|Neighborhood of San Jose|
Lincoln Avenue at night
Rough Willow Glen Boundary
|Elevation||115 ft (35 m)|
Willow Glen is a gentrified neighborhood of San Jose, California, in Santa Clara County. The neighborhood has walkable tree-lined streets, people-oriented homes, diverse architecture, specialty shops, and independent businesses. The historic downtown on Lincoln Avenue between Willow Street and Minnesota Avenue is a well-known "walkable" downtown community, with a variety of restaurants and shops.
Willow Glen is a neighborhood of San Jose, California, in Santa Clara County. The neighborhood has walkable tree-lined streets, people-oriented homes, diverse architecture, specialty shops, and independent businesses. The historic downtown on Lincoln Avenue between Willow Street and Minnesota Avenue is a well-known "walkable" downtown community, with a variety of restaurants and shops.
By 1863 the small unincorporated community needed its first school. Willow Glen Elementary School was founded in 1863. Willow Glen continued as an unincorporated community until the 1920s, when the City of San Jose ordered the Southern Pacific Railroad to re-route the Southern Pacific Railroad trunk line which at that time was going down Fourth Street. The Southern Pacific then proposed to re-route down Lincoln Avenue. In order to forestall that attempt, Willow Glen was incorporated as a city in 1927. The railroad was instead re-routed to its current route through a then-unincorporated area now known as North Willow Glen, where its principal user is now Caltrain.
Being a city, however, required thinking about issues such as sewage. Willow Glen had no sewer system – individual homes had their own cesspools or septic systems. Because the area was marshy before being drained for Willow Glen, the high water table resulted in raw sewage often spilling above-ground from flooded cesspools. Rather than build their own very expensive sewage treatment system, in 1936 Willow Glen's residents opted to be annexed to San Jose and be linked to San Jose's sewage system, the measure passing by a vote of 978 to 871.
The Los Gatos Creek flows northeasterly through the north section of Willow Glen and the Guadalupe River flows north near the eastern edge of Willow Glen. The Guadalupe River used to be shorter with its source in Willow Glen.
In some neighborhoods the houses have diverse architecture, often side by side, making the area a great place to walk. Many architect-commissioned houses can be seen to the north in Palm Haven. In north Willow Glen the styles include Victorian, Neoclassical (Queen Anne Cottage and Neocolonial), Colonial Revival, Craftsman, Mission, Prairie, Spanish Eclectic, and Tudor.
The two sections of the Los Gatos Creek Trail terminate in Willow Glen. The connection requires on-street travel through much of Willow Glen.
One section of the Guadalupe River Trail terminates near the far north east edge of Willow Glen but otherwise does not run through it.
The Highway 87 Bikeway runs along the eastern edge of Willow Glen but terminates at Willow Street at its most northern point.
The Three Creeks Trail runs diagonally through Willow Glen and passes close to downtown.
Dancin' On The Avenue
Dancin' On The Avenue (DOTA) is Willow Glen's annual street party that occurs on one day in summer. It is celebrated along Lincoln Avenue, between Willow Street and Minnesota Avenue. The event is organized by the Willow Glen Business Association.
Founders' Day occurs in September although it has not been celebrated every year. The event celebrates the rich history, cultural heritage, and progressive present of the neighborhoods, homes, and community of Willow Glen. The highlight is a festive parade that proceeds down Lincoln Avenue. The origins of Founders' Day are not known. Archives of the Willow Glen Resident newspaper indicate it originates from the area's nine years of independence from San Jose between September 8, 1927 and September 4, 1936. Another view is that it celebrates the work of Antonio Maria Sunol who built Laura Ville adjoining the Roberto Adobe at 770 Lincoln Avenue in 1847.
Christmas Tree Lights
Willow Glen residents have a distinct Christmas tree decoration tradition. This tradition involves buying similar, very small, Christmas Trees and placing them in the front yard 10 feet from the sidewalk with multicolored lights. The uniform look is striking. People and businesses in the neighborhood generally make significant decorations every year, both within the neighborhood and in the Lincoln Avenue business district.
The tradition of a Christmas tree on each residence's lawn was started in 1950 by Robert and Arlene Cimino at 1099 Glen Echo Ave. Trees were purchased in bulk from Knights of Columbus and delivered to participating homes. The Ciminos moved from the area in 1956 and the tradition was continued by Frank Badagliacca Jr. on the 1000 block of Camino Ramon. He was often called "Mr. Rebar" for using a stake made of construction rebar to hold up each tree. Dolores Badagliacca, his wife, came up with the idea of putting a single white light on the top of each tree. The tradition now stretches to over 200 streets in the greater San Jose area.