For as long as I can remember, the body politic in San Jose has often displayed disturbing public signs of penis envy of its once-larger neighbor to the north, San Francisco.
San Francisco is an old-world destination point, and San Jose will never have the same history, vistas or bridges. The restaurants in San Francisco are world class, the entertainment superior. From its sports and theaters to museums and zoo, San Francisco outclasses San Jose in virtually every cultural category.
Their politics are brass knuckle and their leaders often rise to higher office. Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Jerry Brown, Gavin Newsom and Kamala Harris are all statewide elected officials whose roots are deeply imbedded in San Francisco.
People will note that San Jose has the Tech Museum, the Rosicrucian, Kelly Park, the CPA, the Rep and the Sharks. Oh, yeah, and our City Hall is taller.
Thus the reasons for jealousy run deep.
Yet San Jose has its own identity—it remains the capital of Silicon Valley. The fact that the epicenter of Silicon Valley is, in reality, between Santa Clara and Palo Alto, with the largesse of companies in Cupertino, Mountain View and Sunnyvale, is an irony for those cities which have long expressed their own envy toward their larger southern neighbor. But San Jose has claimed the moniker and regardless of the cultural attributes of Mountain View, the city will continue to be identified as the capital for innovation around the world.
In fact, Silicon Valley has eclipsed San Jose as an identifiable geographical marker. The Chamber of Commerce recognized this fact when it changed its name to the San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce. Most recently, airline executives advised San Jose Airport officials to rename the airport “Silicon Valley”—as to make it a better destination point.
In short, while many know the way to Silicon Valley, except for Dionne Warwick, few really know the way to San Jose. Which brings us to a solution: rebranding.
San Jose must change its name to Silicon Valley. Most people in the world, outside of the Bay Area, think San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica. And while the Silicon Valley/San Jose Norman Y. Mineta International Airport was just too long a name for consideration, dropping San Jose would make it sound just fine.
As noted by the chamber name, the transition is really already underway. It would immediately solve our identity crisis and nobody would ever again confuse us with that town in Costa Rica, or refer to us as a suburb of San Francisco. It wouldn’t improve our restaurants immediately, but we could get some better flights into the airport.
Sure, there will be hand-wringing and public displays of disapproval from traditionalists who still pine over the long-gone era, when San Jose was an orchard. But who wouldn’t love to be “Mayor of Silicon Valley”?
Of course, doing nothing is always an option and things could be worse—we could be Oakland.