San Jose From Home

Today was an interesting day for me. While I did not go to San Jose with the group because of a sickness I developed in the nighttime, I still learned about San Jose. San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica and has developed around the trade of coffee and bananas. What jumpstarted this trade was the development of a railroad that spans the country. The railroad was paid for by a man named Minor Cooper Keith. He agreed to pay for the railroad if he could use the land around it. By doing this, he controlled the railroad and banana trade, essentially creating a monopoly. Around the railroad grew towns and cities and the effects from the development of the railroad can still be seen in San Jose today.

Looking at pictures of San Jose I see a blend of new and old architecture. In this way, the two cities built around old foundations to support a growing population fueled by exporting goods. While Pittsburgh dealt in the steel industry, San Jose was in the coffee and banana business. Regardless, these two cities manage to be similar through their architecture and how they developed over time. There are obvious differences, including climate, city planning, wildlife, and more; but, it is the similarities I find most interesting. Today, the emphasis on bananas and coffee has been largely replaced with other means of trade. This is also what has happened in Pittsburgh. A city that once thrived on the production and exportation of goods now relies on other means, like tourism, to sustain its economy.

Due to San Jose growing so quickly, it was common that streets received no names at all. The lack of street addresses in San Jose, while initially confusing, appears to have little impact on the Ticos that live there.  Since San Jose is laid out in a grid pattern, the Ticos know their way around and it seems that delivery men do as well. While it works for Ticos it can be confusing for tourists as a city with no addresses is confusing at first. At first glance one would think that San Jose is held back by this, however, in my opinion, the system appears to work well enough. While our tendencies drive us to say that anything drastically different from what we are familiar with is less effective, San Jose appears to get along perfectly without street addresses. If San Jose was truly that held back it would not have reached the size and success it has achieved today.

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