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Bridgeway | Tam Valley | Miller Ave | Tiburon | Fairfax | San Anselmo | Ross | KentďŹ eld | Greenbrae | Larkspur | Larkspur Landing | Old Town Corte Madera Bayside Corte Madera | Downtown San Rafael | Gerstle Park | Sun Valley | Dominican | Canal | Terra Linda | Point San Pedro | Downtown Novato | Ignacio

eighborhoods Marin

Fall 2009

A look at the unique nooks that make the county a special place to live

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A publication of the

paciďŹ csun.com

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Welcome to the Neighborhoods

eighborhoods Marin

An old saying goes, “don’t buy the house, buy the neighborhood.” And in Marin, that couldn’t be more true. For the autumn 2009 blow-out edition of Neighborhoods—our ongoing series of peaks into Marin’s best-loved nooks—we’re highlighting the county’s most intriguing main drags. Teeming with parks and amenities, local-grown businesses and familygeared residential areas, these 'hoods span Marin’s southern, central and northern outposts along the Highway 101 corridor.

From the views of Sausalito to the nightlife of Fourth Street San Rafael to the winding country roads of Novato, our renowned county holds a fascinating past—and a promising future. When it comes to Marin, we recommend buying the house and the neighborhood.

—JASON WALSH EDITOR, PACIFIC SUN

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SAUSALITO Bridgeway...............................................4 MILL VALLEY Tam Valley ..............................................5 Miller Ave................................................6 Downtown ..............................................8 TIBURON ..............................................10 FAIRFAX Downtown ............................................ 11 SAN ANSELMO Downtown ............................................12 KENTFIELD...........................................14 ROSS ....................................................15 GREENBRAE.........................................16 LARKSPUR Downtown ............................................18 Larkspur Landing .................................20 CORTE MADERA Old Town...............................................22 Bayside .................................................24 SAN RAFAEL Downtown ............................................26 Gerstle Park ..........................................28 Sun Valley .............................................30 Dominican ............................................32 Canal.....................................................34 Point San Pedro ...................................36 Terra Linda ...........................................38 NOVATO Downtown ............................................40 Ignacio ..................................................42 ON THE COVER (Clockwise from top left) Canal, Kentfield, Downtown Fairfax, Downtown Mill Valley, Sun Valley, Downtown Larkspur DESIGN & MAPS Gabriel Lieb PHOTOGRAPHS Ken Piekny, Julie Vader WRITERS Samantha Campos, Sabina Chapman, Maureen Dixon, Tanya Henry, Laurel Kellner, Shelley Shepherd Klaner, Kara Maddalena, Jacob Shafer, Matthew Stafford, Allie Weiss, Gabriella West

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Embarcadero Publishing Company. (USPS 454630) with offices at 835 Fourth St. Suite B (entrance on Cijos St.), San Rafael 94901; Telephone: (415) 485-6700, Fax (415) 485-6226. E-Mail: letters@ pacificsun.com. Entire contents of this publication Copyright ©2009 Embarcadero Publishing Company ISSN; 0048-2641. All rights reserved.

Member of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies Marineighborhoods Fall 2009 3

Bridgeway y A cruise down Sausalito’s tourist mecca

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n a clear day from many places on the Bridgeway thoroughfare, there’s a straight shot view of the city’s iconic Fire Stn skyline—with eastern views to Angel Island and Alcatraz. as you walk, run or stroll along the bay on Bridgeway, it B u l k l ey becomes clear that it’s a place for locals, visitors and day-trippers alike. Cozy cafés, knickknack stores, art galleries, swanky bouGabrielson Pk a V in l tiques and exquisite restaurants line the route once intended Sausalito Yacht Club e D r to be a freeway that connected with the Golden Gate Bridge. M a za Pla Fortunately, Bridgeway remains a 2.5-mile stretch of shoreline Sausalito Ferry Terminal road, leading traffic through a pedestrian’s paradise of culture Yee Tock Chee Pk and recreation. Princess St Sausalito has been a desirable place to live since the days of its Av original inhabitants, the Costal Miwoks. Explorers and traders from Spain and Mexico successively snuffed out the Native American influence by the 1850s. The allure for those conquistadors was sheltered inlets, abundant natural resources and ideal climate. By 1868, Gold Rush miners discovered Sausalito—or, as it was known then, Saucelito. According to the Sausalito Historical Society, 19 savvy businessmen bought the land from English settler William Richardson and began a ferrying business. The Land Tiffany Park & Ferry Company was slow to turn a profit until 1871, when a deal was struck with the North Pacific Railroad. Rail brought ture along Bridgeway diversity —attracting Portuguese, Germans, Chinese, Italians, reflects its rich history, Greeks and others. Wealthy San Franciscans built summer homes from Gold Rush, to orin the hills (known as the Banana Belt for its "tropical" climate) nate Victorian, to hints of Italian and Portuguese influence. Plaza and became known as "the codfish aristocracy." Workers, known Vina del Mar stands on the northern end of Bridgeway with its as the "silurians," and artists lived along the shoreline. Perhaps elegant fountain and tall flagpoles donated by the town's Chilean Bridgeway's most renowned resident was Sally Stanford, who sister city, Vina del Mar. Slightly further north, one comes across made her way across the bay in the late-1940s, bringing, as Doris the historic Casa Madrona Hotel. There is also a small residenBerdahl of the town's visitor center puts it, "both controversy tial section of Bridgeway where homes go for a million or more. and unity to Sausalito." Stanford was a 5 foot tall, flamboyantly Sausalito's main corridor has managed to maintain much of its dressed "madam" who ran a well-known bordello in San Francisneighborhood feel. Community events bring entertainment co. Stanford opened up the Valhalla restaurant. Stanford was not and diversity to the town. From May to August, residents flock the only famous face to come to Sausalito. Children's author Shel to Gabrielson Park Friday evenings for Jazz & Blues by the Bay, Silverstein, author Jack London, publisher William Randolph free outdoor concerts where families and friends come together Hearst and writer Evan Connell also had homes along the banks to picnic, sip wine and soak up the good vibes. The Sausalito Art of the bay. ArchitecFestival, which draws thousands of artists and collectors each year, is held each Labor Day weekend in Marinship Park. Bridgeway is a tourist attraction—and justly so,—but any local will tell you that the neighborhood is their own. "In the morning, Bridgeway is for the townspeople," says Susan Forrest, local teacher and longtime resident. "It is a place for people of the community to meet and catch up." In the early morning hours and in the fading light of dusk, Sausalitans sit back and admire the panoramic views, knowing that they are right at home.—KARA MADDALENA S

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photo by Ken Piek ny

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FIRE STATION Sausalito Fire Department, 333 Johnson St. LIBRARY Sausalito Library, 420 Litho St. PARKS Vina Del Mar Plaza, Bridgeway & Anchor St.; Gabrielson Park, Anchor St. POST OFFICE Sausalito Post Office, 150 Harbor Dr.

ated by Sausalito’s The fountain plaza was don mar. del a Vin , city er Chilean sist

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PUBLIC SCHOOLS Bayside Elementary/Willow Creek Academy, 630 Nevada St.

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Tam Valley y Mill Valley’s junction to Marin

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am Valley. Not sure exactly what it Open Space encompasses? You’re not the only one. Preserve Sh un as Often referred to interchangeably as gs t a Way Tam Junction, it’s a crossroads—a flyby Nor ther spot, where scenic route and freeway meet. n Av 1 Part thoroughfare, commercial square S h oreli n e Hw y and nature preserve, Tam Valley’s at r A lt odds with itself. It hasn’t always been M ar in this way. Av ta Mistakenly affi liated with Mill Valley, its neighbor city to the north, Tam Valley is an unincorporated part of Marin. It’s a curious fit e Wa ris y with the rest of the county. “The best way to put E n t er r s e u R ichard it,” says longtime resident Judy Martin, “is that C o n co M n Rd a ri Mill Valley does not think of us as Mill Valley. We’re that place between them and Sausalito and C ar rer a Dr Marin City.” To residents, Tam Valley “starts with the Dipsea Cafe, goes until Rosemont and then up the road to the beach.” C ount y v Bordered on the east by Almonte Boulevard and Tennessee u r ant Wa y Valley Road, Shoreline Highway cuts through the middle. The things remain the main drag to Mt. Tam and the coast, Shoreline has come to same, though: The defi ne the area. gas station, grocery Before it was a beeline to the beach, Tam Valley was a store and other service-oriented quiet place. It was populated by horse stables, dairy farms and businesses may have changed hands chicken ranches; kids played in the streets. Today, cars roar over the years, but the neighborhood past on Shoreline, but it’s calm inside Scads of Th ings, Judy’s feeling and familiarity is still alive. knickknack store, one of the oldest buildings in Tam Valley. Before it became the main drag for passing tourists, Tam ValYears ago, it housed the incubator for the T&M Hatchery. ley was a bit of a salty backwater. Tam Valley became a stompNow, hand-knitted scarves drape over shelves in the front where ing ground for tractor drivers, veterans and hard drinkers; San chickens used to be slaughtered; it’s a near perfect juxtaposition Quentin employees, electricians and bait-shop owners also for defi ning the old and new Tam Valley. made their homes there. Eventually, local boozing haunts like As the community developed, the low cost of housing made the Pastime were replaced by surf shops and ice cream stores, as it an ideal site for craftspeople. Judy says, “It used to be a place the community set roots and started families. where they could afford studios.” That has certainly changed The influence of the bay and the Pacific is felt in its archiover the years. Motorists whizzing by rarely stop at the modest tecture, as homes built by fishermen climb high into the hills. studio/storefronts. Poke around and you’ll fi nd a few—a ceraDown in the flats was the noir-ish Fireside Motel, the legendmist, a cabinet shop and a gold exchange among them. Some ary stopover and unofficial entrance to the valley right off the highway. With a history of being betwixt and between, Tam Valley is still trying to fi nd itself. Many insist they’re happy with change—but prefer it to be slow. Some environmentalists want to make it marshland. Developers have cutesy cafés and boutiques in mind. Some locals want to keep it just the way it is, imperfect and unimproved. With no consensus in sight, it may just stay as it’s always been—good. —LAUREL KELLNER Pacifi c Sun Hom e & Gard en

photo by Ken Piek ny

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F FIRE STATION - Mill Valley Fire Department, 1 Hamilton Ln.; Southern Marin Fire Protection District, 308 Reed Blvd. S LLIBRARY - Mill Valley Public Library, 375 Throckmorton Ave. PARKS - Bothin Marsh Open Space Preserve P P POST OFFICE - Mill Valley Post Office, 751 E. Blithedale Ave.

cream stores, Tam Valley With its surf shops and ice beach town. has become Marin’s inland

P PUBLIC SCHOOLS - Tamalpais High School, 700 Miller Ave.; Mill V Valley Middle School, 425 Sycamore Ave.; Tam Valley School, 3350 Beel Ln. Marineighborhoods Fall 2009 5

