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25 Things You Should Know About San Jose

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If you know the way to San Jose, as Dionne Warwick sang in her 1968 hit, you know Northern California’s South Bay city actually trumps San Francisco (48 miles to the north) in population (it ranks 10th in the nation with more than a million residents, while San Francisco is 13th) and size (it's more than 3.7 times the size of San Francisco with 180 incorporated square miles). Here are 25 things you should know about the Capital of Silicon Valley.

1. Spanish colonizers founded the city on November 29, 1777, and named it El Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe after both Saint Joseph and the Guadalupe River.

2. A trio of California firsts: San Jose was the state’s first civilian settlement, the first capital from 1849 to 1852, and the first incorporated city on March 27, 1850.

3. The city’s Japantown celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2015. Before World War II, there were 43 Japantowns in California alone, but after the incarceration of Japanese during the war and the urban development that took place in the 1950s and 1960s, the only ones that still exist today are in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Jose.

4. San Jose also has had five Chinatowns. The first was established in 1866, but none survived past 1931. Three were destroyed in fires, one in a flood, and the last during the city’s redevelopment.

5. Nicknamed the Capital of Silicon Valley in the 1990s, San Jose’s largest high-tech employer is Cisco Systems with 13,600 employees as of 2013 [PDF]. Rounding out the top five are eBay with 4700, IBM with 4200, Hitachi with 2070, and Adobe Systems with 2000.

6. San Jose International Airport, which was renamed the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport in 2001 after the former United States Secretary of Transportation, now serves 8.3 million passengers a year. One of its largest guests was the elephant Tai, who shut down the now-demolished Terminal C for three nights in 1995 while filming Larger Than Life with Bill Murray.

7. With a long history of a low crime rate (32.8 crimes per 1000 residents [PDF]), SmartAsset ranked San Jose the sixth safest city in the nation last year.

8. After losing both her infant daughter and her Winchester rifle manufacturer husband, Connecticut native Sarah Winchester was told by a medium that her loved ones’ untimely deaths were caused by spirits killed by Winchester rifles and she might be next. Her solution: Move west and keep up continuous construction on a home for the spirits. She started building in 1884 and went nonstop through her death in 1922. The mansion, which has 950 doors, 10,000 windows, 40 stairways, 47 fireplaces, six kitchens, and "miles of twisting hallways," opened to the public in 1932 and offers 55-minute flashlight tours every Friday the 13th.

9. Krazy George Henderson, who began cheerleading at San Jose State in 1968, is credited as the inventor of The Wave. He first used it in a routine on October 15, 1981, during an Oakland A’s vs. New York Yankees game.

10. Pet quota! Current San Jose laws limit owners to five licensed animals total—and no more than three dogs. Yes, two dogs and three cats is okay, five cats are fine, but don’t dare break the law with two dogs and four cats.

11. Also illegal in San Jose? Plastic bags. The environmentally-friendly Bring Your Own Bag ordinance enacted January 1, 2012, prohibits grocery stores, pharmacies, and retailers from providing plastic carryout bags. The alternative: Paper bags “made of 40 percent post-consumer recycled material” as long as stores “charge a minimum of 10 cents per bag.”

12. One of California’s first wineries was San Jose’s Old Almaden Vineyards on Blossom Hill Road, established in 1852. The business survived Prohibition by using the grapes for juice and medicinal and sacramental wines, but the land later became a library and condos (part of the property was destroyed in a 1989 fire). The winery still operates, but now out of Madera, California, 121 miles from its original site.

13. Rock band Smash Mouth—famous for 1997’s “Walkin’ on the Sun” and 1999’s “All Star”—also calls San Jose home. Now-defunct local station KOME first played their demo, "Nervous in the Alley,” before they were signed to Interscope Records.

14. It has eight siblings. San Jose was the third to join the national Sister Cities program when it connected with Okayama, Japan, on May 26, 1957. The other seven sisters cities are: San Jose, Costa Rica, in 1961, Veracruz, Mexico, in 1975, Tainan, Taiwan, in 1977, Dublin, Ireland, in 1986, Pune, India, in 1992, Ekaterinburg, Russia in 1992, and Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2015.

15. For eight years in a row beginning in 2007, San Jose resident Joey Chestnut won the Fourth of July Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest at New York City’s Coney Island—until 2015, when downing 60 dogs in 10 minutes just didn’t cut the mustard. He was edged out by 23-year-old Matt Stonie who ate 62 … and also hails from San Jose.

