East Side Dreams: The Untold Story of East San José

East Side Dreams: The Untold Story of East San José image
East Side Dreams

East Side Dreams Exhibit: Coming July – September 2022

The San José Public Library, in collaboration with SJSU King Library's Africana, Asian American, Chicano, & Native American Studies Center, proudly presents East Side Dreams: The Untold Story of East San José. The exhibit runs July – September 2022.

Through photographs, videos and artifacts, East Side Dreams chronicles the people and events that shaped San José’s east side. Community members, activists, and scholars will share their insights into east side history at two associated panel events.

East Side Art Contest Winners!

14 and over category: Tiffany, for Siempre East Side

Tiffany's art will be featured on a limited edition library card!

Picture of Tiffany's design, Siempre East Side.
Caption
Tiffany's design, Siempre East Side.
 
Tiffany holding design, Siempre East Side.

13 and under category: Sophia, for Trip Down Memory Lane

Honorable mentions will be featured in exhibit. Thank you to all that entered!
 

Picture of Sophia’s design, Trip Down Memory Lane.
Caption
Sophia's design, Trip Down Memory Lane.
 
Sophia holding design, Trip Down Memory Lane.
 

How the East Side Began

Pink Elephant Market, date unknown. Photo by Richard Diaz. Courtesy of La Raza Historical Society
Caption
Pink Elephant Market, date unknown. Photo by Richard Diaz. Courtesy of La Raza Historical Society

 

Before the 1950s, the East Side was uninterrupted farmland stretching towards the eastern foothills. Its residents, mostly migrant agricultural workers, lived in a patchwork of rural barrios without sewers, sidewalks, or streetlights. The area was known as "Sal Si Puedes" ("Get out if you can").

As the East Side grew, it remained neglected by the city government and misrepresented by the media. The situation gave rise to generation of community organizers who battled police brutality and housing discrimination and lobbied for improved public services and minority representation in city government.

Activism in East Side and Beyond

United People Arriba March, date unknown. Sofia Magdaleno Mendoza Collection, SJPL California Room.
Caption
United People Arriba March, date unknown. Sofia Magdaleno Mendoza Collection, SJPL California Room.

 

Defined by groups such as the Community Alert Patrol (CAP), United People Arriba, the Community Service Organization (CSO), and the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA), and by figures such as Blanca Alvarado, Luis Valdez, Ernestina Garcia, and César Chávez, the East Side set a powerful precedent for community activism across the country.

East Side Dreams: The Untold Story of East San José will synthesize stories both remembered and forgotten, presenting a comprehensive historical picture of the East Side and its people.

Up to and beyond the exhibit, the California Room will continue to collect and archive materials on the East Side’s social and political development.

East Side Dreams was inspired by connections we made and materials we discovered in creating our 2018 exhibit Story & King: San José Lowrider Culture

 

Los Lupeños dancer, date unknown. Los Lupeños de San José Records, SJPL California Room
Caption
Los Lupeños dancer, date unknown. Los Lupeños de San José Records, SJPL California Room

East Side Revelations

The San José Public Library's California Room is putting a spotlight on San José's East Side with a series of blogs that will feature individuals, businesses, and community organizations with ties to the East Side. Here are blogs in the series:

Blog Category
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
Local History