Sentimental Journey

Before I get into the substance of this week’s post, I thought I should do a bit of follow-up on last week’s post, in which I highlighted a couple of items on the agenda for the City Council meeting that was held at the beginning of this week. I had noted that there would be “a report from the council’s ad-hoc committee on policing,” and indeed there was — although it ended up being a very brief statement (less than three minutes!) from the Mayor. The mayor’s statement did not include any content from the community feedback meetings; instead she noted that that information would be presented by folks from the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center in an online meeting to be held on Monday, October 5, at 6 p.m. She did state that the Ad-hoc Committee on Policing was reviewing our police department’s use-of-force policies (along with other policies, such as those concerning body-worn cameras) and that city staff was working on revisions to the use-of-force policies. So if this is a topic of interest to you, keep your eyes and ears open: more information will be forthcoming from the city.

I also highlighted a couple of “consent calendar” items that were indeed all unanimously approved with no discussion. These items included an extension of our temporary street closures for the purposes of outdoor dining (and retail, I believe, although we have very little of that in the affected areas), now until the end of next January. Another consent calendar item amends the municipal code “relating to Oversized Vehicles, Recreational Vehicles, and Sleeping in Vehicles” as well as the imposition of two-hour parking limits on certain areas of the city where RV’s have set up camp. (See my post Life on the Streets for some background on the city’s solution to people living in RVs on our city streets.)

Finally, the council unanimously approved the changes to our building codes that will require most new homes and buildings to be all-electric. There will be some exceptions that, for example, would allow gas to be used in new restaurant kitchens. And existing buildings and homes are not affected. But this is an interesting step towards addressing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, albeit one that won’t actually become official until the council holds another public hearing — tentatively scheduled for next Monday — and votes again on the issue.

I am not one to toot my own horn, so I don’t normally give much more than a passing notice when this blog hits major milestones. That is partly due to my personality, and partly due, I suspect, to the fact that when I started this blog I never gave much thought to its long-term future. I began it somewhat on a lark, with the intent that I’d use it to help hone my writing skills and as a way to give my time some purpose after a job layoff that I eventually turned into semi-retirement. Along the way I’ve given some thought to where it is going, but not a lot since things seem to be going fairly well: every week more people sign up to receive my posts, and the feedback I get is very supportive.

On occasion I’ve made reference to the number of blog posts I’ve written, but I checked #250 (from more than a year and a half ago!) and it seems I didn’t even bother mentioning that particular milestone. This post is nothing special as far as the numbers go — it’s number 333 — and isn’t worth highlighting for that fact alone. Neither is the number of photographs I’ve taken in service of this blog (more than 16,000) or the number of them that I’ve actually included as part of the 332 previous blog posts: 2,308. What is important, as it turns out, is the amount of space all of this is taking up on my computer. Ironically, that is what provided the spark for this week’s post.

Back in 2015, I treated myself to a new laptop: a 13-inch MacBook Pro. It’s been an excellent tool for the work that I do, with a number of (for the time) cutting-edge features. But even with an internal 500 GB flash drive, which I was sure would be more than enough, thanks largely to all of those photographs I find myself with less than 35 GB of free space. And that is after some aggressive management of my photo library — management that involved moving photographs of long-completed projects (“long” being a relative term) to an external drive.

The lack of available hard drive space is starting to make my computer hard to manage. Because Apple is on the cusp of a major change to their Mac line, until those are available and have been thoroughly tested by others I’m sticking with my existing machine, plus, for now, a handful of external hard drives.

So what do my computer woes have to do with this post? Well, as I shuffle photos around on various external hard drives in an effort to make more room, I can’t help but look at many of them. Some are from “long ago” (dating back almost eight whole years!) and are bringing back many memories. Of course, eight years isn’t actually all that long, but considering the transformation Redwood City has undergone over those years, it almost seems like a lifetime. Because I clearly enjoy sharing, this week I thought I’d share some of these older images with you, and let you enjoy some of the many memories I’ve captured over the years. So sit back and enjoy my short Redwood City-based sentimental journey.

Where to begin? How about in the heart of downtown, at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Broadway, almost exactly six years ago:

The Powerhouse Gym building, plus another small one down Jefferson Avenue towards the Post Office (where there was a tanning salon and a travel agency) ended up being torn down to make way for this, now the home of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative:

In 2013, almost exactly one year prior to taking the “before” shot showing the Powerhouse Gym, I took the following photo showing the corner of Main and Marshall streets:

Here is a much more recent photo of the same corner:

Quite a change, isn’t it? Back then I knew the guy who ran Image Auto (the small white building in the first photo) and there was a great sandwich shop in the two-story tan building to the left of Image Auto. Now, well, at least we have Coupa Cafe in the corner retail space beneath those red awnings. Above and around the cafe, of course, is The Marston by Windsor, a luxury apartment building.

