhood that has to pay the difference. Street parking is going to be at a premium here.
3 Rentals @ 940 West Taylor
Squeezing three rentals into one house was accomplished by converting the living room into two separate entrance ways into the home.

I'm grateful the home wasn't knocked down to put in an apartment building. The street facade still looks nice, although seeing 3 front doors all in front is a bit peculiar!

I talked with the Sunnyvale landlord and she told me that the place rented quickly. Two lawyers and a Tesla engineer loved the neighborhood and moved in.

I like that the large trees on the property are still here. The long drive way to the back has plenty of resident parking and a community BBQ. While I wish more landscaping and ornamental work would have been added, it still looks better than the other rentals on the street.

If you get the chance to walk down West Taylor Street take note of incursion of rentals and multiple residential units on a single lot.

Subdivide Equals Subdivison

PictureOhlone Native Americans
Our neighborhood's history has been that of subdivide and subdivide again. The Ohlone Indians loved this area thanks to its vast meadows with game to hunt, plentiful acorns from the massive oak trees and the confluence of the Los Gatos Creek and the Guadalupe River that provided fresh water and fish. The Tamien Ohlone Indians that lived here was just one of the fifty Ohlone tribes to subdivide the bay area!

Next came the Spanish Missionaries that set aside our neighborhood as the pasture land for Mission Santa Clara's cattle on this side of the Guadalupe Creek from the Pueblo de San Jose on the other side, with The Alameda built to connect the two. 

PictureRoberto Bellarmino's Adobe House @ 770 Lincoln Avenue, San Jose
With the Mexican revolution in 1821 came the divestiture of Mission Santa Clara's property. Ohlone Indian Catholic Convert, Roberto Bellarmino was given the 2,000 acre Rancho de los Coches that encompassed our greater Rose Garden area neighborhood. Remarkably his home, the first in our neighborhood area still stands today and will soon be a museum.

In 1846 the Mexican-American War brought new American settlers to San Jose eager to acquire new land. In 1847 Roberto was $500 in debt and sold the property to Antonio Suñol, San Jose's first postmaster and wine grower. 

In 1849 Antonio subdivided our neighborhood into three parts, he kept one-third, gave one-third to his daughter Paula Sainsevain, and the other one-third was sold to an American Henry M. Naglee for $10,000. Henry was a Civil War Union General who had moved to San Jose in what is now called the Naglee Park neighborhood just East of San Jose State University. Our neighborhood's Naglee Avenue is named in honor of it's first "American" owner.

Commodore Robert Field Stockton purchased part of Naglee's landholdings that became Stockton Ranch. Stockton Avenue and the Garden Alameda neighborhood are a legacy to his development of our neighborhood. He was the first to disdain the use of Adobe bricks or primitive sawmills and had finished homes built in New York, disassembled, and then shipped around Cape Horn into San Francisco Bay where the homes were carted in by horse and assembled on site in our neighborhood. These were the first commercially crafted homes in our neighborhood and were coveted by San Jose's early American pioneers.

The College Park neighborhood was formed when Reverend G.R. Baker's University of the Pacific purchased a 450 acre section of Stockton Ranch and moved their college from Santa Clara to our neighborhood in 1871. To help fund the college they subdivided the college property into our neighborhood's first subdivision. The East/West streets were named after trees (Myrtle, Elm, Laurel, Chestnut, Walnut) and the North/South streets were named after Methodist Bishops (Hamlin, Morris/Vermont, McKendrie, Hedding, Emory, Asbury, Polhemus/Taylor), University Avenue was the main entrance to the school from The Alameda.

The building of the "San Francisco and San Jose Railroad" lead to a lot of purchasing and subdividing of Stockton's Ranch by the railroad founders Henry M. Newhall who the Newhall neighborhood is named after and Charles B. Polhemus who owned huge sections of our neighborhood prior to it's opening in 1864.

Map of our Subdivided Neighborhood 1876
Early residents who built their mansions on the stately The Almeda began to subdivide their large city block sized lots. Judge Samuel Franklin Leib, Judge Craven P Hester, Hill, Moore, Judge A.L. Rhodes, and Emory C. Singletary are just a few of the folks along The Alameda to do this. They were joined by Theodore Lenzen, Charles Schiele, Chapman, Davis, O'Brien, Josiah J. McDaniel who all subdivided their tracts in our neighborhood and were remembered by having the new street connecting their tract to the main roads named after them. 

Two residents who were honored with street names named after their subdivision are now forgotten. 
  1. Moore had a street named after him, but since it crossed Morse Street and caused confusion the name was merged with Idaho Street
  2. Charles B Polhemus had a Polhemus street named after him his family's home at the corner of Polhemus Street and Stockton Avenue, but after his house was carted away to Bellarmine and the street realigned to match Naglee Avenue it was changed to Taylor Street (assuming the Methodist Bishop or possibly the US President).

In 1856 the Agricultural Society fundraised $6,000 to pay General Naglee for the 76 acres that became Agricultural Park. Race street in the St Leo's neighborhood is named after the horse race track in the park. In 1907 Lewis Hanchett purchased the Agricultural Park and Fairgrounds and developed the Hanchett Residence Park neighborhood with famed Golden Gate Park and Rose Garden designer John McLaren to create San Jose's first streetcar suburb.

The neighborhood's booming fruit canning and orchard industry gave rise to additional subdivisions of the neighborhood with the St Leo neighborhood in 1915 when the St Leo School was built, the Rose Garden neighborhood in 1937 when FMC President John Crummey subdivided his 25 acre pear orchard.

In 1925 our various subdivisions St Leo, Garden Alameda, Hanchett Residence Park, College Park and the Hester District became part of the city of San Jose. One would think that moving from unincorporated districts into the municipality would ensure better planning and development rules, but if anything the conversion of orchards into home, mansions on The Alameda into office buildings and losing our industrial space (Stockton, Cahill, Midtown) for high density housing for jobs outside our neighborhood has only accelerated in 2014.
San Jose's current Land Use policy doesn't save single family homes!
We need better land use discussions and more thoughtfulness into the kind of neighborhood we want. Our neighborhood's relentless subdividing needs limits. We need better zoning declaring what streets are safe from further subdivision and where our remaining single family homes won't be further subdivided. Otherwise it will be death by a thousand cuts. 

Finding balance in Silicon Valley is hard, but we should be able to find the right incentives to create full vibrant communities right here in our own neighborhood without having to tear out what makes this such a desirable place to live! 

I encourage you to walk our neighborhood more, and talk more with your neighbors. It's good for the soul.

Six Flags of California

Silicon Valley's Tim Draper has spent $5 million to put the ultimate subdivide on our 2016 ballot. His goal is to split the State of California into six separate states:  Jefferson, North California, Silicon Valley, Central California, West California, and South California.

While I don't give the ballot initiative much chance of succeeding (41% in favor), and he has become the butt of comedy shows, I do think the idea has some merit in making our elected leaders more accessible and accountable to locals instead of lobbyists!

For those that have been around, Tim Draper has a history of bold ballot initiatives. His last big push was in 2000 when he unsuccessfully tried to get Prop 38 - Californians School Vouchers approved. It would have allowed parents to use taxpayer dollars to take their kid to any public or private school, rather than being restricted to failing public schools in their school district. It failed, but it was the apex of a much larger Charter School Movement as a valid 4th school option (Public, Private, Home) for Californians.

Anything we can do to improve the quality of our neighborhoods has my vote! #SubDivOblivion

<![CDATA[Midtown Madness]]>Sat, 26 Jul 2014 06:01:09 GMThttp://twofeet.weebly.com/walking-blog/midtown-madness
"Meridian Midtown" project was stalled for years, the for sale project is now 218 rentals @ 1432 West San Carlos St & Meridian Ave, San Jose CA 95126
Residential density is a tricky issue.  San Jose has added higher and higher density housing in our traditional strip mall and light industrial areas.  The Rose Garden Neighborhood Area is now ringed with High Density housing going in at San Carlos Avenue (Midtown), Stockton Avenue, and the Alameda. Of the three, the conversion of San Carlos Street Antique Row into what I call Midtown Madness is the most concerning to keeping San Jose a safe place to walk.

San Jose came up with the Midtown Development plan back in 2000. We are about 1/2 way through the build out with mixed results. The biggest issues has been the increased traffic, scaled back retail, lack of improved transit options like bike lanes, lack of pedestrian sidewalk upgrades (wider sidewalks, safer crosswalks) and the increased problem with blight and the corresponding crime that comes with it. Midtown isn't an enjoyable or all that safe of a place to walk.

Developers usually propose a super high density housing project, wait for the out cry from neighboring residents at public meetings, and then scale back the development but claim they are hitting the point of it not being a viable project like what happened with Meridian Midtown and Ohlone Towers.  It's a cat and mouse game that might actually stop if the developers of these projects actually had to live in their finished projects as part of the approval process.
New Senior Center going up at the old Meineke Muffler.
Whale of a Tale - Prior Shop San Carlos Street Beautification Project.
Exiting Village Square - The last few remaining homes across the other side of San Carlos Street.

Infrastructure Upgrades

Lots of new Fiber going in to provide Internet to all these new Mid Town residents.
Amazingly San Carlos Street's Midtown corridor is electric pole free. No ugly power, cable or phone wires strung across the street. San Jose had the foresight to underground these wires. Came across a crew busy upgrading AT&T's fiber through our neighborhood.

Google Fiber is coming to San Jose, but so far none of the high residential projects have taken Google up on wiring their new construction for free. Seems like a missed opportunity to bring faster Internet to the neighborhood. I contacted Meridian at Midtown to inquire, but no response as of yet.
Just be careful when you are walking to not to fall in!
Sadly there was no real effort to plant trees along West San Carlos Street's pole free sidewalks to make walking this street more enjoyable. Hot Summer days and car exhaust fumes make this a miserable street to walk.  Father Magin de Catala had it right when he planted Willows along The Alameda. 

Most businesses hated the idea of trees blocking their signage, so in the end a strip of mostly palm trees down the center is all that we got. Sycamore trees are being planted in the sidewalks of newer Midtown projects, but the sidewalks really need to be widened to accommodate them. No word on if McDonald's double drive through is going to rip out the few trees that are already planted.

Voodoo Corner @ Meridian & San Carlos

Notorious View of Voodo Corner
Joan Anne Hughes fifty years early when life was good with her son Lawrence.
Marquis Reynold - Couldn't find any info on if he was sent to prison or a mental health facility.
At the corner of San Carlos Street and Meridian Avenue a 70 year old homeless woman Joan "Gail" Hughes who used to live on the sidewalk space at Walgreens (1399 W. San Carlos St, San Jose) was murdered. 

Joan never accepted the handouts concerned residents tried to foist on her. While generally peaceful, she did occasionally greet people with crazy outbursts if they tried to engage her. No one knew her real name. Some called her Gail, but it was her deteriorating mental health and yelling that earned her the nickname "Screaming Lady." 

On a very fateful August 13, 2012 she was seen casting a Black Voodoo spell at Marquis Reynolds who was watching from across the street inside Starbucks.

Marquis started screaming that she put a curse on him and began trashing other customer's tables and drinks. The 37 year old male fled and later returned on a VTA bus carrying his frequently seen Samurai sword (I always thought it was a fake) and violently killed Joan by slashing her throat.