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16.
Speaking of big eats, San Jose’s Iguanas taqueria is home to Burritozilla, a five-pound, three-foot long burrito, made of three tortillas. Chestnut once finished it in an impressive 3 minutes and 10 seconds, but Stonie later gulped it down in a minute and 50 seconds.

17. Every holiday season, Christmas in the Park takes over Downtown with nearly half a million visitors exploring 500 decorated trees and 40 animated displays on two acres of Plaza de Cesar Chavez. The San Jose tradition started in the 1950s at Willow Glen’s Lima Family Mortuary lawn and moved to its current location in the 1980s. More than 5000 candy canes are handed out at the park’s Santa’s House annually.

18. The Del Monte Corporation (and its predecessors) processed fruits and vegetables in San Jose from 1893 to 1999 at Plant Number 3 located between San Carlos Street, Auzerais Avenue, and Los Gatos Creek. Seasonal employees made up a majority of the company's workforce, many of whom were working mothers.

19. The 55-year-old, 120-acre San Jose Flea Market on Berryessa Road, with more than 6000 weekly vendors, is where Amir meets his future wife in Khaled Hosseini’s 2003 New York Times bestselling novel, The Kite Runner [PDF].

20. Established at the corner of West Saint John Street and North Almaden Boulevard in 1908, the new Progress Hotel, renamed the Torino Hotel in 1914, was a boarding house for new Italian immigrant workers and also known for serving generous portions of Italian food. In 1960, Henry Puckett took over the abandoned hotel and opened Henry’s Hi-Life, famous for its baby back ribs and for being featured on season one of Man Vs. Food.


21.
On top of Mount Umunhum (meaning “resting place of the hummingbird”)—technically in the 95120 zip code of San Jose’s Almaden Valley—is a five-story concrete radar tower that was used during the Cold War. Often called The Cube or The Box, the structure, completed in 1962, was used to detect incoming hostile aircraft at the former Almaden Air Force Station. Sitting on the fourth highest peak in the Santa Cruz Mountains with views of the Monterey Bay, San Francisco Bay, and Downtown San Jose, the summit was closed in 1980. There is currently an effort to reopen the area with trails, viewing areas, and a habitat in Fall 2016.

22. Steve Wozniak, who founded Apple Computer with Steve Jobs in 1976, was born in San Jose. As one of the main benefactors to the purple triangle-shaped Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, the street outside of it is named after him—Woz Way.

23. The 930-square foot Monopoly game board opened in Discovery Meadow in 2002 is the only officially licensed life-sized board in the world, and San Jose’s only Guinness Book of World Records attraction. Families can rent out the board to play for a $300 fee, which includes a game referee “specially trained to run a giant-sized Monopoly game” and “make sure you have fun.” 


24.
Caitlyn Jenner launched her Olympic training in 1973 in San Jose, where she and first wife Chrystie Crownover lived in a Fruitdale Avenue apartment. Jenner drove a VW bug and trained at San Jose City College and San Jose State University’s tracks. For almost 20 years, San Jose hosted a track and field invitational in her honor.

25. San Jose, hometown of 1996 gold medal-winning Olympics women’s gymnastics team member Amy Chow (who is now a physician), is continuing its transformation into “Gymnastics City, USA.” The 2016 Olympics trials for the sport will be held at SAP Center on July 8 and 10.

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25 Things You Should Know About Barcelona
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With its Catalonian roots and modernist architecture (much of it by the legendary Antoni Gaudí), Barcelona's charm feels timeless. Read on for more about this coastal metropolis, the former home of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí.

1. Nobody knows exactly how the city got its name, but two legendary figures are frequently cited. According to one account, Hannibal's father, Hamilcar Barca, named the settlement "Barcino" in the 3rd century BCE after his family's surname. A different tale credits Hercules, whose ninth ship (barca nona) was said to have washed ashore in the area.

2. The Eixample section of the city is a nearly perfect grid, although the corners of each square are cut off, effectively making every block an octagon. In the 19th century, geometry-obsessed architect Ildefons Cerda designed the areas to ease traffic patterns and navigation, but also to build a community within each block, which featured a communal garden in the middle. As a bonus, the setup also maximized sunlight and the ventilation of the surrounding homes.

3. One of Barcelona's most popular arteries is the three-quarter-mile road called La Rambla. During the Middle Ages, it was the site of a polluted stream outside the city walls affectionately known as Cagalell, or "stream of shit." Today, the road is divided into five sections—Canaletes, Estudis, Sant Josep, Caputxins, and Santa Mònica—which is why it's often referred to in the plural as Las Ramblas.

