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Is San Jose the Asian American Heartland?
(Updated Tuesday, Apr 1, 2008, 05:56:50 PM)

he San Jose metro area is only fourth in the size of its Asian population, but it's a place of key firsts for Asian Americans. In 1971 its mostly white citizens elected Norman Mineta the first Asian mayor of a major mainland U.S. city. In 1974 the same voters made Mineta the first AA congressman from a mainland district. Three years later Roy Kusumoto helped kick off Santa Clara County's transformation into Silicon Valley by founding Solectron, a Milpitas company that would go on to become the first AA business to pass the $10 billion annual revenue mark. During the past two decades the Valley's Asian tech entrepreneurs and engineers spearheaded the nation's fastest AA population growth among major metro areas. Today Asians make up over 500,000 of the area's 1.7 million for a 29.4% share, tops among mainland metro areas.
San Jose
Asian American Heartland?

     Santa Clara Valley wasn't always so hospitable to Asians. In 1887 its early Chinatown of about 2,700 was lost to a suspicious fire. Most locals wanted the Chinese out of San Jose, and were angered when John Heinlen built brick structures around Fifth and Jackson and leased the space to Chinese. "Heinlenville" became the city's Chinatown until 1931 when it fell into disuse due to a dwindling Chinese population. The only structure spared the wrecking ball was a quasi-religious hall. Ng Shing Gung was eventually restored in 1991 to serve as a historic landmark.
     Japanese immigrants began settling in San Jose toward the end of the 19th century. They built their wooden shops and boarding houses alongside the Heinlenville Chinatown. Japantown's prospects brightened in 1907 when the bachelor field workers were allowed to bring over wives under the so-called Gentleman's Agreement. The Japanese population quickly surpassed the Chinese. But in 1921 all female Asian immigrants were again banned. The most devastating setback, however, came in 1943 when the area's 3,000 Japanese were evacuated to Heart Mountain in Wyoming. Japantown's 53 business owners lost 97% of their property value. Still, 40 businesses returned to Jackson Street after the evacuation order was rescinded in 1944.
     Santa Clara County's Asian population saw little growth during the first two postwar decades. The big influx began in the 1970s when the nascent tech boom created a demand for math-literate Chinese and Vietnamese engineers as well as unskilled refugees willing to do minimum-wage assembly. Today the area's biggest population boom is among the Vietnamese population. It is now served by four newspapers, three radio stations and a TV station. A vibrant Little Saigon along Tully Road has surpassed the Jackson Street Japantown as San Jose's most visible Asian concentration. But the long history of the area's Chinese and Japanese settlers have left an indelible imprint on the area's culinary scene. The area claims 76 Chinese and 35 Japanese restaurants. But the number of Vietnamese restaurants is already approaching 20. There are also 11 Indian, 7 Thai, 5 Corean and 2 Filipino restaurants.

     Today the most visible role played by the area's Asians is helping to keep Silicon Valley the center of global IT innovation. The likes of Pehong Chen, Bing Yeh and Jerry Yang have sweated through the tech downturn while repositioning companies like Broadvision, Silicon Storage Tech and Yahoo! for the long post-bubble runup into a wireless broadband world. In the process they are moving Asian Americans into a more central role in America's future, possibly in the way immigrant filmmakers ultimately moved Jews into the cozy center of the global mass media.
     One measure of AA success may be the fact that they live in towns like Saratoga, Mountain View, Los Altos Hills where average home values rival Hollywood bedroom communities like Beverly Hills, Bel Air and Malibu. Another may be the fact that in recent years the names of Silicon Valley Asians have been popping up in the serious media as frequently as those of Hollywood Jews. No exact figures are available but inside estimates put Asians at 20% of Silicon Valley's upper management and 40% of its professional and technical work force.
     So is Santa Clara Valley the closest thing we have to an Asian American heartland? Or is it just another fleeting boomtown with too many nouveau riche Asians?

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San Jo is a tight ass city compared to most northern cali cities. What are you talking about boring? There so much stuff to do here. I grew up on the east side. I'd like to see you come down to the east side and talk your s***, you'll probably get shot in the face. I grew up on ocala and king and i know that town down to every street. I know that it aint boring. You guys are just ignorant. ESSJ- KSB BAF
Friday, March 07, 2003 at 21:10:44 (PST)    []
skibei neko,

At 4.2 percent unemployment rate San Diego economy is booming.