It was San Jose's 26th homicide of the year, and it happened right here in Midtown, our neighborhood.
I have no idea if Marquis is a fan of Afro SamuraiSam B or a copy cat of the Australian version, but the thought of a violent ex-con fighting the mentally ill in our neighborhood is madness. 
Learning that Joan at one time had been a local nurse and cub scout mother before descending into mental illness, divorce and homelessness makes this tragedy all the more tragic. She was remembered by the neighborhood with a massive sidewalk memorial after her death. Today the pole contains an small inscription "Voodoo Corner Rest In Peace Joan Anne Hughes August 13, 2012 Two Feet Memorial."

The county coroner had her marked as a Jane Doe until an extensive fingerprint database search discovered who she was and tracked down her children she had chosen to estrange herself from. 

Her son asked that donations be made to InnVision, our community shelter. Joan Anne Sandvoss Hughes (1941-2012) is buried at Mt Olivet Cemetery in Maspeth, NY.

So what did the neighborhood learn?

Mentally ill people need treatment and not benign neglect and relegation to our shared public spaces as homeless transients. She needed help but was unwilling to accept it. Something needs to change. It used to be better.

Safeway, Starbucks, McDonalds and Walgreens need to do more to clean up their corner of Midtown. They need to stop loitering and lawlessness on their properties. As customers we need to ask for the store manager and follow up with the corporate offices when they fall short. We need a single point of contact for homeless outreach programs that residents can contact on behalf of repeat vagrants. It won't get better until we learn to fight for the livability of our neighborhood. 

The Future for Midtown

The City of San Jose's Envision 2040 General Plan is lacking vision and leadership when it comes to Midtown. It has to be more than just adding high density housing in an already traffic dense neighborhood jammed between Santana Row and Downtown. 

In 2012 there was a Study of West San Carlos Street completed by San Jose State University's Urban Planning department and underwritten by the GreenBelt Alliance. It is a great indepth review of everything that is currently wrong on the street.

Let's hope that the city looks at finally incorporating the Burbank neighborhood into the city and using its resources to reduce urban blight and crime. Let's pray that the Midtown high density housing doesn't become yesterday's modern architecture of public housing disaster.

The VTA should look at running light rail down San Carlos Street and find ways of connecting downtown, Santana Row, the Valley Medical Center and the new Midtown projects into a much more popular transit line.

Street separated bike paths, wide sidewalks with safer pedestrian crosswalks should also have been included from the start.

Parking and manning a San Jose mobile police station trailer on one of the empty lots, soon to be a high rise might just send the right message that crime and craziness in Midtown is no longer tolerated.

Zone more space for jobs instead of just housing. San Jose has proven it can build housing for Silicon Valley's tech workers, but its track record on delivering jobs has been abysmal with most folks commuting out of the neighborhood for work.

Build more community green space. Residents in these new projects will need nearby parks and good schools, which is something they don't currently have planned. San Jose's budget restrictions means that they haven't made good on their requirement of 3 and a half acres of parkland for every 1,000 residents of a community. San Jose's Midtown buildout should have resulted in a 10+ acre park in Midtown, but instead the city is letting builders pay a fine and build a public access HOA maintained micro parks. All of this is a recipe for a neighborhood disaster in the making.

As my mom would say, "hope springs eternal."
<![CDATA[The BUCK FIFTY BOOKSTORE]]>Fri, 18 Jul 2014 21:01:52 GMThttp://twofeet.weebly.com/walking-blog/the-buck-fifty-bookstore
Friend's Book Alcove, Rose Garden Library @ 1580 Naglee Ave, San Jose, CA 95126
Did you know we have a bookstore in the neighborhood where the most expensive book is only $1.50? Even better is that you can easily walk or bike to it right in our own neighborhood at Dana and Naglee Ave.

It's run on the honor system and you can check it out next time you walk to our San Jose Rose Garden Library! It is located next to the copy machines on the second floor, to the right as you pass the front desk. Library Hours are Monday-Thursday 10AM-6PM (8PM Tues & Wed).

The Friend's Book Alcove was built because of generous neighbors like Janice W. Fox who have shared their time, talent and treasure with our community. 
If you would like to donate books to the cause you can find the donation bin on the ground floor under the stairs. 

Sharin Greenleaf at the Friends of the Rose Garden Library is always looking for volunteers so don't hesitate to sign up to help out sorting, stocking, and running their big book sales during the year.

Check their Facebook page for their special $5 a bag of book sale held in the library's community room on the main floor. It is a great way to hand out books instead of candy at Halloween.

<![CDATA[Lou's Village is now a Park @ 52 Muller Place]]>Tue, 15 Jul 2014 03:28:26 GMThttp://twofeet.weebly.com/walking-blog/lous-village-now-a-park
Lou's Park @ 52 Muller Place, San Jose, CA 95126
The good news is that a kid friendly "community" park has been built in Midtown, an area devoid of parks on San Carlos Street. You would never find it by accident, but walking from Midtown back into our Shasta Hanchett Park neighborhood I came across a hidden park just a block off San Carlos Street & Meridian Avenue.

The park doesn't have an official posted name, but I call it Lou's Community Park after the Lou's Village restaurant that was here from 1946-2005. Lou's park features slides, climbing, bridges, soft play surfaces, benches, picnic tables and even BBQ grills all on a grassy 1/3rd of an acre lot where the enormous restaurant parking lot once stood. The only thing missing is a water fountain and mature trees to lend their shade during the heat of the day.

The bad news is that you might be better off driving to the park than walking. The SummerHill Homes Village Square residents have locked the pedestrian gate at the Yosemite Avenue end of our Shasta Hanchett Park Neighborhood. If you want to walk here with kids it means a 1/2 mile detour unless you have the resident access code or Fire Dept key!
One way Private access to what should be two way public access on both sides of the fence.
Opening the gate and linking the Yosemite Ave sidewalk to Muller Place would help incorporate Village Square into the neighborhood.
Yosemite Avenue's children have to play in the street because the gate to the park next door is locked!
When Lou's Village reached the height of popularity the BBQ pit and Walnut Drying Tables was converted to parking and fenced off.
Normally, Yosemite Avenue would have continued to San Carlos Street, but when Louis Santoro and Paul Polizzi bought the Walnut orchard in 1945 the planned Yosemite Avenue to San Carlos street connection was never completed like it was on tree lined Shasta Avenue. Instead of housing Louis and Paul built a restaurant and stand alone gift shop on the large lot called Lou's Village. 

Fast forward 60 years and in 2005 the opportunity to convert the closed restaurant into more neighborhood housing became a possibility.  This was a high density infill project where studio style business residences would face San Carlos Street and more family oriented town homes would be built the full length of the lot.

There was great concern over the impact of cars (number of trips & parking) that this high density project would bring. In 2010 Summer Hill Homes of Palo Alto began construction of the Village Square project. While it is a quality project that has helped to clean up Midtown San Jose, not enough thought was given on how to better integrate the townhomes into the walking and bicycle community. 

You just need to compare what was done at nearby Fiesta Lanes (former bowling alley turned town homes) where pedestrian sidewalks are fully integrated throughout the project and into the neighboring Shasta Hanchett Park.

Instead the neighborhood ended up with a cul-de-sacs bordering a parking lot and a locked resident gate across the sidewalk. I doubt anyone on either side of the fence knows one another and sadly that just creates more fear and animosity of the "strangers" that brave passing through the gate and another Trayvon Martin incident in the making.

The Yosemite Avenue Cul-de-Sac residents get the joy of cleaning up after Village Square dog walkers coming through the gate, but are denied access to a safe play area for their own kids and instead have to place signs telling cars to watch out for kids at play in the street.

I'm sure many of them would prefer to go back to the restaurant's walled off parking lot before 2005 or the walnut drying yard was there before 1946. Definitely a missed opportunity that could be improved by tearing that gate down and improving the pedestrian connections between the neighborhood, Lou's Park and the nearby businesses on busy San Carlos Street.
Almost neighborly. The Fire Gate where Muller Place and Yosemite Ave meet.
If you can read the rules thank a teacher!

Community Parks vs City Parks

The city of San Jose has struggled to maintain and build new parks despite growing to be a city over one million residents. Our parks are being built almost entirely from housing developer fees instead of from our city budget. New city parks are being built without basic amenities like water faucets and restrooms. One just needs to check out the posh new city parks in Santa Clara to realize that San Jose could do more for its citizens.

Summer Hill met that park requirement by building a "community park" in exchange for being allowed to build 95 units on a lot that would have only fit 30 traditional houses.
Picturesque Muller Place between San Carlos. Dead ends at Yosemite Ave.
The two key mistakes I believe that were made:

1 - The Village Square town homes project should have extended the cul-de-sac Yosemite Avenue to San Carlos Street like its sister streets have. Willard Ave, Buena Vista Ave, Dana Ave, Shasta Ave and Hester Ave all added San Carlos Street connections when they converted the DiFiores cannery and pear orchards into housing in the 1940s. 

2 - Getting the developer to build a community park that is on private space with public access and keeping it maintained through ongoing $300 a month home owner association fees is a recipe for conflict. While I love the thought of enjoying a well maintained public access green space that is paid by others, I can see that it will only breed resentment over usage vs ownership and it won't be long before a Village Square resident tacks up private park signs on private space that has public access rights

There is no escaping the additional strain on our shared schools, roads, power, water and sewer that high density infills give our neighborhood, but arguing that we got a pseudo privatized park as the exchange is a raw deal for both the Village Square residents who pay for the upkeep but can't legally forbid access but probably will anyway, and it's a bad deal for Yosemite Ave residents that get a high security locked metal fence bordering their homes with no ability to access the park unless the gate is accidentally left open, or broken (as is frequently the case).

The latest trend of turning having the housing developer build pseudo community parks and getting the local home owner association to pay for their upkeep is letting the city walk away from its obligations to building true city parks for everyone using the developer fees it already charges.

When Summer Hill built our neighborhood's Georgetown town homes they contributed towards the public Cahill park and did not put locked pedestrian gates restricting folks walking through the St Leo's neighborhood into the Cahill townhouse development between Park Ave and The Alameda.
Village Square, Muller Place, San Jose, CA 95126
As a neighborhood we need to do a better job of reviewing large scale housing developments to ensure that public access, walkways and art are planned, that green spaces are set aside for everyone in the neighborhood to enjoy. The era of monolithic street block projects fenced that are fenced off needs to come to an end.

Despite the locking of the gate and the placing of a No Trespassing "Private" sign I doubt that the Home Owner's Associations can legally ban the public from using Lou's Park because the city requires housing developers to add community green space or pay huge fees that are supposed to go for new city parks. Many of the larger housing developments have resulted in the creation of Lenzen ParkO'Connor ParkNewhall Park - all city parks nestled in new large developments, and all missing bathrooms! This latest round of "community" parks that are not city maintained include Lou's Park, and the Cinnabar Commons Toddler Play area. They don't prohibit neighbors from using the facilities, but locking the gate at Village Square from easy pedestrian access isn't exactly public access either.

In most cities it is the department of city planning that oversees privately owned public spaces and works to ensure public access. Let's hope it doesn't take an irrate group of citizens to lodge a complaint or lawsuit to get our newest neighbors to do the right thing and allow free pedestrian passage.
Lou's Secret - I love this alcove of Redwoods and reading bench near the Fire Gate.

So who was Lou? and why is it called the Village?

Louis Santoro Junior, Innocenzo Santoro and co-founder Louis Santoro
If you're new to the area you might enjoy dinner at Lou's Village @ Willow & Lincoln Avenue in the nearby Willow Glen neighborhood. While it is a great addition to Willow Glen's town square, most of the old timers remember the Original Lou's Village that was right here in our neighborhood! 

