Ralph Pearce

Ralph Pearce's picture
Reading Interests: 
Biographies, Mysteries, Science Fiction, Philosophy, History
What I'm Reading Now: 
Specimen Days & Collect by Walt Whitman

Blogs by this Author

color postcard of downtown San Jose with Light Tower in background
San José's history is full of interesting stories and anecdotes. The story of the San José Electric Light Tower that spanned the intersection of Market and Santa Clara Streets until 1915 is no different. The electric tower has become a symbol of the city's past. The idea of the electric tower was conceived by James Jerome Owen. A resident of Santa Clara County since the 1860s, Owen was fascinated by the potential of electric lighting. As proprietor and editor of the San Jose Daily Mercury , Owen used his editorial page to advocate for his electric tower idea. In June,...Read more...
Blossoms in bloom
In the history of San José, before the tech growth and boom from the 1960s to the present, the most significant industry in the Santa Clara Valley was in agricultural products. While the agricultural and horticultural production of the valley was limited before American statehood (1850), by 1890 the valley had a total of 4,454,945 fruit trees, a doubling in only a decade. In 1915, the tally stood at some 7,829,677, a healthy 57% increase. Around the turn of the century, after a drought had damaged the valley's production and pride, an individual by the name of Edwin Sidney Williams...Read more...
Senator James D. Phelan's Villa Montalvo
Villa Montalvo is the former residence of California businessman and politician James Duval Phelan. Taken between 1915-1902, this photo illustrates the estate's grandeur, but also how little it has changed since its construction. Construction of this Mediterranean style mansion began in 1912, before James Phelan became the first popularly elected Senator from California. A prominant member of the fraternal organization, The Native Sons of the Golden West, Phelan's rise in politics came in part from his successful leadership as a progressive Mayor of San Francisco (in office Jan 4, 1897 - Jan, 7 1902). His reputation as a polititian assured...Read more...
A View of the Electric Light Tower
Interested in historic images of Santa Clara County? The San Jose Public Library's California Room and SJSU Special Collections and University Archives share a database of images from their collections. The King Library Digital Collections database offers a vast wealth of scanned and digitized images of Santa Clara Valley’s past that document the history of the Valley from its agricultural beginnings to a bustling metropolis. These images can be searched by keyword or by collection. Some selections include: Photographs of dusty Santa Clara Street , filled with horses, buggies and the inter-urban rail line Historic postcards of picturesque scenes around...Read more...