E. Carlson, Circa 1999


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San Jose's most traumatic experience occurred in 1933.

Leopold Hart set up shop in San Jose in 1866, and as time went by the business thrived. Hart's department store was in the heart of downtown, and in the good old days that is where people shopped.

In 1933, the store was in the capable hands of Alex J. Hart, Sr. His son, Brooke, was beloved in San Jose, everyone knew him from the store, and liked him. By all accounts, Brooke was destined for greatness. Until one dark day in 1933.

On Thursday, November 9, 1933, Brooke was kidnapped by two low-life scumbags and thrown off a bridge. The malefactors were arrested soon afterward and confessed to the crime.
(The whole story can be found in Harry Farrell's superb book Swift Justice.)

Which brings us to San Jose's secret shame and horror. Before the misunderstood youts could be tried in a court of law, they were lynched in St. James Park by a vigilante mob composed of San Joseans and tourists from surrounding areas.

San Jose has the distinction of being the last city to host a public lynching. There are still survivors in San Jose who were witnesses to the affair.

The sign above is visible from Hwy. 87 as you wend your way into San Jose from the North. It's not far from the San Jose Arena, where the Sharks are not going to make the playoffs again.


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