Started by three retired San Jose Firemen, Lou Santoro, Lou Ferro and Paul Polizzi in June 1946 @ 1465 West San Carlos Street in what was previously a Walnut orchard. It quickly grew to become the top spot in town for 50's style floor shows, dancing and a great steak. Crazily it even featured its own weekday morning radio show live from the dance floor! Top performers like Lucille Ball, the Mills Brothers, Scatman Crothers, the Drifters would find their way to San Jose to either perform or be seen at the restaurant. 

Taking the celebrity photos was famous San Jose Pioneer T.S. Montgomery's grand niece Shirlie Alice Montgomery (1918-2012). Shirlie was a news photographer and took thousands of celebrity photos at Lou's Village. She was also raised in our neighborhood over on Chapman Street and considered Lou's Village to be the neighborhood restaurant.

In 1961 there was a fire that allowed the restaurant to rebuild and take full advantage of their long skinny lot. Gone was the popular dance floor, but the new Lou's Village could now accommodate large meetings luncheons, wedding banquets, large family dinners and other community group get togethers. The staff excelled at handling large parties and making one feel the whole village was sharing a meal together. With the remodel went a change from being a steak house to adding seafood. 

It was Lou Santoro's daughter Gloria and her husband Frank Muller that took over after his death in 1967.

Each year more and more nautical paraphernalia was added that by the end you would have thought you were in Santa Cruz!

In the mid 1990s it was the Muller's kids that took over, Tim and Tom, the grandsons of Lou Santoro.

In 2005 it was announced that the restaurant would be closing to make way for townhomes and that the last day would be December 31, 2005. Over 900 people showed up to give thanks to a restaurant that meant so much to them. History of San Jose stepped in and collected many of the memoriabila, and hosted a Shirley Mongtomery photo exhibit featuring many of the photos she took as a celebrity photographer at Lou's Village.

The restaurant property was so big that nearly 100 townhomes were to be built on the 5 acre site. In 2005 Lou's grandchildren sold the property to Palo Alto's Summer Hill homes for $15 million. The old restaurant was torn down, an agreement with the city on developing the lot as part of the Mid town high density project was made. Thankfully the city got the Summer Hill to agree to set aside some green space for a "community" park.

The city agreed to let Summer Hill build super high density housing along the San Carlos Street corridor in hopes of linking downtown San Jose with its shopping district that fled to Valley Fair and Town & Country (today known as Westfield Mall and Santana Row). Lets hope that future midtown city projects will be scrutinized at how they can better integrate High Density projects into our neighborhood.

I would love to see the Village Square gate removed and an unofficial Lou's Playground sign put up. Summerhill named the development the Village in remembrance of Lou's Village and named the street Muller's place after the Lou Santoro's grandchildren Tim & Tom Muller who sold them the property. So maybe if we ask the Village Square residents real nicely they'll want to be better neighbors.

Lou Santoro was the warm and friendly kind of person that welcomed anyone who came to enjoy dinner in his restaurant. He was the consummate host and it is why he named the place Lou's Village. 

Let's just hope the legacy of his community park will be as welcoming to neighborhood kids and their families. Bonus points if the Village Square residents revive Lou's softball team!

Lou's Village TRIES TO Comeback in Willow Glen

The New 2012 version Lou's Village @ 1100 Lincoln Ave, San Jose, CA 95125
Lou's grandchildren Tim and Tom Mueller missed the restaurant business and decided to bring the restaurant back in 2012 by leasing space in Willow Glen's $20 million Town Square project. The new restaurant is 87% smaller than the original Lou's Village and parking is tighter than ever, but many of the best celebrity photos and historic memorabilia is on display. I hope they'll look at bringing back their neon sign. We are lucky to still have our iconic one of a kind San Jose restaurant, even if it now means you have to drive over to Willow Glen!

2015 Update: Look's like Lou's Village is now Lou's Beach Shack at San Pedro Square in downtown San Jose.
<![CDATA[Stories of Schiele Avenue]]>Tue, 01 Jul 2014 01:33:18 GMThttp://twofeet.weebly.com/walking-blog/stories-of-schiele-avenueThe Garden Alameda neighborhood has a nice pocket of homes on Pershing, Harding, Hoover  and Schiele Avenues called the Alameda Park Subdivision that are worth walking by.  

The oldest section is Schiele Avenue where six homes have made it on the city's list of historic resources. There are two other homes that are hopefully waiting restoration. If you need an incentive to buy and fix up a historic home I encourage you to look at the city of San Jose's incentives. If you need help restoring your Victorian be sure to check out the Victorian Preservation Association of Santa Clara Valley.

Here are just some of the great finds you'll come across by walking Schiele Avenue which is between The Alameda and Stockton Avenues. 
@ 899 Schiele Ave, San Jose, CA 95126 - Lenzen Designed Home? Built 1885. Queen Anne Style

Little Free Library @ 936 Schiele Avenue 

Wow! What a great find. This is the second Little Free Library that I've found in our neighborhood. The folks in this Park Alameda subdivision are lucky to have a book exchange box for sharing favorite books. The neighborhood has a rich history with its own Literary Club!

If you want to participate just bring a favorite book you'd like to give away and see if one of the available books suits your fancy. If not just head over to 931 Myrtle Street and see if the College Park Little Free Library has what you are in the mood for.

Memorial To Trayvon Martin @ 714 Schiele Avenue

@ 714 Schiele Ave, San Jose, CA 95126
Skittle Skedaddle
Schiele Avenue's Neighborhood Watch
At the Stockton Avenue end of Schiele Avenue is a memorial to the Florida killing of troubled seventeen year old Trayvon Martin (1995-2012) by Neighborhood Watch Volunteer George Zimmerman. The memorial consists of Trayvon's name spelled out in wax on a Sycamore tree with Skittle bags attached. The only thing missing is the Arizona Watermelon Fruit Juice Cocktail that probably gets picked up by the transients looking to cash in cans and bottles not realizing it is part of a memorial.

The incident involved a young black male walking thru a gated community where he was not known. It had tragic consequences and prompted a nationwide soul searching about the kind of communities we are creating. It is one of who belongs in a neighborhood and who looks suspicious. Of building gated communities and leaving out sidewalks, posting No Trespassing signs and using armed volunteers to chase out trouble makers.

Could it happen here? 
Our neighborhood is already on edge with transients, solicitors and opportunistic thieves, but we are lucky that San Jose is ranked #1 in the US for being the most ethnically diverse. Sadly the only group not well represented in San Jose is African Americans who only representing 2% of our population, vs 13% nationwide. 

The memorial gave me pause to think if I would enjoy my walks through our neighborhood if I looked like Travyon? I did some soul searching about how the erosion of communities and broken families creates "dangerous" strangers in our midst. I hope you'll be encouraged to walk past this memorial and come to your own answer as to how we should treat people we encounter in our neighborhood.

These Boots are made for walking @ 946 Schiele Ave

Little Lost Jackie Alden - Feb 5, 1935 @ 946 Schiele Avenue, San Jose, CA 95126

The Almost Baseball Stadium @ Schiele Avenue 

PictureAlamdea Real Building @ 1602 The Alameda
Back in 1902 the large vacant lot at the South West corner of Schiele Avenue and The Alameda was planned to be San Jose's entrance into baseball.  Back then there was no objections from San Francisco who had yet to woo the Giants from New York! 

The nearby Agricultural Park had easy access to the "San Jose and Santa Clara Electric Railway" but didn't allow for rigs (which turns out to be horses with carriages) and was in disrepair and this corner was the first choice. For whatever reason it didn't happen.

Today the corner is home to the Alameda Real Building. San Jose did build a baseball field six years later at Sodality Park in 1908 (where Orchard Hardware is today). It was home to the Pacific Coast League's San Jose Red Sox (a farm team). Seems funny that today, over 100 years later, we are still waiting for our first big time baseball team.

J.E. Wing's California Apiaries

PictureTribute to Schiele Avenue's Bee Man
Back in 1921 Schiele Avenue was home to John E. Wing's California Apiaries. The large bee hive business address is listed as 155 Schiele Avenue which is still lost thanks to street renumbering in the 1930s. If I come across an old map with house numbers I'll update the address. It  was described as a junkyard lot humming with thousands of wood screened bee hives on it.

It was part of our neighborhood's historic ties to the fruit canning business where orchardists needed industrial scale bee hive colonies ready to ship to orchards. Edith Daley of the San Jose Evening News has a great interview with J.E. Wing in the March 1921 editions of the paper. Wing was responsible for many innovations including the importation of new queen bees, selling bees by the pound, using screen cases, shipping hives to be placed directly in the orchards during spring blossoms and finding ways to feed a hive. John E. Wing (1879-1963).

Charles M. Schiele

If you are wondering why it is called Schiele Avenue you have to learn more about Charles M. Schiele (1850-1896). Born in Bemberg, Germany and immigrated to California at age 22. He was a Prussian Soldier fighting the French, a grocer, gold miner, waiter, hotel owner (Pacific Hotel, New York Exchange Hotel and the Auzerais House) and successful real estate developer. He married Ellen O'Brien and became San Jose's City Councilman for the First Ward in 1886. He died at age 46 near his ranch in Los Gatos. You can tour a recreation of his Pacific Hotel at San Jose's History Park.

Schiele Avenue was named when Charles bought "The Alameda Gardens" from John F. Hill and subdivided the 15 acres into 70 lots that featured stone sidewalks and street shade trees for great walks along the new Schiele Avenue. Transportation on the electric railroad on The Alameda and cars on Stockton Avenue were also a selling point. Charles M. Schiele also developed nearby Magnolia Avenue.
Ad for Schieles' Alameda Garden Tract on June 2, 1890

Clark Mansion @ Schiele Ave & The Alameda

The Clark Mansion @ 1550 The Alameda between Schiele Ave and Pershing Ave
When folks talk about the grand mansions of The Alameda this is what they were referring to. This once grand dame of The Alameda was built in 1870 by William Squire Clark at the NE corner of 9th & Santa Clara Street. Around 1880 William supposedly became tired of all the church bells ringing downtown and decided to move the home to property he bought at 1550 The Alameda from F.W. Burr. He had the home placed on a large 7 acre lot between Schiele and Pershing Avenues and planted a forest of trees in front. He was a wealthy man having made his fortune building San Francisco's first timbered wharf before the gold rush.

In 1889 William died having outlived his wife and son. The estate was broken up among his surviving four daughters, one who later committed suicide and had her portion of the estate contested.

From 1900 to 1920 it was the home of William's daughter Alice Ann Clark and her husband Jerome Hart, a well known writer and publisher who were married in the gardens at the estate.
PictureDriver with horses on Clark Estate
Here is a photo taken in 1912 of Jim Beretta with his 2 horses on the Clark Estate that was now owned by William's daughter Alice Ann Clark after her father passed in 1889.

The photo was taken near the corner of Schiele and Hoover Avenue on the non forested backside of the 7 acre property where they had a horse race track and breed Holstein and Jersey horses.

In 1913 Jeromy Hart used the estate's tranquil garden environment to write the book "Sardou and the Sardou Plays" a biography of the famous French playwright Victorien Sardou.

PictureWinifred McLaughlin (1876-1962)
In 1920 William Leet purchased the mansion and tore it down, cut down many of the trees in front and built a new home in 1921 for his wife, Winifred McLaughlin (of the McLaughlin San Jose Pioneer family) and their two kids. 

