Honest reviews of San Jose’s iconic statues

From historical events, to creative interpretations of cultural creatures, San Jose’s statue game is on point.

The 30-foot tall statue of Chuck E Cheese sitting on a purple block, seen from ground level, with a man looking impressed in the bottom corner of the screen. The man is wearing a hat with the NASA symbol.

While the design has changed a few times over the decades, the statue’s impressive size has remained consistent.

Photo by SJtoday staff

Fiberglass, bronze, stone, and a dream. Our statues offer a glimpse into San Jose’s past, highlighting cultural touchstones, feelings, and insights from yesteryear. But we’ve got to be honest — some statues in the great 408 are more iconic than others.

Today, we’re taking a look at — and reviewing — the most well-known monuments around town.

SJSU Black Power statue

The “Victory Salute” statue at SJSU encourages viewers to “Take a Stand.”

“Victory Salute,” San Jose State University

By Rigo 23, 2005
With two fists in the air, “Victory Salute” honors a moment in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City where gold and bronze medalists Tommie Smith + John Carlos protested injustices faced by Black Americans in the 1960s. All three men on the podium faced massive public backlash because of their actions — but the two SJSU alumni were honored with this iconic statue in 2005.
Rating: Still relevant/10


Robert Graham’s infamous Plaza de Cesar Chavez has drawn

Photo by SJtoday staff

“Plumed Serpent,” Plaza de Cesar Chavez

By Robert Graham, 1994
This statue of Quetzalcoatl has been controversial for decades. Some were upset that it was replacing the firefighter’s memorial bell. Others didn’t like the deity it’s depicting. And others were frustrated that the statue’s massive price tag didn’t match the original design of the plumed serpent with outstretched wings.
Rating: Sitting at the corner of the plaza looking very misunderstood/10

Chuck E Cheese

The infamously haunted Chuck E. Cheese at Tully + 101. | Photo by Benny Villareal

Charles Entertainment Cheese, Tully Road

By Jeff Tritel, early 1980s
This massive, mousy monument to pizza parties and germy arcade games was commissioned by Chuck E. Cheese creator Nolan Bushnell, who also invented PONG, and was a founder of Atari. It currently holds the record for world’s largest rat (structure).
Rating: San Jose is the Pizza Rat Capital/10

Know of any other statues we should review? Let us know.