102 Interesting Facts About San Jose, California

Fun facts about San Jose, California

San Jose may get less attention than its some of its California counterparts, but the city’s impact is huge, especially as a Silicon Valley center.

Below, you learn what else “Fin City” is known for with these fun and interesting San Jose facts. Also see our fun facts about California, and while you’re at it, more fun facts about Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco!

General San Jose Facts

  • San Jose (officially the City of San José) is the 3rd largest city in the US state of California, after Los Angeles and San Diego, but before San Francisco.
  • It is the largest city in in Northern California by both population and area.
  • With 1 million residents, San Jose is the 10th largest city in the United States, putting it between Dallas and Austin (both in Texas) in terms of population.
  • The Greater San Jose Area, which includes Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Mountain View, Stanford, and Palo Alto, has a population of 2 million, making it the 36th largest metropolitan area in the United States.
  • San Jose is part of Santa Clara county. Santa Clara is also the name of a city in that county. Parts of Alameda and San Mateo counties are also considered part of greater San Jose.
  • Along with San Francisco and Oakland, San Jose is considered part of the San Francisco Bay Area (population 7.8 million). It is the largest city in the area and lies south of the San Francisco Bay.
  • Around 5% of all Californians live in the Greater San Jose Area, and 20% of them live in the Bay Area.
Aerial view of San Jose downtown and suburbs
San Jose sits in the Santa Clara Valley
  • The city sits at the same latitude as Sicily, Italy and Seoul, South Korea.
  • The highest temperature ever recorded in San Jose was 109°F (42.8°C) in 2022, while the lowest was 18°F (−7.8°C) in 1894.  
  • San Jose was originally named “El Pueblo de José de Guadalupe” after Saint Joseph (the saint of pioneers and travelers) and the Guadalupe River in the area.
  • The capital and largest city of Costa Rica, San José, is also named after Saint Joseph.
  • In 1943, the United States decided to remove the accent from the e in José, but at various points since then, the city and its institutions have opted to put it back again.
Buildings of downtown San Jose
Downtown San Jose
  • Some nicknames for San Jose are “Teal Town” and “Fin City” (after the city’s famous hockey team the San Jose Sharks), “Man Jose” (there are more men due to the tech industry), and “Tan Jose” (for its preference for non-colorful buildings, but that has changed a lot in recent years).
  • Slogans for San Jose have included “The Valley of the Heart’s Delight”, “Capital of Silicon Valley”, and “San Jose. Small Town Heart and Big City Soul”.
  • People from San Jose are called San Joseans, or in Spanish, San Joséans or Josefinos/as.
  • 37% of San Joseans are Asian, making San Jose the largest city in the country where Asians are the top demographic. The top group is Chinese, followed by Indians and Filipinos. It also has the world’s largest overseas Vietnamese population.
  • Asians are followed by Hispanics/Latinos (31% ), while Whites come in 3rd place, at 25%.   
The city flag of San Jose, California
The official San Jose city flag
  • The San Jose city flag has horizontal bands of orange, white, and blue, with the city’s official seal at the center. The seal has the city’s name and founding date (1777) around a wheat sheaf and grape vine, the city’s main agricultural resources before it switched to tech industry.
  • San Jose was one of the first cities in the US to establish a sister city program, when he became sister cities with Okayama (Japan) in 1957.  Today, it has 8 sister cities, including Taipei (Taiwan), San José (Costa Rica), and Dublin (Ireland).

Interesting Facts about San Jose Places

  • The headquarters of several major Silicon Valley companies in San Jose are popular tourist attractions, including Apple Park, Googleplex, eBay, Netflix, and more. Some have stores for visitors, while at others, the best you can do is take a selfie with the sign.
Aerial view of the large, circular building of Apple Park headquarters in San Jose
Apple Park, the Apple headquarters in Cupertino, San Jose
  • The Tech Interactive is a museum in Downtown San Jose that provides a good introduction to the area’s tech culture and history.
  • California’s Great America is San Jose’s own amusement park and one of the largest in Northern California. Originally built by Marriott, it is now owned by Cedar Fair, who expects to close it by 2033.
  • The height of buildings in San Jose is limited due to the city’s proximity to its international airport. The tallest buildings in San Jose are the two Miro Apartments, which have 28 floors each and stands 298 ft (90 m) tall.
Exterior of the white Saint Joseph Cathedral in San Jose
Saint Joseph Cathedral
  • Other iconic buildings in San Jose include Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph, Santana Row (a Mediterranean-style department store), Cesar Chavez Plaza, and San Jose City Hall.
  • It is believed that the Winchester Mystery House is haunted by the ghosts of people killed by Wichester rifles. The house is owned by the widow of William Winchester, former company owner.
  • San Jose has one of only three Japantowns in America. The other two are also in California, in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
  • Santa Cruz, one of California’s most famous beach towns, is less than an hour’s drive south of San Jose.

