Tuesday, March 5, 2013

San Jose Highway 101 Exit Sign Says “Little Saigon”


Way back in the day San Jose was a farming community to support the Spanish military installations at San Francisco and Monterey. My family came to San Jose in the early 1960’s from San Francisco. I have seen San Jose grow over the years and it has changed dramatically. I never thought that I would see a freeway exit sign reading “Little Saigon”. The Vietnamese that fled communist regime after 1975 and settled in San Jose and the next generation which are Vietnamese-Americans, have took over as one of the fastest growing groups in San Jose. Growing up on the east side of San Jose it was predominately Mexican-American businesses. Now all you see are Vietnamese strip malls everywhere.
Well now after years of battling and controversy with the community and the City of San Jose. The Vietnamese community got the approval for a freeway exit sign off Highway 101 near 280. The sign reads "Little Saigon" on Story Road. The "Little Saigon" controversy started in late 2007, when Councilwoman Madison Nguyen announced that her preferred name was "Saigon Business District." Well the Vietnamese business people in the community wanted it to be called "Little Saigon". They got it and a freeway exit sign after a long battle. That goes to show you what persistence, dedication and what you believe in with all your heart will get you.
I have lived one other place in my life and it was Baltimore, Maryland. That was a cultural shock. I’m a Native Californian and proud of it. It has been a pleasure to live in San Jose. With all it diversity, I think there is no place like it.