Looking Back: Where Have All the Bowling Alleys Gone?

Image: The author of this blog stands ready to roll at the former location of Fiesta Lanes bowling alley. Located on the corner of San Carlos Street and Willard Avenue, Fiesta Lanes closed in 2002 and is now the site of an apartment complex. A new street on the site was named Fiesta Lane in memory of the bowling alley. Photo by Gabriel Ibarra.

Image: The author of this blog stands ready to roll at the former location of Fiesta Lanes bowling alley. Located on the corner of San Carlos Street and Willard Avenue, Fiesta Lanes closed in 2002 and is now the site of an apartment complex. A new street on the site was named Fiesta Lane in memory of the bowling alley. Photo by Gabriel Ibarra.

Well, it seems as though the heyday of the bowling alley may be over. Bowling always struck me as a rather monotonous game, but I did have fun the one time I played with my grandmother back in the 1960s. Maybe the fact that I was awarded with a milkshake for each strike had something to do with it (I got two)!

Image: The Cambrian Bowl located in the Cambrian Park Plaza closed on May 22, 2016 after 55 years.

Image: The Cambrian Bowl located in the Cambrian Park Plaza closed on May 22, 2016 after 55 years.

 

Image: A view of the interior of the Cambrian Bowl. 

Image: A view of the interior of the Cambrian Bowl.

Though the 1940s and 1950s are considered bowling’s golden years, I recall the sport still being very popular in the 1960s and 1970s. During that latter period, our neighbor across the street was in a bowling league. He had all of his bowling trophies proudly on display in the dining room china cabinet! And I recall watching bowling on the television with my friend Kevin, and then setting up a makeshift alley in his hallway.

Image: A vintage pinback showing the exterior of the old Alma Bowl. Located at 355 W. Alma Street in San Jose, it closed in 2002.

Image: A vintage pinback showing the exterior of the old Alma Bowl. Located at 355 W. Alma Street in San Jose, it closed in 2002.

Back in those days, San Jose had numerous bowling alleys. Some of the venues that are now gone include Alma Bowl, Cambrian Bowl, Capitol Lanes (link shows former location), Fiesta Lanes, Futurama Bowl, McKee Bowl, Plaza Lanes, and Moonlite Lanes in Santa Clara. Many of these have given way to housing projects. A few bowling alleys that remain include Bowlero (Oakridge Lanes), 4th Street Bowl, and Bowlmor Lanes in Cupertino.

Image: An exterior shot of the popular 4th Street Bowl at 1441 North Fourth Street in San Jose.

Image: An exterior shot of the popular 4th Street Bowl at 1441 North Fourth Street in San Jose.

 

Image: Inside the 4th Street Bowl, which features thirty-two lanes of bowling, a coffee shop, a lounge with karaoke, and billiard tables.

Image: Inside the 4th Street Bowl, which features thirty-two lanes of bowling, a coffee shop, a lounge with karaoke, and billiard tables.

 

Further Reading in the California Room:

 

Comments

Thank you for that informative retrospect into bowling here in San Jose. I grew up there and I enjoyed the jaunt down memory "bowling" lane, heh heh! I've enjoyed reading your blogs, sir. Keep up the good work.

Glad to hear that you've enjoyed this and other Looking Back posts.

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