Last Update 4/16/2012

This is another collection of THEN and NOW photos in and around San Jose. The THEN photos are from the early 1900s through about 1960. I'm always on the lookout for more THEN photos, so feel free to share. Email me at

Many thanks to the San Jose Historical Museum and especially their archivist, Jim Reed, in locating wonderful THEN photographs. Individual contributors of photos are noted on the photo itself. Additional sources.

Links to other pages of Photos:
San Jose 1975-2006 (the original inspiration for these pages)
San Jose Then and Now (Homes)
The Box of Ghosts Project
(Long-gone buildings) 
San Jose From the Air 2007
Many thanks to the San Jose Historical Museum and especially their archivist, Jim Reed, in locating the "THEN" photographs.



THEN 2007 and later
First Street, near the intersection with Hensley Street, looking north (mid-1930s). Ironically, the old trolley lines were removed and paved over in the 1940s. When the modern light rail went in, new track had to be laid. (SJHM) Want to read more about San Jose's streetcars?
The post office on North First Street the 1930s and in 2007. The photo on the left appeared on a postcard. Did you know the First Street Post Office cost $308,000 in 1934? (SJHM)

The Santa Clara County Courthouse - the old one - was built in 1867 at a cost of $200,000. The building on the right in the old photo is the Hall of Records that was demolished in 1962 to make way for the new courthouse at 191 North First Street. This old one is at 161 North First Street and now houses the court's administrative offices. The old courthouse originally had a dome and had a single courtroom. Later it was divided into three courtrooms and the dome was lost in a fire in 1931. The photo on the left is from 1895; the one on the right was taken in 2007.

South Market Street, looking at St. Joseph's Cathedral and what was then the Post Office, later the San Jose Public Library, and now the San Jose Museum of Art. The shot on the left appeared on a post card in the 1930s and is probably an artist's rendition rather than a photograph. (SJHM)

