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MARKER DATABASE
“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)
 

St. James Park

 
 
St. James Park Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, January 30, 2012
1. St. James Park Marker
Inscription. St. James Park and its environs were the heart of nineteenth century San Jose. While the Plaza has been the center of the older Hispanic settlement, St. James Park and its surrounding buildings reflect the aspirations of an emerging American city. Platted by Chester Lyman in his 1848 survey, the park evolved over the next half century as the focus of many of San Jose's most important civic and religious buildings. It remains even today the city’s most significant urban open space.

While the site had been considered as a possible future plaza by Spanish and Mexican authorities, it was not formally developed until after the U.S. takeover. In the years following the official survey, the park served a variety of purposed but remained unlandscaped until 1868. With the building of what is now the Santa Clara County Courthouse, the park came of age. This elegant structure was designed to attract the State Capital back to San Jose and the park which it fronted, was envisioned as a grand public open space. A major landscaping plan initiated and the square became known as St. James Park.

Throughout the late 19th century and early 20th century, the park took on increasing importance. Major public and private buildings – the Post Office, several churches, club and lodge headquarters – were built along its perimeter,
St. James Park Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, January 30, 2012
2. St. James Park Marker
and it became a site for public gatherings and demonstrations. Major labor rallies took place in the park in 1931 and 1933, California’s last lynching occurred here in 1933: John Holmes and Thomas Thurmond, accused of kidnapping and killing the son of Hart Department Store president, were taken from the county jail by a mob and hanged. Monuments commemorate speeches make here by President McKinley and Senator Robert Kennedy, both assassinated coincidentally, shortly after their visits to San Jose.

In 1955, the character of the park was significantly altered when it was bisected by North Second Street. The gracious scale of the surrounding buildings remains intact. And the park is a welcome counterpoint to San Jose’s busy downtown.
 
Erected by San Jose History Walk. (Marker Number 23.)
 
Location. 37° 20.331′ N, 121° 53.476′ W. Marker is in San Jose, California, in Santa Clara County. Marker is on North 2nd Street. Touch for map. This marker is located in St. James Park just east of North 2nd Street, between East James and East John Streets. Marker is in this post office area: San Jose CA 95113, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Henry Morris Naglee (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Sainte Claire Club
Diagram of the San Jose History Walk image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, January 30, 2012
3. Diagram of the San Jose History Walk
(about 300 feet away); Santa Clara County Courthouse (about 300 feet away); First Church of Christ, Scientist (about 300 feet away); Trinity Episcopal Church (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named Trinity Episcopal Church (about 400 feet away); Main Post Office (about 400 feet away); First Unitarian Church (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in San Jose.
 
Also see . . .  Brooke Hart - Wikipedia. The history of the 1933 San Jose Lynching is told on this site. (Submitted on February 12, 2012, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.) 
 
Categories. Notable Places
 
Santa Clara County Courthouse image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle
4. Santa Clara County Courthouse
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on February 12, 2012, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 469 times since then and 34 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on February 12, 2012, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.   4. submitted on April 25, 2010, by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.
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