Miller Avenue Mill Valley’s working-class hero

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iller Avenue is Mill Valley’s great civic entranceway. Like every portal thoroughfare from the Via Appia to Market Street, it escorts the visitor from point of arrival to the center of the action. Its four lanes of asphalt, concrete, cherry blossoms and usurped railbed link two intra-urban highways with the town’s tree-shaded hub; aspects of the town’s inclusive past sharing frontage space with its loft y status quo: a rambling, century-old high school, a storied saloon, supermarkets for patrician and proletariat alike, gas stations and fast-food joints, the town’s oldest business and some of its most venerable and beautiful homes. The Coast Miwok were the first inhabitants of the neighborhood, reveling in the climate and the abundant wildlife since about the time of the Magna Carta. One of their shellmounds was at present-day Locke and LaGoma streets, two blocks east of Miller, which was once, in those prebay-fi ll days, a point on the Richardson Bay shoreline. It was here that Irish immigrant John Reed built his adobe home in the 1830s. The wayfarer had recently acquired a phenomenal land grant from the Mexican government that encompassed the Tiburon peninsula, a substantial chunk of Corte Madera and half of Mill Valley—everything east of that aforementioned creekbed. Here Reed raised horses, sheep and cattle, operated a quarry and hosted the occasional rodeo, but his most famous enterprise was the sawmill he operated a few miles northwest in present-day Old Mill Park. The burgeoning, lumber-hungry city of San Francisco helped ensure the mill’s success, and to transport all of that harvested redwood across the bay, Reed’s laborers built a road from the shores of Cascade Creek to the train station at Almonte: the primal prototype for our own Miller Avenue. In 1892 the Mill Valley Lumber Company opened for business at 129 Miller, straddling the creek that defi nes the town and supplying the raw materials for most of the homes and businesses that cropped up hereabouts after the 1906 earthquake. As the town doubled in population, two new neighborhoods were developed on both sides of Miller: on the west Homestead Valley, an adamantly unincorporated region of sylvan glades, gullies and rolling hills, and on the east Tamalpais Park, with

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its unique midblock shortcuts for tardy commuters hurrying after the next train. After a century Miller Avenue was still the border between east and west, city and county, and the Brown Jug saloon at Miller and Montford advertised its prime location just outside Mill Valley and its midnight closing time by renaming itself the 2AM Club. It was also in 1940 that the train that gave Miller Avenue so much of its character closed up shop, a victim of the automobile’s new citywide dominance after the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge. Plans have been bandied about to reconstruct this storied boulevard into a carefully designed showplace of upscale shops, multi-use housing, landscaped brickways and sheltered bike paths. Stay tuned. Despite the occasional canoe-friendly flood— its proximity to creek and reclaimed marshland has helped submerge the avenue during many a stormy season—Miller Avenue has survived Mill Valley’s every municipal upheaval and makeover to remain the town’s busiest, broadestminded thoroughfare. —MATTHEW STAFFORD

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G L A N C E

FIRE STATION Mill Valley Fire Department Main Station, 1 Hamilton Ln.; Southern Marin Fire Protection District Stations No. 4 & 9, 309 Poplar & 308 Reed Blvd. LIBRARY Mill Valley Public Library, 375 Throckmorton Ave. PARKS Bayfront Park, 425 Sycamore Ave.; Bothin Marsh Open Space Preserve; Molino Park, Molino Ave. & Janes St.; Sycamore Park, 4 Park Terrace POST OFFICE Mill Valley Post Office, 751 E. Blithedale Ave. PUBLIC SCHOOLS Tamalpais High School, 700 Miller Ave.; Mill Valley Middle School, 425 Sycamore Ave.; Park Elementary School, E. Blithedale Ave.

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Marineighborhoods Fall 2009 7

Downtown Mill Valley Downn by the ol’ Mill stream...



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nly four miles past the Golden Gate Bridge and a seven-minute jaunt west of the Downtown Mill Valley exit rests the heart of the leafy, affluent and politically progressive community of Mill Valley—a city named by the national magazine, Money (and the CNN Money Web site), as the 10th best city in the nation to live. The magazine put it this way: “Dot-com millionaires and power couples in the fi lm and music industries are flocking to what long ago Th roc was a hangout k m o r t o n Av for artists and re- O ld formed hippies.” Mi Despite downtown’s ll P k current high cost of living and frequently congested traffic conditions, the allure of this charming, mystical little part of town shows no signs of waning. Though the parameters of the downtown are loosely defi ned, the bulk of the action takes place toward the west end of E. Blithedale Avenue, up along Th rockmorton, all the way past Old Mill Park and the city’s well stocked library. There, within a radius of only a couple of miles, community members and out-of-towners can fi nd everything they need—from sophisticated shops and topnotch restaurants to theater, movies and live music. Among the downtown’s primary draws is the Depot Bookstore and Café (a former Greyhound bus depot), where locals turn for coffee-sipping and people watching in the town’s center, also known as Lytton Square. Amid an eclectic mix of young families, aging hippies and sportily clad cyclists, it is not unusual to spot a rock star now and then. (Mill Valley has been home to the likes of Maria Muldaur, Bonnie Raitt, Bob Weir and Sammy Hagar, among others.) Every October for more than 30 years, the downtown has been transformed by the nation-

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ally known Mill Valley Film Festival, which screens many of its movies at the historic Sequoia Theatre, at 25 Th rockmorton. As if that isn’t enough to put this town of almost 14,000 on the map, downtown Mill Valley is the starting point of the more than 100-year-old Dipsea footrace—a 7.1-mile course that starts along the 671 stairs through picturesque Old Mill Park and fi nishes at the bottom of steep trails in Stinson Beach. High-end clothing boutiques, pet and baby stores flank the town square and the perennially packed Mill Valley Market is a favorite for its upscale gourmet offerings and well-prepared deli items. Many of the neighborhood’s old-timers long for the days when downtown Mill Valley was a funky, artsy community sought out by folks who loved nature and wanted to be away from the hustle and bustle of urban living. With the influx of boomers and commuters, the town has become more suburban—yet it’s suburbia with a lingering bohemian sentiment ba still evident. st Whether it’s a good, strong cup of coffee, a grueling footrace up Tam or the opportunity to simply curl up in a comfortable chair at the library and take in some of the area’s most specch ta tacular vistas—you’ll fi nd it all in this quintessential Marin ne neighborhood. —TANYA HENRY

by Ken Pie kny

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F FIRE STATION Mill Valley Fire Department, 1 Hamilton Ln.; Southern Marin Fire Protection District, 308 Reed Blvd. M LLIBRARY Mill Valley Public Library, 375 Throckmorton Ave. PARKS Boyle Park, 50 Thalia St.; Old Mill Park, 300 P TThrockmorton Ave. P POST OFFICE Mill Valley Post Office, 751 E. Blithedale Ave.

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P PUBLIC SCHOOLS Tamalpais High School, 700 Miller Ave.; Mill V Valley Middle School, 425 Sycamore Ave.; Old Mill School, 352 TThrockmorton Ave.

From “Treetops to Hillsides” and Everything In Between - Thanks for a Very Good Year! 4th Generation Mill Valley

Stephanie Wickham Witt

w w w. S W i t t M a r i n H o m e s . c o m

17 Treetop Way, Kent Woodlands

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512 Hillside Ave, Mill Valley

LP $2,350,000 5BR/5BA

LP $4,750,000 6BR/4.5BA 324 Deertrail Lane, Mill Valley

10 Windward Rd, Belvedere ld So

LP $1,929,000 4BR/2.5BA

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425 E Strawberry Dr, Mill Valley

LP $1,045,000 4BR/3.5BA

LP $2,300,000 4BR/3BA

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321 Corte Madera Ave, Mill Valley ld

43 Park Ave, Mill Valley

252 Oakdale Ave, Mill Valley

LP $1,275,000 4BR/2BA

LP $1,595,000 4BR/2BA

LP $1,015,000 2BR/2BA

182 Oakdale Ave, Mill Valley

350 Sycamore Ave, Mill Valley

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80 Lincoln Dr, 3A, Sausalito

LP $559,000 2BR/2BA

LP $825,000 3BR/2BA

LP $825,000 3BR/1.5BA

SOLD 79 Elinor Ave, Mill Valley

LP $1,099,000 2BR/2BA

SOLD 39 Octavia St, San Rafael

LP $699,000 3BR/2BA

Stephanie Wickham Witt www.MarinHawaiiConnection.com

tel: 415.377.7553 Please Call Me For Sale Prices Marineighborhoods Fall 2009 9

Tiburon The many sides of Marin’s near-perfect peninsula



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ith its roots imCi bedded in the bri a n Dr P railroad indis e Dr Romberg dustry, ferryboat making Tiburon Center (S.F.S.U.) rR and dairy and cattle ranching, Paradise Beach Pk it’s no surprise the waterfront dise D r P ar a town of Tiburon with its worldPara d i Tiburon Uplands class views of San Francisco has r Nature Preserve a rich and varied personality. ck ci e nd Ro C a These days Tiburon is Dr known for Sam’s Anchor Re ed R Café and cycling. Riding n c h Rd nd H across the bay to enjoy a i ll R d sunny afternoon at the B Mar ever-popular watering t St hole, which during Fire Stn V i a L o s A l to s Blackie’s Pasture Prohibition had a trap Library Library 131 Maiin Main door to load booze in Post Office from small boats stationed outside the Golden Gate, preserved at the Railroad-Ferry Depot Museum in the Donahue is a popular weekend excursion for city Building on Paradise Drive. The museum features a working dwellers. Sam Vella, an immigrant from Malta—described as model of the Point Tiburon yard circa 1910. Thanks to the nona “restaurateur, barkeep, bootlegger and a scoundrel”—opened profit Landmarks Society, several cherished landmarks have been his eponymous restaurant/saloon near the end of World War I. preserved and are open to the public. Old St. Hilary’s is among Whether it’s one too many of the café’s famous Ramos Fizzes, the few remaining Carpenter Gothic churches to survive in its or an overdose of briny sea breezes, cycling visitors often forgo original setting. It overlooks downtown Tiburon and the San their ride home and hop aboard the Blue and Gold Fleet ferry for Francisco Bay. Landmarks Art & Garden Center is the oldest the six-mile trip back to San Francisco. The terminal is a stone’s structure on the Tiburon Peninsula. The restored cottage, built throw from Sam’s. around 1870, is representative of Tiburon’s housing during the For those who complete their ride, the route home includes a farming-railroad era. scenic three-mile stretch (the Tiburon Historical Trail) that was Although the fi rst settlers came in the early 1830s and the once an easement for the railroad and now borders a 900-acre post office opened in 1884, Tiburon remained unincorporated wildlife preserve and Audubon sanctuary. And not to be forgotuntil 1964. ten is the “jewel of San Francisco Bay,” Angel Island State Park, Perhaps because Tiburon depends on tourism for much of its which is a 10-minute ferry ride from downtown. revenue, there is a refreshing friendliness not commonly encounTiburon offers much more than its “Ark Row” of upscale tered in most Marin towns. Tiburon has its own International boutiques and art galleries. The early railroad and ship-building Film Festival in the spring and the town hosts its annual Wine heritage is well Festival in May. Friday Nights on Main also begin in May and include plenty of eating, family gatherings and music on the downtown streets. Maybe it’s time for us Marinites to take a little excursion ourselves, just to see what Tiburon has to offer—and what our San Francisco neighbors seem to come back for almost every weekend. —TANYA HENRY se D

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FIRE STATION - Tiburon Fire Protection District, 1679 Tiburon Blvd. FI LIBRARY - Belvedere-Tiburon Library, 1501 Tiburon Blvd. LI PA PARKS - Tiburon Uplands Nature Preserve, Paradise Dr.; Blackie's Pasture, Tiburon Blvd.; Paradise Beach Park, Paradise Dr. P P POST OFFICE - Belvedere-Tiburon Post Office, 6 Beach Rd.

community. known for its celebrated arts The Sausalito waterfront is

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P PUBLIC SCHOOLS - Bel Aire Elementary School, 277 Karen Way; R Reed Elementary School, 1199 Tiburon Blvd.; Del Mar Middle S School, 105 Avenida Miraflores Ave.

