Looking Back: Our Historic District of Alviso

Image:  The H.G. Wade warehouse in 2017.  Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce

Image:  The H.G. Wade warehouse in 2017.  Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce

Alviso was founded in 1852, named after the ranchero Ignacio Alviso.  Standing on the southern shores of the San Francisco Bay, Alviso was its own town until being incorporated into the city of San Jose in 1968.  The post office still recognizes Alviso as a place name, though mail isn't delivered to residents, it has to be picked up at their post office.

H.G. Wade Warehouse

Until the warehouse was largely destroyed by fire last month, it stood as San Jose Historical Landmark No. 67.  Built about 1860, it stored hay and grain being shipped to San Francisco, a storage and repair house for stagecoaches, and then later as a set for Western movies.  I was fortunate enough to capture the above image during a visit to Alviso in 2017.

 

Image:  The Bayside Cannery in 2017.  Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce
Caption
Image: The Bayside Cannery in 2017. Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce

Bayside Canning Company

Chinese American Sai Yin Chew founded the Bayside Canning Company in 1908.  Standing at Hope and Elizabeth Streets, the building originally housed the Alviso Watch Company.  Chew's son Thomas grew the business into one of the largest canneries in the United States with hundreds of ethnically diverse workers, the majority of whom were Chinese immigrants.  Asparagus, cherries, apricots, plums, and peaches were among the many products processed there.  The former cannery with its Howe Truss roof structure now stands vacant under the ownership of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

 

Image:  The Alviso Branch Library in 1968.  Photo from the San Jose Public Library California Room.
Caption
Image: The Alviso Branch Library in 1968. Photo from the San Jose Public Library California Room.

Former Alviso Branch Library

The San Jose Public Library's former Alviso Branch.  With Alviso located at thirteen feet below sea level, the district is highly susceptible to flooding. Water lines from flooding are visible on the pillars of the building which is now used by the San Jose Police Department.

 

Image:  An Amtrak train passes by the Laine Store in the 1980s. Photo courtesy of History San Jose.
Image: An Amtrak train passes by the Laine Store in the 1980s. Photo courtesy of History San Jose.

Laine Store

The Laine Store stood next to the railroad tracks at 996 Elizabeth Street.  This pre-1865 building housed the Tilden Store from 1865-1912. During the 1930s, it was reportedly a saloon and dance hall, and the site of a Chinese lottery.  From 1940 through 1960 it housed a store owned by Willis Laine who lived next door. The building eventually fell into a state of disrepair and finally collapsed in 2017, just months prior to my visit.

 

Image: An old railroad depot.   Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce
Image: An old railroad depot. Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce

Railroad Depot

This old railroad depot was reportedly built about 1900.  It is currently being used as a residence.  This would be a pretty cool place to live if you don't mind the occasional train passing by.  Today, the track is used primarily by Amtrak passenger trains and the occasional freight train.

Image:  Vahl's Restaurant in 2017.  Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce
Image: Vahl's Restaurant in 2017. Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce

Vahl's Restaurant

Vahl's Restaurant was opened in 1941 by Eric and Amelia Vahl. It's located on El Dorado Street near Alviso's historic South Bay Yacht Club.

 

More Reading from the California Room

Blog Category
Local History

Comments

Submitted by Jo-Ann Wang on Tue, 08/03/2021 - 1:30 PM

Permalink

Your Comment
I love your blogs, because I learn so much about San Jose local history.

Add new comment

Comments are expected to follow the basic rules of civility and be relevant to the topic being commented upon. Comments will be reviewed prior to posting. Blog comments represent the views of the person commenting, not necessarily those of San José Public Library. For more information see SJPL's Comment Guidelines.