San Jose decades: The 1980s

From the founding of Adobe to the opening of the Fairmont Hotel, there was no shortage of historical moments in San Jose, CA within the dazzling decade of the 1980s.

An aerial view of Downtown San Jose in the 1980s.

In the 1980s, Downtown San Jose began to transform into the one we know now.

Photo via History San José

Ahh, the 80s. “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John was at the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart for 10 weeks, and the Teddy Ruxpin toy was a hot commodity — but what was going on in the great 408 at the time?

We’re back with another decade of San Jose’s history, and this time, we’re traveling back to the 1980s.

📈 Population: 629,442
🗳️ Mayors: Janet Gray Hayes (1975-1983), Tom McEnery (1983-1991)

1980 — San Jose’s first professional theater company, San Jose Repertory Theatre, was founded and run out of the Montgomery Theatre before moving into what is now the Susan and Phil Hammer Theatre Center.

1981 — The San Jose Holiday Parade tradition kicked off its first year, before being named the “Christmas in the Park Parade” the next year.

1982SJ-based tech giant Adobe was founded in Mountain View by two former Xerox employees, named after Adobe Creek in Los Altos.

A man does inspections of new Ford cars at the Ford Motor Plant.

The Ford Motor plant.

Photo via History San José

1983 — The Ford Motor plant, located where Great Mall now sits, closed after 28 years of operation.

1984 — The Mayfield Mall, NorCal’s first air-conditioned, enclosed mall, closed after 18 years in business.

1985 — The Sikh Gurdwara was founded and still remains the largest Sikh center of worship outside of India’s Golden Temple. San Jose-based Fry’s Electronics was created.

1986 — The San Jose Cleveland Ballet, now called Ballet San Jose, was founded. The IBM Almaden Research Center opened for nanotechnology and human-computer interaction.

The construction site of the Fairmont Hotel with the San Jose Museum of Art and St. Joseph's Cathedral in the background.

The construction of the Fairmont Hotel.

Photo via History San José

1987 — The Fairmont Hotel, now the Signia by Hilton, opened in October of this year. The Japanese American Museum opened and the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project was founded.

1988 — The 17-story Fairmont Plaza opened and became the tallest building in San Jose at the time; it is now the sixth tallest.

1989 — The magnitude-6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake hit the Bay Area, shaking all of San Jose and collapsing buildings in Santa Cruz.

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