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'Walking tour' book lists Palo Alto historical sites

Original post made on Mar 25, 2010

The Palo Alto Historical Association has published a new book that provides a walking tour of 43 sites of sites of historical interest in downtown Palo Alto.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, March 25, 2010, 7:19 AM

Comments (19)

Posted by PAHA, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 25, 2010 at 9:13 am

Actually, "Nice Day for a Stroll" can be purchased at, rather than Thanks!

Posted by Too Much Traffic, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2010 at 9:29 am

"Literally every few paces there is something of historical interest," he said.

I think people are confusing "historic" with old. Of course in Palo Alto we wanted to designate every house that was more than 50 or 60 years old as historic!!

"Bowling said the 86-year-old Cardinal Hotel at the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Ramona Street is one of his favorite spots mentioned in the book. "

Okay, it is an old hotel with a nice lobby--but what makes it historic? Bottom line, there is very little historic in Palo Alto and if people think that tourists will come here for these pseudo-historic sites, they are mistaken.

Posted by Residents, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2010 at 9:48 am

It's articles like these that make Americans the butt of Europeans mirth that they are. History is to do with important events. Art, even old art, is not historic even if it is to do with historical events although it may teach us about history. The Bayeux Tapestries are noteworthy, well presevered art that may teach us about history, not historic.

Posted by Daniel Mart, a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 25, 2010 at 10:48 am

Daniel Mart is a registered user.

Historic does not always have to correspond with significant events. The gorgeous architecture of an early 20th century hotel or film palace; the simple ambiance of a real, authentic bowling alley from before 1950; the innocent nature of an old Fosters Freeze or Wienerschnitzel ... places that take you back in time; to remind one of a simpler time; there are not many spots remaining that are like this ... why is The Stanford Theatre so historic? The Guild Theatre? The Palo Alto Bowl? The Winter Lodge? The Peninsula Creamery? Look at Downtown San Jose ... E&O Trading ompany (building is from the 1800s); San Jose Improv (theatre was built in 1905); San Jose Civic (from 1934); and a number of other sites.

These places need to be preserved; preserved as a reminder of where we come from, who we are, what can be learned from the past and, more often than not, at least IMO, what can be again.

Posted by Too Much Traffic, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2010 at 10:53 am

Daniel--you are mixing up historic, with architecturally significant and with plain old buildings. Historic means just that--if you want to put together a guide for architecturally significant structures in Palo Alto then do that--but do not label them historic
The Guild Theatre, The Palo Alto Bowl, The Winter Lodge historic????? Surely you jest

Posted by Giovanni, a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 25, 2010 at 11:00 am

Too much traffic and Resident,

The book is about historical sights, not historic sights. Here's the American Heritage definition of the two words: "Historic and historical are differentiated in usage, though their senses overlap. Historic refers to what is important in history. Historical refers to whatever existed in the past, whether regarded as important or not: a historical character."

I can't wait to read the book and visit the historical sights of Palo Alto.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2010 at 11:01 am

Wrong Daniel

You are confusing historic with folk art, or another term. Historic doesn't even necessarily mean old. The site where Flight 93 crashed is historic and the plans to put a memorial there are right. History took place in that field and that is what makes it historic.

Old buildings may be beautiful or significant for cultural reasons, but that does not make them historic. Preserving them, even by physically moving them to a folk art living museum, may be worth doing, but calling them historic will cause confusion rather than give value to their worth.

Posted by Daniel Mart, a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 25, 2010 at 11:07 am

Daniel Mart is a registered user.

Because of the fact that they are architecturally significant makes them historic ... many registered landmarks are architecturally significant to the time period, a period when architecture was truly beautiful and unique, stuff you don't see today, and many historians would argue that this alone makes them historic ... because losing them would be a "far" greater crime and loss than say tearing down a house from twenty years ago. The Guild opened as a burlesque house; the PA Bowl is a fine example of post-war bowling alley design; the winter lodge is just incredibly gorgeous. If you don't want to deem them historic, then fine; to each his own. However, to me, and millions of others, they are irreplaceable and extremely important pieces of Bay Area history. Of American history.

Too many of the places have been destroyed in America; it is up to us to hold on to what's left. To begin to care.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Someone was using the word heritage in another thread, that would be a much better word to describe the places Daniel is talking about or used to describe the book. These sites may be important when studying the development of the city or society, but they are not historic. Heritage is a word that shows this. Historic is a misnomer and will cause confusion.

Posted by Giovanni, a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 25, 2010 at 3:23 pm

The article does not mention the word HISTORIC. The sites of interest are described as historiCAL. See my above post for a definition of the two words. Why all the debate as to whether or not the sites are historic? Neither the author of the article or book claim that the sites mentioned are historic.

Posted by Too Much Traffic, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2010 at 3:30 pm

You are splitting hairs, Giovanni:

Web Link

Web Link

The city of Palo Alto uses the term "historic" to describe the homes:

Web Link

Posted by Giovanni, a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 25, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Dear Too much traffic, this thread is about the article describing Matt Bowling's book of historiCAL sites. If the sites mentioned in the article were described as HISTORIC, I could understand why you would want to start a debate. However, THE AUTHOR DID NOT USE THE WORD HISTORIC. If you want to discuss what the city of Palo Alto claims to be historic, please start another thread. That should be a very interesting discussion.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2010 at 5:38 pm


Perhaps you are a walking dictionary, but to the rest of us, calling buildings in Palo Alto historic or historical is hysterical. :)Heritage would be a better term to prevent confusion.

Posted by Ron, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 25, 2010 at 5:57 pm

If you are a property owner of anyting "historical" in Palo Alto, watch out! My 60 year old shack got put on the historical property list, until I, and many others like me, fought back and brought it to a vote. We won.

Posted by EE, a resident of Community Center
on Mar 25, 2010 at 10:50 pm

I have not seen the book, but it qualifies as a history compilation only if it includes the old Federal Telephone Lab site where Lee deForest invented the amplifier, and thereby created electronics and enabled the Silicon Valley. Also significant: the Waverley-Addison intersection, where a good arm can throw a stone from a boyhood home of William Shockley, co-inventor of the transistor, to the Hewlett-Packard garage.

Posted by Too Much Traffic, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2010 at 7:32 am

As i said Giovanni, you are splitting hairs. If you want to determine content of threads, please consider joining the Weekly editorial staff.
There is little to nothing historic in Palo Alto and calling buildings historical is in the eyes of the beholder.

Posted by Jenny, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 27, 2010 at 11:54 am

I've seen the book and it does cover both the Shockley house and the HP Garage. History is certainly in the eye of the beholder. The author himself states in the intro that at first he didn't think much of PA's history compared to his hometown of Boston's. But that later he realized that many PA places did have interesting stories. No doubt, Eichlers and Google aren't history like you get in school, but it's hard to say those things aren't important to this community.

Posted by paloaltolifer, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 28, 2010 at 8:04 pm

I'm disappointed that this book was written by someone who grew up in Boston and not by someone who grew up seeing their first movie (Bambie!) at the Stanford Theater and shopping for their first bathing suit at Penney's on University Avenue or Bergman's in Midtown and swimming at Riconada on the first weekend in May for free even if it was raining (hey, it was free!). thank you for writing it though.

Posted by Daniel Mart, a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 11, 2010 at 10:02 am

Daniel Mart is a registered user.

Look at this...

Web Link

Yes, ultimately, "historic" is in the eye of the beholder; there is no set definition for it.

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