The last time San Jose had an unemployment rate below 4.2 was back in 2000. San Jose is more likely to see double digit unemployment rather then employment rate below the nation unemployment rate any time soon. Wait another 5 years
if you want to see a turn around in San Jose. People are leaving to where the jobs are at.

What is wrong with Biotech, wireless communication, or the defense industries. Those industries need technical people also.

Back in the 80's the defense industries was the bigest employer of high tech technicians and engineers.

In terms of Food, the great chefs are going to follow the money trail. They always do.
   Sunday, January 26, 2003 at 00:09:58 (PST)    []

You got it backwards about the Chinese food. South Bay has the finest Chinese food in the Bay. Ever been to Milpitas Square or Cupertino Village? That definitely blows Chinatown away. See, Chinatown is old school "chinaman" type stuff. Nowadays, only mainlanders go there. It used to be all Toisanese there when I was young, but they all left. I don't even know what the hell they speak in Chinatown now. It sounds so weird. All the top chefs from HK and Taiwan now head to the South Bay and South County. This region is equivalent to SGV in LA.
TSJ    Tuesday, December 31, 2002 at 11:30:47 (PST)    []
1. How can you think San Diego will have more jobs? Unless you are specifically a biotech engineer, a wireless telcom engineer, in the Armed Forces, or you are a Mexican factory worker, there are no more jobs in San Diego than in the San Jose area. San Diego's economy is far less diverse than San Jose.

2. San Jose has Pho and Viet Sandwich shops. And OK Chinese food compared to San Fran and San Diego (I don't know about food in LA though). Besides Viet food, there is nothing. But SF is just an hour drive North.
skibei neko    Tuesday, December 17, 2002 at 02:29:54 (PST)    []
To Just Wondering

At an unemployment rate of 7.9% when the National unemployment rate is at 6.0%, San Jose doesn't look good. Considering the National unemployment is projected to go to 6.5% mid next summer (2003), I would not be surprized if the unemployment rate go to the double digit in San Jose.

San Diego is the place to be.
   Tuesday, December 10, 2002 at 19:28:50 (PST)    []
Does San Jose really have anything to offer people who are out of work? A couple years ago it was the place to be and there were jobs like crazy. Now things have changed completely. Just like most of the unemployed people I'm depressed, lost, and wondering what to do now.

Does this town have anything left to offer?
Just wondering...
   Sunday, September 22, 2002 at 01:28:52 (PDT)
"Second class trophy for a second class town!! How fitting and appropriate for a city like that. I'm sure the rest of the country is envious of their accomplishments.

San Jose is still a joke!!!"

HAHAHAHA... right on, dude. You know, they only put Arena teams in second rate cities anyways, like Albany, Milwaukee, Orlando, etc.

But hey, Arena Football is still fun to watch though.
TSJ    Tuesday, August 27, 2002 at 12:49:40 (PDT)
I heard that San Jose just won the Arena Football championship game. They're champs!!! Big deal!!!!

Second class trophy for a second class town!! How fitting and appropriate for a city like that. I'm sure the rest of the country is envious of their accomplishments.

San Jose is still a joke!!!
A Cute Filipino Guy Who Knows
   Sunday, August 18, 2002 at 21:19:30 (PDT)
"As far as Santa Cruz goes, it is really nice. But they do not consider themselves to be a part of the bay area much less associate with SJ. They kind of have their own thing going on down there!"

Yeah, Santa Cruz is in its own little world. I would love to live there, but the rent is astronomical. A lot of tech people live there, and commute to San Jose, but traffic on 17 is so unpredictable. There are so many accidents there. The beach there is so perfect. It's not too hot (usually in the 60's and 70's), unlike the SoCal beaches, so it's perfect for just chilling. The Boardwalk can't be beat! I love the Giant Dipper. Just the overall atmosphere of that place is second to none.
TSJ    Thursday, June 20, 2002 at 12:51:05 (PDT)