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cis Drake styling. Some Fairfax Fire Stn Park more unusual Police Tamalpais Rd City Hall Post Office architecture is the Fo rre result of buildings st Av that were transformed k e from practical uses to Cre de more personal ones. sca s Rd Ca a P lin For example, television Bo producer Michael Rosenthal and his rk wife, Marlene, live D e e r Pa in a delightful abode that used to serve as the Fairfax train-stop shelter. In 1941 the trains stopped running from San Francisco to Fairfax and, after World War II, the absence of rail started having an impact on the community—building materials were scarce. West Marin didn’t really start gaining population until after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, when thousands of people lost their homes and were suddenly displaced. At the time, Marin experienced a huge population boom and houses were hastily built by local contractors without any actual architectural plans. San Franciscans who had had basic summer homes in the area quickly turned them into permanent residences. Today, the downtown area boasts many fine restaurants where great-tasting wine can still be sampled. The friendliness of the residents can’t be denied and visitors to the area can’t help but wonder if this would be a great place to call home. —MAUREEN DIXON

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irtually unchanged for at least a couple of generations, Fairfax is affectionately known for its idiosyncratic funk, eccentric locals and colorful history. The famous Fairfax movie theater marquee (built in 1950) dazzles visitors and residents alike, welcoming everyone to the center of town with its vibrant neon lights. Though Fairfax is regarded as more of a retro-’60s sort of town with a very laid-back mentality, it’s been gaining quite a reputation for being the best place in Marin to have fun after-hours, including hearing superb live music not just on weekends, but every night with clubs like 19 Broadway and Peri’s. Ironically, Fairfax was founded by a strait-laced, upper-crusty British dignitary named Charles Snowden Fairfax, the 10th Baron of Cameron, Scotland. His ancestors held the original land grant for the state of Virginia and he had decided to venture out West in the 1850s, hoping to discover gold. Building a lovely estate on the eastern end of town he named Bird’s Nest Glen, he quickly became known for his charm and generous hospitality, even if he did have a penchant for a wee too much of the whiskey now and then. Lord Fairfax eventually was drawn into local politics and was elected as a Marin County Supervisor in 1865. During the turn of the 20th century, Fairfax became a popular place to visit from San Francisco via the train, which stopped in the center of town at what is now the Parkade. Summer homes started popping up along with the established stretches of dairy farms, as the trains not only ferried dairy goods and lumber back and forth, but also city dwellers in need of a refreshing respite and a bit of fun that, of course, usually included copious amounts of alcohol from the local taverns. In 1913, another much smaller funicular railroad, called the Fairfax Incline Railway, was built on the side of Manor Hill as a way to haul prospective land buyers to see the available tracts. Apparently a speakeasy or two stood near the top of the ride during Prohibition, making the 500-foot ride all the more appealing. Throughout Fairfax, eclectic housing designs abound, from charming Victorian-inspired and early 1920s architecture to streamlined and redwood-infused 1960s

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FFIRE STATION Fairfax Fire Station, 10 Park Rd. LLIBRARY Fairfax Library, 2097 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. PARKS Deer Park, off Porteous Ave. P

y-toity British dignitary Fairfax was founded by a hoit the 10th Baron of Cameron. —Charles Snowden Fairfax,

P POST OFFICE Fairfax Post Office, 773 Center Blvd. P PUBLIC SCHOOLS White Hill School, 101 Glen Dr. Marineighborhoods Fall 2009 11

San Anselmo The antiques capital of the West

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estled between wild and quirky Fairfax to the west and bustling, centrally located San Rafael to the east, perched beneath the rolling hills of the Ross Valley and the majestic slopes of Mt. Tamalpais, San Anselmo is truly a place unto itself. With a slow-paced small town vibe, well-groomed parks and quaint eateries and boutiques lining its stately downtown streets, it appears at first glance to be a relatively easy-to-peg town. But that sublime exterior belies a rich, colorful history and more than a few hidden corners. The area that would one day be known as San Anselmo has always been blessed with breathtaking natural beauty. Before the arrival of European settlers, Coast Miwoks inhabited the region. The Miwoks, whose territory stretched as far north as Bodega Bay and covered all of Marin and part of Sonoma, no doubt favored the area because of the creek with its abundance of fish and the rolling oak-covered hills that provided both shade and acorns. The arrival of the Spanish and the establishment of the missions spelled the end of the Miwoks’ era and paved the way for what is now downtown San Anselmo to be included in a vast land grant to wealthy friends of the Mexican government in the mid-1800s. More than two decades after California was added to the Union, the North Pacific Coast Railroad rolled through and shook things up in the mid-1870s, adding a line that ran from Sausalito to Tomales via San Anselmo, which for a few years appeared on maps simply as Junction. By the 1880s, the town had adopted its less utilitarian moniker, inspired by Juan Bautista Cooper’s original Punta de Quintin land grant, which marked the area as Canada del Anselmo. The arrival of the railroad—as well as the construction of the San Francisco Theological Seminary in 1892—predictably brought growth, development and expansion. Today San Anselmo is among Marin’s most popular and beloved burgs. In addition to the myriad restaurants and shops that make the town a topnotch Bay Area shopping and dining destination—some call it the antiques capital of the Northern California—San Anselmo also boasts a

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v i handsome, wellS e m linas A Av Bo selmo stocked library, n A San several fine schools and some of the county’s best parks and outdoor attractions, all set to the backdrop of the still-pristine, meandering creek. The town holds a number of special events, highlighted by the annual downtown antiques fair. Lovely and secluded Creek Park plays host each year to a number of al fresco Film Night in the Park screenings. With high-class commerce juxtaposed against natural beauty, a diverse citizenry composed of artists and professionals of every stripe, a rich history and a boundless future, it’s easy to see why San Anselmo shines as one of the brightest jewels in Marin’s decidedly ornate crown. —JACOB SHAFER

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FI STATION Ross Valley Fire Department, Station 19, 777 San FIRE Anselmo Ave.; Station 20, 150 Butterfield Rd., San Anselmo An LI LIBRARY San Anselmo Public Library, 110 Tunstead Ave. PA PARKS Lansdale Park, corner of Center Blvd. and Lansdale; Creek Pa Park, downtown San Anselmo; Memorial Park, Veterans Pl. off Sa San Francisco Blvd.; Robson-Harrington Park, 237 Crescent Rd.; So Sorich Ranch Park, end of San Francisco Blvd.; Faude Park, top of Br Broadmoor Ave. between Indian Rock Rd. and Tomahawk Dr. PO POST OFFICE 121 San Anselmo Ave.

ed its name from the In the 1880s the town switch del Anselmo. sounding ‘Junction’ to Canada

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utilitarian-

PU PUBLIC SCHOOLS Brookside Elementary, 116 Butterfield Rd., San An Anselmo; Wade Thomas Elementary, 150 Ross Ave., San Anselmo; Si Sir Francis Drake High, 1327 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo

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KentÀeld d Gateway to the Ross Valley

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entfield keeps a low profi le. Past Bon Air Shopping Center in Greenbrae, driving west on Sir Francis Drake, the grounds of Marin Catholic are the only sign that you’re in Kentfield proper. You’ll spot the playing fields of Bacich Elementary (a California Distinguished School, as is Adeline E. Kent Middle School on nearby College Avenue). Then, with a scenic view of Mount Tamalpais opening up in the distance, you’ll finally see the first evidence of Kentfield’s name on the handsome gray stone Fire Station, a town landmark. Goo odh dhhill A few stats are in order. Kentfield (population at last census 6,351) is an unincorporated county area, sandwiched Woo odland dl d between the towns of Greenbrae and Ross. Kent Woodlands, its sister community, lies on the slopes of Mount Tam, overlooking the College of Marin. Kentfield measures only 3 square miles, but boasts one of the highest rainfalls in the Bay Area at 47 inches per year, as well as one of the highest median household incomes ($130,000 to the average state resident’s $54,000). And it is certainly a homogeneous place—92.9 of its residents are white, only 2.2 percent are Hispanic and about 2 percent are of Asian background. The area started out as a parcel of property owned by the family of Congressman William Kent (1864-1928). The beautiful and palatial Kent estate still exists, set far back off the road out of view of curious eyes on Woodland Avenue in Kent Woodlands; it’s now owned by musician Daniel Pritzker (grandson of Hyatt hotels founder Abram Nicholas Pritzker), but until fairly recently remained in Kent family hands. PhilanthroPacifi c Sun Hom e & Gard en

pist William Kent also donated the land where the College of Marin currently stands. The College of Marin has been in operation since 1926. About 7,000 students enroll there every semester. It’s a compact campus of about 27 acres full of huge, beautiful old trees of many varieties and rests at the foot of Mount Tamalpais. This community college has had a great reputation in the county through the years. Kentfield is a cyclist’s dream. The town’s well-known and popular bike path starts at College of Marin, crosses College Avenue, and runs alongside the A.E. Kent School’s gymnasium and playing fields, with Corte Madera Creek flowing on the other side. White, scented jasmine bushes line the fenced, sedate creek, which was straightened by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1960s. There is indeed something peculiarly “nice” and nonCalifornian about Kentfield, as this unusual sign that appears at the bike path’s entrance demonstrates: “Please be courteous! Speak out or ring bell when passing.” —GABRIELLA WEST

photo by Ken Piek ny

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F FIRE STATION Kentfield Fire Protection District, 1004 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. D LLIBRARY Larkspur Library, 400 Magnolia Ave. PARKS Creekside Park, Bon Air Rd.; Baltimore Canyon Preserve P P POST OFFICE 822 College Ave.

