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San Jose Geography
 
 
 

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 178.2 square miles (461.5 km²), of which 3.3 square miles (8.6 km²; 1.86%) is water.

San Jose lies near the San Andreas Fault; a major source of earthquake activity in California. The most serious earthquake, in 1906, damaged many buildings in San Jose. Earlier significant quakes rocked the city in 1839, 1851, 1858, 1864, 1865, 1868 and 1891. The Daly City Earthquake of 1957 caused some damage. The Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989 also did some damage to parts of the city. The other faults near San Jose are the Monte Vista Fault, South Hayward Fault, Northern Calaveras Fault and Central Calaveras Fault.

The Guadalupe River runs from the Santa Cruz Mountains (which separate the South Bay from the Pacific Coast) flowing north through San Jose, ending in the San Francisco Bay at Alviso. Along the southern part of the river is the neighbourhood of Almaden Valley, originally named for the mercury mines which produced mercury needed for gold extraction from quartz during the California Gold Rush as well as mercury fulminate blasting caps and detonators for the US military from 1870 to 1945.

The lowest point in San Jose is 13 feet (4 m) below sea level at the San Francisco Bay in Alviso; the highest is 4,372 feet (1,333 m) at Copernicus Peak, Mount Hamilton, which is technically outside the city limit. Due to the proximity to Lick Observatory atop Mount Hamilton, San Jose has taken several steps to reduce light pollution, including replacing all street lamps and outdoor lighting in private developments with low pressure sodium lamps. To recognise the city's efforts, the asteroid 6216 San Jose was named after the city.

 

 
 

 



 


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