This essay examines the (partial) rebirth of a moribund downtown, aided by the redevelopment process set up by California law, a process that permitted San Jose to tap into the wealth of Silicon Valley via the use of tax-increment financing. It explains the devastation wrought in downtown during the postwar years, characterizes the evolving nature of redevelopment law, and then delineates the building blocks for improvement in San Jose’s urban core. It also examines the ways in which downtown still falls short of true urbanity. It is based on research in a variety of printed sources, on statistics provided by many employees of the city, and on two dozen or so oral history interviews with key city leaders.

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