Midtown San Jose History

Midtown San Jose has a rich history that begins in the 1920s when San Jose, then known as The Valley of Heart’s Delight, was producing 90 percent of the fruits and vegetables in the state of California. Midtown was home to several canneries and many of the workers called the new homes popping up across area home. To support that community and the canning industry, independent businesses sprung up, creating a booming and diverse neighborhood. As San Jose grew from a land of agriculture to the Capital of Silicon Valley, Midtown became the connector between Downtown San Jose and so many of the suburban neighborhoods spreading across the city.  

The one constant has been a diverse and ever growing collection of independent businesses. Over the years, some famous and favorite San Jose institutions have come and gone in Midtown. From Lou’s Village, the famed seafood restaurant where a smiling Lucille Ball once ate, to the Fiesta Lanes, one of the many lost San Jose bowling alleys of years gone by. And while the landscape of Midtown continues to evolve, many business icons of the past still stand proudly in their midtown home.  

Today Midtown San Jose is a vibrant, colorful, and independent business packed corridor that links several communities, including Burbank, Willow Glen, Rose Garden, and Buena Vista, among others, to Downtown San Jose and Santana Row. The community is home to a world of different foods, jam packed antiques stores, vintage clothing, retro neon signs, and so much more.

So check out these historic photos and more from the decades past of Midtown San Jose.