Founding San Jose

Now the largest city in northern California, San Jose was founded November 29, 1777, twenty years before Mission San Jose was built, as a farming community to provide food for Spain’s presidios in Monterey and San Francisco Bay. Its original name was El Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe (the Town of Saint Joseph of Guadalupe). Each settler who came from New Spain (Mexico) in this first overland expedition of colonists, was given livestock, farm implements, seeds, and a monthly stipend. A year later, the new town had a population of 68. Prunes, apples, apricots, cherries, peaches and pears became the region’s largest crops. During the Gold Rush era, San Jose was a supply station for prospectors and an important stage and boat link on the route to San Francisco.  When California gained statehood in 1850, San Jose served as its first capital. San Jose was the first incorporated city in California.

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