Does anyone recognize the following?

You had to be in Redwood City back in 2013 (or before) to know this spot. This large municipal parking lot was a handy place to park when going downtown; my wife and I used it a lot. In addition to the parking lot, that block also used to be home to a small one-story law office and, on the corner of Middlefield Road and Jefferson Avenue, a Mexican restaurant called Los Potrillos.

All are gone now, but fortunately, during peak demand times for public parking — at night and on weekends — you can still park there today, in a place that looks altogether different:

These, of course, are the infamous “Box” buildings — more formerly known as “Crossing 900” since the building on the left is located at 900 Jefferson Avenue while the building on the right is located at 900 Middlefield Road (and of course the entire development is located where those two streets cross).

When I first got wind of the Indigo apartment building project, I made multiple trips to the site in order to try to capture some “before” images. Doing so was easy enough, but because of the size of the project — almost the entirety of one large block — I wasn’t able to get one single image that showed the whole site. Fortunately the site is directly across Jefferson Avenue from the county parking garage, and from the top of that garage I was able to get some photos that at least give some idea of the many small buildings that once stood on that block.

In this shot, Jefferson Avenue is in the foreground. That three-story gray apartment building you can see to the right of the palm trees is on the other side of Bradford Street (you can’t see the street in this picture; neither it nor the apartment building were part of the project site). But all of the buildings lined up immediately behind the palm tree, plus the building along the left edge of the photo, were torn down to enable construction of the 10-story, 463-unit Indigo apartment building. Here is a picture of the Indigo apartments, taken from roughly the same spot, after the complex was completed:

The eight-story office building that was constructed nearby at 601 Marshall St. was another fun one to watch. For years, the site had a couple of small buildings on it, buildings that were used as small law and medical offices. Most people were familiar with the building in the following picture, which sat on Marshall Street; it and its parking lot occupied a surprising amount of the block:

Around the corner, on Middlefield Road, this little building also succumbed to the construction project:

Nowadays, of course, we have this:

(I took this particular photo before the building was completely finished, back in January of 2018.)

Not all of Redwood City’s construction has been happening downtown, though. For instance, consider Blu Harbor, out at the end of Bair Island Road on the east side of the freeway. By the time I went out to photograph Pete’s Harbor (as the site was then known), although the project had yet to get underway, fences were up to keep the general public out. Somewhat undeterred, I took some pictures through the fence.

The building on the left in this photograph was a restaurant, open to the public. The trailer you see here is actually a construction trailer; it was not there when Pete’s Harbor was in full operation.

Because the fences greatly limited the viewpoints into Pete’s Harbor, I walked out onto Inner Bair Island to get this photo:

Regretfully I don’t have photos from the heights of the Pete’s Harbor days; back then the water you see in the above photograph was filled with boats.

Nowadays, of course, what used to be a working marina is now a large apartment complex with a small marina. All in all it looks nothing like what was there before:

Thankfully the inner marina, at least, was preserved and cleaned up. The slips in this marina can be leased by anyone, not just residents of those apartments. Note, however, that you can’t live on your boat in this marina.

Redwood City has a long history, of course, and has transformed many times over its life so far. But I continue to be amazed at how much it has changed just over the last eight years or so. Given all of the projects currently underway and in the planning pipeline, I expect that the next eight years will likely be as transformative as the past eight have been. So for those of you who are new to Redwood City and who missed much of what I just showed you, stick around and enjoy your own sentimental journey. And although I still don’t have any specific long-term plans for this blog, I expect that I’ll be there with you on the journey, documenting that change. Just as long as I can free up some more hard drive space, that is…!

6 thoughts on “Sentimental Journey

  1. Another great piece to your blog! Keep it going!

    When I see Blu Harbor and look at the before/after photos, I have to wonder how stable is the ground underneath it? It looks like it’s built on mud. Wouldn’t there be some subsidence of the ground and movement of the foundation?

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed this post (and I don’t live anywhere near Redwood City). The changes and growth in less than ten years are truly remarkable. Your photos, memories, and anecdotes would suggest the makings of a really interesting before/after book (hint, hint).

  3. This was great to see. My husband and I were just talking about what was in the Box location before Box. That little restaurant and the parking lot where we used to park when the farmer’s market was across from Sequoia Station. You don’t have any pictures of Main before the theaters were built, do you? I would love to see photos before construction started in downtown.

    • Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of (I assume you mean Jefferson) before the theaters were built. I was here before the theaters and watched the construction with interest, but unfortunately that was well before my blog and we’ll before I was taking pictures of downtown. There used to be a little shopping center there. I spent some time in the local history room and assembled a list of the retailers who were there, but haven’t done the digging to see if they have photos of that area. I’ll have to do that; that, plus some of the history around how the theaters were built would make a great column.

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