From second story rooftops in 1858, to the 115-foot “birds’ nest” atop the dome of the Santa Clara County Court House in 1869, to the 207-foot platform near the top of the San José Electric Light Tower in 1881, artists and photographers, lugging sketch pads, tripods and glass plate negatives, climbed higher and higher to capture iconic panoramic vistas. In the October 2018 Sourisseau Academy photo album retired Anthropology Professor Tom Layton journeys into the sky to the imaginary heights from which artists have transformed the Silicon Valley into a fantastical realm where San José’s Hotel De Anza can easily loom larger than all of San Francisco.
The October 2018 Sourisseau Academy news video [titled “Horse Power!” this month] explores the era of the horse and buggy, and the sweet aroma of fruit trees by the side of the road.
From 1850 to 1910, livery stables, harness makers, blacksmiths and wagon builders were essential to transportation and commerce in virtually every California town. In the September 2018 Sourisseau Academy photo album retired Anthropology Professor Tom Layton presents an illustrated tour through the Equine Era of “horse power” to its replacement by the “horsepower” of the automobile.
The September 2018 Sourisseau Academy news video explores the elegant, engraved graphics that graced the letterheads of San José merchants during the same years as the “Equine Era.”
The late 19th century was a Golden Age for San José engravers. In the August 2018 Sourisseau Academy photo album retired Anthropology Professor Tom Layton takes readers on a guided tour through half a century of exuberant letterheads from local printers.
The August 2018 Sourisseau Academy news video pays tribute to a century of working women, whose labor was essential to the growth of commerce in the Santa Clara Valley.
Despite the pervasive myth of the “stay at home” wife and mother, working women have been a mainstay of the Santa Clara Valley workforce for well over a century. In the July 2018 Sourisseau Academy photo album retired Anthropology Professor Tom Layton celebrates this unsung labor force of cannery workers, telephone operators and clerks — not to mention the entrepreneurial founders of the Women’s Fruit Preserving Association, whose 1890s Honeysuckle Brand labels graced fruit cans from coast to coast.
In the July 2018 Sourisseau Academy news video Professor Layton tours the ceremonial gates, arches, and banners of the Santa Clara Valley orchards of yesteryear.
Half a century ago many of our elders complained that the garish in-your-face signage flashing along our main streets had become a public blight. The resulting sign ordinances limiting the size and placement of signs was a nail in the coffin of the Age of Neon. In the May 2018 Sourisseau Academy photo album San José historian Heather David (leader of the San José Signs Project) tells the story of signage in San José.
In the May 2018 Sourisseau Academy news video Michael Pearce explores San Jose’s floods and the reservoirs designed to prevent them.