“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Redwood City in San Mateo County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)

The Path of History

Redwood City Walking Tour

The Path of History Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Joseph Alvarado, July 17, 2022
1. The Path of History Marker
South Panel
South Panel - 1 of 4
Welcome to historic Downtown Redwood City!
Step back in time, over 150 years, when much of Downtown Redwood City was made up of creeks and wharves. Discover that the town got its name, not from indigenous redwood forests, but from the lumber industry it spawned.
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
Paid Advertisement
Click on the ad for more information.
Please report objectionable advertising to the Editor.
Click or scan to see
this page online
– for $75.00 each – and named the settlement Mezesville, but the name wasn’t well received. He also donated land for public use, including California Square (location of the current County Government Buildings), and the Courthouse site (now the San Mateo County History Museum and Courthouse Square).

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 Path of History Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Joseph Alvarado, July 17, 2022
2. The Path of History Marker
North Panel
to the structure that stands today.

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
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:
Through the Years
Main Street at Broadway – 1887
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 Path of History Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Joseph Alvarado, July 17, 2022
3. The Path of History Marker
East Panel
until the partial removal of the Wahl Building (to the right of the photo) in 1931.

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.

The Path of History Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Joseph Alvarado, July 17, 2022
4. The Path of History Marker
West Panel
near what is now Chestnut Street, between Veterans Blvd. and Broadway, Redwood City Airport existed until the early 1930’s, when the land was subdivided and sold for commercial use.

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:
Wells Fargo Bank
Honoring Community History
In 1852, Henry Wells and William Fargo founded Wells, Fargo & Co. to serve the West, offering banking and rapid delivery of gold and anything of value. The stage line running between Redwood City, Pescadero (pictured above), and Half Moon Bay was part of the 3,000 miles of territory covered from California to Nebraska.
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:
Discover the Downtown
Over 150 years of Redwood City history
Start the Walking
The Path of History Kiosk image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Joseph Alvarado, July 17, 2022
5. The Path of History Kiosk
Tour anywhere!
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 & SpaceIndustry & CommerceWaterways & 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 Department
Hotel Sequoia Entrance image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Joseph Alvarado, July 17, 2022
6. Hotel Sequoia Entrance
(about 500 feet away); Redwood City War Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Redwood City.
Bank of San Mateo County building image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Joseph Alvarado, July 17, 2022
7. Bank of San Mateo County building
Diller-Chamberlain General Store (Quong Lee Laundry) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Joseph Alvarado, July 17, 2022
8. Diller-Chamberlain General Store (Quong Lee Laundry)
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.

Share this page.  
Share on Tumblr

CeraNet Cloud Computing sponsors the Historical Marker Database.
U.S. FTC REQUIRED NOTICE: This website earns income from qualified purchases you make on Thank you.
Paid Advertisements

Dec. 3, 2023