The same building, but this time comparing an actual photograph taken in 1910 with one taken in 2007. Once the Post Office, later the San Jose Public Library, it is now the San Jose Art Museum. The Knight-Ridder building looms in the background on the right and you can see the extension of the museum on the right.
The same buildings on South Market Street as in the prior photos, this time looking south from Post Street. St. Joseph's Cathedral and the San Jose Museum of Art are on the left side. The photo on the left is from the 1930s. Sandy Ragsdale supplied the photo on the left.
St. Joseph's Cathedral 1930s and 2007. The shot on the left is from a postcard. (SJHM)
North First Street looking south toward Santa Clara with the distinctive Bank of America Building tower -- 1929, circa 1957, and 2007. The middle shot is from a postcard. (SJHD)
The California Theater still stands! I thought the photo on the left, judging from the cars, was from 1915-1920. Boy, was a wrong. Hugo Fuchs, a sharp-eyed visitor to the site let me know that "the playbill reads  "Billie Dove in An Affair of the Follies" which was released in 1927. On the other hand, the name Doris Eaton is on the board, and her closest movie to that time was "Taking the Count" which might be what is on the billing placing it at 1928. I'd best guess the picture as 1928." I just love getting email like that! (SJHM)
The same majestic California Theater - 1945 and January 2008. (SJHM). I even managed to get a comparison of vehicles.
First Street at William, looking north. Some building survive, some don't.... Maybe I should rename this page "San Jose Survivors" (SJHM)
The Sainte Claire Hotel on a postcard from the 30s and 2007. (SJHD)
The Montgomery Theater at the corner of Market and San Carlos was built in the 1930s and the photo on the left was taken in 1936 . The trees have grown, but little else about the site has changed in over 60 years. I thought about trying to take the photo again in the winter when the trees have lots their leaves but, as you can see, most of them are palms and evergreens.
The Civic Auditorium taken from the corner of Market and San Carlos, looking west. The lightrail line is new and the palms are gone, but the building has not changed much.
Trinity Episcopal Church (built 1863) is a wonderful example of Carpenter architecture. It's at the corner of Second Street and St. John. An undated photo on the left and one from 2007. This church originally faced St. James Park but during its first expansion in 1873, it was cut in half and turned to face Second Street. (SJHD)
The Unitarian Church on Third Street was dedicated in 1892 and cost slightly less than $30,000 to build! In 1995, during expansion and reconstruction, there was a six-alarm fire that virtually gutted it. As you can see, it was beautifully restored. (SJCWP)
Just north of the Unitarian Church is the Scottish Rites Temple (left, circa 1930), now the home of the San Jose Athletic Club. Third Street was once a two-way street there, but is now a one-way street running north as far a Julian, where it is a two-way street again. Triva buffs: Back in 1997, John Travolta and Dustin Hoffman, made a movie about a hostage held in a museum. The exterior of the museum was played by this building! Look closely at the large blank space above the six columns in front and you can make out the ghostly remains of the lettering "Taylor County Museum of Natural History."(SJHD)
Another view of the same section of Third Street, showing the Scottish Rites Temple on the left, then the Unitarian Church and the building next to it -- a modern office building with the facade of the original building decorating the front. (SJHM)
They didn't actually save any of the old church on the left that once stood on North Third Street. You can see it also in the photo above this one, on the right side. When they put up this completely new office building, they gave it a false front that was modeled after the original facade.
Originally (in 1903) this was the Sperry Flour Building at 30 North Third Street, just a block from the buildings above. Designed by Wolfe and McKenzie, it has housed many businesses, and is currently (2009) home to the Superstars Game Center. (CFBB)
The Sainte Claire Club was built in 1893 as a meeting place for San Jose businessmen. The road appears to be gravel or dirt and those appear to be hitching posts(!) in the foreground!. The building on the right is now a parking lot and the palm trees have grown out of sight. The tree in the middle of the photo on the left is gone but, judging from the split trunk, the tree on the far left is the same tree.
While we're at the park, here are two photos of the McKinley statue. The buildings in the background on the left are NOT behind the trees in the second photo -- they were replaced by the Post Office (above), which you can't see because of the trees. (SJHD)
On the left is a postcard of the original Christian Science Church on St. James Street between First and Second Streets where it overlooks St. James Park. It was built in 1902-1904 and used as a church until 1946. It was used for a while as a theater but has been boarded up and unused for decades. The Preservation Action Council of San Jose is monitoring the building and working with the owner to find an economically feasible solution to allow its preservation. (SJHM)
This building is just west of the old Christian Science Church above. You can see its dome rising in the background. The original structure dates from the 1880 when Clarence Letcher sold his own manufactured cars here. It was a garage for many years. but had undergone some serious remodeling before it became The Oasis nightclub for a few years. Obituary: In 2010, this building was demolished, perhaps to provide a parking lot for the building next door.
The Hotel St. James is just one block north of the County Courthouse. It was originally called the Straford Hotel and once boasted luxurious corner suites with 10-foot high pocket doors. It was renamed the Hotel St. James when the original Hotel St. James up the street was demolished in the 1930s. The hotel was later converted to a rooming house and the pocket doors vanished behind sheetrock and plywood. When a group of San Jose attorneys decided to renovate the old hotel and use it as their law office, they uncovered the pocket doors which still function. The photo on the left is from the 1960s; the one on the right from 2009.
Post Street runs between Market Street and First Street. The shot on the left is fairly recent -- around 1980 (correct me if I'm wrong). The one on the right was taken in 2007.
The only way I could tell this was the same photo is the dome on the left -- it's Santa Clara Street, looking west, from Third Street. The photo on the left is dated 1910. The building in the distance that is under construction is the old First National Bank building on the southwest corner of First and Santa Clara, not the Bank of America building that looms in the background of the photo on the right, which is on the southeast corner. The nine-story First National Bank building was started in 1909. In the early 1960s the building underwent a facelift that included covering the original brick with sheets of marble and glass. The current owners do not appear to be interested in uncovering the original structure (sigh!). (SJHD)
Here's a view of the same stretch of Santa Clara Street as the photos above, but this looks at the southeast corner of Second Street at Santa Clara, showing the same dome. The photo on the left was taken in the 1940s. (SJHM)
On the southeast corner of Third and Santa Clara they built the original YMCA. The building is still there, converted to office space, and available for lease.

Note to self: I need to take a new photo - in 2010 it was painted!

The photo on the left was snagged from a GoogleMap Streetview.

