Last May, the new Heinlenville Park in Japantown broke ground — 17 months later, the project is now complete.
San Jose Department of Parks, Recreation, and Neighborhood Services + San Jose officials will host a ribbon-cutting tomorrow, Tuesday, Oct. 10, at 650 N. Sixth St. to officially open it to the public.
🏗️ The groundbreaking
In May 2022, a group of community members + city officials gathered on Sixth St., between Taylor + Jackson St., to watch the groundbreaking ceremony for Japantown’s Heinlenville Park.
The ceremony included remarks from Councilmember Raul Peralez, a historical account from Heinlenville descendant + author Connie Young Yu, and the awarding of a City of San José commendation to Warren Hayashi, a founding member of the Japantown Community Congress.
🌳 What to expect
PRNS representatives who presented at the groundbreaking say the 0.75-acre park would be completed in the next few months.
- Garden space including cherry blossoms
- Intricate + creative stone work
- A children’s playground with regular activity programming
- A historical memory walk featuring stone medallions + signage educating visitors about the neighborhood’s history
- A nearby rehearsal space for San Jose Taiko
- The “Sheltering Wing” — an 18-ft tall metal sculpture representing both Chinese + Japanese culture
🌳 What’s in a name
After much debate about a name — “Heinlenville Park” was chosen to honor the vibrant Asian American community that lived in the Japantown neighborhood, even before it was Japantown.
The story began when a German immigrant farmer named John Heinlen leased property in what is now Japantown to those seeking refuge after a 1887 fire destroyed San Jose’s Market St. Chinatown, located at the present site of the Signia Hotel in Downtown.
Despite public backlash, Heinlen continued to protect San Jose’s Chinese community + made Heinlenville — as the neighborhood became known — a safe haven for the broader Asian American community.
The Chinese Historical & Cultural Project led the “Heinlenville” park name campaign to honor both the historic community + their ally. “The site stands for something,” Connie Young Yu explained. “A community that rose out of the ashes, built by a man of integrity and courage, and the brave people who would not be driven out.”