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Downtown San Jose Stations Open for Service

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This post is part of a series about the public art installed throughout the Alum Rock-Santa Clara Bus Rapid Transit project. Artists Claudia and Franka of Merge Conceptual Design were the lead artists responsible for developing the art based on extensive research and community involvement. The project will provide just over 7 miles of rapid transit service from the Eastridge Transit Center to downtown San Jose.

The downtown stations of the Alum Rock-Santa Clara Bus Rapid Transit project are now open for service, including stations near San Jose City Hall and another pair on Santa Clara Street between 1st and 2nd streets.

Enjoy the art pavers and real-time predictions the next time you catch the 22, 23, or 522 at one of these stations!

Downtown Stations

The Downtown Eastbound station on Santa Clara Street near 2nd Street represents San Jose’s history of agricultural innovation and cultural diversity. 

The paving pattern is inspired by historic seed packet designs from Kitazawa Seed Co., founded in San Jose in 1917 and originally located on North Market Street near the station.

From 1942 to 1945 Kitazawa Seed Company was forced close due to WWII. The Kitazawa family, along with all other Japanese-Americans, were moved and put into relocation camps during that time. After the war Kitazawa Seed Company began selling and shipping seeds across the United States.

“I remember seeing the little yellow seed packets growing up,” said Carole Rast, whose family owns Roy’s Station Coffee and Teas in Japantown, referring to the Kitazawa seed packets that are incorporated into the station’s pavers, packets she has even recently seen for sale at Japantown’s Santo Market. “The continuity of having something that started so many generations ago is really amazing.”

Rast, who helped local artist Corinne Takara develop the concept for the art, also remembers a time when there were miles of orchards between the cities of the famously fertile Santa Clara Valley.

"The agriculture and orchards sustained families and communities," she said. "Kitazawa seeds did that for the Asians that were farmers and also grew daikons and cabbages for their own families.”
 
VTA Rapid 522 bus at the Downtown San Jose Eastbound station - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

The Downtown Westbound station, close to 1st Street, features art pavers inspired by the world’s first computer hard disk drive. It was developed in 1956 by a small research laboratory that was part of IBM and located on Notre Dame Street near the station.

The punch cards in the paving pattern show the first four messages ever read back from a hard drive. These were registered through a punch card mechanism, since computer screens had not been created yet.

City Hall Westbound

A collage that illustrates the process of filing a patent forms the basis of this pattern, which also incorporates various patent drawing conventions. The Silicon Valley U.S. Patent and Trademark Office opened in 2015 at City Hall to tap into Silicon Valley’s innovative culture and technical expertise.

“San Jose has long had more patents per capita than any other city in the United States,” said Kim Walesh, Deputy City Manager and Director of Economic Development at the City of San Jose. “The entrepreneurial community here and the legal community involved with intellectual property are extensive, and they are so thrilled to have the patent office here.”
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“The leaders of Silicon Valley and San Jose were very aggressive in trying to win the competition to have the regional patent office serving the West Coast located in San Jose,” she said.  The city leveraged the transportation options and urban core amenities in the application and lobbying effort.

Transportation is “critical” to the appeal of Downtown San Jose, said Walesh.  “What we hear from companies is they want access to talent, transportation options, and amenities. Once people realize that BART is accessible at Berryessa and that the BRT is modern, frequent and fast, that connection from downtown to BART will be really key.”
 
VTA Rapid 522 bus at the City Hall Westbound station, part of VTA's Alum Rock-Santa Clara Bus Rapid Transit project - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

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