William 20th century congressman Kentfield is named for early . ods Wo ir ve Mu who led the charge to preser

14 Pacific Sun

Kent,

P PUBLIC SCHOOLS Anthony G. Bacich Elementary, 25 McAllister A Ave.; A.E. Kent Middle School, 250 Stadium Way; Redwood High S School, 395 Doherty Dr., Larkspur; Tamiscal High Alternative, 3305 Doherty Dr., Larkspur; San Andreas Continuation, 599 W William Ave., Larkspur; College of Marin, 835 College Ave.

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or millennia the region now known as the town of Ross was a serene wooded valley where the Coast Miwok hunted, fished and foraged; seven shell mounds were located in present-day Ross alone. Once the conquistadores had come and gone, the area became part of the 8,887-acre Rancho Punta de San Quentin, a Mexican land grant that was deeded in 1840 to Juan Bautista Cooper, a seaman out of Boston. After a decade of lumbering, dairy il l F ernh ranching and trapping otter along the shores of l ure Corte Madera Creek, Cooper sold the land for La $50,000 to San Francisco’s Benjamin Buckelew, Police Marin Art & Fire who unloaded 20 acres to the state for a whopping & Garden Town $10,000 and sold the rest of the rancho to one James Center Hall Ross for another 50 grand. Ross had made his way Lagunita s to the California gold fields from Scotland by way of Rd Tasmania, and like many a failed Argonaut, earned Ross Bl his fortune by selling goods and hooch to the minNatalie vd Common ers. Now he was a successful San Francisco liquor Coffin Town Park Greene wholesaler with his very own country estate. Park One of the valley’s most magnificent estates was Sunnyside, built for Ross’s daughter Annie. When James Ross died in 1862, his will stipulated that his widow, Ann, would have to pay their Today’s Ross is still the tranquil, daughters $10,000 each when they married, provided they “married tree-shaded enclave of gentility it’s been since its inception. well”—a loophole waiting to happen, but Ann ponied up anyway. The number of residences has hovered around 750 for the To do so, however, she had to sell off most of the rancho, keeping a past century. There are few paved sidewalks and no postal choice 297 acres for herself—the present-day town of Ross. delivery (residents pick up their mail at the handsome old The town had a special sense of itself from the beginning. Trees post office, the town’s former train depot). There are no bars could only be cut with city permission, a radical notion at the time, or convenience stores or banks or Laundromats or drugstores, and approaching and departing trains could not exceed 15 miles but there’s a clothing boutique, a beauty salon, an antique per hour. The Lagunitas Country Club had opened (but not to just store, two landscapers, a handful of acclaimed restaurants anyone) in 1903, the Phoenix Lake reservoir was built in 1905 a mile and several real estate agents. The median purchase price for a or so west of town, offering residents yet another splendid hiking ophome in Ross is just under $1.5 million, but you can opt for an tion, the 1906 earthquake inspired many a summer visitor to take up 1896 six-bedroom on three acres with tennis court, redwood residence year-round and in 1911, Ross Common, the town’s favorite grove, waterfalls, pool and cabana for $22 million if you’re so gathering place, was created from a 6-acre patch of donated Annie inclined. The town’s founders would feel right at home. Ross greensward. Ross celebrated its official centennial in September 2009. One hundred years later, the town remains a splendid place to raise a family, sip lemonade under a sheltering magnolia and retreat from the unpleasantries of the outside world. Turns out a hill and a coastline isn’t necessary after all when you’re shopping for a slice of nirvana. — MATTHEW STAFFORD sD

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F FIRE STATION 777 San Anselmo Ave., San Anselmo; 150 Butterfield Rd.; San Anselmo; 10 Park Rd., Fairfax R LLIBRARY Larkspur Library, 400 Magnolia Ave. PARKS Creekside Park, Bon Air Rd.; Baltimore Canyon Preserve P P POST OFFICE 1 Ross Common

s hall is reflective of many Ros The famous bear statue at city ity. nym ano et qui of residents’ penchant for lives

P PUBLIC SCHOOLS Anthony G. Bacich Elementary, 25 McAllister Ave.; A A.E. Kent Middle School, 250 Stadium Way; Redwood High School, 3395 Doherty Dr., Larkspur; Tamiscal High Alternative, 305 Doherty D Dr., Larkspur; San Andreas Continuation, 599 William Ave., Larkspur; C College of Marin, 835 College Ave. Marineighborhoods Fall 2009 15

Greenbrae e The heartbeat of Central Marin

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n Scottish, Greenbrae means “green hillside”—a name reflecting its pastoral history and the many trees still present in the neighborhood. d Los C Greenbrae’s borders run loosely from Highway erros rR no a 101 in the east to Manor Road in the west, and M from the Corte Madera Creek in the south to the northern ridgeline adjoining San Rafael. Its Sir Fra nci ar borders are a mystery to many because half of the sD en rak m l A eB homes in Greenbrae are actually within the city boundarlvd d rR 101 ies of Larkspur, while half are unincorpoAi n o rated. It’s not uncommon for one resident C re B Marin aks id e to pay taxes to Larkspur while the adjoining General Pa r unincorporated neighbor pays taxes only to k Hospital the county. Creekside Park, a grassy commons next to the Corte Madera Creek and Marin Catholic High School is claimed by residents of both Kentfield and Greenbrae (the park is in Greenbrae). opened, and Bon Air Shopping Center became Most of the homes in Greenbrae, many with views, are situated an unofficial town center, growing to include more in the hills north of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. A collection of than 50 stores and offices. apartments and condos, mostly clustered behind Bon Air Shopping Two other important features appeared in Center, runs to Corte Madera Creek. Greenbrae Boardwalk is a the early ’50s: a school and a hospital. Greentight-knit community of houseboats and homes perched on pillars brae Elementary School was completed in 1951 sunk into the marsh, floating east of Highway 101 in the Corte and thrived for over the next two decades. But Madera Marsh. attendance waned in the 1970s and, like many other schools of the But the hamlet’s history long predates suburban bliss. Areas of time, Greenbrae Elementary was forced to close, shutting its doors Greenbrae, Ross Valley and the tip of the San Quentin peninsula in 1981. Greenbrae kids now attend Bacich Elementary and Kent were once the Rancho Punta de Quentin, granted by Governor Middle School in the Kentfield School District. Juan Bautista Valentine Alvarado to ship-trader Juan Cooper At the time of Greenbrae’s inception, there were two neighin 1840. Changing hands and sizes many times throughout the boring hospitals, but neither could handle the growing Marin ensuing years, it was a huge dairy ranch when sold to the Catholic population. County residents approved funds for a state-of-the-art diocese of San Francisco. hospital, and the site at Bon Air Road was chosen. Opening in In 1940 land-developer Niels Schultz bought it from the church 1952, Marin General Hospital quickly became the primary healthand began building houses. With families moving in, a place to buy care facility in the county. food and other goods was needed. The first store, Bon Air Super With the hospital, Greenbrae had finally developed into the kind Market, opened in the early 1950s. Over the years, it changed hands of self-contained community Schultz envisioned. The Greenbrae and names (once a pharmacy, later Petrini’s market, it’s currently Property Owners Association acts as a liaison between Greenbrae and a bustling Mollie Stone’s). More shops the outside world, enforcing building restrictions and landscaping laws which protect many giant oaks. Residents have a strong sense of community. Neighbors smile while passing each other, and on many streets there is a welcome party when newbies move in. Some changes have occurred over the years, but the essence of the area has remained largely the same. It’s an eclectic mix of folks who take pride in their community and share an appreciation for the “green hillsides” they call home. —SABINA CHAPMAN Pacifi c Sun Hom e & Gard en

photo by Ken Piek ny

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FFIRE STATION Kentfield Fire Department, 1004 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. LIBRARY Larkspur City Hall, first floor; 400 Magnolia Ave. L PARK P Creekside Park, Bon Air Road (across from Marin General Hospital) (a P POST OFFICE 822 College Ave., Kentfield

red largely Greenbrae’s growth was stee

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by developer Niels Schultz.

P PUBLIC SCHOOLS Bacich Elementary School, A.E. Kent Middle S School, Kentfield; Redwood High School,

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Larkspurr The Åower of Marin

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or a town named after a case of mistaken botanical identity, Larkspur has done pretty well for 101 itself. In fact, the town recently celebrated its centennial with a festive bash. Ma gn It might have been different had those who oli a Fi r e named this burg been better at identifying the Stn Dr area’s abundant wildflowers. Assumed to be larkHam Pa r i l t o n o spur, the blossoms were (and are) actually lupines. Cre k Elise ek The 100-year anniversary is noteworthy, but the reCorte gion’s history stretches back further. Until the 1850s, the land Piper King Mountain was unspoiled and covered with ancient redwoods—which Park Police Open Space the Baltimore and Frederick timber company took care of in Preserve Dr short order. Dairy farms sprouted up on the bare hills. Doherty Charles Wright purchased one of those farms in 1882. Half-aPost Office Fir decade later Wright, now with a number of farms, lobbied Stne King Mountain Open Space the Northern Pacific Railroad for a station. Told City Ha Preserve & Libra ll that five residences were needed to qualify, the ry k determined Wright constructed a handful of Pa r ver i Madrone l Av l Victorian houses—and the rail authority built a ferry terminal and Larkspur Do station in 1891. Landing Shopping Center were Wright gave the station’s naming rights to constructed. his wife, who fancied the pretty blue flowers in her Through it all, the downtown yard—even if she didn’t know their name. remained largely unchanged, retaining its The Larkspur Rail Station brought an influx of singular, charming appeal. In 1982, the U.S. settlers, and the downtown area quickly grew. During Department of the Interior designated downthe 1880s, a rough-and-tumble mix of farmers and sawmill town Larkspur a historic area. workers frequented the 11 saloons lining downtown. In 1894, the Today, visitors and residents enjoy a range of fine shops, restaurants first school was built at what is now Marin Primary & Middle and activities. Stroll along Magnolia (the target of a rejuvenation projSchool. A year later, the Blue Rock Inn was erected at the corner of ect launched in February 2008) and you’ll find the Escalle Winery, Magnolia and Ward. Magnolia, known then as County Road, was the picturesque and renowned Tavern at Lark Creek and the Parisianan unpaved stretch of dust (or mud in the winter) until after 1910, style eatery Left Bank. The recently restored Lark Theater screens an when it was paved and construction of city hall began. array of interesting films and puts on a slate of special events. Prohibition led to the closing of most of the rowdy waterThe town also hosts several well-attended annual public events, ining holes (the Silver Peso still survives). As the town’s character cluding the classy Food and Flower Festival and a lively Fourth of July changed, more people showed up. In 1920, Larkspur had just shindig. The Larkspur Library, a small gem, boasts one of the county’s 600 residents; today, the population is around 12,000. New largest collections of audio books and also plenty of old-fashioned schools, including Redwood High, opened in the 1950s and in bound volumes. the late ’70s, the Like much of Marin, Larkspur is blessed with an embarrassment of riches: scenic beauty; a close-knit population; exemplary businesses; a colorful history; and, by all indications, a bright future. One elderly female resident put it well: “This is just the kind of town that, once you’re here, why would you want to be someplace else? “There aren’t as many places like this as there should be.” Not bad for a place named after the wrong kind of flower. Av

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—JACOB SHAFER

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FFIRE STATION 400 Magnolia Ave. LLIBRARY 400 Magnolia Ave. P PARKS Piper Park, Doherty Drive; Magnolia Avenue Park, Magnolia at Alexander M P POST OFFICE 120 Ward St.

e known for its slew Downtown Larkspur was onc

18 Pacific Sun

of rowdy watering holes.