Did you know that the Southern Pacific Railroad used to run regular trains down Fourth Street? Not trolleys or streetcars - freight trains! The photos were both taken looking down from the building on the southwest corner of Third and Santa Clara, but of course there is no train there today. The distinctive Medico-Dental building can be seen in the background, but everything in between is gone..(SJHM)
This is the building on the southwest corner of Third and Santa Clara, where Hank Coca's Downtown Furniture store is today. Mr. Coca was kind enough to let me into the third floor of his building to take the photo just above these showing the view of Fourth Street where freight trains used to run. The photo on the left is from the 1920s and courtesy of Melissa L, who sent it to me from the Pomona Public Library. The Oddfellows owned it at the time the photo on the left was taken and you can see the letters IOOF in the photo on the right. The building has been changed a lot -- the top of the tower seems to have been removed along with a lot of decorative pieces -- but the building has survived the decades. [Note to self: I need to go back out and get a photo from the corner to better match the photo on the left.]
The Carnegie Library at 23rd and East Santa Clara opened in 1907 as the first branch library in the San Jose Library System. It went through several renovations over the decades and got a major facelift and expansion in 2008-2009. The addition wraps around the back side, which makes the front look pretty much as it did in the 1950s when the photo on the left was taken.. It was part of an exhibit at the Martin Luther King Library celebrating the remodeling.
Back at the turn of the 20th century, three men owned three adjacent pieces of property on Second Street, just south of Santa Clara. Wenger, Knapp and Clark hired the architectural firm of Wolfe & McKenzie to build this large building on the three lots. It was two levels, with 26 apartments built over six 8,900 square foot stores, plus a full basement. The building was later the Jose Hotel. In 1995-1996, the upper floors became condominiums and the ground floor became Zanotto's grocery store. And of course the light rail runs down the middle of the street now.
At 82 South Second is the "Knights of Pythias" building, built in 1893. It has housed a variety of businesses over the years.
The Jose Theater on South Second remained a theater for many years, into the late 1990s. It was empty for many years until the Redevelopment Agency made renovation and restoration possible. It's now a comedy improv club/theater. Second Street was a two way street in the photo (1941) on the left, but it is now one-way going south. Notice the difference in cars.
Another view of the Jose Theater taken in 1947.
First Street, looking north from San Fernando. On the left, a shot from the late 1920s (The Bank of America Building tower went up in 1927) taken from whatever building was there at that time.   For the second shot, I had to get into offices in the current Knight-Ridder Building (BDO Seidman, LLP and Nationwide Exchange Services -- thank you both!) and ask them for permission to use their corner offices.
At 68 South First is the Letitia Building, built in 1890. It has housed a large variety of offices and stores over the decades. SJHI
Another shot of the majestic Bank of America building, built in 1927, that shows up in so many photographs of downtown San Jose. This shot was taken from Third Street and Santa Clara, looking west. The photo on the left is from the 1930s; the one on the right from 2007.
The same street corner -- Post Street looking north onto First Street -- in late1950s and perhaps the early 1960s (judging from the cars on the street) and 2008, and that overhang has not changed. The Bank of America building is barely visible through the trees that were planted along the sidewalks and the modern light-rail system now runs down the middle of the street. [Thanks to Rick Auricchio for emailing me with the more accurate date based on the cars in the photo.]
Move over a bit to the right from the pair of photos above these and you'd see the scenes above, with the Bank of America tower in full view as you looked north on First Street in the 1940s. Today, the street has two lanes for cars, the light rail system and wide sidewalks, along with trees which obscure the view of the buildings themselves. I find it remarkable that so many of the old buildings have survived on this block!
You might not recognize this store front at 19 South First Street (a jewerly store in the 1920s) were it not for the marbled tile front. The photo on the left was part of the advertisement the company used for many years in the San Jose City Directories beginning in 1927. At some point after the first photo was taken, the words "A. Hirsch & Son" was worked into a mosaic tile entry way, which is what is says today, even though the business is now "Hammer & Lewis Fashions."
The San Jose Building and Loan Association on Santa Clara between First Street and Market Street, was built in 1927. The photo on the left was taken in the 1940s. In 2007 it's the "Vault Ultra Lounge." (SJHD)
All the ornamentation is gone, but it is still the same building. At the turn of the 20th century, it housed a fine French restaurant called the La Molle House. In 2007 it is the Aconda Residence Hotel for low-income renters above, and several eateries, including a Starbucks, on the street level. News in 2007 was the building was purchased by a firm that was evicting the tenants in order to renovate the building for office space. (SJHD)
At the left is an even older photo of the same building -- horse and buggy days -- This is a copy of a postcard commemorating the 1908 visit to La Molle Restaurant by teams participating in the Great Race. ROTP
66 San Pedro was an animal hospital in the 1920s, as seen in this photo take from a San Jose City Diretory. It's undergone a lot of remodeling both inside and out, but the basic building is still there. Despite the "Budget" signage, the building appeared to be unoccupied when I took the photo in April 2008.
Of course Henry's World Famous Hi-Life on West St. John Street is still standing! Talk about a survivor! The building went up in 1900 and was once the Torino Hotel.

