Founded in 1872 and known as the reservation, Alum Rock Park is the oldest municipal park in California. It was named for a large rock formation believed to contain alum. Even after it was discovered to have been incorrectly identified, the name persisted. The park was a tremendously popular recreational destination, famous for its mineral springs.
Over time, the park has featured a hotel, a saloon, mineral bath houses, a cafe, a zoo, and an indoor swimming pool. The rock alcoves, footbridges and other stone features were built in the late 1800s. A livery stable at the upper entrance to the park provided horses for hire and continued to operate under private ownership for more than a century. An extraterrestrial meteor was a popular site until it was discovered to be a natural geological formation. A small carousel was installed, which featured tiger first horsed made of cast aluminum. At the height of its popularity, trains brought thousands of visitors directly into the park from downtown San Jose. In 1954, the Youth Science Institute opened its doors to children to promote an appreciation of the wildlife and nature in the park, ant it marked a change in the understanding of how the park could serve the City of San Jose.
In later years, it was determined that continued heavy use would irreversibly damage the fragile ecology of the park. Many to the structures that had drawn crowds in years past were dismantled, and the park was restored to a more natural state, allowing visitors to appreciate Alum Rock Park's great rustic beauty,