San Jose Economy and Society Facts

  • Silicon Valley is roughly synonymous with Santa Clara Valley, a huge valley between two coastal mountain ranges that is partially filled with the waters of the San Francisco Bay.
  • The name comes from the fact that many early industries there made silicon transistors and circuit chips. The term gained use in the 1980s.
Santa Clara Valley, AKA or Silicon Valley
  • Thanks in part to Silicon Valley, San Jose has the highest GDP per capital in the country and 3rd highest in the world, after Zurich, Switzerland and Oslo, Norway.
  • If Silicon Valley were a country, it would have a larger economy than 75% of the countries in the world.
  • The San Jose metropolitan area has the 13th largest economy in the Unites States, between Miami, Florida and Detroit, Michigan. When combined with San Francisco and Oakland, the Bay Area has the 3rd largest economy in the country, after NYC and LA.
  • San Jose has the most expensive housing market in the country 5th most expensive in the world.
  • San Jose’s crime rate is about half that of Tuscon, Arizona, but three times that of Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Some buildings in San Jose's financial district
The San Jose financial district
  • San Jose and Silicon Valley are home to around 45 Fortune 500 countries, including Adobe, PayPal, eBay, Cisco, Apple, Intel, Oracle, HP, Tesla, IBM, Amazon, and Walt Disney Company.
  • Other famous companies associated with the area include Zoom, Facebook/Meta, Wells Fargo, Visa, Chuck E. Cheese, and Chevron.
  • The city also has the country’s most educated workforce, with over half of workers possessing at least a Bachelor’s degree.
  • There are 11 colleges and 1 university in San Jose: San José State University. It is the oldest university on the country’s west coast, dating back to 1857.
  • Stanford University, considered one of the top universities in the country and world, is in Stanford, Greater San Jose. Students at the university have included Herbert Hoover, JFK, Reese Witherspoon, and Elon Musk.
Exterior of an old building and tower with vines on it at San Jose State University
San Jose State University
  • The San Jose Airport is the 35th busiest airport in the US, between those of St. Louis, Missouri and Houston, Texas. It served 7.4 million passengers in 2021. 
  • Great Mall in Milpitas, Greater San Jose is the largest department store in Northern California, spanning 1.4 million square feet.
  • San Jose has nearly 100,000 millionaire households. 74 billionaires also live in the area, or around half the tech billionaires in the world. These include Elon Musk, Larry Page, Larry Ellison, and Sergey Brin.
  • The richest person in San Jose is Mark Zuckerberg, who lives in Palo Alta city (part of Great San Jose and the Bay Area). He has a net worth of 50 billion USD.
  • 7.7% of people in San Jose live in poverty, which is 34% lower than the state average.
Exterior of a white mansion in San Jose with trees beside driveway
A mansion in San Jose
  • While San Francisco has the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ population per capita, San Jose was found to have one of the lowest.
  • 72.7% of Santa Clara county residents (where San Jose is located) voted for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
  • Things invented in San Jose include floppy disks, hard drives, Eggo waffles, and Oral B toothbrushes.
  • The first Sanrio/Hello Kitty store in the US was opened at Eastridge Mall in San Jose in 1976.
  • Movies filmed in at least partially in San Jose include Beverly Hills Cop III, The Tillman Story, Flubber, and Mad City.
Exterior of the Google headquarters building in San Jose
Googleplex was the supposed setting for the film “The Internship”
  • TV series set in San Jose include The Good Doctor and Silicon Valley.
  • Part of The Social Network was set in San Jose (but shot in LA), while part of The Internship was set in San Jose (but filmed in Atlanta).

San Jose Sports Facts

  • The San Jose Sharks are named after the large number of sharks in the Red Triangle area off the California coast.
  • The Sharks represent the whole Bay Area, and it is said the Triangle in their logo also represents the three cities of San Jose, San Francisco, and Oakland.
Exterior of the stadium of the San Jose Sharks
SAP Center” by Travis Wise is licensed under CC By 2.0
  • The Sharks play at SAP Center at San Jose, known locally as the “Shark Tank”.
  • The Sharks are the only California-based NHL team to never win a Stanley Cup. They have only advanced to the playoffs once in 2016 and lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
  • Some of the most famous players in Sharks history include Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Joe Pavelski.
  • The first game in MLS (Major League Soccer) history in the US was between the San Jose Earthquakes and D.C. United from Washington DC, with San Jose taking the win.
  • The team play out of PayPal Park and have a fierce rivalry with LA Galaxy.
Logos of the San Jose Sharks and Earthquakes
San Jose’s two professional sports teams
  • Peggy Fleming of San Jose is an Olympic gold medalist figure skater and is credited with reviving figure skating in the country.
  • Rudy Galindo, also from San Jose, was the first openly gay figure skating champion in the country.