P PUBLIC SCHOOLS Neil Cummins Elementary School, 200 D Doherty Dr.; Hall Middle School, 58 Mohawk (grades 5-8)

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Larkspur Landing g Soft landings on the shores of Larkspur

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he Larkspur waterfront is the perfect place to press pause. Windsurfers with their bouncing boards and colorful sails battle the bay winds, ferries pull in and out with passengers going to work or off to enjoy a day shopping in the city and friends gather to hear music, taste microbrews and drink coffee at the Larkspur Landing Shopping Center. Th is area of land is part of the San Quentin Peninsula, named for the Miwok Indian warrior Quintin, who was a follower of Indian Chief Marin. In the late 1960s, the city of Larkspur annexed the area originally part of the Mexican land grant Rancho Punta de Quentin, which had been awarded to Juan B.R. Cooper in 1840. The area’s history is long past, but the small slice of Marin County is considered a gem by many residents who fi nd themselves meeting friends and family there on a regular basis for sports, entertainment and shopping. Those who’d rather not ride a surfboard while on the water can catch a ferry! The Golden Gate Larkspur Ferry delivers some 1.4 million people between Larkspur and the San Francisco Ferry Building each year. The ferry service was launched after a recommendation from a 1970 transportation plan to add the Larkspur terminal. Between 1972 and 1977 the Golden Gate Bridge District constructed three new ferry vessels. The fi rst of the new Spaulding ferries, the GT Marin, went into service in 1976. The second vessel, the GT Sonoma, was put into service in 1977. In 1978, the San Francisco Ferry Terminal was dedicated. The third ferry was used as an alternate. To save fuel, all three ferries were converted to diesel power and by late 1985 all were in use. The commute and weekend schedules were expanded and ridership increased more than 34 percent. In 1998, services were again expanded with a high-speed catamaran—MV Del Norte. It offered more frequent trips, better departure times and faster crossings. It nearly

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doubled the number of daily round-trips from 26 to 40. A second high-speed ferry was added in 2001. All of these vessels have been maintained with regular refurbishments and repairs. While waiting for a ferry, many cross a footbridge over the highway to the shopping center. This area used to be the Hutchinson’s Rock Quarry. Now the bustling Larkspur Landing Shopping Center is a pleasant place to work out, eat, drink and shop. It is surrounded by a myriad of office buildings, offering a great place to take a lunch break or stroll during the workday or after. Central to Larkspur Landing is the live music performed every Friday evening in the summertime, bringing some of the best local bands to play for free. The early music sets offer a great way to relax ban afteer a long workweek. Folks flock from all over Marin to drink micro crobrews at Marin Brewing Company or sip wine at Tam Cellars. East E of the landing is Remillard’s Brickyard Kiln, the last remaining building of the brickyard built in 1889. It was rem dec declared a state historical landmark and now houses The Melting Pot restaurant. Me The Larkspur waterfront is definitely a place to visit...and stay aw while. —SHELLEY SHEPHERD KLANER T H E

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lthough known throughout Marin as “the town with the malls,” Corte Madera has a vibrant heritage and quaint charm that is most apparent in the historic district surrounding the former train station at the foot of Mt. Tamalpais. Up the road, not far from the upscale stores of The Village, and the shops at the Mediterranean villa-inspired Town Center, the Old Town Square offers a chance to revisit Marin’s past while providing an opportunity for sipping, shopping and self-beautifying in the area that was once a major railway stop. The town is part of the 8,000 acres of ranchlands granted to John Reed in 1834 by Mexican Governor Figueroa. Reed logged the area’s redwoods and shipped the lumber by way of Corte Madera Creek. By 1875, the North Pacific Coast Railroad set tracks through Corte Madera, allowing flatcars to haul lumber, and later, passenger trains. In 1885, Frank Morrison Pixley, was guaranteed a title for 160 acres from Reed’s daughter, Hilarita. (Pixley founded the esteemed magazine The Argonaut, whose writers included Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce.) The Pixley family was credited with creating Corte Madera’s first subdivision and with developing downtown. The first business was a hotel and tavern just south of the train station, built in 1898. It still exists today on First Street, between Corte Madera Avenue and Montecito Drive. Across from the railroad station, a huge barn, built in 1898, was used as a livery stable—horses hauled goods from nearby mines and freight from the trains. In 1906, it became Buckley & Co., general store for the next 50 years. The renovated barn exists today at the corner of Tamalpais Drive and Serra Street. In 1905, Del Mahood came to town as railroad agent and stationmaster. He and his brother operated the telephone agency, the post office and a sweets shop next to the Episcopal Church. The Mahoods’ building still stands on Redwood Avenue. The dramatic triangular-peaked Holy Innocents church built in 1901 at the northeastern corner of Old Corte Madera Square still 22 Pacific Sun

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stands, as does the Presbyterian Church built on the old road above the square around the same time. Across from the Holy Innocents Episcopal Church, two stucco structures were built in the early 1900s. The square around the train station was the original center of town. Today Menke Park is a beautifully landscaped area with rose bushes and hydrangea, and the bright romanticism of Piccolo Pavilion’s gazebo, bordered by a walkway and antique lampposts with hanging baskets bursting with bouquets of red, purple, yellow and pink flowers. Several homes constructed during that time pay tribute to the New England-influenced architecture of the late 1880s, and can still be seen in the surrounding neighborhoods. Old Town Square preserves its spirit with ongoing club and merchant support, and a few community festivals. The Fourth of July celebration with its “twin city,” Larkspur, draws thousands from all over the Bay Area. The event includes a rollicking parade through Old Town, as well as festivities and a picnic in the nearby Town Park.

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Marineighborhoods Fall 2009 23

Bayside Corte Madera a

Another day on Paradise

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ast Corte Madera is a relatively recent development in the 150-year suburbanMarsh State ization of Marin County. Prior to the Ecological Reserve postwar strip-mall/tract-house building boom that defines the neighborhood, Corte Madera in toto was the hilly, redwooded region to the west where loggers, farmers and cattlemen flourished for decades and artists attracted by the nice weather and lovely bay views settled in little bungalows on Christmas Tree Hill. Out toward San Francisco Bay was undeveloped marshland where generations of native Miwok had supplemented C.H.P. their venison-and-acorn diet with fresh seafood and the Larkspur steamboat stopped to load up on the town’s abundance of beef, lumber and produce on its San way to San Francisco. Dr Clemente Fire Park This idyllic existence ended with the country’s entrance Stn Para into World War II and the creation of Marinship, the dis e bustling 24/7 shipyard built on reclaimed marshland north Dr of Sausalito. Welders and riveters from around the country Paradise is San Clemente Creek, streamed into the area looking for a place to live, and new a tidal slough that was navigable Granada Skunk Hollow residential neighborhoods of tightly packed tract houses by pleasure craft until the surrounding Park Park sprang up overnight. After the war, thousands of returnmarshes were filled in 60 years ago. (In ing soldiers decided to settle here permanently, exponen- 101 honor, perhaps, of those long-ago seafartially increasing the region’s population base for always. ing days, nearby streets have names like Practically all of the Bay Area’s salt marshes east of 101 Ebbtide, Tradewinds and Seamast.) There and west of the Nimitz were filled and covered with are two parks here as well: the Bayside Trail, a linear housing and shopping centers to shelter and feed this park running along San Clemente Drive, and San Clestaggering influx of humanity, and by the time it was mente Park with its softball diamond, volleyball court and picnic all over, 95 percent of our wetlands had vanished. grounds. South of Paradise you’ll find more “yar, matey!” street names Today, East Corte Madera has a certain cachet distinct from like Privateer, Buccaneer and Golden Hinde and two pocket-sized its older municipal sibling across the highway. Bracketed by Ring municipal parks, Granada and the charmingly designated Skunk Mountain on the south, San Francisco Bay on the east, the VilHollow, plus the Audubon Society’s Triangle Marsh project and the lage shopping mall on the north and Highway 101 on the west, the wild splendor of 602-foot Ring Mountain. neighborhood is removed enough from the rest of the county to give The 45-year-old Paradise Shopping Center has gotten a new lease it a faraway, uncongested ambiance. Paradise Drive, the main drag, on life from star tenant Paradise Market, one of this tony county’s is the region’s dividing line. North of toniest resources for gourmet goodies. Nearby is the internationally renowned Terwilliger Nature Education Center, a tribute if ever there was one to the area’s restored shorebird-friendly wetlands. There’s lagoon living in the old ranch houses along San Clemente Creek, and winding streets and footpaths meander up Ring Mountain, rewarding hiker and homeowner with splendid views. Recently, Corte Madera has been mulling over a new general plan that would add 300 housing units to the town’s east side and allow the Village shopping mall to expand by another 185,000 square feet, presumably in the general direction of the surrounding wetlands. Isn’t this where we came in? —MATTHEW STAFFORD Hwy

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BAYSIDE CORTE MADER A AT A GL ANCE FIRE STATION 342 Tamalpais Dr. FI LIBRARY 707 Meadowsweet Dr. LI PA PARKS Corte Madera Town Park, Pixley Ave. & Redwood Ave.

way for the rshlands were filled to make Bayside Corte Madera’s ma boom. post-World War II population

24 Pacific Sun

PO POST OFFICE 7 Pixley Ave. PU PUBLIC SCHOOLS Neil Cummins Elementary, 58 Mohawk Ave.



 

         

 



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Downtown San Rafael

Positively Fourth Street!

