Willow Glen has small town charm in the middle of a big city. Once an incorporated city in its own, Willow Glen today, is a unique charming neighborhood of San Jose. Like a small town, with its own main street, Lincoln Avenue. Willow Glen is a lush neighborhood with tree-lined streets, punctuated with architecturally distinctive single family homes, many of them tiled roof Spanish-style houses built in the 1920s and 1930s, that have been immaculately restored by their owners. Willow Glen features a vital community life and close proximity to Downtown San Jose, retail shopping areas and Silicon Valley workplaces.
The Lincoln Avenue downtown business district, located between Coe and Minnesota, is lined with sidewalk cafes, Italian delis, home design stores and clothing boutiques. Although Starbucks, Peet’s, Noah's Bagels and others have established outposts to mine Willow Glen's lucrative demographics, most Lincoln Avenue stores continue to be locally owned and operated retail businesses. In fact, Willow Glen features two of the Silicon Valley area's only remaining independent bookstores.Once known for its profusion of willow trees and the rich, marshy land that provided fertile fields for growing fruits and row crops, Willow Glen today still boasts canopy trees on its streets and a Norman Rockwell-style charm that make it one of San Jose's most desirable neighborhoods.
It has its own downtown and character and an identity fiercely embraced by residents. It's a place where generations of families have sunk their roots and don't think of leaving, a place where you can easily walk or bike to the little downtown or nearby parks or trails and where the locals throw a yearly Founders Day parade to honor the area's pioneers.
"What we have here is a small town right in the middle of a big city of a million people," says Larry Ames, well-known area booster and president of the Willow Glen Neighborhood Association. "We have our own unique identity and a strong sense of community. There are grandparents who still live here, and so do their children and grandchildren. People don't move away."
Today Willow Glen is considered prime real estate. Over time, young professionals have moved into Willow Glen's manicured streets, the area has become more youthful with the biggest concentration of people between 25 and 55 years old. Like many small towns in the South Bay and on the Peninsula, Willow Glen has a quaint downtown that has seen its ups and downs. Many of its buildings look like they're stuck in another time. But the little retail district along Lincoln Avenue has overcome some of that tired architecture by bringing in modern-day merchants.