4. During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), more than 1000 underground bomb shelters were built to offer Barcelonians refuge from enemy attack. You can experience the claustrophobic atmosphere of one of the subterranean structures, Shelter 307, a massive bunker with specialized rooms (toilets, a children's room, an infirmary, and more) linked by 400 meters of tunnels. The Museu d'Historia de Barcelona manages the site and offers public tours.

5. The annual Sant Jordi festival (which took place this year on April 23) toasts Catalonia's patron saint, Saint George. As part of the celebration, men traditionally give their loved ones a rose. But it's also the anniversary of both William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes's deaths, so women give a book in return.

6. A 200-foot-tall monument of Christopher Columbus is located at the end of La Rambla, near the harbor. Completed in 1888 by sculptor Rafael Atche, the towering column honors the explorer who returned to Barcelona from the Americas and reported his findings to his patrons, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. In his left hand, he holds a scroll, and with his right, he supposedly points toward the New World.

7. Construction on Antoni Gaudí's masterpiece cathedral, La Sagrada Familia, began in 1882 … and is still going. The Gothic- and Byzantine-influenced design reached its final stage in November 2015, but projections still target 2026 as the completion date. By then, it will have 18 towers and reach a height of 564 feet, making it the tallest religious building in Europe. Despite not being finished, it's still Spain's most-visited monument.

8. A modernist masterpiece, Park Güell is a complex of public parks designed by Gaudí and a local industrialist, Count Eusebi Güell. Originally, in 1900, Güell had envisioned the complex as a housing development interspersed with green spaces, but only two homes were ever built and few buyers showed interest. The residential project was abandoned in 1914 and the city later converted the rest of the area into municipal parks with roads, walkways, a plaza, and gatehouses designed by Gaudí. Today it's one of seven properties in UNESCO's Works of Antoni Gaudí world heritage site.

9. Another site in the UNESCO group is Casa Milà, an apartment building designed by Gaudí and nicknamed La Pedrera, or stone quarry. It took six years to build and was completed in 1912 in the Catalan Art Nouveau style. With 48,438 square feet of space for visitors to explore, its most recognizable feature is the roof terrace with its winding paths of ventilation towers, chimneys, and stairs.

10. Spain's most powerful supercomputer, MareNostrum, is housed in the 19th-century Chapel Torre Girona on the campus of Barcelona's Polytechnic University of Catalonia. A team of researchers uses the MareNostrum for mapping the human genome, detecting complex weather patterns, and other massive projects using huge amounts of data.

11. The first boycott-free Olympics since 1972 was held in Barcelona in 1992. The summer games took place amid global political shifts—South Africa had outlawed Apartheid, the fall of the Berlin Wall had reunited East and West Germany, and 15 former Soviet countries competed as a "unified" team. More than 9000 athletes (6652 men and 2704 women) competed in 257 events—including baseball, badminton, and women's judo, which all made their official Olympic debuts that year.

12. The coastal city's beloved beaches are actually man-made. To prepare for the 1992 Olympics, industrial waterfront buildings were torn down and palm trees were imported from Malaga, resulting in two miles of idyllic waterfront space. Today, there are more than four miles of beach.

13. Singer José Carreras, who was born in Barcelona on December 5, 1946, sang the part of Tony on 1984's West Side Story recording with Leonard Bernstein. He later joined forces with Luciano Pavarotti and Plácido Domingo in 1990 to form the powerhouse combo The Three Tenors. Their first live album (recorded at their debut concert in Rome) went multiplatinum that year—and won a Grammy for best classical vocal performance.

14. In 2004, Barcelona-based candy shop Papabubble started making hard candies completely by hand. Today there are more than 40 locations around the globe, in cities including Beirut, Dubai, Lima, New York, Paris, Sao Paolo, Taipei, Toronto, and Zhengzhou.

15. Built for the 1929 International Exhibition by Carles Buigas, the Montjuïc Magic Fountain features a dancing water show with more than 50 shades of colors coordinated to music. Located at the end of Avinguda Reina Maria Cristina, it was restored for the 1992 Olympics and also hosts an annual Piromusical show, synchronized with fireworks, for the city's La Mercè festival.

16. For a panoramic view of Barcelona, hop on the scenic Montjuïc cable car, which travels up a hillside for 277 feet, with stops at Parc Montjuïc, Montjuïc castle (built in 1640), and the Mirador de l'Alcalde. From the upper terminal, board the Montjuïc funicular to ascend to more cultural attractions, including the Fundacio Joan Miro and Barcelona’s ethnological museum.

