SoFA District

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SoFA District
SoFA skyline1 (cropped).jpg
SoFA District - San Jose, CA (7474098382) (cropped).jpg
Parque de los Pobladores.jpg
San Jose, CA - panoramio - Vadim Manuylov (4).jpg
Top: SoFA skyline; Middle: South First Street;
Bottom left: Parque de los Pobladores; Bottom right: Valley of the Heart's Delight mural.
SoFA District is located in San Jose, California
SoFA District
SoFA District
Coordinates: 37°19′51″N 121°53′09″W / 37.330861°N 121.885910°W / 37.330861; -121.885910 (Japantown)Coordinates: 37°19′51″N 121°53′09″W / 37.330861°N 121.885910°W / 37.330861; -121.885910 (Japantown)
Country United States
CountySanta Clara
CitySan Jose
ZIP Code

SoFA (SOuth First Area) is an arts, cultural, and entertainment district of Downtown San Jose, California. Home to numerous cultural institutions, art galleries, and theatre companies, including the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, the San José Opera, and the Silicon Valley Symphony, SoFA bills itself as "Silicon Valley's Creative District".[1]


The California Theatre hosts the annual Cinequest Film Festival.

The commercial street had been a major retail district of San Jose in the late 1800s and early part of the 20th century, but by the 1970s had fallen into decline along with much of downtown San Jose as the city expanded and retail moved to suburban shopping centers.

By the late 1970s, it had become a red light district overrun with adult movie theaters and street prostitution. The adult businesses were zoned out in the late 1980s under an initiative spearheaded by then-downtown councilwoman Susan Hammer. Nightclubs began opening and the district became known as SoFA during that period. [2]

In 2011, Arts Place, a consortium of 11 large foundations, granted $500,000 to a SoFA Initiative proposed by the 1stAct nonprofit to turn Parque de los Pobladores into an “urban plaza” and an "outdoor living room" for SoFA. The project removed the park’s mature trees and expanded the park’s footprint with a concrete plaza.[3]


SoFA is home to the historic California Theater, Symphony Silicon Valley, Cinequest film festival, San Jose Stage Company, City Lights Theater Company, MACLA (Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana), the Original Joe’s restaurant and the free weekly Metro Silicon Valley.

The district is home to art galleries and museums such as Anno Domini, the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), and the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles, as well as creative design firms such as Decca Design, Liquid Agency, and Whipsaw.

SoFA is the site of several city festivals and events, including South First Fridays, the SoFA Street Fair, the Zero1 Biennial, Subzero, C2SV and SoFA Sundays.

Nightclubs include Cafe Stritch, The Ritz, Agenda, Backbar SoFA, Aura, Cafe Frascati, Haberdasher, the Fountainhead and Continental Lounge.


Its location centered on three blocks of South 1st Street, from Reed St. to San Carlos St. The area was named by local business people after the San Jose Redevelopment Agency unsuccessfully named it the “Market Gateway” district. [4]


  1. ^ SoFA District: Silicon Valley's Creative District
  2. ^ Bruce, Newman (February 14, 2015). "After languishing for decades, downtown San Jose may finally be ready for its closeup". San Jose Mercury News. San Jose, CA. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  3. ^ Pizarro, Sal (September 18, 2011). "Arts groups get funds to improve SoFA area". San Jose Mercury News. San Jose, CA. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  4. ^ "Reupholstering SoFA". Metro Silicon Valley. September 14, 2000. Retrieved April 30, 2015.

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