The Plaza de Car E. E. Ch?vez is part of the original plaza of the 1797 Pueblo de San Jos? and is the oldest continuously used public open space in the city. The plaza was the hub of the old Spanish settlement: the site of Juzgado and the church, it was a focus for the public life of the pueblo. After the U.S. takeover, surveyor Chester Lyman laid out the present elliptical park at the southern edge of the plaza. This became the primary civic open space of the new American city and, in 1849, the first State Capitol was situated on its eastern edge.
The Plaza de Car E. Ch?vez continued to serve the functions of the original Hispanic plaza―parade ground, cock-pit, racetrack―but a peculiarly American use for it was a site for public hangings. The park declined in favor during the 1870s, when San Jose's large Chinese population established itself along the eastern side of Market Street. City leaders contemplated closing the park and running Market Street through it. Public protest quashed this theme and, when a fire destroyed the adjacent Chinatown in 1887, the park was selected as a site for the new City Hall. Until its demolition in 1958, the elaborate brick and stone building dominated the park.
In 1993, the park was renamed in honor of Car E. Ch?vez (1927 - 1993) ― resident of San Jos?, community organizer and founder of the United Farm Workers Union. The vision of the UFW was born in San Jos