E. Carlson, 1999


 Plaza Park Menu

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North end of The Plaza looking down Market Street. Alviso and the vast Cargill salt evaporation ponds lie just over the horizen.

A San Jose History Walk plaque reads:
"The Plaza de Cesar E. Chavez is part of the original plaza of the 1797 Pueblo de San Jose
(Pueblo de San Jose was founded in 1777 and moved to this location in 1797) and is the oldest continuously used public open space in the city. The Plaza was the hub of the old Spanish settlement, the site of the juzgado and the church, it was a focus for the public life of the pueblo. After the U.S. takeover, surveyor Chester Lyman laid out the present elliptical park (It was actually "square" on Chester's map.) at the southern end of the plaza. This became the primary civic open space of the new American city and, in 1849, the first State Capitol was situated on its eastern edge."

"The Plaza de Cesar E. Chavez continued to serve the functions of the original Hispanic plaza - parade ground, cock-pit, race-track - but a peculiarly American use for it was as a site for public hangings. The park declined in favor during the the 1870's when San Jose's large Chinese population established itself along the eastern side of Market Street. City leaders contemplated closing the park and running Market Street through it. Public protest quashed this scheme and, when a fire destroyed the adjacent Chinatown in 1887, the park was selected as a site for a new City Hall. Until its demolition in 1958, this elaborate brick and stone building dominated the park."

"In 1993, the park was renamed in honor of Cesar E. Chavez (1927-1993) - resident of San Jose, community organizer and founder of the United Farm Workers Union. The vision of the UFW was born in San Jose."

No mention is made of the 24 years the Mexican government ruled the area - from 1822 to 1846. No mention is made of the American Indians who prospered in the area of the plaza for literally thousands of years. No mention is made of the use of the plaza for "correr el gallo." Clyde Arbuckle describes this practice, "Correr el gallo required the skill of an expert horseman and the life of a rooster. The rooster was buried in the ground with only its greased neck and head above the surface. As the horseman rode by at full gallop, he reached down and snatched off the rooster's head. It was hilarious for the spectators, but harrowing for the victim, for if the first rider missed, another came in right behind him."
Clyde Arbuckle

In 1990, the traffic island beyond the granite "bandstand," was designated and renovated as the future site for the reviled Fallon Statue. $395,000.00 down the drain - taking into account Mr. Fallon is locked up in an Oakland warehouse, and even if he is released on his own recognizance, it will be to some dusty park in a particularly dank and dreary corner of San Jose. Yikes.


 Plaza Park Menu

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