San Jose's Electric Light Tower was the inspiration of J.J. Owen, editor of the San Jose Mercury. On May 13, 1881, Owen printed an editorial suggesting that by providing one high and immense source of arc light, the night would become as day for the downtown area. With the enthusiastic financial support of local citizens, construction began that August, and on December 13, 1881, the gigantic 237-foot tower was lighted.
Straddling the intersection of Santa Clara and Market Streets, the tower proved to be most spectacular with its 24,000 candlepower. Already damaged by a windstorm in February 1915, the tower completely collapsed into the street in December of that year.
The Electric Light Tower standing on the Museum grounds is a replica of the original structure. Rising 115 feet, this tower has been scaled to fit the Museum streets.
Funded and promoted by the San Jose Real Estate Board.[Other credits too damaged to read.]