Alviso is a neighborhood in San Jose, Santa Clara County, California. It is located approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) south of Drawbridge, at the north end of San José where it meets the southern end of the San Francisco Bay and borders the nearby city of Milpitas.
The Guadalupe River and Coyote Creek both end at Alviso, emptying into the Bay through Alviso Slough and Mud Slough. In 1983, Alviso, the lowest elevation point in the entire San Francisco Bay Area, was victim to severe flooding caused by El Niño.
Alviso was first settled in the 18th century. The community was named for Ignacio Alviso, the son of Corporal Domingo Alviso, one of the original members of the de Anza expedition. Corporal Alviso lived but a short time after reaching San Francisco and was buried March 11, 1777.. Alviso's descendants were granted the Rancho Rincon de Los Esteros holding. In 1840, his descendant of the same name, Ignacio Alviso, moved from Mission Santa Clara de Asís to this 3,653 acres (14.78 km2) ranchero. From this port, beaver pelts, cattle hides and tallow went to San Francisco.
Alviso was the home to a series of several successful business ventures. Alviso Mills, founded in 1853, at its peak produced up to 300 barrels of flour a day. As wheat production in the San Joaquín Valley grew, production in the Santa Clara Valley waned and the Alviso Mills closed in 1885. In 1906, Sai Yin Chew opened the Bayside Canning Company there, and at its peak was the 3rd largest cannery in the United States. During The Depression Alviso was known for its dance halls and gambling establishments. In the 1960s and 1970s a small independent boat building community developed there.
Shipping and industry have left Alviso, leaving it mostly as a small residential neighborhood. Digital video recorder company TiVo is based in the community as well as Foundry Networks. Many salt evaporation ponds formerly owned by Cargill in the neighborhood are being converted to wetlands as part of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
This 18.9 acres (76,000 m2) bayside park, though small in size, offers a great deal of activities within its boundaries and on into the Wildlife Refuge. A light dredging of the channel, a new boat ramp, two piers and parking lot were completed in time for the start of summer this year, giving boaters access to the bay again after a quarter of a century. Both the pathways and boardwalks of the County Park and trails around the ponds in the adjacent Wildlife Refuge offer fantastic views of the mountains surrounding the bay, and of the wildlife that call these ponds home.
Hiking, biking and bird watching are favorite activities in both the park and the refuge, while picnicking and strolling along the manicured pathways can be enjoyed within the County Park. Dogs are allowed in the County Park's pathways and picnic areas, but are not allowed on the trails, levees and boardwalks. While bikes are allowed on all pathways and trails in the park, please walk your bikes on the boardwalks. The launch ramp provides one of the few clear routes in the San Jose area through the salt marshes out to the open waters of the San Francisco Bay.
Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, the first urban National Wildlife Refuge established in the United States, is dedicated to preserving and enhancing wildlife habitat, protecting migratory birds, protecting threatened and endangered species, and providing opportunities for wildlife-oriented recreation and nature study for the surrounding communities.
As of 2004, the Refuge spans 30,000 acres (120 km2) of open bay, salt pond, salt marsh, mudflat, upland and vernal pool habitats located throughout south San Francisco Bay. Located along the Pacific Flyway, the Refuge hosts over 280 species of birds each year. Millions of shorebirds and waterfowl stop to refuel at the Refuge during the spring and fall migration. In addition to its seasonal visitors, the Refuge provides critical habitat to resident species like the endangered California clapper rail and salt marsh harvest mouse. Today, hundreds of thousands of people visit the Refuge each year to enjoy its diverse wildlife and habitats.
The Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge is part of a complex made up of six other wildlife refuges in the San Francisco Bay Area. Founded in 1974 and administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, It was renamed Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in 1995 in recognition of Congressman Don Edwards' efforts to protect sensitive wetlands in south San Francisco Bay.
Alviso has a ghost town which is named Drawbridge. Hunters and fisherman came to the island by train in the 1870s, and many never left. By the 1920s, the autonomous population had grown to more than 400. Of course, since there were no police or no government on the island, it supposedly became a haven for bootleggers, gamblers and brothels, but this has been disputed. And they had to fend for themselves, as there was no electricity or plumbing. But the community gradually faded away, as pollution and urbanization from the burgeoning valley destroyed the hunting and fishing industries. Several buildings are visible in the ghost town, though it is steadily sinking into the marshlands. Though there are no roads which lead to the town, it is visible from the side of Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and accessible via the Union Pacific Railroad tracks which run through the remains of Drawbridge.
A geodesic dome house was built after the last big flood and land was more affordable.
The Laine Store at 996 Elizabeth Street, was run by the Tilden family from 1865 to 1912. In the 1920s it became a Chinese gambling hall.
The last of the Italianate Victorian homes that once lined Elizabeth Street. Still occupied by the Laine family; Thomas Laine and Beverly Laine. Will be passed down the their son and daughter-in-law Bart Laine and Dorothy Laine.