The San Francisco 49er NFL team will move to a new stadium in San Jose. No one knows if the team will continue to be the “San Francisco” 49ers or become the “San Jose” 49ers or some other name. The move reflects a general trend. San Jose is now the 10th largest city in America with the highest median income of any city. In 1950 San Francisco was our 11th largest city with 775,000 and San Jose did not even figure in the 100 largest cities in America. Today San Francisco holds 805,000 and is number 14 while San Jose has rocketed to number 10 with 946,000.
While San Francisco was the main dirver in the ”Bay Area” economy until a dozen years ago, San Jose now holds that position. San Francisco’s top industry is tourism while San Jose, the “capital of Silicon Valley” sets new economic standards with its high tech industry.
The two towns are only 50 miles apart so they overlap in many ways. But the main trend is clear, while San Francisco stays stagnant, San Jose keeps booming. Of course many prefer it that way. San Francisco’s current mayor, Ed Lee, is beaten up regularly by the environmentalist crowd for putting economic growth ahead of concern about the environment. And the mayor is unabashed in his drive to stimulate more growth by feeding off the fast paced high tech industry of San Jose. He wants “Silicon Valley” to move north. His critics would prefer the city to stay back and tend to its gardens.
In many ways the two towns resemble the rest of the USA if not the world. On the one hand we see urban centers that are booming while others hold back in efforts to remain, well, less urban. The contrast offers a clear indicator of the choice to be made, greater wealth or bucholic splendor. And while the best course would be to have both it would appear that they are not compatible.
Meanwhile I will keep checking to see if I need to get a new 49ers’ cap.