We’ve heard you loud + clear, San Jose. You love hearing about San Jose’s many historic landmarks, so today, we’re continuing our journey through history — but with a twist.
Here are two iconic landmarks in San Jose currently undergoing dramatic transformations.
🏦 The Bank of Italy tower
Have you heard of a little thing called the Bank of America? This downtown building served as its first branch + headquarters until 1969. This institution was originally known as the Bank of Italy, founded in 1904 by local Amadeo Giannini.
Initially built in 1927, this 13-story tower is Silicon Valley’s oldest skyscraper and was the tallest building between San Francisco + Los Angeles until the 1980s.
This year, the Mediterranean Revival building is getting an upgrade — inside and out — including an addition called “Giannini’s Vertical Garden.” The space will combine an exterior stairway with outdoor workspaces + greenery. This renovation will be complete by 2023.
💡 The Owens electric light tower
Inspired by the electric lights in San Francisco, San Jose Mercury publisher J.J. Owens designed this 207-ft tower in 1881. For a time, it was the world’s tallest free-standing iron structure.
At its top, six arc lamps provided 24,000 candlepower of light across the Santa Clara + Market Street intersection — bright enough to spot from SF. Unfortunately, wind storms destroyed the tower in 1915.
A half-size replica was added to History Park in 1977 (which is still on display today) + in 2021, “The Breeze of Innovation” was selected as the winner in a competition to create a new landmark structure inspired by this tower.
The Breeze will match the Owens tower’s height and will be made of 500 swaying, illuminated rods. An interior staircase will mimic the shape of the historic Owens tower + allow access to viewing platforms. Though the Breeze’s final location is still under debate, the project is aiming for completion around 2025.