Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Market Street Station: The Pride of San Jose

"Southern Pacific Market Street station" float. Courtesy History San Jose.

Whenever I talk about the battles and intrigue involved with Southern Pacific's bypass around downtown San Jose in the 1930's, it's usually from the point of view of the critics. The SP's first routing went a bit too close to the new homes in Palm Haven, causing that new suburb to rise up in arms. They got their neighbors to agree with them, prompting the Willow Glen neighborhood to rise up and incorporate as its own city in 1927.

Thanks to some lost court battles and additional re-routing, the new line was finally built in the 1930's, and the old Market Street train station closed down on December 30, 1935. If they hadn't succeeded, we'd still be having trains running down Fourth Street right in front of San Jose State.

Old newspaper articles hint at the disdain for the old railroad station on Market Street, describing it as old, sooty, murky, smoky roundhouse. The above photo, though, highlights how old-fashioned some folks thought the old station was. They also apparently believed the depot would never be replaced, and we'd be stuck with the murky old station until its hundredth anniversary in 1986.

There's some obvious inaccuracies in the float's version of the station. From the floor plan I've seen, only the men's bathroom entrance was on the exterior; the "modern" women's restroom was reachable from the women's waiting room. The single waiting room door isn't correct either. The main public area, according to a 1910 floor plan was divided into a "men's" and "women's" waiting rooms, with the ticket seller's area separating the two. The sack nailed on the wall suggests that SP's trash bins were a bit primitive. I don't know if the half-moon cutouts were prototypical, but for safety, I'll add them to my model.

Or perhaps I should just park an HO model of the float out in front of my station?

Thanks to History San Jose for permission to republish the photo.

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