The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Thursday, December 04, 2003


The Mercury News reports on a spat between the downtown San Jose merchants' association and a trendy new development called Santana Row. Sherry and I went to Santana Row a few weeks back. It's a single street off Stevens Creek Boulevard in west San Jose, across the road from the huge Valley Fair mall (which I believe is now called Westgate). Santana Row has a Borders (which always means at least half an hour of bliss for me), several trendy restaurants and nightclubs, and upscale retail stores. (The retail is fairly expensive and specialized, but it makes for good window-shopping.)

The downtown folks make it sound as if they had a thriving business, and then Santana Row came along and kidnapped all their customers. In reality the malls killed downtown 40 years ago. San Jose has a Gordon Biersch microbrewery, a few mildly amusing attractions, and a nightlife which is constantly in flux and usually lame.

Don't believe me; listen to what the downtown proponents say:


But downtown boosters can count the reasons. Along with fine restaurants and happening nightclubs, downtown is home to San Jose's greatest cultural amenities, including the Center for the Performing Arts, the Rep theater, the Children's Discovery Museum and the Tech Museum of Innovation.


The performing arts scene in San Jose is second-rate; concerts and performances are just as likely to be at the Flint Center in Cupertino as downtown. (The San Jose Symphony went belly-up a year ago, to give you an example of the "cultural amenities" supported by the South Bay.) The Children's Discovery Museum is a huge play center -- an engaging place for anyone under ten years old, but it's hard to imagine hipsters forgoing Blowfish Sushi for the opportunity to play fireman. The Tech Museum is superficial; I went there five years ago with an adult, and we were bored silly. And neither place is open at night.


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