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Backesto Park, situated at the center of the Northside Neighborhood, is more than 75 years old. The park derives its name from John Pierre Backesto, a nineteenth century physician. In 1890, his widow, Anne Backesto, donated $30,000 to the City of San Jose in his memory. In 1920, the City finally got around to making use of the money to purchase the two block tract surrounded by 13th, 15th, Empire and Jackson Streets. In 1922, Backesto Park officially opened.
In 1981, NNA secured federal block grant funding for sprucing up Backesto Park. The Spring 1981 Northside Newsletter reported: "Backesto Park (in the very heart of the Northside) has undergone a major rehabilitation with a new community center, bocce canopy, playground, new irrigation system, landscaping, handball courts, [and] also slated for short time later are lights for night tennis. The Northside Neighborhood Association lobbied hard for [federal funds] which made it all possible. Incidentally—the large barbecue pit (cooks 100 steaks) was built and donated by the NNA in 1971."
Backesto Park elegantly shaded by mature Sycamores along the circumference of its three-square blocks, is home to a variety of diversions, including a modern children's playground, handball, basketball, baseball and soccer. The NNA annually sponsors a free tennis camp for neighborhood children at the tennis courts along Jackson Street. The Backesto Park community center is the voting site for Northside residents.
The jewel of park is its fountain visible from North 13th Street, which is currently being restored. The fountain is decorated with ceramic tiles by the famed tile makers, Solon & Schemmel. The fountain dates to 1922 and is the oldest Solon & Schemmel structure in existence.
For more on Backesto Fountain, read the article in our Landmarks section.
Listen to Backesto Park audio commentary from Joe Golda and Nat Robinson.
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