This morning, for no apparently good reason, I have been looking at maps. The brilliance of the internet is the ease with which one can move from link to link, the connections that lead one to make interesting discoveries. For example, I started out looking at a Google Earth map of the Cerne Abbas Giant, which led me to finding the Upper Boat studios where they make “Doctor Who” and “Torchwood” just north of Cardiff. From there I came back around the globe to San Jose where I looked at the AT&T Long Lines microwave tower on Communications Hill; which was once called Oak Hill.
I kept surfing and linking, connecting to historic preservation in San Jose, learned that San Jose has the largest collection of historic fire fighting vehicles west of the Mississippi, and then I learned that patrons of the San Jose Public Library have access to historic insurance maps.
And that’s where this entry begins. Because I found my street in the maps and worked backwards.
I know that my house was built in 1937, so I started looking at what was here before and since. Here’s the (future) corner of my street in 1915:
There was a farm here, and anecdotes claim that where we live now was once a pig wallow. Here we can see that my house is built a few yards from where a dairy used to stand. Across the street is a hay barn. A few hundred feet to the west, where there is now a Best Western, was a distillery. The Arthur Lachman & Co. Santa Clara Distillery No. 325, to be exact.
45 years later, in 1950, here’s what my street corner looked like:
And that’s pretty much what it looks like today.
Oh, there are some differences, obviously — there is no more American Home Foods, Inc. (Clapps Baby Food Div.) down at the east end of the street by the railroad tracks. As of a year or two ago, that’s now expensive condos. The pie bakery a few blocks away is now some kind of custom kitchen fabricator, but the plumbers are still there.
And my little house in 1950 looks the same as it does in 2008.