Investigating San Jose’s Unique Layout and Culture

Influences from Costa Rica’s rich history are very evident in the layout of San Jose. For example, something that stood out to me was how houses and roads were built around the train tracks. Riding the train into San Jose I noticed that the train passed through highly populated areas and it crossed over many other roads. Initially the train was built to transport coffee and bananas out of San Jose to ports on the Atlantic coast. There the produce would be exported to foreign trade partners in Europe. I think that many of the houses and towns surrounding the train tracks, such as Heredia were built in this location because its people could easily receive goods from the capital as well as the rest of the country. As these developments began to grow roads and houses were built around the train tracks. San Jose’s history in the exportation of bananas and coffee led to the development of Costa Rica’s central valley.

As soon as I began to explore San Jose I noticed similarities between Costa Rica’s capital city and Pittsburgh. The first thing that I found in common between the two cities is the rich historic buildings both cities have in addition to many modern buildings and housing. As I spent more time in San Jose I noticed that there was a delicate blend of old and new architecture throughout the city. This is something I also noticed while living in Pittsburgh. For example, on Pitts campus we have old historic buildings like soldiers and sailors just a few blocks down from Benedum, a sleek and modern looking building. The second thing I realized while exploring the city was that both San Jose and Pittsburgh are land locked cities that used to be focused on exporting goods. Historically San Jose is known for exporting coffee and bananas while Pittsburgh is famous for its steel production. Similarly, both cities needed a way to send their goods out of the city which established them as small hub cities with growing populations. Both San Jose and Pittsburgh share the same blend of old and new architecture and are known world wide for the goods that they produce.

I believe that the lack of using addresses prohibits San Jose from growing into a multi-national hub for tourism. For locals it is easy for them to use vague directions without addresses since they are familiar with the layout of the city as well as the idea of not having addresses. But many tourists might find this concept to be incredibly confusing and it ultimately might deter them from visiting the city. Most major cities and even towns have some sort of address system, this allows for a more organized community that makes travel easy for locals and tourists alike. The lack of organization in San Jose may be prohibiting its growth since the system it uses is not conducive to growth and expansion. Traveling around the city today was difficult enough with our tour guide, who is obviously very oriented and comfortable with directions in San Jose. Navigating this city alone with my family would have been near impossible, the city is hectic, loud and not to mention everyone speaks a foreign language. I believe that San Jose’s lack of using an address system really holds the city back from expanding and becoming a more popular tourist location.

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