In 1922 The just completed house attracted the unsavory attention of George Lo Bono in who threatened to blow up the mansion unless a ransom was placed under a mailbox at nearby Randol Ave and Chapman St. William Leet wasn't willing to be blackmailed and the local sheriffs apprehended Lo Bono when he went to pick up the ransom.

In 1932 they hosted charity events at their new home. In 1941 his daughter Adelia was married in the family's garden by a priest from nearby St Leo's church on Race Street and that in 1944 the neighbors complained to the city council about the flock of 75 chickens he kept to close to the homes on Pershing Avenue. The Leets also hosted bridge parties and stays from San Francisco ArchBishops Hanna and Mitty (local Catholic High School named in his honor). In 1945 William Leet died. In Dec of 1961 the beautiful 17 room historic mansion was destroyed by fire.

PictureHidden Oasis @ 1520 The Alameda
Today it is home to the Garden Alameda Office buildings: @ 1520, 1530, 1550, 1570 and 1590 The Alameda. 

The best part of the office buildings are the large number of trees, water features and public walkways through the property. It gives the office complex a garden like quality fitting of the name Garden Alameda. Be sure to check out the ducks and the original heritage trees including one massive Valley Oak that survived the switch from two mansions, the construction of the office buildings and the fear of big tree insurance claims.

<![CDATA[Little Free Library @ 931 Myrtle Street]]>Sun, 15 Jun 2014 21:48:23 GMThttp://twofeet.weebly.com/walking-blog/little-free-library-931-myrtle-street
College Park's Lending Library @ 931 Myrtle Street, San Jose, CA 95126
You would never find this gem running errands in your car. It's one of those things that you only come across when you take the time to walk around using your own two feet.

It's a Little Free Library where neighbors can take a book to read or leave a book to share. It's proof that not all books have gone digital in the Silicon Valley daze of ebooks, kindles, nooks & iPads! You can find it @ 931 Myrtle Street off Hedding in San Jose's College Park neighborhood. 

It's special neighbors, like this one, which makes living in our community so enjoyable! The turn over in books is great with different surprises each time I've checked!

If you decide against walking there, make sure you type Myrtle Street, and NOT Myrtle Avenue into your GPS Navi or you'll end up in South San Jose!

If you want to make your own neck of the woods friendly to book lovers then I encourage you to set up a Lending Library.  You can get some great inspiration on this Little Free Library pinterest board.

Peets and Starbucks have gotten too corporate to pull off the concept of a fee free community reading book shelf, but maybe we can convince Hannah or Crema Coffee to add a public bookcase to their coffee shop. 

Here is a link to a very cool Little Free Library book case and bench combo in NYC found in a public park!   http://www.designboom.com/design/word-play-little-free-librarynew-york

<![CDATA[Sarah's Secret Garden @ Trace]]>Sat, 14 Jun 2014 06:10:23 GMThttp://twofeet.weebly.com/walking-blog/sarahs-secret-garden-trace
Sarah's Secret Garden @ 651 Dana Avenue, San Jose, CA 95126
Walking the neighborhood you are bound to come across secret gardens. Well I found one at Merritt Trace Elementary School  @ 651 Dana Avenue, San Jose (everyone in the neighborhood just calls ithe school, "Trace"). Now that school is out for the Summer you can easily visit Sarah's Secret Garden. During the school year you have to wait until after school hours or on weekends.

You can see the garden along Dana Avenue between the school buildings and the green grassy fields across from the library. To enter from the school playground side as the Dana street gates to the garden are locked.

This garden has that nostalgic romantic abandoned garden feel due to the various states of decay the various art pieces are in that you'd expect to come across at a garden you would find in abandoned near Chernobyl or Fukishima.

The school is no stranger to gardening. From best I can tell, Trace had a Victory garden during WWII, a Colonial Garden (maybe in celebration of 1976),  a more recent award winning "Trace Garden" in 2003 and is currently known as Sarah's Secret memorial garden since 2010.

The garden is dedicated to eight year old Sarah Nicole Lilly Saxton (2001-2010), a second grader at Trace Elementary who lost her battle to cancer in 2010. You can tell the community put a lot of time and effort into the garden with a bench, bird houses, weather station, and still active raised gardening beds. 

Four years have passed since Sarah's classmates sought solace from grief through gardening and art. Today her classmates are headed next door to Hoover Middle School.  

For now the Garden remain's Sarah's Secret, and will be reincarnated again when volunteers, staff and students have cause to embrace their green thumbs and Earth Science classes again.

<![CDATA[Rose Garden Fountain]]>Mon, 09 Jun 2014 14:54:23 GMThttp://twofeet.weebly.com/walking-blog/rose-garden-fountain
In 1967, an anonymous donor moved by the garden's beauty paid for the 2 tiered fountain to be added to the reflection pool.
One of the more enjoyable walks in the neighborhood is when you end up at the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden. Visitors will take a break from smelling the roses and spend a few minutes looking at the gated reflection pool with it's two tiered water fountain.

The fountain is a popular backdrop for photos.  Inevitably when you flip through photos of your neighbor's weddings, proms, graduations and Mother's Day you'll spot the fountain. It has to be one of San Jose's most photographed backdrop.

Around 1930 John McLaren, designer of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park along with Dr J. Horace McFarland, president of the American Rose Society, and City of San Jose's Planning Director Michael H. Antonacci drew up the original plans.

The reflection pool was donated by the San Jose Rotary Club with a $1,000 donation. It is this same rotary club that is now celebrating their 100th anniversary by giving our neighborhood another generous gift. They are building the Children's Rotary Playground next door to our sister Heritage Rose Garden off Coleman Avenue in the Guadalupe Park.

The two-tiered fountain was added in 1967 by a very generous anonymous donor. I haven't come across any info on when the fencing around the reflecting pool was added.

The Reflection Pool before the fountain and fencing!

The Day The Rose Garden Got Bombed!

Fighter Squadron 192's F4U-4 plane that dropped an 8" MK Practice Bomb on the Municipal Rose Garden
The Municipal Rose Garden was hit by a bomb on a fogbound morning on Sept 12, 1951 a division of Fighting Squadron #192, on a routine training flight from Moffett Field, accidentally dropped a dummy eight-inch practice bomb on the Rose Garden. The “bomb” landed among the rose bushes, narrowly missing several gardeners.” 

Now I had 2 Great Uncles who told some great WWII stories, so it wouldn't surprise me if the Korean War pilot was eager to impress his buddies by dummy bombing the Rose Garden!
The 8 inch MK series practice bomb that hit the Rose Garden!
Here is what a WWII/Korean War practice bombing range looks like. The pilot would practice their navigation, altitude, air speed, and bomb weight to see how close to the target they could get their 8 small bombs. To learn more about WWII practice bombs check out this website: http://bit.ly/1psShqh

This is how our Municipal Rose Garden looks from the air! I can see why the pilot might have been motivated to drop an 8" dummy warhead into the water. He missed and instead it landed in some rose bushes!

The Garden's Guardians

Ducklings of the Rose Garden http://bit.ly/PIcgE2
San Jose's Municipal Rose Garden has several resident guardians who spend their days rambling among the roses eating the snails they find.

Each year, San Jose park staff put out a wood plank into the reflecting pond so that the ducklings can get in and out of the water.

During duck season you'll see dirt, duck poop and snail shells littering the bottom of the reflecting pool. 

You should resist the urge to feed the ducks. If you do break the rule, please don't feed them bread! It isn't nutritious for them and it attracts rats which can attack the ducklings. Ducks love eating the weeds, grass, snails, bugs and worms they find in the Rose Garden so let them earn their keep!
The fence doesn't stop kids from wanting to pet the ducklings!

Keeping the Fountain On

During the budget tightening years San Jose eliminated funding for decorative fountains at San Jose's city park in 2009.  Surprisingly San Jose Water didn't come forward with community funding. It was City Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio's staff member Terry Reilly who filed for grant money, Google Employee contributions (they also volunteered in the park) and Kaiser Permanente (wasn't O'Connor asked?) that came through to keep the $23,000 for fountain maintenance going. 

By outsourcing and using volunteers the cost has been whittled down to $8,000 but since the fountain doesn't get any of the money from the fees charged for wedding & professional photography we still have to pass the hat around. You could toss coins in the fountain, but I don't think they are great for the ducks and just encourage transients to go wading for the coins.

If you want to help consider giving your time, talent or treasure to the Friends of the San Jose Rose Garden! It's amazing at what the neighborhood can accomplish when we come together!  
<![CDATA[The Art Piece @ Temple Emanu-El]]>Sun, 08 Jun 2014 15:33:02 GMThttp://twofeet.weebly.com/walking-blog/the-art-piece-temple-emanu-el
God Is With Us - "In Memory of Seaman L. Kay 1909-1967" @ 1010 The Alameda, San Jose, CA 95126

All art is interpretive, so I never argue with what other people describe when they look at art.

I find different meaning each time I walk past this art piece in front of the Temple Emanu-El @ 1010 University Avenue in the College Park neighborhood. Currently I think it looks like six figures holding hands while dancing, but like I said, it's interpretive. As far as I can tell this art piece doesn't have a name, so I call it "God is With Us" which is the Hebrew translation of Emanu-El or  עִמָּנוּאֵל. The art piece is in memory of WWII veteran Lewis D. Kay who is buried at Golden Gate Cemetery in San Bruno.

I will say that this is the only art piece I've found with it's own exercise class celebrated around it! Twice a week in the mornings you may be fortunate to discover the stroller fitness class going on.  Walking the neighborhood you don't see all that many stay at home parents taking their young ones out for walks, so it's a real treat when you see an entire group getting together to exercise! 

Turns out that many of the folks in the exercise class are dropping their kids off at the Preschool, which is popular with families who see the TEP as a spring board to the other great private schools in the neighborhood. Just don't be the parent packing bologna in your kid's sandwich, unless you want a note coming home!

<![CDATA[The Five Circles of Hanchett Park]]>Sat, 07 Jun 2014 20:56:20 GMThttp://twofeet.weebly.com/walking-blog/the-five-circles-of-hanchett-park
Lewis Hanchett was ahead of his time. In 1907, he built our Hanchett Residence Park neighborhood around the idea that people could take either his Trolley Street Car to work or drive their automobile, not unlike how VTA is building high density housing along it's light rail stops today.

One of the innovations for getting trolleys and streetcars to co-exist was his adoption of France's ronds-points traffic device, something we call the Roundabout or Traffic Circle. Intersections with roundabouts no longer required stop signs. Traffic entering the roundabout yields to traffic already in the circle. Sadly our modern day implementation uses stop signs on two of the four cross streets instead of yields on all four. I think this was done to reduce the learning curve on how to navigate them.

Next time you are driving (yes, some experiences are better experienced driving than walking) down the Alameda I encourage you to venture down Martin Avenue and discover the 5 circles of the Shasta Hanchett Park Neighborhood.

Start at Martin Avenue off either The Alameda or Park Avenue and then turn on Tillman Avenue.

The Trolley Roundabouts of Martin Avenue

The Martin Avenue Entrance to Hanchett Residence Park is named after Lewis Hanchett's business partner John Martin from San Francisco, who helped him buy the San Jose and Santa Clara Street Interurban Railroad Company that ran down The Alameda in 1905. Our neighborhood was the first to be designed around the idea that residents could take a street car into town.

