Redwood City in San Mateo County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
The Path of History
Redwood City Walking Tour
South Panel - 1 of 4
Start anywhere on the Path (see map on the west side of this kiosk), and discover selected sites with commemorative plaques providing background details of Redwood City’s rich, fascinating history!
Embarcadero Turning Basin / Redwood Creek
View of Downtown Redwood City in the 1890’s, looking north from Broadway, at the current Marhsall Garage site. This deep-water channel was discovered off the bay in 1850, facilitating the shipment of lumber from Peninsula forests to San Francisco.
Simon Mezes, 1822-1884
Simon M. Mezes was the founder of Redwood City. For his legal services in securing title to the 35,000 acre Rancho de las Pulgas for the Arguello Family, he was awarded over 5,000 acres in 1853. This land included all of Downtown Redwood City.
He platted lots for sale
San Mateo County Courthouse
The first of fur county courthouses was built at the same site (on Broadway, between Middlefield and Hamilton) in 1858, on land donated to the County for public use by Simon Mezes.
The fourth courthouse was built 1910, had a façade restoration in 2005, and is now home to the San Mateo County History Museum.
Redwood City Railroad Station
The advent of the railroad played and important part in the development of Redwood City, as it did for many other towns on the Peninsula.
The first train came through Redwood City in 1863, establishing service between San Francisco and Menlo Park, then extended to San Jose the following year. This early train station was located on the east side of the tracks in the beginning.
Main Street at Broadway
The building at the northwest corner of Main St. and Broadway went through a number of changes throughout the century: Snug Saloon, Grand Hotel, and the Bank of San Mateo County, which suffered major damage from the 1906 earthquake, but was rebuilt
The adjacent brick building (center of picture), was built by John Diller in 1859 to house his general store. P.P. Chamberlain, the second owner of the store, was the San Mateo County Treasurer. From 1875 to 1911, the building also housed the Wells Fargo Express Office.
The Diller-Chamberlain building, located at 726 Main Street, is the oldest surviving brick commercial structure in San Mateo County.
Frank’s Tannery began operations in 1874 at the current Kohl’s Plaza site. It was the largest tannery on the West Coast at the time. Tanneries were a by=product of the lumbering industry. Tanbark was stripped from oak trees, then dried and boiled in water, creating the tannic acid used in making leather.
Frank’s Tannery closed in 1959 and the vacant buildings burned to the ground in a dramatic 1968 fire.
North Panel – 2 of 4:
Looking north up Main Street (toward Veterans Blvd>) in the late 1800’s gives the viewer quite a different scene than of today’s Downtown Redwood City.
Notice that Main Street ends at Redwood Creek, accommodating sailboats (shown) as well as steam-powered lumber ships bound for San Francisco.
Broadway ends at Main Street, not cutting through
The Grand Hotel occupied the northwest corner, prior to the construction of the Bank of San Mateo Building. Not shown is the Eureka Brewery a the southwest corner (left), that was torn down for the construction of the Sequoia Hotel in 1912.
Redwoods City Grammar School
Redwood City Grammar School opened in 1895, and accommodated grades K-12, until Sequoia High was built in 1904. The hauling of lumber through town was a common sight for that era.
The building was torn down in 1927 and replaced by the Sequoia Theater in 1928, which became the Fox Theater in 1950.
Fourth of July Parade, 1915
Redwood City has sponsored a Fourth of July parade almost every year since 1887. The photo above shows the 1915 edition coming down Broadway.
The dome of the courthouse, just completed five years earlier in 1910, can be seen on the right, across the street from the tower of the Redwood City Grammar School, which was built in 1895 (see Timeline entry, upper right).
Redwood City Airport
Redwood City Airport was started in 1916 by aviator Silas Christofferson. It was eventually sold to Walter Varney, a World War I flying ace, in 1920. Varney founded the United Aircraft & Transportation Co., which became United Airlines.
Redwood City Fire Station No. 1
When the Redwood City Volunteer Fire Department was formed in 1861, it was the first non-profit organization in San Mateo County. This third firehouse opened in 1921. The building was remodeled and converted to become the new Main Library in 1989.
East Panel – 3 of 4:
Honoring Community History
In 1861, Wells Fargo took over operations of the western leg of the famed Pony Express. By 1888, the bank rode the railroads from “Ocean-to-Ocean,” connecting 2,500 communities in 25 states.
Today, Wells Fargo Bank is honored to serve Downtown Redwood City and proud to be part of the rich history of the community.
West Panel “map” – 4 of 4:
Start the Walking
Wells Fargo Bank
Redwood City Civic Cultural Commission
Peter and Paula Uccelli Foundation
Redwood City Library Archives Committee
A.J. Guaspari, Fable Inc.
Erected by City of Redwood City.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Air & Space • Industry & Commerce • Waterways & Vessels. A significant historical year for this entry is 1850.
Location. 37° 29.206′ N, 122° 13.563′ W. Marker is in Redwood City, California, in San Mateo County. Marker is on Broadway, on the right when traveling west. The four resin panels are mounted in a kiosk on Broadway, just east of Main Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 900 Main Street, Redwood City CA 94063, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Diller-Chamberlain Gen. Store/American Hotel-American House/Sequoia Hotel/Bank of San Mateo County (a few steps from this marker); Eureka Corner (within shouting distance of this marker); The Pioneer Store (within shouting distance of this marker); Alhambra Theater (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); First Fire House (about 400 feet away); Embarcadero Turning Basin Site (about 400 feet away); Redwood City Fire DepartmentRedwood City War Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Redwood City.
Credits. This page was last revised on August 29, 2022. It was originally submitted on July 19, 2022, by Joseph Alvarado of Livermore, California. This page has been viewed 149 times since then and 92 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on July 20, 2022, by Joseph Alvarado of Livermore, California. 6, 7, 8. submitted on August 26, 2022, by Joseph Alvarado of Livermore, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.