Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, thousands of people in San José, California were displaced from their homes as the state used eminent domain to purchase land and uproot neighborhoods for the construction of Interstate freeways. This report presents a multifaceted research and public knowledge effort that uncovers some of the communities buried beneath these freeways, in the area where I-280 and CA-87 meet today near downtown San José. The project builds primarily from previously unprocessed California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) archival documents, which this project studies for the first time. The records are rich in detail about valuation and sale data and contain some of the only photographs of these homes in one of the oldest neighborhoods in San José, created when assessing properties that the state intended to purchase for demolition. Yet the absence of human context, life, and value in the records speaks volumes as well. In addition to investigating and analyzing the files, it soon became clear that perhaps the most valuable contribution would be to daylight their contents in an accessible, public-facing manner. By indexing the records, analyzing the photographs, and georeferencing the content into interactive maps, this project worked to combine the archival materials with historic and contemporary maps, news accounts, and city and community records into public resources. A Story Map hosted by San José State University’s Institute for Metropolitan Studies allows anyone to explore the historical records and the human impact of the freeway development. Also produced were a publicly accessible database of the archival data, a standalone interactive map, and three new GIS spatial data layers. The goal is to foster further research, storytelling, and organizing about displacement.

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Publication Type



Planning and Policy, Sustainable Transportation and Land Use

Digital Object Identifier


MTI Project



freeways, urban neighborhoods, infrastructure


Infrastructure | Transportation | Transportation Engineering | Urban Studies and Planning