Here is a photo of Southern Pacific's San Jose Street Car system passing under the train tracks on the Alameda back in 1937. It showcases three decades of street car service that our neighborhood had thanks to Lewis Hanchett. General Motors, the car company, initiated a hostile take over of San Jose's street car trolley system and on April 10, 1938 the entire system was shut down to help GM sell more cars. A truly sad day.

Circle at Martin Avenue and Sequoia Avenue. This is the first roundabout you'll notice. As far as I can tell this circle hasn't been dedicated with a name. 

If you look really closely at the North East corner of the intersection you'll find a short mystery crumbling concrete sign post missing its sign.  I'm guessing it had some basic instructions on how to navigate the roundabout, maybe a Yield sign?

McLaren Circle - Martin Avenue and Tillman Avenue. This is where the street cars would turn around before heading back down Martin Avenue and onto The Alameda. It is named after famed Golden Gate Park designer John McLaren.

PictureJohn Hays McLaren 1846-1943
The original three entrances and two roundabouts of the Hanchett Residence Park in what we today call the Shasta Hanchett Park Neighborhood were designed by John McLaren, a Scottish Park Designer.  His first job was at Edinburgh's Royal Botanical Gardens before sailing as a young adult to America. His design signature can be found in the Eucalyptus trees that line the Peninsula's El Camino Real, the estates of Ralston, Stanford and others. He is most remembered for designing the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, the Panama Pacific Expo in and Golden Gate Expo on Treasure Island. In our neighborhood he is remembered for helping Lewis Hanchett design the Hanchett Residence Park and for the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden.

The Automobile Circles of Tillman Avenue

This is how the Tillman Avenue Entrance looked when it was built as a way for autos to easily enter the Hanchett Residence Park. It was designed by famed Golden Gate Park designer John McLaren in 1907 when Lewis Hanchett bought the Agricultural Park and Race Tracks into the first planned residential park. I'm still researching if Tillman Avenue is named after a wealthy San Francisco family or named after US Senator Benjamin Tillman who took the lead in railroad regulation from 1895 until his death in 1918. 

Today, the Tillman Avenue Entrance to Hanchett Residence Park is CLOSED. This main goal of the traffic circles was to slow down the Park to The Alameda cross over traffic trying to avoid crowded Race Street. Tillman Avenue used to be a majestic street with a grand McLaren designed Tillman Avenue entrance

Maybe with the next door Race Street Seafood High density project, funds for a joint PeaceNik Tillman Memorial Park could be found. Ideally the gates should be restored and a bike path entrance, playground and green space should be made. 

I'm amazed that Hanchett Residence Park area still doesn't have it's own city park yet! A good start would be to get a different Tillman involved. Let's get the 408K Pat Tillman Memorial Race to run down Tillman Avenue each year. It's the perfect tie in! Thousands of runners navigating thru the Park entrance past the circles.

PictureDrive Like Your Kids Live Here
There is no Traffic Circle at Tillman Avenue and Mariposa Avenue. Tillman Avenue given the right of way with no stop signs. Mariposa Avenue forced to stop when crossing or turning on Tillman Avenue. 

I like how one Mariposa Avenue resident has this sign out in front! $10 gets you your own version of this sign at: DriveLikeYourKidsLiveHere.com

PictureBig Sycamore Circle
The Traffic Circle at Tillman Avenue and Yosemite Avenue. Yosemite Avenue has the stop signs. Tillman Avenue has no stop signs. I figure it is just a matter of time before someone wraps their car around this big beautiful Sycamore. A raised concrete curb around the island would help minimize the damage an accident can cause, but designing larger traffic circles is the better solution.

Traffic Circle at Tillman Avenue and Sierra Avenue. Stop signs are on Sierra Avenue. Tillman Avenue has no stop signs. You can see a YouTube video of neighbors cleaning this traffic island.

Another view of the original Street Car Roundabout at Tillman Avenue and Martin Avenue named in McLaren's honor.

I really have to give kudos to the neighborhood for their tireless effort in keeping the five circles weed free, mulched, and trimmed without city help.

Traffic Circle at Tillman Avenue and Hanchett Avenue. Hanchett has the stop signs and a sign telling you that Tillman Ave doesn't yield. This traffic circle is matched by a pergola entrance at Hanchett Avenue and The Alameda.

Hanchett takes its name from Lewis Edward Hanchett who developed the neighborhood and was San Jose's "Transit Tycoon." Selling lots in the Hanchett Residence Park was a way to profit off the San Jose and Santa Clara Railroad Street Car system he ran. Eventually he sold the street car system to Southern Pacific Railroad and vacationed at his Capitola beach house, known today as the Monarch Cove Inn.

If you aren't familiar with roundabouts then you should go check them out.  We have 2 European "eye candy" roundabouts on Martin Avenue designed by McLaren and 4 smaller traffic circles on Tillman Avenue that were added much later.

Ideally the stop signs should be removed as the goal of a roundabout is to prevent traffic from stopping.  If you doubt the ineffeciency of 4 way stop signs vs roundabout traffic circles check out this episode of Myth Busters. With the Martin Avenue trolley car service gone, and Tillman Avenue's entrance closed at Park the real use of the roundabouts are for attractive green space than any real traffic control!

The Sixth Circle...

The Grand Roundabout Study
Back in 2010 there was a proposal to add a 6th modern roundabout to the neighborhood with a major one at the Alameda, Martin Avenue, Race Street intersection.  It was a rare opportunity for the neighborhood to have done something bold and would have gotten rid of the long traffic lights at the intersection, and improving the throughput by 20%, while still slowing down overall speed of cars that tear through our neighborhood.  

As a pedestrian trying to cross at a busy roundabout I think it would have been pretty hazardous so I'm happy that crossing the Alameda isn't made more dangerous by cars that don't have to stop at intersections, but then again some folks in the UK claim roundabouts are safer for bicyclists and pedestrians and saved their neighborhood. It's all in how they are designed!

PictureDeathtrap 1951
Here is how The Alameda at the cross section of Race Street and Martin Avenue looked back in 1951. It was basically a death trap of left turn collisions and run over pedestrians!

PictureGoogle Maps - Nov 2013
As part of the pedestrian improvements to The Alameda the intersections had enlarged sidewalks. At the Race, Martin, and The Alameda intersection this meant the elimination of the right turn lane. During the construction in Nov 2013 the traffic backup down The Alameda went past Peets at Hanchett Ave. The decision was to tear out this bulb and restore the right turn lane. Race Street traffic will only get worse so maybe a roundabout makes more sense.

PictureNE Corner of Race & The Alameda
Here is the same intersection in 2014 after the new median planters with trees. During the construction of the median the original train tracks down the Alameda were uncovered. Maybe some day they'll be restored, or a grand traffic circle built, but at least now we have cross walks, traffic lights, a pedestrian island, new LED lighting and traffic cameras.

PictureParis' Famed Roundabout
With the advent of self drive cars the need for stop lights is minimized and the utility of round a bouts for accommodating merging traffic may give us another opportunity to embrace roundabouts in our neighborhood. Besides it makes a great place to put fountains, statues and iconic monuments!

<![CDATA[Smudge Pot City]]>Wed, 04 Jun 2014 20:40:50 GMThttp://twofeet.weebly.com/walking-blog/smudge-pot
Smudge Pot - St Leo Neighborhood, San Jose, CA 95126
Every once in awhile you stumble across something that you have no idea what it is.  I found this relic of our neighborhood's past on a recent walk and had to find out what it was. The occupants weren't home, but it was clear that it was a big oil fuel tank with an oversized chimney.

Well I finally figured out this artifact in the St Leo neighborhood is a Smudge Pot used to keep the apricot trees in the orchard from freezing (in Southern California they were used to protect the citrus crop).  There used to be thousands of these Smudge Pots in our neighborhood's orchards.

Developed in 1913 and in used throughout California's orchards. Smudge Pots were designed to use a variety of fuel, and our neighborhood's Polhemus Refinery on Stockton Avenue used Crude Oil sent via rail to produce Gasoline, Kerosene, Lubricants, Asphalt and for the orchard ranchers, cheap Smudge Oil (nasty byproduct that smokes well).

Smudge Pots were in widespread use until large windmills became more cost effective for keeping less than freezing air on the trees. During World War II, there was talk about using them as smoke screens against bombers.

Imagine waking up one cold morning only to see and smell a thick layer of black soot over everything! Smudging from Smudge Pots was a common problem in the winter months. As orchards gave way to our growing neighborhood complaints about their use grew until they were banned by state law in 1947 for polluting California's air. They are still in use in Oregon, and you can watch a good video on Orchard Smudging on YouTube: http://bit.ly/1uj320D

I'm amazed it has escaped the scrap metal heap and is still in the neighborhood!  I've heard that some schools have used the Smudge Pot for their football trophy (Redlands) or have a decorating contest (Medford, Oregon).  Personally, I think it would look even better nestled between some backyard fruit trees rusting in peace as a clean burning patio heater!

1952 - Smudge Pots at work in the cold morning air. Unknown Out of Area Orchard

The Neighborhood Orchard 

Historic Orchard @ 402 Seymour Street, San Jose, CA 95110
Most folks in the neighborhood are surprised to learn that there is still at least one orchard left in Silicon Valley! Back in 1994 the City of San Jose set aside part of Guadalupe Park to demonstrate what an orchard is. They planted over 200 fruit and nut trees in the flood control project that is also the flight path of San Jose Airport.

You can visit Guadalupe River Park's Historic Orchard, @ 402 Seymour Street, behind that other Rose Garden (the Heritage Rose Garden) off Taylor Avenue between Coleman and Highway 87. Sadly the Orchard is locked up. You can walk around the small orchard, but if you really want to experience how much work an Orchard is, you can signup to get your hands dirty pulling weeds, pruning trees and harvesting fruit for Second Harvest. Volunteer hours are the first Saturday of every month from 8:30 to Noon.

<![CDATA[The Painted Ladies of Magnolia and Hester]]>Thu, 29 May 2014 12:29:48 GMThttp://twofeet.weebly.com/walking-blog/the-painted-ladies-of-magnolia-and-hester
One of my favorite Victorians @ 1194 Magnolia Avenue
San Jose has a colorful history of Victorian era homes from 1849 to 1915.  The two best streets to see the painted ladies are Magnolia and Hester Avenues.  They run in parallel between The Alameda and Park Avenue and feature a large inventory of turn of the century homes in various states of repair.

You can drive the two street pretty quickly, but if you want to take in the architecture I encourage you to park and walk both streets.  You'll be amazed at how many great homes there are, and how many more are just waiting for restoration.  My photos don't do them justice!
Hester was named after Honorable Judge Craven P. Hester, from which our neighborhood's Hester Park Gates and today's Hester Conservation District come from. He was so influential that the entire neighborhood was called the Hester District, and remained independent of San Jose for many years, until finally agreeing to be annexed into the city.

Hopefully with a little bit of publicity we can encourage more homeowners interested in restoring these great homes to move into the neighborhood. If you think you'd like to buy and restore a historic Victorian era home you can check out the listings on Zillow.
The Painted Ladies can be found on Magnolia Avenue & Hester Avenue between The Alameda and Park Avenue
Magnolia Avenue was named and developed by Hotel developer Charles M. Schiele (Schiele Avenue is named after him as well). It has some of our neighborhood's oldest homes and remains largely intact with commercial buildings contained to either end of the long street.
PictureMagnolia Tree Blossom on Magnolia Ave
In addition to the Painted Ladies, Magnolia Avenue also showcases the Magnolia tree. This is an ancient flowering tree that predates bees. The flowers are beautiful and tough, because they are pollinated by beetles! They were discovered and named after Pierre Magnol, a French botanist, and were very in vogue when the street was named. The trees were imported from Japan and China and planted on the street. Homeowners love the long lasting flowers and magnolia flower smell, but hate that the tree loses leaves daily during the hottest weeks of Summer (nobody wants to rake leaves in the heat of Summer)! Sadly, Our City Forest has been replacing many of the Magnolia Trees with Sycamores, although you can request them.