Famous People from San Jose

  • Famous actors and actresses born in San Jose include Dustin Diamond (Saved by the Bell), Kate Walsh (Grey’s Anatomy), and Brett Dalton (Agents of SHIELD).
  • Other famous people born in San Jose are model Melissa Haro, pastor Rick Warren, and MLB player Jerry Coleman.  
  • Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, was born in San Jose and still lives in Los Gatos, a town in greater San Jose, today.
A mosaic of famous people from San Jose, California
Famous San Joseans Steve Wozniak, Nikki Sixx, Dustin Diamond, and Smash Mouth (clockwise from top-left)
  • Nikki Sixx, bassist for Mötley Crüe, Scott Weiland, singer for Stone Temple Pilots, and DJ Shadow were also born in San Jose.
  • San Jose bands include the Doobie Brothers, Smash Mouth, No Use for a Name, Xiu Xiu, and Los Tigres del Norte (originally from Mexico).
  • Celebrated chemist and Nobel prize winner Dudley R. Herschbach was born in San Jose.

San Jose History Facts

  • Native Americans lived in the lower Bay Area for thousands of years. San Jose’s Alum Rock Park was once a settlement of the Ohlone people.
  • In 1542, the Spanish claimed the area of California.
Rocky formations in Alum Rock Park in San Jose
Alum Rock Park
  • In 1777, Spaniards founded El Pueblo de San Jose to Guadalupe, the first civilian town in their Nueva California colony. 20 years later, they also founded a mission there.
  • In 1821, San Jose became a part of Mexico.
  • In the 1830s and 40s, many prominent historical figures were given land/ranches in the San Jose area.
  • In 1845, mercury or “quicksilver” was discovered around San Jose. New Almaden Mine quickly grew and supplied 75 million pounds of mercury needed for equipment during the California Gold Rush (1848 – 1855).
  • In 1847, San Jose fell under US control.
  • When California became a state in 1850, San Jose was its first capital. The original capitol building sat on what is now Plaza de César Chávez.
Plaza de César Chávez and buildings
Plaza de César Chávez was the site of the original California state capitol
  • In 1852, California’s wine industry was born when a French immigrant planted grapes in the San Jose area.
  • In 1857, San Jose State University was formed, the first on the West coast, and founding campus of the California State University system.
  • In the late 1800s and early 1900s, agriculture and food packing thrived in the area.
  • In 1891, Stanford University was founded by a US Senator. Its graduates would go on to develop what would become Silicon Valley.
  • In 1906, hundreds of San Jose residents died in the great San Francisco Earthquake.
A tower and white building at Stanford University at night
Stanford University
  • In 1909, the country’s first radio station with regular scheduled programs was started in San Jose.
  • In 1933, Air Base Sunnyville was established in the area, and by the 1950s, space and electronics industries were replacing agriculture.
  • In 1939, Hewlett-Packard (HP) was founded in San Jose.
  • In the same year, the San Jose’s airport first opened.
  • In 1943, IBM (originally founded in New York state) set up its West Coast office in San Jose.
  • During WWII, residents of San Jose’s Japantown were interred, and there was violence against Mexicans. As a result, 98% of the city was White.
A row of Mediterranean 
 looking buildings in San Jose
Santana Row shopping street
  • The term “Silicon Valley” was first used in 1971 due to the silicon transistor manufacturers in town.
  • The population of San Jose reached half a million in 1970.
  • In 1976, the two Steves established Apple is a garage in Los Altos, San Jose greater area.
  • In 1982, Adobe was established in Mountain View, San Jose.
  • San Jose was the largest city in the Bay Area by 1990.
  • In 1991, the San Jose Sharks began playing.
  • In 1995, AuctionWeb (later to become eBay) was founded.
Exterior of the San Jose City Hall building, including a dome
San Jose’s new city hall
  • In 2014, the population of San Jose reached 1 million.
  • A Silicon Valley extension of San Francisco’s BART metro system finally opened in 2017 and is planned to reach Santa Clara by 2030.

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