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Boyd ver the years, cattle drives, parades, hangings and shootouts, cardsharps, Memorial low-riders, toreadors and FrancisPark can friars have made Fourth Street Mission Mission Marin’s most urbane gathering spot. 5th It’s been all of that since Marin’s Av San Rafael Av fi rst inhabitants, the Coast Miwok, 4th settled in an area between today’s Fourth Street and Fift h Avenue at St the base of the region’s northern hills. 3rd A few centuries of fun, fi shing and foraging later, soldiers, priests and “converted” 2nd PO St Indians from Mission San Francisco de Asís across the bay arrived at what is now the corner of Fift h Avenue and A Street in December of 1817 and established Mission San Rafael Arcangel, the 20th and next-to-last mission in the chain from San Diego to Sonoma. In 1834 the missions were secularized and converted into driven up Fourth to the slaughterhouse on San 101 pueblos by edict of the new Mexican government. San Rafael Rafael Creek. pueblo and its environs were granted to Tim Murphy, a genial The town of San Rafael was incorporated in 1874. Irishman who acted as both Indian agent (he spoke Miwok An elaborate new Greek Revival county courthouse was with a brogue) and alcalde of the pueblo. Murphy’s most faerected with cupola, columned portico and, just inside the mous contribution to the local history, however, was his inaufront door, a gallows. All of San Quentin’s executions were carguration of Oct. 24 as San Rafael Day, which started as a feast ried out here, including that of murderer Lee Doon; convivial to honor St. Rafael Arcangel and over the decades (it lasted 52 onlookers nearly rioted in their mad scramble over the body years) turned Fourth Street into a riotous scene of dancing, for souvenirs after the hanging, and thereafter executions were gorging, all-night drinking, horse racing, blackjack, bullfightperformed at San Quentin instead. ing and every other sort of revelry indulged in by ranchers, The 1906 earthquake and fi re shot San Rafael’s population prospectors and scum from the Barbary Coast out for a killing. up from 4,000 to 6,500 as refugees from San Francisco raced After California joined the union in 1850, forty-eight for the suburbs. Eleven years later, thousands of onlookers 300-square-foot city lots were laid out along numbered and lined Fourth Street to cheer Company D of the Fift h Infantry lettered streets projecting from the mission, which also acted as they marched down to the Union Depot to head overseas as Marin’s first county courthouse. Just up Fourth was the log and whip the Kaiser. jail where hangings were conducted from a nearby oak tree. Fourth Street suffered a blow in 1957 when fi re destroyed The main business of San Rafael, however, was livestock. The a block of businesses between D and E streets, but downtown surrounding hills were home to thousands of head of cattle, has undergone other, more positive changes in the past several and it was common to see the herds decades. The old train depot was lovingly restored in 1971 and now houses the Whistlestop organization. There were merchant-sponsored redevelopment projects in 1963 and again in the ’70s, and Fourth Street’s been repaved at least twice by Ghilotti Brothers, a company with a San Rafael pedigree dating back to 1914. The street itself gained international fame in 1973 as the lowriders’ main drag in George Lucas’s American Graffiti. Smack in the middle of all this multicultural urbanity rises the gorgeously restored Rafael movie palace, a city landmark for much of this century. Fourth Street, in other words, remains Marin’s main drag.—MATTHEW STAFFORD

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FFIRE Station 1, 1039 C St.; Station 2, 210 Third St. LLIBRARY San Rafael Public Library, 1100 E. St. PARKS Albert Park, Boyd Memorial Park P

the next-toat the end of A Street, was Mission San Rafael Arcangel, t culminated in Sonoma. last mission in the chain tha

26 Pacific Sun

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Gerstle Park

Made in the shade...

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S Rafael San f l neighborhood hb h d with h a rich h sense off history is quiet, tree-shaded Gerstle Park. Located half-a-dozen blocks from downtown’s Sturm und Drang, it was the city’s fi rst residential enclave, a place where families could raise their kids and enjoy a bit of country living without straying too far from the shops and eateries of Fourth Street. The neighborhood was originally named Short’s Tract after one J.O.B. Short, the fi nancier who purchased the land and developed it late in the 19th century. One early resident was Lewis Gerstle, a wealthy San Franciscan who’d made his fortune in the Alaskan fur trade and the Yukon gold rush. As a summertime alternative to his Pacific Heights digs, he built himself a gabled Victorian mansion on a steep, grassy Marin hillside with a view of the mission to the north. It was an idyllic country retreat with vine-covered trellises, alfresco sleeping porches, bamboo groves, an apricot orchard, a tennis court, ambling livestock and a squadron of Prussian gardeners to tend the fl ora exotica. Railroad workers, many of them Italian immigrants, settled in the area as well, raising grapes to make wine in their own (considerably smaller) homes, and a Greek Revival schoolhouse, Southside Primary, was built in 1903. After the Gerstle estate burned to the ground in the 1930s, the land was donated to the city to create a public park. (The 3.5-acre retreat remains a popular local destination, with its playground, picnic tables, barbecue pits and iconic 6-foot-long green and purple concrete dragon.) Many of the old houses were razed in the postwar years to make room for duplexes and apartment buildings, but in 1973 the Gerstle Park Neighborhood Association was formed to preserve the community’s unique and historic character. Gerstle Park is still a lovely, leafy suburban alternative to the hustle-bustle of downtown San Rafael. Annual picnics, garage sales, cleanup days, Halloween house-decorating contests and Christmas caroling excursions are indicative of a strong community spirit among the neighborhood’s 1,600 residents. There’s a pleasant mishmash of architectural styles

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to choose from— shingled centuryold Victorians, vintage Arts and Crafts bungalows, railroad flats once occupied by the area’s blue-collar settlers—and hiking trails offer easy access to the extensive adjacent open space. The neighborhood isn’t entirely rustic, though. For a quartercentury Muffi n Mania has been baking up preservative-free delicacies for its loyal local clientele. The acclaimed Keystone school for disabled youth operates a campus on the site of the old Southside Primary building. VonDi’s Rachel von Doepp arranges classy bouquets and other floral artworks out of her shop a few steps from the park. San Francisco DJ Justin Johnson has even recorded a “Gerstle Park Massive” remix that’s been acclaimed as “a monstrous tribal-electro-disco joint.” And the rambling Panama Hotel at B and Bayview has been boarding and feeding traveler and local alike since 1926. (Maria’s Pueblo, a hotel fi xture for 35 years, was Marin’s fi rst Mexican restaurant...well, fi rst post-Bear Flag Mexican restaurant, anyway.) Another lodging house, the Gerstle Park Inn, is equally venerable. It’s located in two of the buildings of the old Voss estate, built in 1895, and after several years as a celebrity drug rehab center it was converted into a B&B now regarded as one of the loveliest in Northern California. Relaxing among its manicured gardens a brief tree-shaded stroll from San Rafael’s shops and restaurants, you’ll understand why old man Gerstle and generations of loyal residents have settled down in this tranquil corner of Marin. —MATTHEW STAFFORD G E R S T L E

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FFIRE Station 1, 1039 C St. LLIBRARY San Rafael Public Library, 1100 E St. PARKS Albert Park, Gerstle Memorial Park, Bret Harte Park P P POST OFFICE 910 D St.

Alaskan fur ed for early resident— and Leafy Gerstle Park was nam . stle Ger trader/gold-rusher—Lewis

28 Pacific Sun

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Marineighborhoods Fall 2009 29

Where Marinites go for the sunny side of the life

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Pacifi c Sun Hom e & Gard en photo by Julie Vader

5t h Forbes The neighborJ Hill Res hood has a its own shopping center/ community 4t h gathering spot St at the corner of Fifth and California; included is a small independent market, a laundromat, a needlepoint shop, computer services center and a hair and nails salon. Just past Scenic Avenue on Fifth Street is the West End Nursery, a family-owned shop that provides the area’s gardening and landscape supplies. At the opposite end of Fifth Avenue is the Marin Monument Company—a monument itself since the early 1920s, which outfits granite and bronze memorials for next door’s full-service, 130-year-old Mt. Tamalpais Mortuary & Cemetery. Sun Valley Park, on Solano Street between California Avenue and K Street, is a 2-acre recreation area with a playground and jungle gym, basketball court, sheltered picnic tables and—although signs calling for leashes are prevalent—a moderately sized open plot of grass just perfect for playing catch with your dog. Another prized amenity is the Rafael Racquet and Swim Club, found up Racquet Club Drive, where members can still have lunch and enjoy the beatific views of Sun Valley with a backdrop of Mt. Tamalpais and the surrounding East Bay hills. Strolling through the neighborhood today, it’s easy to see why turn-of-the-century residents originally flocked to Sun Valley. It’s the kind of place where the local market displays two public bulletin boards, mostly touting dog-walking services and job postings. It’s where residents will argue over the loss of a hiking trail or debate whether the cemetery should restructure its borders. Where a momma deer and her two offspring can silently trot across the street, impervious to residents mowing their lawns or children scooting by on their bikes.—SAMANTHA CAMPOS H



he northwest neighborhood of central San Rafael known as “Sun Valley”—unimaginatively called Neighborhood 13 in the San Rafael General Plan— includes most of Fifth Avenue, from H Street to the end. From there it meets Mount Tamalpais Cemetery, as well as K Street and the residential area extending west and including the streets of Humboldt and Solano. But Sun Valley carries the kind of “location cache” that will spur folks from the outlying Rafael Highlands, Fairhills, Forbes and Racquet Club communities to claim Sun Valley as their place of residence as well. And why not? The oldest section of Sun Valley was built up between 1882 and 1900; the San Francisco earthquake brought another wave of settlers north in ’06. In 1914, the area became Marin’s own mini-Hollywood, as the California Motion Picture Corporation set up shop at the end of K Street. Under the auspices of San Francisco entrepreneur George Middleton and his would-be-It-Girl, wife Beatriz Michelena, the CMPC utilized the rustic Sun Valley hills to produce a series of country melodramas; one of its more sophisticated productions, an opera-inspired silent called Mignon, was filmed at what is now the playground of the Sun Valley Elementary School, at Fifth and Happy Lane. Alas, Marin was not Tinsel Town North and by the early ’20s CMPC had gone bankrupt; its Sun Valley studios sitting vacant until burning down in the early 1930s. The area remained relatively unchanged until the post-World War II baby boom birthed with it a need for more housing, with hillside development occurring steadily throughout the 1960s and ’70s, leading to the neighborhood’s much-discussed architectural diversity. (Though in general, Sun Valley is comprised primarily of large, single-family homes, with a smattering of some duplexes and small apartments.) While friendly, the idyllic residential community of Sun Valley is not quiet about issues concerning its peaceful habitat, and the active neighborhood association regularly holds meetings to discuss changes to the cemetery and nearby school, traffic flow, park renovations, market updates and the like.

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FFIRE Station 1, 1039 C St. LLIBRARY San Rafael Public Library, 1100 E St. PARKS Sun Valley Park, Boyd Memorial Park P

early 20th e attracted Marinites since the ael. Sun Valley’s quiet charms hav Raf od was a bustling hub of San century, when the neighborho

30 Pacific Sun

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Dominican

This tree-lined neighborhood is a hard habit to break...

