Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Redwood City Revisited

Redwood City is often overlooked among the more upscale Peninsula towns of Burlingame, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, and Mountain View. In fact, you're not likely to hear most non-residents say "Let's spend an afternoon in Redwood City", unless they need to visit the San Mateo County Civic Center or maybe grab some cheap Latin food on Middlefield Rd after visiting Costco.

Over the past few years, your host has passed through Redwood City countless times on the Caltrain on the way to the office, and thought it was time to revisit.

Incorporated in 1867, Redwood City is one of the oldest cities in San Mateo County, and has a number of historic sights remaining. Due to a recent downtown revitalization effort, the historic center is now a pleasant place to stroll. Of the old buildings present, the most notable are the old San Mateo County Courthouse and the Fox Theater (See pictures).

The courthouse was constructed in 1910, and though smaller, rivals San Francisco City Hall in opulence. Inside lies one of the largest stained glass domed rotundas in Northern California. The building currently houses the San Mateo County History Museum, which has several interesting exhibits, as well as a restored courtroom with its own stained glass ceiling. Mosaics line the hallways and rotunda floor. Fronting the courthouse is a new downtown plaza. In 2006, the County removed a building that occupied the sight, and restored the original columned facade.

Across the plaza from the courthouse is the Fox Theater, a venue constructed in 1928 as a Vaudeville house in the Moorish art deco style. It currently houses the Fox and Little Fox theaters and supports numerous live acts throughout the year. One can occasionally wander into the ornate lobby and theater outside of performance times.

Bisecting the Plaza is Broadway Street, which travels the length of Downtown. At the Intersection of Broadway and Main to the East lies a collection of several historic commercial structures including the Sequoia Hotel and the domed Fitzpatrick Building, constructed in 1899. Upon construction, the Fitzpatrick Building housed the first bank between San Francisco and San Jose. Notice the ornate late Victorian design elements of the building. The whole district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

At the other end of Broadway past the railroad tracks lies a collection of interesting stores and restaurants including the City Pub, with good burgers, and the Gourmet Haus Staudt Gifts and Cafe, a great German store and eatery. In business for over 25 years, the owners have recently added a pub and beer garden to the back of the store. Try a sausage or two with your stein of beer.

Near the railroad tracks on Broadway, there is a re-creation of an historic Redwood City sign with the slogan "Climate Best by Government Test." There were originally two signs that stood at either end of the city on El Camino Real, but were removed in prior years.

A number of parking garages offer cheap parking in the vicinity, including the Marshall Street Garage on Marshall between Jefferson and Main, where the history museum validates for a few hours.

Locations Mentioned:

San Mateo County History Museum (Courthouse)
2200 Broadway Street
Redwood City, CA 94061
(650) 299-0104
Tuesday – Sunday,
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Fox Theater
2215 Broadway Street
Redwood City, CA 94063
(650) 369-4119

City Pub
2620 Broadway Street
Redwood City, CA 94063
(650) 363-2620

Gourmet Haus Staudt Gifts and Cafe
2615 Broadway Street
Redwood City, CA 94063
(650) 364-9232

1 comment:

  1. That's interesting. I don't think I've ever been to Redwood City just to vist. I'll put it on my summer to-do list!