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Opinion: End of an era on California Avenue

Original post made on Sep 8, 2023

As my nonprofit Benetech leaves the California Avenue office space it's called home for 20 years, the bittersweet milestone has made me think back about the change I’ve seen over time in the Palo Alto business district.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, September 8, 2023, 11:20 AM

Comments (8)

Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2023 at 1:40 am

Silver Linings is a registered user.

Thank you for your work. As the parent of a dyslexic, I’m really grateful for what you accomplished.

I’d like to ask when someone is going to make technical books for dyslexics! Most work pretty well with text now but not math physics or engineering. I’m hoping you know of a resource or might consider developing it.

I’m also glad to know at least one company did something worthwhile there. It wasn’t just a coincidence that the longtime resident serving businesses were squeezed out when residents couldn’t get to their favorite businesses on Cal Ave when it became filled with office workers…

Posted by jimfruchterman
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 9, 2023 at 1:17 pm

jimfruchterman is a registered user.

Thanks, @SilverLinings! And your question is a good one. Technical books are the hardest to make accessible, especially compared to a novel.

Learning Ally (formerly Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic) worked on this challenge with technical volunteers, basically getting humans to help with this. I know the Bookshare team is working on applying AI technology to this, and hope they make some progress on this. The other thing Bookshare is doing is working with the publishers themselves to make their ebooks more accessible, which also should help.

Posted by liz
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 9, 2023 at 4:33 pm

liz is a registered user.

What a lovely article. My dad had his law offices on California Avenue for many years (near Mollie Stone and The Keystone). I miss going down California and seeing his offices--and also that yummy Mexican place just off California. And the German/Swiss place from the 70's. So many memories!

Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 11, 2023 at 10:29 am

Annette is a registered user.

That is a nice article. I wish the "mastermind(s)" behind the numerous eyesores (most notably the miniature golf installation at the El Camino end of the avenue) had as positive a view of Cal Ave. Removing the trees was a lousy idea and there must surely be a more attractive approach to blocking off the street than what has been chosen. Palo Alto is lucky to be an attractive place, but recent decisions are chipping away at that. City Council: please put someone with an appreciation for Palo Alto in charge of our cityscape.

Posted by Me
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 11, 2023 at 11:02 am

Me is a registered user.

I grew up here since the 1970s and yes, California Avenue was never vibrant, nor was University Avenue, they were both sleepy. I feel more safe at CA Avenue than downtwon and love that the street is blocked off. MJ Sushi on the next street over (Cambridge/El Camino) has outstanding food, the best around.

Per the first posting on dyslexia, my child had dyslexia and we tried tutors, etc. but found visual therapy at an optometrist in San Carlos and it solved the issue.

Posted by Rosenna Yau
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 11, 2023 at 12:23 pm

Rosenna Yau is a registered user.

I got bagels and go to the Farmer's market on weekends. Eat in Mediterranean Wraps with friends.

Posted by mudvillenine
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 11, 2023 at 7:55 pm

mudvillenine is a registered user.

That small Mexican restaurant off California the Liz mentioned was the Bobby Kennedy headquarters in June 1968. I biked over after school the day after the shooting - he was still alive, improbably - and every door in the place was wide open, not a soul there, and the wind had blown the flyers, bumper stickers and posters all in a jumble.

Posted by Robert Martinengo
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 12, 2023 at 8:33 am

Robert Martinengo is a registered user.

Perhaps I'm looking in a nostalgia-tinted rear view mirror, but the old Cal Ave seemed pretty cool. I saw fantastic shows at the Keystone like James Brown, Chris Isaak, and the Ramones (not on the same night - too bad!). I hung out at the corner bookstore, and the natural food store stayed open past 6pm. It was funky and fun.

As the first person in the country to request digital files 'at scale' from textbook publishers for disabled students (I worked for the California Community College system from 2002 to 2007), I visited Jim at Bookshare a few times and went out to lunch with some of the staff (I'm pretty sure I was the first person to suggest Bookshare hire someone from the publishing industry, which they did). I'm glad I was able to contribute to their early success.

Yes, California Ave at the turn of the last century seemed like a friendlier place and time. The signs may come down but the memories will linger.
Ps. How come I can't select Cubberley High School?! Erasure...

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