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h D he Dominican neighborhb prisoners out at San Quentin.) “The gentle undulations, the gracehood is a lovely suburban ful slopes, the abrupt acclivities of the hills, all carpeted with the 101 enclave of shade trees, cul-de-sacs, soft greensward...constitute an extended and lovely parhiking trails and century-old Victorians. terre, which gratifies the eye,” read a particuLn Narrow winding streets empty onto sylvan open Locust Av larly juicy valentine to the neighborhood nd L in d Ge n a l A v h r an it y space to the east and north. The locals are friendly, dA H ig er s v composed in 1884. With its balmy ni v U n the thrum of Fourth Street is close enough for conic a n v climate and easy train-and-ferryboat i v A A D om venience and removed enough for quietude, and the nd alm commute to the city, Magnolia Valley R a f ae climate is eternally September. But the Dominican’s Jewe ll (named after one of Coleman’s more Dr St most emblematic feature is the beautiful and internaabundant flora) attracted a bevy of Be lle tionally renowned 80-acre university that gives the St San Francisco pooh-bahs in search Mi neighborhood its name. Av s si of their own country estate, Chronicle on Av founder M.H. de Young among them. Bordered by the Montecito district on the south, 3rd Mis The area was more than just tucked-away Gold Hill open space on the east, enormous Barbier Fire S t Stn summer cottages, however. A rollicking dance Park on the north and Highway 101 on the west, hall was located in Laurel Grove, built by it’s an ideally secluded spot for tranquil reflection far Coleman for the use of local teens. Nearby was his from the bedlam of city living. That’s what inspired expansive 12-acre nursery. Another little project, the ornate and the area’s first householders to stake their claim hereabouts almost a luxurious Hotel Rafael (tennis courts, stables, observation tower, 101 century-and-a-half ago. (The Coast Miwok of earlier days preferred rooms) stood at the corner of Belle and Rafael. And in 1887 Coleman the flatlands below, at least partly because a rambunctious spirit sold 10 acres of Magnolia Valley to the Dominican Sisters of San Ranamed Yu’-tenm’e-chah was known to frequent these northern hillfael for $20,000, then turned around and gave half the money back to sides.) In 1871 William T. Coleman, a millionaire shipping tycoon, sweeten the deal. Within a year or so the nuns had built an impressugar merchant and former chief rabble-rouser of the San Francisco Vigilance Committee, purchased 1,100 acres’ worth of sunny San Ra- sive four-story Italianate Victorian at Grand and Locust to serve as fael with an eye toward future development. The previous landowners motherhouse and boarding school, and a four-year college—Marin’s one and only—was added in 1917. It was such a success, the order was had defoliated the landscape for farming purposes, and the first thing able to purchase de Young’s neighboring Meadowlands estate a few Coleman did was to blanket the neighborhood—and eventually much of northern San Rafael—with trees, native oaks and laurels and years later, expanding the campus and converting the publisher’s old summer home into classy dormitories. madrone to begin with but also acacia, eucalyptus, lemon, almond, Today Dominican is a full-fledged university with 2,000 students, pepper, pine, maple, cypress, orange, walnut, chestnut and more: some 60 interdisciplinary learning programs, an 11-to-1 pupil-professor 10,000 trees in all. ratio and, of course, a strikingly beautiful campus. Students from Next he hired Hammond Hall, the unsung genius behind Golden around the globe (nearly 80 percent of them supported by grants Gate Park, to lay out a new community with irregularly acreaged or scholarships) study literature, philosophy and religion, complete parcels and streets that would follow the contours of the hills instead biomedical research in the school’s new cutting-edge science center, of trying to dominate them. (Coleman also found time to dam Laperform in critically acclaimed dance and music productions and gunitas Creek and form the Marin County Water Company, which earn MBAs in a unique Strategic Leadership program. What’s more, would provide H2O to his new tenants as well as the the Dominican Penguins have won California Pacific titles in soccer, volleyball and basketball over the past half-decade. The campus also hosts the Conlan Recreation Center, where neighborhood residents can swim, exercise and play tennis for a minimal annual stipend. Barbier Park’s hiking trails offer plenty of recreation as well, as do local fixtures the Marin Tennis Club, the Marin Ballet Center and the Marin Shakespeare Company. But the favorite local pastime just might be relaxing and reflecting under one of Coleman’s canopied trees, just as the locals have been doing for generations. —MATTHEW STAFFORD Av

Pacifi c Sun Hom e & Gard en

photo by Ken Piek ny

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FFIRE Station 2, 210 Third St. LLIBRARYSan Rafael Public Library, 1100 E. St. PARKS Boyd Memorial Park P

Rafael purchased 10 The Dominican Sisters of San 7 and within a year 188 in acres of Magnolia Valley ool and college. had opened a boarding sch

32 Pacific Sun

P POST OFFICE 910 D St. P PUBLIC SCHOOLS Coleman Elementary, 800 Belle Ave.

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Marineighborhoods Fall 2009 33

Canal

Baypoint and Spinnaker—the melting pot of Marin

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n a countyy By tth the 1960s, whites renownedd ffor andd African-Americans Af its bucolic landfrom Sausalito’s nowPickleweed reek Beach el C Park a scapes, well-heeled citif abandoned shipyards began Pk a R S an zenry and vertiginous per settling the area in earnest. Fr a nc capita income, San Rafael’s Apartment buildings and t is c al S o n Canal district offers a divergent a duplexes were constructed as C Sa hint of the metropolitan. Nearly well as single-family dwellings Ya n Ra Blv Be 12,000 people—20 percent of the ch fa and residential boat slips along the canal, d l ve t H el de arb city’s population—are packed into which was dredged every four years to r eS or the neighborhood’s 1.2 square miles. The maintain its navigability. Businesses rangt setting is an urban mishmash of shops, offices ing from fishing charters and bait shops to and restaurants, light and heavy industry, waterfront the Marin Recycling Center and Industrial property, pocket-sized parks and high-density housing. Light & Magic opened on the premises, Sixty-four percent of its residents are foreign born and and the area’s job opportunities and low rents between them communicate in two dozen different languages. attracted émigrés fleeing war, oppression or But the most telling indication of the Canal’s other-ness is its median poverty back home. The Canal Community 580 family income: $36,000 per year, somewhat less than the county’s Alliance was founded around this time to overall $89,000, with upwards of half of all households existing offer assistance to these at-risk newcomers below the poverty level. through English classes, medical care, legal services, job training, youth education and Hemmed in by the San Rafael Canal on the north, San Rafael development programs and affordable housing. Bay on the east and the 101/580 corridor on the south and west, Today the Canal remains Marin’s most culturally diverse the neighborhood, like tucked-away Marin City down the highneighborhood, its citizenry ranging from the well-to-do inhabitway, is a conveniently secluded setting for chain stores, auto-body shops, low-cost housing and a distinct multicultural demographic ants of the Spinnaker Point and Baypoint Lagoons developments along the bayfront to the working classes (most of Latin-Amerinot usually encountered north of the Golden Gate. A centurycan descent) inhabiting the crowded apartment buildings within and-a-half ago the area was dominated by the navigable creek the Canal/Belvedere/Bahia triangle. that meandered from the marshlands of the bay all the way to C The neighborhood also has a history of taking care of its Street, offering mariners easy entry to downtown San Rafael in own, through the continuing good work of the Alliance as well the city’s pre-railroad days. as organizations like the Parent Services Project, the Canal Eventually a canal was dug as a drainage slough (at its termiWelcome Center, the Grassroots Leadership Network and nus at Third and Irwin was a man-made swimming hole and an DrawBridge, an arts program for homeless children. The menu elaborate bath house where Olympian Eleanor Garatti trained of local businesses is a testament to the Canal’s wide-ranging for the 1928 and 1932 games), and in 1923 Congress authorized heritage: Pupuseria El Salvador, Ping’s Mandarin, Le Croissant, the Army Corps of Engineers to deepen and widen it, dumping Absolute Bar-B-Que, Oscar’s Tacos, S. Panahi Caterers, Marin the dredgings in the marshlands and creating what we now call Pizza Man. Country Club Bowl, Marin’s only bowling alley, East San Rafael. is at 88 Vivian. Green areas include Pickleweed Park with its soccer fields and playground, and Shoreline Park, which offers so ex excellent views of the Marin Islands wildlife sanctuary just offshore. And there’s the 3.6-mile canal itself, which not only hosts ho a lighted boat parade every holiday season, in its dredged sta state it assists rescue craft and fi refighters and is a crucial bulwark against seasonal flooding of downtown San Rafael. All wa the place really needs is a lot more intracounty parity, economic th an and otherwise.—MATTHEW STAFFORD Ke

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C A N A L / B AY P OIN T/ SP INN A K E R AT A GL A N C E FFIRE Station 4, 46 Castro Ave. LLIBRARY Pickleweed Library, 50 Canal St. PARKS Pickleweed Park P

by the Army Corps of The Canal was dug in 1923 s e dumped on the marshland wer Engineers; its dredgings ael. Raf to create what is now East San

34 Pacific Sun

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Bayside bliss in San Rafael

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oint SSan Pedro d Roadd passes the h communities of Loch Lomond, Glenwood and Peacock Gap. These neighborhoods, sandwiched between the waterfront and an expansive set of hills and natural habitat, are home to an eclectic set of Marinites. And locals will tell you: Marinites who have yet to explore the area are surely missing out. The first signs of life on the road east of Montecito Shopping Center are of a nautical nature—the Loch Lomond Marina, in fact, sits past the Marin Yacht Club on Pt. San Pedro Road. Loch Lomond Marina was established in the early 1950s by the McCarthy family, who operated the boat harbor for more than four decades. Over the years, the 517-slip marina has received multiple upgrades, including a picturesque boardwalk along the water’s edge. S u mm it The docks are home to their own yacht club, as well as Av the Loch Lomond Market and a few small neighborhoodMarin Yacht serving businesses. Club Continuing to follow Pt. San Pedro Road past Loch Lomond, one stumbles upon the local communities of Glenwood and Peacock Gap, nestled against McNear’s Beach and the expansive China Camp State Park. Much of this land was originally in the hands of Ireland native Timothy Murphy, who received the land as a grant from the Mexican government in 1844. According to local historians, after Murphy learned a bit of Spanish while working at a meat-packing company in Peru, he moved to California and befriended the local Mexican governor. This friendship, combined with his own missionary work with Native Americans, scored him three large plots of land in San Rafael. John A. McNear and his brother George purchased land at San Pedro Point in 1859. A decade later, according to Marin historian Jack Mason, the McNear brothers owned 2,500 acres, including five miles of waterfront. John McNear had big plans for the land. A shipping and railroad mogul, he hoped to establish train tracks

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that would run from Ross all the way through Point San Pedro, where ferries would carry passengers to San Francisco. His transportation plans crumbled with the 1906 earthquake, and the land remained largely pasture. The McNear family also created a resort near the water that was popular during the 1930s. Some 40 years later, the former hotel and the land surrounding it was transformed into a county park: McNear’s Beach, which is now a haven for recreation seekers in warm months. The beach sits right on the edge of San Pablo Bay, and visitors enjoy the pool, tennis courts, picnic spots and fishing pier. The McNears’ presence in Point San Pedro began to diminish when the family’s descendants sold property to various developers. Consequently, a large amount of homebuilding in Glenwood and Peacock Gap took place in the mid- to late-1900s. Now some 700 homes, an elementary school and a public park exist within the Glenwood limits. And Peacock Gap contains an array of luxury homes and a handful of condominiums surrounding its own golf and country club. China Camp State Park, the largest and hilliest stretch of North San Pedro, is a busy weekend destination for hikers and picnickers. With 15 miles of hiking trails, campgrounds and an accessible waterfront, the park has a clear attraction for the nature-loving Marinite. Today residents fill Loch Lomond, Glenwood and Peacock Gap— but it never feels overly crowded. Something about the gorgeous bay and state park has a calming effect over the entire area.—ALLIE WEISS P O I N T S A N P E D R O A T A G L A N C E FFIRE Station 5, 955 Point San Pedro Road LLIBRARY San Rafael Public Library, 1100 E. St.; Civic Center Library, 3501 Civic Center Drive, #427 C PARKS Victor Jones Park, Peacock Gap Neighborhood Park P P POST OFFICE 910 D St.

