Wednesday, September 18, 2013

North Willow Glen History Part 12 of 15: The 1980s

Aesthetically, the neighborhood hits rock bottom. There is blight and residents find it impossible to get any attention from the City. Neighbors, after waiting for months to get abandoned vehicles towed from residential streets, push them out along Bird Avenue, where they are towed within the hour.
North Willow Glen neighbors take up the task of painting out graffiti on the Bird Avenue railroad bridge; graffiti needs to be painted out almost every day. They paint "Welcome to Willow Glen" on the bridge, and repaint it as often as necessary.
The real estate market turns red hot in 1986, and doesn't burn out until 1989. The situation rekindles interest in North Willow Glen, which has affordable homes, vintage charm, and quick access to Highway 280. New buyers bring new energy to the neighborhood, and a new appreciation for the aesthetics, scale and harmonious proportions of a largely intact vintage neighborhood.
Early 1980s: Heavy rains; the Guadalupe River floods downtown San Jose.
1986: Houses sell for around $130,000.
1988: "Welcome to Willow Glen" first appears on the Bird Avenue railroad bridge.
Highway 87 is finished.

Leading up to the September 21st Willow Glen Founders Day Parade on Lincoln Avenue, NWGNA is providing readers with history about the evolution of our neighborhood, largely excerpted from Ken Ecklund's North Willow Glen Neighborhood Association Page.

We view this as our history and encourage you to share. Stories and photos of North Willow Glen are very welcome and with your permission and credit we would like to archive this information to improve our understanding of life in our neighborhood throughout the years. Please post here or reach us via e-mail at

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