Queen Victoria in 1882, her reign was from 1837 to 1901. All buildings built during her reign are called "Victorian"
The term "painted ladies" comes from the American style of painting Victorian style homes in 3 or more bold colors.

If you need inspiration check out this Pinterest board on Painted Victorians. You'll get hooked. I promise!  http://www.pinterest.com/artgirlri/painted-ladies
San Francisco's Famed Alamo Square
<![CDATA[Sidewalks with No Trespassing Signs]]>Thu, 29 May 2014 00:14:53 GMThttp://twofeet.weebly.com/walking-blog/sidewalks-with-no-trespassing-signs
Papyrus Lane's "No Trespassing Sign" - Naglee Ave, San Jose, California - May 2014
Imagine my surprise today when I found the "Private Property, No Trespassing" signage has been erected on what I've always considered to be a public sidewalk on Papyrus Lane, a quiet street next to the neighborhood Starbucks at Naglee & Park Avenue that for the last 12 years allowed public access.

When the old Leiter's Pharmacy and mini Strip Mall were torn down a decade ago to make room for more residential. I felt like a good compromise was made.  We lost some great old time businesses, including the well ranked French restaurant Gervais, and an old world shoe cobbler, but gained a broad price range of residential done at a nice manageable scale.
The mixed residential & retail at Naglee & Park Ave in San Jose, California
The 2002 redevelopment reduced the amount of retail at the corner of Naglee and Park Avenue to what is now Starbucks, H&R Block and our venerable Leiter's Pharmacy. They put the apartments above the retail so that you hardly notice them.  The row of town homes was built facing busy Park Avenue. Single homes were built on the residential Emory Street and on a new street named Papyrus Lane, named after the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum it faces.  This was a much better neighborhood integration project than the Avalon Alameda. The big difference was the smaller scale, a better mix of housing choices (apartments, town homes and homes) and unrestricted parking. Although the huge growth of employee parking for Leiter's compounding operations will be reduced since they are moving that part of their business to South San Jose later this year.
Starbucks, H&R and Leiter's Pharmacy with apartments above.
I'm a big fan of private property, but I draw the line at what I consider to be public roads and public sidewalks.  If you are going to belong to a city, using city services, then you need to allow public access on those same roads and sidewalks.  

Imagine if Golden Gate Park Master Designer John McLaren had designed the Shasta Hanchett Residence Park or the Municipal Rose Garden to be in a closed off community with no trespassing signs posted. Even the Rosicrucian Egyptian museum across from Papyrus Lane allows public access to their beautiful "privately owned" gardens.

In recent years, I've seen a loss of public access as multiple single family residential and small business lots have been combined into gated high density housing.  Lately the city has foisted the development and maintenance costs of streets, sidewalks, parks, onto the developers.  New parks are built just for their tenants, or if they are public parks they are being built without bathrooms. Streets are maintained by the developers or home owner's associations who feel justified adding gates, fences and no trespassing signs to what should be considered public access areas. 

Streets have traditionally been owned by the city. Sidewalks are a little bit different. Legally they are city easements onto your private property giving public access to a portion of your property for the public good of allowing people to freely travel on them to get to their destination, but still allowing you to yell keep off the grass.

Posting a no trespassing sign on private property may increase your legal rights to prosecute trespassers walking down your driveway or across your lawn, but posting this signage in the public right of way is wrong and illegal.

I can appreciate that we are all getting tired of the transient that pass through our neighborhood picking out recyclables, the door to door salesmen knocking on our doors and the opportunist thief who grabs your mail and packages off your doorstep, but banning public access to our streets and sidewalks aren't the solution. It just keeps your good neighbors from walking the neighborhood and isolates our community into another car driving commuter community.

If you are going to post no trespassing signs anyways, please make sure they are actually posted on your property, and if nothing else, try to at least make them humorous. We are after all a community.
<![CDATA[The House of Flubber @ 1962 University Ave]]>Tue, 27 May 2014 04:50:04 GMThttp://twofeet.weebly.com/walking-blog/the-house-of-flubber-1962-university-ave
@1962 University Ave , San Jose, CA 95126
Did you know our neighborhood is featured in at least one movie folks might have heard of? It took me awhile to find it and walk past it, but mission accomplished!

Disney's "Flubber" starring Robin Williams as Professor Philip Brainard released back in 1997, a remake of the 1961 "The Absent Minded Professor."

In the movie, Professor Brainard's home is right here in the Rose Garden neighborhood.  The exterior house shots were filmed at 1962 University Avenue between Bascom Ave and Garden Drive, while the interiors were most likely shot on studio stages at Treasure Island.

San Jose State University and Adobe Systems are also featured. I've posted a clip that shows all three San Jose locations at: http://youtu.be/vjJnM5dKnWU  You can read here for a more detailed analysis of the film locations used in the movie.
Some Inside Trivia:
  • Urban legend is that in years past the residents of this abode have passed out green super balls at Halloween, but given the number of trick or treaters that descend that street I think they'd go broke!
  • Robin Williams is the only son of Robert Williams, a Ford Executive. In the movie, Adobe System's downtown San Jose tower is featured as the headquarters of Ford, which buys his invention.
  • The only person to show up in all 3 versions of Flubber is Actress Nancy Olson who plays the fiancee "Betsy" in the "Absent Minded Professor" and "Son of Flubber." In the movie "Flubber" she is the Ford Company secretary in the Adobe office tower.
  • The college in the movie is the mythical Medfield_College which actually features a shot of University of the Pacific in Stockton, which used to be located at the other end of Prof's Brainard's University Avenue where Bellarmine is today.
So next time your kids are bored, rent the movie and then take them for a walk past the house of Flubber at 1962 University Ave. Bonus points if you get them to bounce a green bouncy ball and post a #Flubber Instagram.
How the House of Flubber looks 17 years later in 2014
<![CDATA[The Alameda's Air Disaster]]>Mon, 26 May 2014 05:11:46 GMThttp://twofeet.weebly.com/walking-blog/the-alamedas-air-disaster
San Jose Police Department Helicopter N904PD

A year before the Dot.Com crash, the neighborhood had a different crash all together. On the afternoon of October 25, 1999 there was a tragic police helicopter accident that took the lives of the two people on board. If you lived in San Jose back then your probably remember the tragedy.

I was reminded of it on a recent Memorial Weekend walk when I came across a marker for one of the two victims.

Flying from Reid-Hillview airport to San Jose International Airport was the troubled San Jose Police Department's Air1 Helicopter a McDonnell Douglas MD520N helicopter used as air support in chasing criminals and finding lost residents.

The pilot, San Jose Police Officer Desmond Casey and helicopter mechanic Herman Yee were troubleshooting a steering pedal problem when it lost control and crashed in front of 2021 The Alameda (near the intersection of Newhall Street, across from the Shell gas station) in San Jose's Newhall neighborhood.

Desmond Casey Memorial @ 2021 The Alameda, San Jose, California
If you walk The Alameda over to the Newhall neighborhood on the western side of Highway 880 you might spot a rock and plaque along the curb in front of the 2021 The Alameda Office building. The plaque was placed in the year 2000 by the San Jose Police Officer's Association.
Desmond J. Casey was a San Jose Police Department Officer and a California National Guard, 129th Rescue Wing at Moffett Airfield, trained helicopter pilot.  

Desmond J. Casey's memorial service was at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts. Over 3,000 officers, relatives and friends came to say goodbye. He was buried at Mission Cemetery in Santa Clara. He was San Jose's 10th officer to lose his life while on active duty. McDonnell Douglas and other defendants paid $1 million to Casey's estate in a wrongful death settlement. He was engaged to be married and had no children.

PictureMechanic Not Identified
Herman Yee, was the mechanic working for Aris Helicopters who was Casey's passenger.  Sadly there is no mention of him in the roadside plaque. Herman and Desmond were trying to diagnose the problem and bring the helicopter back to San Jose International Airport. He is survived by a wife and daughter. McDonnell Douglas and other defendants paid $3.5 million to a trust fund for Yee's 4 year old daughter Kayla Yee.

A tragic end to Air 1 and a miracle that no one on the ground was killed. Several folks saw the helicopter nose dive and credit the pilot with not crashing into cars, pedestrians or buildings. 

The cause of the crash was determined to be cracks in the cabling linking the tail boom that lead to the failure of the automated stability augmentation system, Casey's incorrect use of a flying maneuver and the mechanics failure to open an access panel to fully examine the control cable were also listed as contributing factors in this unfortunate accident.

PictureSJPD Helicopter N408DC
San Jose Police Department Air 2 is the replacement helicopter to Air 1 and flies 4 days a week. Air 2's ID is N408DC, and was chosen is to commemorate fallen officer Desmond Casey. You can decode N408DC as follows. N is an aviation standard. 408 is for San Jose Telephone Area Code. DC for Desmond Casey. The helicopter is an American Eurocopter EC 120b. 

In 2011 budget cuts forced the grounding of San Jose's Air Unit for a few months, assigning the pilots to car patrol duty. Thankfully things have improved and San Jose Police have come up with the $1.5 million a year that it costs to provide air support for San Jose's patrol officers. Air 2 is supported by two San Jose Police Officers who are qualified helicopter pilots.

PictureSanta Clara County Sheriff N621LS
In 2002, a little over two years after the San Jose Air1 crash, the Sheriff's department came up with the money to buy their own helicopter.  Santa Clara Sheriff Star1 helicopter serves all of Santa Clara County and flies the 3 nights a week that SJPD's Air2 isn't flying. This allows Silicon Valley law enforcement to have 7 day a week evening coverage. The Sheriff's helicopter is equipped with a military grade night vision system for finding lost hikers and suspects hiding in brush, paid for by Homeland Security. The pilots are contracted by the Sheriff's department. The ID N621LS has it's own coded meaning that is really about the vanity of California's first female Sheriff Laurie Smith.

Next time you are on the wait list for brunch at Bills on The Alameda walk next door to the office building and look for the memorial plaque at the curb.  

The memorial site needs some stepping stones in the ivy to reach the plaque since it isn't safe to be in the actual street to reach it, but it is yet another story in our neighborhood's fascinating history.

<![CDATA[Sidewalk Ants]]>Thu, 22 May 2014 20:44:52 GMThttp://twofeet.weebly.com/walking-blog/sidewalk-ants

If you walked the cracked sidewalks of our neighborhoods you'll soon spot little mounds of finely ground dirt.  Each grain literally put there by thousands of ants excavating their tunnels in the dirt beneath the sidewalks.  I'm amazed at how industrious these creatures are.

Sometimes you'll come across the ants swarming out of the sidewalk. When you see this it either means that it is moving day or there is an epic battle going on between warring colonies.  