Another old photo on the left.


At the corner of First Street and San Carlos is a popular downtown restaurant that has survived the decades - Original Joe's (est. 1956). Note the change in light poles. (ROTP)

On the left is the store that was on the corner of First and San Carlos BEFORE Original Joe's. It was an upsale women's clothing store called Appleton & Co. and opened at this location in 1925 (it out-grew two prior locations in downtown San Jose). The photo on the right is a copy of one currently on display in the lower floor of the Hotel St. Claire, near the fitness center.

This information, the photos and a photo of a newspaper clipping reporting the 1925 opening day were provided by Derek Appleton, the great grandson of Alfred Appleton.

The Hotel Montgomery was originally built in 1911 on the corner of First and San Antonio. It fell on hard times and was vacant for many years. Preservationist insisted it be moved instead of destroyed to make room for the Fairmont Hotel annex. It was successfully moved to its current location 186 feet south, extensively renovated, and reopened in 2004. Bravo! [The light rail now runs along Market and obscures much of this lovely old building, but -- hey -- it survived!
San Jose State University's Tower in 1955, and the same view in 2007, with the City Hall dome and highrise poking up in the background. That palm tree on the right of the 1955 photo has grown right out of the photo.
Another view of the San Jose State Tower. The photo on the right was taken from the fifth floor of the Martin Luther King Library. The covered walkways are gone and you can see the new dorms rising in the background.
In the 1940s the building on the left at the corner of St. James and Terraine housed the Levi-Straus Company. Today it is part of the Santa Clara County Superior Court system (Criminal, Dependency and Drug Treatment). (SJHM)

Beginning with the 1927 San Jose City Directory, this was the photo used in the advertisement for W.B. Ward Undertaking for over 25 years. The building appears to be pretty much the same today but it has been broken up into several law offices.

Looking east on Santa Clara Street at the De Anza Hotel. The photo on the left is from the 1930s. The tower of the Bank of Italy Building in the distance is still visible in the second photo. The angle is a bit off, but I couldn't stand in the middle of the street to take the photo. Thanks to Sandy Ragsdale for contributing the old photo.

Okay, the Medico-Dental building is obviously still there but the First United Methodist Church is history. Long-time local resident Allan Furtado emailed to inform me that the church fell due to a fire in the 70s. Later Gary Singh wrote to tell me it was in the early 1990s that the church burned. "Hundreds of us were out there in the street watching that as it happened. And drinking beer .... I distinctly remember the old ladies from the church crying as it was burning down." The photos on the left was dated 1941. The middle photo is from a postcard dated 1970s courtesy of Sandy Ragsdale.

The First United Methodist Church was built on the same corner in 2013, a decidedly modern building.


A front view of the same lovely old Medico-Dental Building, 1930s and 2007. (SJHD)

The building was converted to apartments in the 1980s, by the way. For more photos of this wonderful old building and some close ups of interior detailing, visit Quinn's photo exhibit

