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20 interesting facts about San Jose, CA

We’re bringing you some fun facts about San Jose and its history. If you’re a trivia master (or local enthusiast), give these a try.

San Jose Museum of Art from a drone perspective.

Meet you in Downtown.

Photo via @bennys_journey

Did you know that San Jose is home to the world’s largest Monopoly Board?

Nah, just kidding. If you know us, you know we’re here for the deep cuts — and there’s plenty of interesting factoids to go around. As connoisseurs of the quirky and unconventional, we put together a list of San Jose’s history, oddest characteristics, and more. Maybe you’ve lived here your whole life and know some of this, or maybe you’ll learn something new.

Either way, test your local knowledge with these 20 interesting facts.

The staff of the San Jose Animal Care Center at a City Hall meeting.

The San Jose Animal Care Center staff, volunteers, and rescue partners at a City Hall meeting.

Photo via @adoptapetsj

1. San Jose laws limit owners to five licensed animals total — and no more than three dogs. Yes, two dogs and three cats is okay, five cats are fine, but don’t dare break the law with two dogs and four cats.

2. In January 1951, San Jose was hit with a freak tornado that damaged the area of Delmas Avenue and San Fernando Street. While there were no injuries or fatalities, a 12-block area was hit the hardestand a house was unroofed.

3. Meet Mineta International Airport’s largest VIP: Tai the elephant — who shut down the airport for three days. She and actor Bill Murray filmed a scene inside Terminal C for the 1996 film, “Larger Than Life.”

4. We rank in the top ten out of 187 least stressed US cities. The data was drawn from metrics such as average weekly work hours, unemployment rates, and divorce and suicide rates.

5. San Jose recycles the most among large American cities.

The San Jose Civic Center front.

Have you ever attended an event at the Civic?

Photo by SJtoday staff

6. The Civic Center is the site of some cool historical events: major sporting events (Jack Dempsey vs. Joe Louis), venue for 1981 World Games I, The Who’s first U.S. tour, and hosted other great artists including The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and Frank Sinatra.

7. The highest temperature ever recorded in San Jose was 109° in September 2022, while the lowest was 18° in 1894.

8. Eaters vs. Iguanas. San Josean professional eaters Joey Chestnut and Matt Stonie took on Iguanas’ Burritozilla Challenge — eating a five-pound, 17-inch burrito in under five minutes. Chestnut finished in 3 minutes and 10 seconds, while Stonie clocked 1 minute and 50 seconds.

9. The San Jose region was found to have the second-longest life expectancy out of 40 US metro areas, averaging 84.55 years — about 5.46 years longer than the US average.

PayPal Park from the sky lounge perspective.

PayPal Park in all of its glory.

10. With 6,256 participants digging into the ground, the construction of the San Jose Earthquakes’ stadium set the Guinness World Record for the largest ground breaking event ever.

11. Remnants of California’s first and largest mercury mining operation, the New Almaden mines, can be seen at Almaden Quicksilver County Park.

12. Things invented in San Jose: floppy disks, Eggo waffles, hard disk drives, The Wave. San Jose is one of the metro areas with the highest number of patents per capita.

13. The Hellyer County Park Velodrome is NorCal’s only facility dedicated to bicycle racing, and it’s one of 25 velodromes in the country. 🚲

14. The San Jose Flea Market is mentioned in the New York Times bestselling novel “The Kite Runner.” (Spoiler: it’s where Amir meets his future wife.) The author, Khaled Hosseini, attended Independence High School.

15. Best known for his roles on “That ‘70s Show” and “RoboCop,” actor Kurtwood Smith was a graduate of San Jose State University — and there are plenty more notable Spartans on the alumni list.

16. We may not be known for skyscrapers, but from 1926 to 1970, the Bank of Italy building was the tallest building between SF + LA.

A view behind a gate of two race cars speeding around a corner.

We’d definitely like to see this again.

Photo via Xelipe

17. A race track... made up of downtown streets? In 2005, San Jose hosted its inaugural Grand Prix of the Champ Car World Series and more than 62,000 fans flooded in on race day.

18. San Jose is the only city in Santa Clara County with cannabis storefronts — there are currently 15 of them.

19. San Jose has eight sister cities: Dublin, Ireland, Guadalajara, Mexico, Okayama Japan, San José, Costa Rica, Pune, India, Tainan, Taiwan, Veracruz, Mexico, and Yekaterinburg, Russia.

20. Founded in 1847, Oak Hill Memorial Park is the oldest + largest secular cemetery in California. Many influential immigrant families are buried there, like Donner, Reed, Branham, Townsend, and Murphy.

Your turn. Think you can get one over on us? Let us know your favorite local trivia tidbit and you just might make it into the newsletter.

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