How To Get Rid Of Ants In Your Home

I'm no ant expert, but I call sidewalk ants, sugar ants when they find their way into my home.  If this happens to you there are a few things you can do.
  1. Spend some time watching the ants in your home.  You'll soon be able to tell if they are foraging or if they've found a cache of food. You'll also find out where their nest is.
  2. Clean up the source of food. Be sure to put sugar, cereal, crackers in sealed containers or temporarily in the freezer until the problem goes away.
  3. If your pet's food is the source place their food bowl on a shallow tray or pan filled with an inch of water.  The water will act as a natural barrier and your cat or dog will treat it like a watering bowl with the food bowl in the center.
  4. Wipe down the ant trail with a paper towel soaked in vinegar. The vinegar removes the scent trail the ants have laid down.
  5. If you can find the nest outside deep soak the ground around it with water.  Ants can't stand flooded nests and will move to another drier location (usually under your sidewalk or foundation).
  6. Be very careful in choosing your ant poison.  My favorite is Combat Ant Gel. It comes in a syringe and allows you to insert the gel inside the cracks in your house where pets or kids can't easily access it.

Four Fun Ant Facts

  1. Ants lift 20-50 times their weight using their front mandibles (same as us lifting a small car over our head). Maybe it helps that in addition to mandibles they have a pair of antennas they use to touch and communicate and six legs to stand on while carrying food, eggs & dirt.
  2. Ants have been around since the age of dinosaurs.  Thankfully they were never the size of dinosaurs!
  3. 99% of ants are sterile and aren't referred to as male or female, but by their caste system.
  4. Male ants and queens are the unfertilized eggs and are the only ants to have wings for a short period of time.
If your kids love Ants check out Santa Clara's Army Ants at War Memorial Playground, 295 Monroe St. Santa Clara, CA 9505
<![CDATA[Gay San Jose]]>Wed, 21 May 2014 04:57:03 GMThttp://twofeet.weebly.com/walking-blog/gay-san-joseIf you've only driven through the neighborhood you've probably never realized that the St Leo's neighborhood is ground zero for San Jose's alternative LGBT lifestyle.  While not as famous as San Francisco's Castro district, it has played an important part in bringing acceptance and diversity to our neighborhood.

If you walk the edges of the St Leo neighborhood starting at Babe the Muffler man and walking up the Alameda, turning left on Race Street and left again on Park Avenue you'll walk past most of the places listed here.  Picture
While Babe the Muffler Man would make a great icon for the neighborhood gay bar, you actually have to head 12 more blocks to Post Street to find Splash and Mac's or over to Renegades @ 501 W. Taylor and Coleman if you want to get a drink.

The St Leo neighborhood is an interesting mix of new high density housing next to older single family residential housing that used to house the cannery workers.  Today it is a neighborhood in transition waiting for it's make over and to publicly embrace it's historic role as San Jose's Gay neighborhood.

The Billy DeFrank Lesbian Gay BiSexual Transgender Community Center @ 938 The Alameda has been helping non-hetrosexuals find resources and acceptance since 1981. Named after William Price's (1936-1980) drag queen stage name Billy DeFrank. Drag Queen Bingo is every 3rd Wednesday of the month.

The large center runs with just 2 paid staff members and over 50 core volunteers and a tiny budget.  It was a pioneer in what is now a growing number of community centers around the country. The building's previous tenants were a French Restaurant in the 1930s and later as an Arthur Murray Dance Studio.

The Water Garden @ 1010 The Alameda is only one of two gay bath houses left in the entire San Francisco Bay area. Open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day since its founding in 1977 by Sal Accardi. The place features a waterfall, pool, spa, showers, exercise room and private rooms. It survived the AIDs crisis and health department shut downs by actively promoting safe sex. 

Sal's plaque at the entrance reads, "Wherever and whenever a minority is treated as second class citizens, the entire community suffers... let justice outweigh prejudice."

The Flamingo Motel @ 1084 The Alameda and Race Street isn't the "No Tell Motel" of the past when the Alameda was crazy with street walkers, but it's flaming Pink Flamingo neon sign at night makes as good of an entrance sign to the St Leo neighborhood as any! It doesn't hurt that the larger than life Muffler Man anchors the other end on the neighborhood.

The Health Trust @ 48 Race Street runs the AIDS Services program which helps folks living with HIV/AIDS. They provide food, counseling, medical case management, home care and housing assistance. Their Learning & Living Lounge provides a friendly place for folks living with HIV/AIDS to get together. Most people today can't appreciate how many people we've lost to AIDS.

A few blocks over is the Crane Center of the Santa Clara County Health Dept @976 Lenzen Avenue which offers free confidential HIV and Hepatitis C testing.

The Food Basket @ 1043 Garland Street is always looking for community volunteers to help pack and deliver food to folks living with HIV/AIDS.

Six times a month they let clients come in and pick up their food directly.

The Food Basket is committed to providing nutritional care and support for persons living with HIV and AIDS, while helping them to achieve optimal nutritional status through generous donations and the support of Second Harvest.

San Jose's I.O.O.F. - Independent Order of Odd Fellows building @ 124 Race Street is home to Carla's Social Club, a place for cross dressers and transgender folks to gather and follow Carla Blair's one rule, "act like a lady."  

While the Odd Fellows is a funny name today, it has a long history of giving sympathy and aid to others.  It just so happens that Aejaie Sellars  is an Odd Fellow member who now runs Carla's Social Club and Whipped Kream to help others with makeup, clothing and voice.

Leather Masters @ 969 Park Avenue offers it's locally produced leather and adult goods to people of all orientations.  Started in 1989 by David Carranza and Tony DaCosta who made leather vests for more than cowboys. 

Their Yelp reviews gives high praise for their quality.  It took me awhile to decode the meaning in the 3 flags in the main window. 

The only thing missing is a nearby Good Vibrations store to help spiffy up the neighborhood.

While the St Leo neighborhood takes it's name from the St Leo the Great school founded in 1915 you'll have to head over to the chapel at St Martin Catholic Church in the nearby Rose Garden neighborhood to find San Jose's only sanctioned monthly mass for the Gay and Lesbian Catholic Community. First Saturdays of the month @ 200 O'Connor Drive, San Jose in the Chapel.

If singing is more your thing you be sure to check out the Silicon Valley Gay Men's Chorus with Tuesday night rehearsals @ 1100 Shasta Ave, at the Westminister church. They've been a neighborhood institution since 1983.

What started as a gay rights rally in 1971 in St James Park, turned into a Gay Parade in 1977 and a Gay Pride Festival on Stockton Avenue in 1986.  Today it has mainstreamed into the Silicon Valley Pride festival held every August in nearby Discovery Meadow Park

<![CDATA[@ 1024 Emory Street]]>Tue, 20 May 2014 21:19:27 GMThttp://twofeet.weebly.com/walking-blog/-1024-emory-street
At the corner of Emory and Myrtle Street
Walking back from the Bellarmine Barbershop I noticed that the De Mattei make over of the residence now includes formal gardens and period matching street lamps! 

This is a welcomed improvement over the plain green lawn that used to be here and is going to showcase this College Park mansion nicely.  No word yet on if iron wrought gating is coming next, but one can hope.

Back in 1928 residents tried to get the Rose Garden part of Emory Street renamed to Emory Drive. Calling a road a Street was now old fashioned, having your street called an Avenue or a Drive was probably 1920's fashionable (the same reason Union Ave was renamed Park Ave). I guess city planning wasn't big on putting on airs, because 86 years later it is still called Emory Street.

For those curious about how Emory street got its name, it goes back to when College Park was still home to the University of the Pacific.  They chose to name many of our major streets in the neighborhood after prominent Methodist Bishops (Emory, Taylor, Hedding, Hamline, etc).  Methodist Bishop John Emory is also honored with having Emory University named after him.

<![CDATA[New Formalism Architecture @1900 The Alameda]]>Tue, 20 May 2014 08:34:12 GMThttp://twofeet.weebly.com/walking-blog/new-formalism-architecture-1900-the-alameda
1900 The Alameda / Cross Street Hedding
Our neighborhood definitely has a breadth of diverse architecture.  You can often guess a building's age by it's architecture and material.  Walking past Hedding and The Alameda in the College Park neighborhood you can't miss this concrete and glass example of New Formalism

Designed in 1963 by famed Edward Durell Stone (Radio City) and built in 1965 for Wells Fargo Bank with his son doing the landscape design. If you think you've seen this building before then you might have seen the original 1961 version which is the National Geographic Society's HQ in Washington D.C.

While no one in the neighborhood was happy to see the post WWII modernism movement devour the neighborhood's mansions on the Alameda, I am happy that at least we got something visually interesting.   

Barry Swenson, the son of Clifford Swenson and the grandson of Carl Swenson (Hotel DeAnza, Medico Dental), now owns the property, while still actively building many of the new downtown skyscraper projects like his Father and Grandfather did. Barry is also a philanthropist, donating neighborhood space for both Garden to Table (urban farm on the other side of the Taylor Street Bridge) and Good Karma Bikes.

The neighborhood has survived losing the original tenant, Wells Fargo, although you can still see the drive through bank teller lanes that were designed for the car culture tearing through our streets.  
Old Republic Title recently pulled out to newer digs by the airport, so Barry is leasing the first 2 floors at $2 a square foot.  I think if Barry put in a front door facing the Alameda, a Bay Area Bike Share bicycle rack in front and an electric car charging spots in back they might just make this nearly 50 year old building sexy again!

Our Rose Garden neighborhood area is defined as "San Jose West Valley" in the Silicon Valley office real estate jargon. So if you're looking for new office space in the neighborhood you can always benefit from being able to WALK to work like some of the fine tenants at Clever Girls Collective!

The "Front" entrance is in back, unfortunate for the 2% of San Joseans who actually walk to work!

Carl Swenson's Home and Office 

@ 1395 Shasta Ave, San Jose, CA 95126
@ 355 Stockton Avenue, San Jose, CA 95126
Carl Swenson's home still stands @ 1395 Shasta at the corner of Park Ave. He lived here when he founded Carl N, Swenson Company back in 1942. Today it is a multi unit rental, but still retains it's original residential charm and fits into the Hanchett Park neighborhood nicely.

The Carl N. Swenson Co. Inc. company offices were @ 355 Stockton Avenue before being torn down to build the Avalon Morrison Park Apartments were built in 2014. I don't know if the iconic signage was saved, but the Swenson family has definitely made its mark on San Jose.
<![CDATA[The Future For Gas Stations]]>Tue, 13 May 2014 01:23:33 GMThttp://twofeet.weebly.com/walking-blog/the-future-for-gas-stations
San Jose's oldest Gas Station, built 1929, restored 2014
It took me awhile to figure out what this old restored building was at the new Avalon Morrison Park complex.  Located off Stockton between Cinnabar and Julian Street in the Garden Alameda neighborhood.

It kind of looks like a greenhouse that would house the mail boxes for all these apartments, except that the roof doesn't let sunshine in, and there is no sign of any snail mail boxes being built inside.

The problem is that this "historic building" as it is called out on their apartment map is missing its contextual clues, drive up service, pumps, garage monkeys, signage, etc.  Hopefully more of the historical design and detail is still forthcoming, at least the promised historical plaque!

A little research uncovered that this is Don Bocci's 1929 Mobil Oil station that sat at 395 Stockton and Cinnabar.  It was moved over to the Julian street entrance as part of this 4.4 acre, 3 story, 250 unit complex with parking for 400.
Planning Commision Report - http://bit.ly/1uWBzmr
While I wish this complex wasn't all rental and had kept some of the space for small businesses, I do appreciate that Avalon has moved beyond the gated and locked style of their neighboring properties and have kept public walkway access available to the neighborhood.  It is a welcome relief to the monster Avalon Alameda that requires you to walk completely around the complex.