I am indebted to Otto Lee of the Intellectual Property Law Group who has offices on the 12th Floor of the Bank of America Building at First and Santa Clara, for letting me into his office to take this photo. The angle is not exactly the same, but you can see the dramatic growth in downtown east of First Street. San Jose City Hall has transformed the view; Santa Clara Street is now edged with trees. A few buildings still remain, such as the Medico Dental building. San Jose Hospital in the far distance on the righthand photo is empty and will soon come down. (SJCWP)
Some buildings, of course, do not survive. The block of building on the left (photo taken in the 1950s) housed retail stores on the south side of San Fernando between First and Market. The building on the right is the back of the new wing of the San Jose Art Museum. If the building were not quite as tall, you could see the two towers of the old wing of the San Jose Art Museum that are visible in the left photo.
This is another block of buildings that did not survive urban renewal. The scene on the left was taken of the south side of San Antonio between First and Market in 1957. Today this is a pedestrian walkway south of the Fairmont Hotel.
It's hard to believe this is the same curve. It's hard to believe the curve is still there! That's the north end of the park that splits Market Street south of San Fernando. The photo on the left was taken in 1866 and most of what you see was then Chinatown with a brewery looming behind the then-new water tower. Now the site holds the Fairmont Hotel. (SJHD)
Photos beyond downtown San Jose
The Beech-Nut Baby Food Factory on Senter Road (circa 1960) on the left is now the home of the San Jose Historical Museum (among others), the source of many of these old photos.
San Jose State University built Spartan Stadium in 1933 (photo at left). It seated 4,000. The photo on the left shows the stadium in 2007 and it seats over 30,000. Okay, the photo on the left wasn't taken from the precisely the same spot, but the original photo was probably taken from the north end scoreboard!
This is the San Jose Water Works building on West Santa Clara Street, separated from downtown by Highway 87. The photo on the left was labeled 1985, but I can't believe those palm trees went from non-existent to higher than the building in a little over 20 years!
Cahill Depot on Cahill Street near Montgomery and Santa Clara, also known as Southern Pacific Depot, photographed in the 1930s and again in 2007. It is now known as Diridon Station. Not much has changed except the parking situation.
The circa 1929 photo on the left is of the Packard Dealership on The Alameda. See the cars on display in the window on the right? The building was renovated and returned to its former glory in 2009. The photo on the right was taken after restoration. What a beauty! [Below is a photo *before* restoration!]

I wish I had taken a photo a few months before this one when this building was covered with ivy and barely recognizable!

The Motel 6 at 1041 The Alameda was a Travel Lodge that merited a postcard back in the 1950s. I picked up the postcard at an antique store in San Jose. The building got a facelift in 2007-2008.
This was originally an office of the Bank of Italy, later Bank of America, on the corner of Hester Avenue and The Alameda. It was a realtor's office for many years, then a series of coffee houses, and is now a hair salon. [Thanks to Marilyn Wright Kieffer to brought to my attention that I'd incorrectly called it the "Bank of Giannin" after its founder.]
You might not know this is the same stretch of The Alameda looking north from its intersection with Santa Clara Street and the north end of Race Street but the landmarks are the peaked roof of the building on the left and the sign for Andy's Pet Stop on the right. The angle is a bit off because I was not willing to jump into traffic. I'm not sure of the age of the photo on the left. It looks like the 1950s judging from the cars. Sadly, Andy's Pet Store and its iconic sign are now gone. After several owner struggled to keep the store viable with competition from big chains like PetCo and PetSmart, the store was moved to another location in downtown San Jose. Only people who lived in San Jose before 2009 will remember that Andy's Pet Store used to be on this corner. Update 2011: Sadly, Andy's Pet Store had to relocate and they took their iconic sign with them. Now there is almost nothing on this corner!
This shot of Julian Street looking east from The Alameda shows the old Fredricksburg Brewery, established in 1869. It was not just a brewery, but eventually included a saloon and a hotel. It was closed during prohibition and reopened in 1933. It was purchased by Falstaff in 1959 (I am working on getting a picture of that!). It all came tumbling down in 1980 and Avalon on The Alameda (apartments and condominiums, with stores facing The Alameda) was built on the site.
The tree is grown a lot, and the pillars are gone, but it's the same building at the intersection of Tillman and Park. The original photo on the left was taken in the 1960s and appeared in the spring of 2008 in The RoseGarden weekly newspaper, which credited the Fox Family.
Hills Flowers at 266 South Race Street just north West San Carlos has been around since 1929. Mrs. Mae Hill opened the store a few blocks from her residence on Mayellen Avenue. The photo on the left is from the San Jose City Directory as part of Hill's Flowers advertisement..
The Rosecrucian Museum was built in 1936 on Park Avenue in the neighborhood known today as the Rose Garden. The Rosecrucian has changed greatly over the years, and many buildings added, but the Planeterium looks pretty much the same.

