“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

San Jose in Santa Clara County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)

Electric Light Tower

Electric Light Tower Marker image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, April 25, 2010
1. Electric Light Tower Marker
Inscription.  When completed in 1881, the 237-foot electric light tower that once spanned the intersection of Market and Santa Clara Streets was the largest single source of electric light in the country. The brainchild of J.J. Owen, founder of the San Jose Mercury News, it was designed to illuminate the entire downtown. While the tower received tremendous national and international publicity, local reactions were mixed. The tower remained in operation until it blew over in a storm in 1915.
Erected by City of San Jose.
Location. 37° 20.117′ N, 121° 53.52′ W. Marker is in San Jose, California, in Santa Clara County. Marker is at the intersection of South Market Street and West Santa Clara Street, on the right when traveling south on South Market Street. Marker is mounted on a pole on the sidewalk. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: San Jose CA 95113, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Juzgado (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Farmers Union Building (about 300 feet away); San Jose Mercury News (about 400
Electric Light Tower Marker image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, April 25, 2010
2. Electric Light Tower Marker
feet away); Bank of America Building (about 600 feet away); Birthplace of A.P. Giannini (about 600 feet away); Knox-Goodrich Building (about 600 feet away); St. Joseph’s Cathedral (about 600 feet away); Letitia Building (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in San Jose.
Also see . . .
1. The Light Tower. Already damaged by a windstorm in February 1915, the tower completely collapsed into the street at 11:55 a.m. on December 3 of that year. The tower telescoped into itself and no one was hurt. There is a replica of the tower (scaled to fit the area) located at History Park. (Submitted on May 24, 2010.) 

2. The Famous San José Tower. Drawing and article about the electric light tower by Ralph Rambo that appeared in "Let's Go" magazine in 1969. (Submitted on May 24, 2010.) 

3. 1881 Photo of Tower During Construction. (Submitted on May 24, 2010.)
4. 1915 Photo of Tower After It’s Collapse. (Submitted on May 24, 2010.)
5. Downtown San Jose History Walk. This building (Site #7), is featured on the Downtown San Jose History Walk along with 30 additional sites. (Submitted on May 24, 2010.) 
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More. Search the internet for Electric Light Tower.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on May 24, 2010, by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California. This page has been viewed 851 times since then and 12 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on May 24, 2010, by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. Photo of replica of the tower. • Can you help?
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