Let's hope for the neighborhood's sake they keep up on the maintenance, but then again with rents starting at $2,400 for a one bedroom I don't see the residents demanding anything less.
Avalon Morrison Park Apartments built on top of the Richmond Chase Company Canning Warehouse
I kind of wish the developers had been more inspired to incorporate saving this local treasure into something more useful.  I would love to see an old fashion gas pump designed as a modern day electric car charging station with a charging spot right in front.

Maybe the old gas station could be repurposed as a coffee shop or florist.  Even a nerd bus stop for Google and Apple employees using Royal Coach bus services on Stockton would be something. To see it empty and not apart of the neighborhoods happenings seems a waste of an otherwise great space.
An example of how the 1920 era Mobile Oil Stations probably looked. I love the fact you only see bicycles instead of cars!
Don Bocci's restored Mobil Oil Station, 931 W Julian Street, San Jose, California 95126
<![CDATA[Historic Hoover Theatre]]>Sun, 11 May 2014 17:22:58 GMThttp://twofeet.weebly.com/walking-blog/historic-hoover-theatre
Historic Hoover Theatre 1635 Park Ave, San Jose, CA 95126

Hoover Theatre Troupes

The Renegade Theatre Experiment started as a group of Santa Clara University students who graduated out of SCU's Mayer Theatre program and wanted to do their own theatre startup.  Lead by Sean Murphy, they host some thought provoking shows that are entirely unique and enjoyable.

If you want to support creative, innovative and local theatre then you should check out Renegade Theatre.

Stage Kids California is a great community theatre program that recently moved in.  Lead by Michelle McCormick, they give kids and their parents the opportunity to perform in first rate theatre productions.

If you are looking for fun Summer camps for your kids then this is a great program right in the neighborhood.

San Jose Youth Shakespeare is another local home grown theatre program started by a group of home school families.  Lead by Audrey Rumsby, they give families the opportunity to participate in classical Shakespeare theatre.

SJYS is a great way to introduce Shakespeare to the family.  Now if we could just convince them to hold an outdoor show in the Rose Garden!

The Flamenco Society of San Jose celebrates the music, singing and dancing of Andalusia Spain.  If you've never experienced the art of Flamenco dancing then you are missing a real treat. They usually host a show at the Hoover Theatre a couple times a year. 

If you like walking the neighborhood you've probably noticed the Historic Hoover Theatre tucked next to the beautiful Herbert Hoover Junior High School building across from the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum.

Named after US President Herbert Hoover, a Stanford graduate, who seemed to have a knack for getting things named after him: Hoover Dam, Hoover Tower & Institute and Hoover Avenue (Garden Alameda).

The theatre is where the old Junior High Gym once stood.  A $6 million renovation in 2004 created the wonderful theatre space we have today.  The theatre only seats 200 so you are guaranteed a great view.

If you've never seen a show inside the theatre then I strongly encourage you to do so.  You can catch innovative plays from the following theatre groups that call the Historic Hoover Theatre home:
If you are a local group looking for community space to rent you can check out the availability here: http://hoovertheatre.org

So next time you are walking by the theatre be sure to poke your head in and see what delightful program is happening next in our neighborhood!
<![CDATA[OSH Gosh Lowes]]>Sun, 11 May 2014 02:53:10 GMThttp://twofeet.weebly.com/walking-blog/osh-gosh-lowes
OSH 720 West San Carlos Street, San Jose, CA
If you are walking the Los Gatos Creek trail where it cross San Carlos Avenue it is worth checking out all the action happening at Orchards Supply Hardware.

Orchard Supply Farmers Co-Op was started in 1931 as a way for fruit orchard owners to pool their money and save on the equipment and supplies needed to take care of the many orchards in the area. It quickly grew and has become the goto hardware store for our neighborhood.

OSH has had a colorful history and has changed from a co-op, to being owned by Sears, IPO spun off, bankrupt and is now currently owned by Lowes, which has decided to keep it separate and focused on friendly customer service.

This part of our neighborhood is undergoing a huge transformation.  The oldest of OSH's 91 stores the 1946 store is being replaced with a brand new store opening in 2014 right next door.  
The old house on the property got the wrecking ball, but the old green OSH rail car used for rail car deliveries was saved and moved to San Jose History Park!
This 1895 Folk Victorian Residential Home was razed in 2013.
Orchards is connected to the Southern Pacific Railroad that runs behind the store.
Rumor has it that the old store will be razed to make way for a new strip mall with the likes of Starbucks, Chipotle, Subway stores that can be found at other Lowes centers.  I would love to see the new retail take advantage of the Los Gatos Creek view and trail, but given the large homeless population in the area I can see another great walkable area getting fenced off again for a later generation to embrace.
The New OSH Store opening Summer 2014
For history buffs, this location along the river and railroad tracks next to the canneries was where baseball was played in San Jose from 1908-1930.  The area was originally Sodality Park, created by Myles P. O'Connor (O'Connor Hospital) and the men's Sodality of St Joseph's church (downtown cathedral) and attracted exhibition games featuring legendary players Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb and Lefty O'Doul.
Babe Ruth at San Jose's Sodality Park - 10.26.1927
After Sodality Park was turned into OSH in 1946
<![CDATA[Polhemus' "Moving" Houses]]>Tue, 29 Apr 2014 08:21:47 GMThttp://twofeet.weebly.com/walking-blog/polhemus-moving-houses
Berchmans Hall 2014 @ Elm Street & Hedding, San Jose, CA 95126
For those of you that don't walk the neighborhood you can still catch a glimpse of this 98 year old historic home on your right just before you drive over the Hedding Street railroad bridge.

What you might glimpse is the oldest building on the Bellarmine campus called Berchmans Hall. It was a dorm for seniors who lived on campus (back in the day when Bellarmine was also a boarding school and the house hosted Christmas dinners & BBQs). It has also been a residence for staff and even an infirmary for the live in nurse during the 70 years it has been here (as of 2014). The building is named in honor of St. John Berchmans, a Jesuit seminarian who died in 1621. 

The funny thing is that this house wasn't always called Berchmans Hall, and it wasn't built at this site.

Who was Charles B. Polhemus?

The house was originally built for the Polhemus family. The architect was William E. Higgins and the house was built in 1916 at Stockton Avenue and Taylor (then called Polhemus Street). It stood there for 30 years before it was moved by Kelley Brothers to make way for the Salvation Army family store and dormitory around 1946.

The funny thing is...
As it looked in 1948 after it's move to the Bellarmine College Campus at Elm Street & Hedding Avenue.
Moving Day at the Polhemus House
Photo of the Polhemus home before the move in 1943. There is a large neighborhood World War II garden planted in the front yard near the corner of Stockton and Taylor (called Polhemus Street).  http://bit.ly/1mTtJYE

This wasn't the original Polhemus house.  This was the replacement home for the original Charles B. Polhemus home that had travelled thirteen thousand of miles from the East coast, around Cape Horn and into San Francisco Bay to be assembled at the corner of Taylor Street (then called Polhemus Street) and Stockton Avenue.  Charles Polhemus owned a good chunk of the neighborhood (shaded purple area) in hope of profiting off the San Francisco to San Jose Railroad that he, Newhall and Donahue were building (before they sold it to Leland Stanford).  

The original Polhemus house was one of a handful of homes that California's new military governor Commodore Stockton had prebuilt, shipped and assembled in 1849.  Charles B. Polhemus (1818-1904) purchased and assembled the home in 1850 where it stood until it burned to the ground in 1916.  Sadly I couldn't find any other surviving Commodore Stockton prebuilt homes, the last being at Newhall & Spring (right where the airport is today).
PictureNear the corner of 1048 West Taylor Street.
The Polhemus name is almost forgotten from the neighborhood's memory, but his impact was huge.  His railroad allowed the neighborhood to prosper, and to easily ship out the bounty of our fruits and nuts to the nation by train instead of by boat or wagon.

If you walk West Taylor and look closely at the stamped street names on the curbs you might get lucky and find a reference to the original Polhemus Street name and laugh at the story of his moving houses.

<![CDATA[The Missing Tillman Gates and the creation of CC&R's]]>Mon, 28 Apr 2014 22:19:00 GMThttp://twofeet.weebly.com/walking-blog/the-missing-tillman-gates-the-birth-of-ccrs
Tillman Gates @ Tillman, Race & Park, San Jose, CA 95126
If you are at the corner of Race and Park Avenue you'll notice Tillman Avenue. This grand car entrance to Hanchett Residence Park has been blocked off given that the city isn't fond of 5 way intersections in today's heavy traffic conditions.  

What you won't see are the 2 beautiful columns that used to anchor the entrance.  Because they were built from wood and stucco they didn't survive the 117 years of time that has passed. You can find a smaller reproduction of it's sister pillars at Hanchett Avenue & The Alameda that were dedicated in 2009. If you'd like your own pergola contact Mike Borbely at Novuspace who designed the historical recreation of our gateway

Hanchett Gates @ Hanchett & The Alameda, San Jose, CA 95126
Before World War I the concept of "Residence Parks" was emerging in America.  The goal was to ensure that a neighborhood would reflect certain architecture standards and unfortunately also included racial restrictions on who could live in the neighborhood. What made the residence a "park" was the inclusion of public space being set aside for beautification, sidewalks, lighting, gateway landmarks and wide curved streets with European style roundabouts. This later became the covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&R) that is common in today's homeowner's associations.

In 1907 developer Lewis Hanchett hired famed
John McLaren (Golden Gate Park, San Francisco) to design Hanchett Residence Park on the former 76 acre County Fairgrounds and Race Track called "Agricultural Park."  The neighborhood is 17 blocks bordered by Race Street, Park Avenue, the Alameda and Hester Avenue. Residents who bought a lot were required to commission an architect that met Hanchett's design standards.  The contract also required that no "business houses" would be permitted, that this was a residence only neighborhood. Famed T.S. Montgomery & Son were the real estate agents.

Most of the homes were built between 1915 to 1930 and residents could catch the Alameda Street Trolley or drive past these gateway pillars on Tillman and Martin avenues. Hanchett Residence Park was annexed into San Jose in 1925.

McLaren's use of gateways to designate something special inspired nearby Palm Haven to add their own set in 1913, and to restore them in 2006.  San Jose's historical use of pillar gateways may have inspired San Jose State University's 1997 $1.5 million dollar Heritage Gateway campaign to erect eight beautiful entrances, although it probably didn't hurt that Stanford has a nice historical gateway too!

Martin Gates @ Martin, The Alameda & Race Street
There was a pair of Hanchett Residence Park Gateway pillars with a trellis at the three way intersection of Martin Avenue, Race Street and the Alameda.  Above is a photo of it in it's heyday complete with a state of the art electric trolley urban transit system that brought the Alameda Street Car right into the neighborhood.  Talk about front door access to great public transportation. The previous generation of public transit were horse drawn carriages and a failed attempt at a buried electric cable street car system.
Currently the Tillman Gateway Pillars live on in Suhita Shirodkar's artbox mural on the utility box at Race and Park.

Hopefully the neighborhood's Hanchett Park Heritage Project can raise the $80,000 to recreate the grandiose Tillman pillars and maybe with enough support we can turn this dead end cul de sac into something John McLaren would be proud of. See previous post on the air raid siren and Peacenik Park idea.