San Jose & Silicon Valley

Capital of Silicon Valley and the gateway to Northern California, the city was founded in 1777, as El Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe, the first civilian town in Spain's Nueva California. The mostly farming community was established to supply San Francisco and Monterey military installations. Prior to European settlement, the area was inhabited by several groups of Ohlone Native Americans.

The big boom came as housing for World War II veterans was needed and the city expanded into surrounding areas. Stanford, the research university 20 miles northwest of San Jose, was a major player and catalyst in the transformation of the local economy from fruit orchards to high-tech entrepreneurialism, as Stanford Industrial Park was established in the 1930s. Hewlett-Packard was founded in the garage of Stanford graduate David Packard.

In 1953 William Shockley left Bell Labs in New Jersey to found a research powerhouse in Mountain View to develop the silicon transistor. He recruited some of the world's best scientists and engineers - many of whom would soon break away to found their own start-ups. In the 1980s, Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center worked to develop graphical user interfaces, the Ethernet, PostScript, and laser printers.

Today the area is home to many of the world's largest technology corporations including Adobe, Apple, eBay, Google, HP, Intel and Yahoo!, along with thousands of small independents, now extending far beyond the original Santa Clara Valley boundaries. Silicon Valley has the highest concentration of high-tech workers of any metropolitan area, and is said to have the most millionaires and billionaires in the United States, per capita.

With a Subtropical Mediterranean climate San Jose has over 300 days of sunshine per year. The resident population is around 40% foreign-born, including East Asian (the largest Vietnamese population of any city outside Vietnam), South Asian, Eastern European, as well as Latin American immigrants. Consequently, a wide variety of global cuisines at restaurants of all kinds can be found here.

Performing arts companies include Opera San Jose, Symphony Silicon Valley, Ballet San Jose, the San Jose Repertory Theatre, City Lights Theatre Company, the Tabard Theatre Company, and the San Jose Stage Company. The San Jose Museum of Art is among the top US modern art museums, and the annual Cinequest Film Festival has become an important showcase for independent cinema. The San Francisco Asian American Film Festival is another annual event, hosted in San Francisco, Berkeley, and San Jose. The San Jose Jazz Festival also takes place each year. See links for these and more at our map & listings pages.

The first Gay Rights rally in San Jose took place in 1971, with a few dozen people. Today San Jose Pride takes place each third week of August, at Discovery Meadow Park on San Carlos Street, in Downtown, attracting many thousands. Stockton Street, a quiet west-downtown neighborhood, was home to many gay-owned businesses in the 80s. Of late there's been a shift Downtown to The Alameda, and the intersection of Post and North First Streets.


Getting here

San Jose's Norman Y Mineta San Jose International Airport, two miles (3km) northwest of downtown, is so central that there are height restrictions on downtown buildings. Flights come in here from regional carriers such as Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and subsidiaries. The Reid-Hillview Airport of Santa Clara County is a general aviation airport in the eastern part of San Jose.

For long-distance flights, people use the San Francisco International Airport, 35 miles (56km) to the northwest, and the Oakland International Airport, 35 miles north.

Amtrak provides rail service to San Jose from Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Pleasanton and Stockton California, and Seattle, WA - with connections to and from points across North America.


Getting around

Santa Clara VTA operates area buses and light-rail in San Jose, Mountain View, Milpitas, Campbell, and Almaden Valley. They also have direct Highway 17 Express bus service to Santa Cruz. Interactive maps on their website include one for Bikeways, and historic streetcars from History Park operate on the downtown light lines on holidays.

Future plans call for BART to be expanded from Fremont to Santa Clara, through Milpitas to San Jose. Diridon Station on Cahill Street is the central depot and main transit hub.


Media & resources

A number of gay papers cover the whole Bay Area, from San Francisco and Oakland/Berkeley to the Santa Clara/Silicon Valley area. See: Bay Area Reporter and San Francisco Bay Times; Gloss Magazine, an every-other-week entertainment magazine; Larry Bob's Queer Things To Do, and the Pink Spots LGBT directory.

The Metro Silicon Weekly has area news, features arts and entertainment listings and restaurant reviews for San Jose and surrounding towns. also has a&e listings and upcoming events, plus restaurant and hotel suggestions.

The Billy DeFrank Silicon Valley LGBT Center (938 The Alameda), serves a large and diverse community with information, resources, programs and events. Hear and meet guest authors at their book events in the Library.

For map locations and website links to the businesses below, and more, see our gay Silicon Valley listings pages.


Going out

San Jose is more than a world center for the software industry south of San Francisco; there's plenty of gay social life here in Silicon Alley too.

Lido Night Club (30 South 1st St), gay Vietnamese nightclub and karaoke bar in San Jose, go-gos, ladyboys cabaret shows.

Mac's Club (39 Post St), old-time neighborhood bar of many years, games, gay mix of many ages & types, TV sports, back patio.

The Metropolitan (349 South 1st St) - CLOSED - LGBT dance club, cocktails and cabaret, karaoke nights, special party events. Was Brix Nightclub.

Renegade's (501 W Taylor St), neighborhood gay bar, bears & leathermen, students to retirees, pool games, beer busts.

Splash (65 Post St), gay club dancing on two levels, rooftop smoking patio, videos; Tuesday Latin Nights and home to Papi San Jose, Sunday beer busts.

Tinker's Damn (46 North Saratoga Ave) - CLOSED - Santa Clara neighborhood bar, jukebox, pool games older crowd, occasional drag shows.

The Watergarden (1010 The Alameda), spotless "not-shame- based" destination men's club -- more like a resort than a bathhouse; sex educators on hand.


Restaurants and Shopping

See a sampling of two dozen local restaurants at our maps & listings page.

Leather Masters (969 Park Av) leather apparel and accessories boutique, S&M gear, erotic toys and lubes.

- staff - December 2014