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Terra Linda

Where Marin met the modern world...

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a Dr C ed ith one of the Bay Area’s earliest built Terra Linda Sleepy Hollow Divide Sk outdoor shopping malls, y a set of 1960s ranch-style Las Rap homes that became postwar De l architecture classics and the Gan a L as Jetsons-like Frank Lloyd Wright Civic Center across the highway, Terra Linda is Colindas Rd Marin’s most fully realized contribution to Post the modern era. 101 Office Oleander Rd Located in the Las Gallinas Valley area of the Park T county, with about 10,000 residents, Terra Linda was Fre el M it a nu s developed on the former land of Manuel T. Frietas, one Ma Hillview Pk w of the original immigrant Portuguese-Spanish land-grant Park y owners. Freitas, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1896 and made Ga Maria B Freitas lli n a his fortune in banking, ran the area—about 6,000 acres—as a s Memorial Park Av dairy farm. Freitas’s former ranch house is currently the location of St. Isabella’s Catholic Church and School on Trinity Way. As the Freitas land was subdivided following World War II, the Terra Kaiser E sm Medical e ye r Linda neighborhood emerged and became one of the county’s busiCenter est areas of development throughout the 1950s and ’60s. One of its most renowned developments in the area was the No proliferation of what became known as Eichler homes, the va A lb i courtyard-centered, naturally lit style popularized by architect on D ev o Joseph Eichler from 1955 through the following decade. Terra is closer in n vd e Bl Dr H in d Linda boasts about 900 Eichlers. design to a strip Located beyond the parkway that bears the Freitas name, the mall, offering Mall at Northgate has been a shopping destination for Terra neighbors market Linda residents—as well as the entire county and beyond—since goods, lunch destinaopening in 1965. One of the state’s earliest built outdoor malls, tions and much-needed Northgate has often been ahead of the mall game design-wise; infusions of takeout coffee. it converted to an enclosed building in 1987 when the then-new To the east of Terra Linda, across Village in Corte Madera brought a bit of outdoor-mall competiHighway 101, is the landmark Marin Civic Center, designed tion to Marin. This fall it will unveil a whole new look with new by Frank Lloyd Wright; its space-age modern architecture— stores and services along with many old favorite spots. Nearby is intended from a design standpoint to blend in with the rolling Northgate One Shopping Center, which Marin hills—brings many Wright devotees to the area to tour the structure. The Civic Center’s futuristic persona has been put to great effect in such sci-fi fi lms as 1994’s Gattaca and George Lucas’s debut 1970 feature THX 1138. Still unincorporated into the 1960s, Terra Linda founded its own Community Services District to serve the neighborhood, but in the early 1970s the area was annexed by the city of San Rafael. Despite their decades-long status as San Rafaelites, when asked the place they call home, residents are still almost certain to reply, “Terra Linda.”—SHELLEY SHEPHERD KLANER Ter

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T E R R A

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G L A N C E

FFIRE Station 6, 650 Del Ganado Road LLIBRARY Civic Center Library, 3501 Civic Center Drive, #427 P PARKS Maria B. Freitas Memorial Park P POST OFFICE 603 Del Ganado Road

lave is surrounded The Terra Linda business enc ce. by pristine hills of open spa

38 Pacific Sun

P PUBLIC SCHOOLS Terra Linda High, 320 Nova Albion Way; V Vallecito Elementary School, 50 Nova Albion Way

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Sirr Fr ancis Marin’s fastest-growing city keeps its small-town feel Drake

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d it to the h even made big screen in 1992’s Vallejo Radio Flyer, which Av was set in early 1970s Novato and featured Tom Hanks. The fi lm utilized much of Grant Avenue, Av as well as locations such as Novato High School and g Lon Av e the Novato movie D Blv theater. The single-screen d v A theater was designed by architect blo a i D William Kelly and opened to the public in 1948. The theater closed in 1991, shortly before Radio Flyer came out, and has sat unused since. Talks of turning it into a multipurpose theater/performance venue have been ongoing since 1996 when it was purchased by a local nonprofit in the hopes of revitalizing the downtown. While the theater has yet to make a comeback, the downtown went ahead and upgraded anyway. In the late 1990s the city repaved much of Grant Avenue, reconfigured sidewalks, parking spaces and planted new trees. Taking advantage of the city’s new look are the many longrunning festivals and events that Novato puts on for community members. Event highlights include a Fourth of July parade, the annual Festival of Art, Wine and Music, old-time car shows, a “salsa festival” and a seasonal farmers market. Blvd

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lh h lthough Novato is Vir gin a a cluster Marion of diverse neighborhoods— War Rec Area ne r Av such as Ignacio, Hamilton and San Marin—when Grant one thinks of Marin’s most Creek N Lee northern outpost, what Ge ovato rne springs to mind is often the Lu Sutton rP k Rec Area growing city’s quaint and charming downtown. While the city’s population is about 50,000, the downtown area gives Novato a small-town feel. And for many Novato residents, a walk downtown is like a stroll into Marin’s past. The city hall is housed in a stately former Presbyterian church on Sherman Avenue. The iconic red church, built in 1896, was the longtime home of city offices; a safety retrofitting project is currently under way and city officials hope to move back sometime in 2010. It is this building that can be found on most of the city post cards and promotional brochures; you can even find birdhouses built to look like it. Near the old red church is Novato’s busiest street and the hub of downtown—Grant Avenue. The eastern end of Grant is known as Old Town, and was the bustling town center through the 19th century and into the 20th (when it was referred to as “new town,” ironically enough)—featuring a railroad depot, hotel, general store, post office, blacksmith and small school. The city’s nostalgia-laden charm

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Pacifi c Sun Hom e & Gard en

—SHELLEY SHEPHERD KLANER

photo by Ke n Pie kny

D O W N T O W N

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FFIRE Station 1, 7025 Redwood Blvd. LLIBRARY Novato Library, 1720 Novato Blvd. P PARKS Miwok Park, located off Novato Blvd.; P Pioneer Park, located on Simmons Boulevard P POST OFFICE 1537 South Novato Blvd.

red Presbyterian church rem The rooster-weather-vaned most recognizable landmark.

40 Pacific Sun

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Where the boulevard meets the bucolic

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gnacio may seem llike k just another Marin suburb dominated by the freeway and encompassed by open space, but like San Quentin, Ocean Roar, Homestead Valley and many another unincorporated county communities, there’s lots of history, distinction and individual charm behind the neighborhood’s tract-house facade. Within Ignacio’s minimal boundaries are two acclaimed wineries, a Spanish Colonial b&b complete with nightclub, the headquarters of two nationally renowned confectioners, a community theater, a restaurant headed by superstar chef George Morrone, two award-winning art studios, a medical marijuana dispensary, the county’s only Greek Orthodox church plus lots of mid-century architecture, and we haven’t even mentioned the imported spices, the many varieties of cheesecake... The Coast Miwok had a couple of townships in the immediate vicinity—it was a good place to hunt deer, bear and the ducks and quail of the adjoining wetlands—and after the conquistadores came and went and the Mexican government divided Marin into land grants, the region became part of Rancho San Jose, stretching from San Pablo Bay to the western reaches of Rancho Nicasio, with Novato to the north and San Rafael to the south. Enter retired military man Ignacio Pacheco of Santa Clara. His father was part of the Anza expedition that settled San Francisco in 1776 and, after a distinguished career as a Presidio customs officer and San Rafael alcalde, Ignacio was granted that 6,659acre rancho up north. Here he built a beautiful hacienda and raised cattle, horses and (over the course of three marriages) nine children, pausing at one point to challenge Yankee upstart John Fremont to a duel.

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Pacifi c Sun Hom e & Gard en photo by Julie Vader

Pacheco managed to hold onto his rancho after California joined the Union, and upon his death in 1864 the land was divided among his numerous heirs. When a post office was established in 1895, the area’s name was changed from Pacheco to Ignacio to distinguish it from the community across the bay (if not the future Pacheco Valley development down the road). Dairies and open space dominated the landscape until Hamilton Air Field, one of World War II’s primary bomber and transport facilities, was constructed just to the south and makeshift housing was built on either side of Ignacio Boulevard for the use of the field’s military personnel and their families. After the war the housing was largely replaced with low-slung three-bedroom homes more ideal for suburban sprawling and other such baby boomery. (The 1992 coming-of-age drama Radio Flyer got much of its Vietnam-era ambience from being filmed hereabouts.) Today’s Ignacio has much to recommend it. Luxurious old Rancho Rafael has been refurbished into Inn Marin, a swell place to pass a weekend. Pacheco Plaza is likewise being renovated into a “lifestyle village” complete with a local outpost of upscale Paradise Foods and the ongoing presence of the Pacheco Playhouse, home of the Novato Theater Company. Lois Curtin Park and Josef Hoog Park offer plenty of ambient greenery, and there’s more expansive open space just to the south and west if you feel like stretching your legs. And just off the highway is another winery, Pacheco Ranch. The thing that makes this 70-acre vineyard notable isn’t its acclaimed cabs and chardonnays or the lovely 125-year-old Italiante Victorian that dwells there. It’s the fact that Ignacio Pacheco’s direct descendants still own and operate this tiny parcel of the old man’s vast holdings: the only Mexican California land grant still worked by the same kinfolk. It’s nice to keep things all in the family. — MATTHEW STAFFORD I G N A C I O

A T

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FFIRE Station 4, 319 Enfrente Drive LLIBRARY Novato Library, 1720 Novato Blvd. P PARKS Josef Hoog Park, located off Ignacio Boulevard P POST OFFICE 1537 South Novato Blvd.

for a street facing Fairway Drive, aptly named f course. the Marin Country Club gol

42 Pacific Sun

P PUBLIC SCHOOLS Loma Verde Elementary, 399 Alameda de la LLoma; San Jose Middle, 1000 Sunset Parkway; Novato High, 6625 Arthur St.

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Marin Neighborhoods Fall 2009