San Jose – Willow Glen

Willow Glen is a neighborhood of San Jose, California, in Santa Clara County. Geographically speaking, the Willow Glen neighborhood is centered around Lincoln Avenue, which was re-named from “Willow Glen Road” in 1865 shortly after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.[1]

By 1863 the small unincorporated community needed its first school. Willow Glen Elementary School was founded in 1863. Willow Glen continued as an unincorporated community until the 1920s, when the City of San Jose ordered the Southern Pacific Railroad to re-route the Southern Pacific Railroad trunk line which at that time was going down Fourth Street. The Southern Pacific then proposed to re-route down Lincoln Avenue. In order to forestall that attempt, Willow Glen was incorporated as a city in 1927.[2] The railroad was instead re-routed to its current route through a then-unincorporated area now known as North Willow Glen,[3] where its principal user is now Caltrain.

Being a city, however, required thinking about issues such as sewage. Willow Glen had no sewer system – individual homes had their own cesspool or septic system. Because the area was marshy before being drained for Willow Glen,[4] the high water table resulted in raw sewage often spilling above-ground from flooded cesspools. Rather than build their own very expensive sewage treatment system, in 1936 Willow Glen’s residents opted to be annexed to San Jose and be linked to San Jose’s sewage system, the measure passing by a vote of 978 to 871.[1]

Today Willow Glen’s historic downtown on Lincoln Avenue between Willow Street and Minnesota Avenue is a well-known “walkable” downtown community, with a variety of restaurants and shops.[5] Willow Glen is located in zip code 95125 and part of 95124.[6] Rough boundaries

Annual events

Christmas Tree Lights

Example Willow Glen Christmas Decorations.

Willow Glen residents have a distinct Christmas tree decoration tradition, often called the “Charlie Brown Trees”.[7] This tradition involves buying similar, very small, Christmas Trees and placing them in the front yard 10 feet from the sidewalk with multicolored lights. The uniform look is striking. People and businesses in the neighborhood generally make significant decorations every year, both within the neighborhood and in the Lincoln Avenue business district.

Television Show

Willow Glen In Motion

For two seasons Willow Glen has had its very own television show, Willow Glen In Motion. It is bi-weekly 30-minute public access show that highlights various aspects of the community that make Willow Glen shine. The show is hosted by Kevin C. Swanson, who created the program, and keeps it on the quest of discovering the uniqueness of this wonderful community. Viewers can explore why Willow Glen is truly personal, friendly, and different every Friday at 6:00pm on Comcast Channel 15, or on the Willow Glen In Motion website.