San Jose is a very unique city because of both the influences of the coffee and banana industries and some of it’s rural and outdated practices that aren’t found in most modern cities. The most noticeable influence of coffee and banana companies on San Jose is the railroad that connects the city to the Caribbean coast. Although there were plenty of coffee plantations in the central valley region in the 1800s, it was very expensive to export to Europe because the only port connected to San Jose was at the Pacific Ocean, meaning boats had to sail around the entirety of South America. To fix this, the government received loans from England to fund a railroad connecting San Jose to the Caribbean coast. This railroad funding was then taken over by Minor Cooper Keith in 1871 because the original funding for the railroad ran out before it was finished. In return, he received lands on both sides of the railroad and assumed control of the railroad for ninety-nine years after its completion. With the land, he cut down all of the rain forest area and opened up banana plantations. Then, since he controlled the railroad, he was able to assume a monopoly of the banana trade in Costa Rica by keeping some of his competition from using the railroad. Through the combination of the need for a better coffee route and Minor Cooper’s desire to go into and monopolize the banana industry, San Jose’s railroad system was born.
One of the most interesting parts of San Jose is the lack of house numbers. In the US, house numbers are critical for ensuring proper directions can be found to get from one place to another and that packages are delivered properly. Without house numbers, it could be extremely challenging to ensure these things are done correctly. When giving directions, it is slightly easier to make up for the lack of house numbers because you can simply give better descriptions. Additionally, as a tourist, you can ask the locals for further information as needed along the way. However, I would imagine it is very difficult to do the same thing when delivering packages because you can’t just write a paragraph as the address. Overall, I would assume that this system holds San Jose back because it could lead to complications that could easily be avoided with the use of house numbers.
As briefly mentioned above, there are several key factors that differ between San Jose and modern cities, such as Pittsburgh. However, the two still share some things in common. For example, the market at San Jose with all of it’s delicious local food and collectible trinkets was somewhat reminiscent of the Strip District in Pittsburgh. Although the Strip is more spread out rather than being in one building and sharing the same roof, the overall environment and purpose seemed very similar.