17. Barcelona's local cuisine combines the hallmarks of the coastal Mediterranean palate—fish and shellfish, legumes, tomatoes, peppers, other fresh vegetables, fruits, and wheat—with the rustic fare of the mountainous interior. Pork (especially Serrano ham) and wild boar, sausages called botifarras, wild mushrooms, cheeses, and wines add heartiness to the Catalan table.

18. Pablo Picasso's family moved to Barcelona in 1895, and he lived there on and off through 1904. "There is where it all began … there is where I understood how far I could go," he said of the city. Barcelona’s Museu Picasso, founded in 1963, houses 4251 of his works in its permanent collection, including early self-portraits in the figurative style, Cubist works, studies of harlequins and horses, and later sculptures.

19. Catalonia’s artistic legacy wouldn’t be complete without Surrealist master Salvador Dalí, who was born in Figueres, a small town about an hour northeast of Barcelona. He spent the last decades of his life creating a museum in his hometown to preserve his work. "I want my museum to be like a single block, a maze, a great surrealist object. It will be an absolutely theatrical museum. People who come to see it will leave with the feeling of having had a theatrical dream,” Dalí once said. The Dalí Theatre-Museum’s collection includes more than 4000 Dalí works, 11,300 photographs, and 537 manuscripts.

20. Barcelona’s most visited museum is dedicated to the city’s beloved football (that is, soccer) team, FC Barcelona. Within the team’s stadium, dubbed Camp Nou, is a collection of multimedia exhibits, memorabilia, and trophies from the team’s 22 league titles, four Champions League victories, and many more. Visitors can also take a tour of the locker rooms, the players’ tunnel leading to the field, and other hallowed spaces. In 2013, more than 1,530,400 fans passed through the doors, more than the Dalí Theatre Museum in nearby Figueres and the Museu Picasso.

21. The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria is the city’s main market for food and drink. The current market was established in 1840, but the site has been a well-trodden spot for farmers to trade their produce and city dwellers to buy fresh food since the 13th century. Today third- and fourth-generation sellers offer fresh and salted fish, poultry and eggs, meats of every description, breads, pasta, wine, fruits and vegetables, and even frozen foods.

22. The old Sant Agustí monastery now houses the Museu de la Xocolata ("Museum of Chocolate” in the Catalan language), showcasing a sweet part of Barcelona's history. In the 15th century, shipments of chocolate from far-flung regions arrived in Barcelona and were distributed throughout Europe. Exhibits focus on the chocolate-making process, historical roots of the product, and even chocolate-themed works of art.

23. Barcelona’s Avinguda del Portal de L'Angel is Spain’s most expensive retail street. As of 2015, commercial real estate on the street sold for $335 per square foot.

24. The au courant clothing chain Mango was founded in Barcelona in 1984. Now, the brand has 2415 stores in 107 countries and operates Europe’s largest fashion design hub, the Hangar Design Centre.

25. The Royal Institute of British Architecture's highest honor, the Royal Gold Medal, has always be awarded to a person—except in 1999, when it was given to the city of Barcelona. Citing the city’s widespread revitalization after the 1992 Olympics, the organization announced, "Barcelona is now more whole in every way, its fabric healed yet threaded through with new open spaces, its historic buildings refurbished, yet its facilities expanded and brought up-to-the-minute.”

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Chocolate Maps Turn the Streets of Famous Cities Into Edible Art
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Chocolate map of Tel Aviv.
Tamtik

At first glance, the gourmet chocolate squares below look like works of modern art. But if you’re familiar with the streets of London, Tel Aviv, or New York City, you might notice that the abstract designs actually look a lot like the maps of these iconic cities.

According to My Modern Met, Tamtik chocolate has partnered with online retailer Nisnas Industries to bring their gorgeous, edible maps to Kickstarter. Each creation is made by pouring liquid dark chocolate into a mold of an urban landscape. Once it has hardened, the treat shows every block, park, and city street as fine chocolate contours and intricate geometric shapes. The three varieties—London, Tel Aviv, and New York City—are each crafted by chocolatiers from their respective cities, further connecting the products to the places they represent.

Making of chocolate city map.
Tamtik

Each chocolate map comes wrapped in artisanal packaging, making it the perfect gift to remind a loved one of their favorite city. There’s also nothing stopping you from opening the box and enjoying the delectable artwork on your own.

Tamtik is currently raising funds on Kickstarter to make these masterpieces, with more than a month left to reach their $10,000 goal. You can reserve a chocolate city map of your own with a pledge of $45 or more. A pledge of just $1 allows you to vote on which city Tamtik should add to their lineup next.

Opening a box that contains a chocolate city map.
Tamtik

[h/t My Modern Met]

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