When few weeks ago I was commissioned by Davide Giannella of Acadia Architecture to photograph San Jose Little Italy Arch, little did I know I would learn an interesting history lesson. Even though I have lived in Bay Area for over a decade now, I am still amazed with the rich heritage of this place (no wonder when you consider I moved here from Texas:-)
At the beginning of the previous century Little Italy San Jose area was the location of Italian settlement of workers. With the effort of local community (many of them Italian descendants of 3rd generation), the beautiful Victorian homes have been lovingly renovated and are deemed historical and protected by the city of San Jose. To celebrate the connection with the past and continuation of the tradition into the future the symbolic Arch was designed by Acadia Architecture to mark the entry to the neighborhood.
San Jose Little Italy Arch shape is similar to a bridge, signifying the connection between the two cultures, the crossing of the ocean, also fitting due to the Guadalupe River proximity. The development of the shape of the arch starts at the ground with the richest material, the marble cladding, then like an historical artifact, it is cut at an angle to show a less valuable material underneath, the bricks, and finally from the bricks podiums, just the metal structure is exposed, the industrial quality of it. The marble bases have stripes of cladding resembling those of the Italian Romanic basilicas. Design and materials for the arch were all donations from local professionals or business of Italian descent.
With the renovations being completed, Little Italy historic neighborhood is a place of a vibrant social life and prospering businesses like Henry's Hi-Life (the old Torino Hotel), Paesano Ristorane Italiano, Bel Bacio Italian Coffee Shop (I loved the coffee!) and other. Also, one of the Victorian houses is currently being converted into an Italian-American Heritage museum.
Stop by if you have a chance. This small, frozen in past neighborhood is a true gem in the heart of San Jose and is well worth the trip.