In the 1940s, the corner of Santa Clara, Race Street, and The Alameda was home to Tiny's -- the place to be seen. In the past decade there have been a Baskin-Robbins/Togo's Sandwiches, the Mission Pipe Shop and a Pasta Pomodoro Restaurant. The Mission Pipe shop is still there, but a Five Guys Burgers and Fries has replaced the Baskin-Robbins/Togo's, and Scramblz replaced Pasta Pomodoro. Nothing stays the same around here.

When I mentioned Tiny's to an elderly man I met, he said he remembered it well. "Heck," he said, "I practically lived at Tiny's."

Lincoln Law, now in downtown San Jose, was once housed in this building on Park Avenue, just east of Race Street. It is now home to Sandeepany Center for Vedantic Studies. ROTP
The outside tile decoration is gone as well as the signage and awning, but it really is the same building on Park Avenue just north of Naglee.
Lincoln High School then and now. The photo on the left says "SJ 73 Laws" on it, but I'm told that was a designation by the photographer, Casper Law, that it was #73 in a series of photos. The actual date of the photo is estimated at late 1944 or early 1945 (Thank you, Tom Layton.)
Hoover Middle School on Park Avenue in the Rose Garden Neighborhood was built in the 1930s. The photo on the left is from the 50s. It would have been nice to find two young women to pose in the same spot, but at 2:00 PM there was nobody around. Thanks to a lawsuit (Peter Uzzi was the lawyer) and intensive preservation action in the 1990s, this lovely old school was saved from the wrecking ball.
The old Quaker Church was built in 1885 and survives today! It barely escaped when Highway 17 was built. The Alameda entrance to Highway 17 is on the other side of that green screen of plants on the left.
This Buddhist Temple was built in the early 1900s near Jackson and Fifth Street for the Japanese community that settled in that area. The photo on the left is from the 1950s and the photo on the right was taken in 2008.
Willow Glen was once a separate municipality, with its own mayor and its own movie theater --The Garden Theater. Now the building houses small shops and businesses. (OWG)
This United Methodist Church at Minnesota and Newport in Willow Glen dates from 1947. It's been modified over the years, but has survived at its present location.
Willow Glen had a pizza parlor too back in the 50s -- and the same building is STILL a pizza parlor -- Willow Street Pizza. (OWG) This tiny building is now COMPLETELY surrounded and dwarfed by a huge 3-story complex of offices and shops. See below (2014).


The good news is the food is still good and the restaurant is still very popular with locals.

This is a lovely old home at 22nd Street and Jackson taken December 2009. Notice the brickwork! The photo on the left is courtesy of Bill Briggs, which he took for a photo contest when he was a sophomore in high school. This is the photo that inspired me to start a "Homes" section.
This lovely mansion on The Alameda is one of many still standing. A walk along The Alameda is a great way to view prime examples of the high-end residential architecture of the early 1900s. For more photos of homes that have survived, visit the San Jose Then and Now "Homes" section.
Would photos of San Jose be complete without at least one photo of a freeway? The photo on the left was taken in 1970, when 280 was still being built. It's of the railroad crossing west of Bird Avenue. I assume it was taken from the Bird Avenue overcrossing, which is where I got the present-day shot on the right. (SJHD)

I will be adding to this collection as I find time to match up old photos with new scenery. If you have any old photographs of San Jose street scenes or buildings that you think would be a good addition to this collection, please forward them to me at I cannot promise you I'll be able to get a "today" picture of the same scene, but I will try. I'm not going to dodge traffic or hang from a crane. This is a nice hobby, but I'm only willing to go so far....

On the other hand, I am willing to go up in a plane to get some updated aerial photos. Anyone have a plane or helicopter or know someone who'd be willing to take me up?   !

Links to other pages of Photos:
San Jose 1975-2006
San Jose Then and Now (Homes) 
San Jose From the Air 2007 (aerials)

The Box of Ghosts Project -- buildings, mostly homes, that are gone and what replaced them.