San Jose decades: The 1960s

Let’s explore San Jose CA’s history in the 1960s.

A black and white photo of Downtown San Jose with the Bank of Italy Tower in the background.

Does this street look familiar?

Photo via History San José

Since our founding in 1777, San Jose has changed quite a bit. And with each year in our city’s history, comes the entry of cool inventions, major pop culture moments, or large developments.

In this new ongoing series, we’re turning back the clock and looking at San Jose through the decades — starting with the sweet 1960s.

The 1960s

📈 Population: 204,000
🗳️ Mayors: Louis Solari (1958–1960), Paul Moore (1960–1962), Robert Welch (1962–1964), Joseph L. Pace (1964–1967), Ron James (1967-1971)

1960 — Then-Senator John F. Kennedy speaks at a presidential campaign rally at the Civic Auditorium parking lot — now the San Jose Civic — on Nov. 2.

A black and white photo of Happy Hollow Park & Zoo's Danny the Dragon ride in the 1960s.

The iconic Danny the Dragon train in the first decade of Happy Hollow’s opening.

Photo via History San José

1961Happy Hollow Park & Zoo opens its gates on March 27. The same year, IBM developed the “Shoebox,” one of the earliest speech recognition technologies, at its laboratory in San Jose. 🗣️

1962 — The iconic, neon Western Appliance store sign is installed on W. San Carlos Street.

1964Century 21 Theater opens in November, and is one of the first ever domed cinemas. 🎥

A vintage, color postcard of the old San Jose Municipal Airport.

A 1960s postcard of the old San Jose Municipal Airport shows the new Terminal C in the background.

Photo via History San José

1965Terminal C at the old San Jose Municipal Airport is completed to handle passenger projections of 500,000 by 1967 — in reality, traffic hits one million by 1968. The Rolling Stones also play at the Civic Auditorium in December.

1966 — Anton Nijmeh and his family open up Falafel’s Drive-In, taking over the former burger spot, Snow White Drive-In. 🧆

Olympic skater Peggy Fleming standing in front of an American flag.

Olympic skater Peggy Fleming at the Tapestry and Talent festival held in Downtown San Jose.

Photo via History San José

1968 Alviso residents vote to become incorporated with the City of San Jose, nearly 100 years after being an independent city. San Jose-born + raised Olympic skater Peggy Fleming also wins gold at her first Winter Games. ⛸️

1969 — The Northern California Folk-Rock Festival is held at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds in May + featured Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, The Steve Miller Band, and more. 🎸

Did you enjoy this decade roundup? Let us know what other time periods you’d like us to explore in San Jose’s history. 🕰️

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