Corp Yard History


Heinlenville, one of six Chinatowns in San Jose, was built in 1887. When an earlier Chinese settlement at the present site of the San Jose Fairmont Hotel was destroyed by a suspicious fire in the 1887, John Heinlen, a local businessman, braved death threats to lease property to the displaced Chinese. This area near today’s Japantown at Taylor and Sixth became known as Heinlenville.

Japantown History

Around 1890, the Japanese came to the Santa Clara Valley because of the abundant farm work. Without an established community of their own, these Issei (first generation) pioneers found refuge in San Jose’s Chinatown (called “Heinlenville” by locals after John Heinlen, the man who built it) located north of the downtown area. As an Asian town center, Chinatown offered familiar lodging, entertainment, restaurants and shops providing comfort and safety from prevailing anti-Asian racism.

Articles about archaeology in Heinlenville/Japantown:

‘The Big Dig’ gives glimpse into life in San Jose Chinatown 100 years

Archaeology of Early Chinese and Japanese San José

Excellent map of historical sites throughout San Jose’s Japantown;
Japanese American Businesses of 1940
Notice that the Corporation Yard was divided by two streets that do not appear on modern maps: Clay and Cleveland.

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