Downtown has evolved from port beginnings

While locals are banking on the cinema-retail site to transform downtown, the city’s core has been through plenty of overhauls before.

A teeming creek, 80 feet wide in some places, once flowed through downtown, where 100 years ago ships pulled into a port on Broadway and picked up lumber to carry to San Francisco.

“It was visible from the courthouse,” Redwood City historian John Edmonds said. “The lumber piles were huge.”

In the 1920s, a series of sloughs were built on the Bay side of Redwood City, protecting it from winter flooding and lowering Redwood Creek, which was then forced into concrete pipes that still flow underground today, according to Edmonds. The port moved to its current location on Seaport Boulevard.

In the 1950s and 1960s, downtown was teeming with mom-and-pop stores such as Perry Feed and Robinson’s 5 and 10, in addition to Montgomery Ward, Sears and a collection of automotive stores on Main Street, according to Bob Bryant, owner of the Courthouse Café.

That all changed Dec. 31, 1981, when Home Savings & Loan bought the buildings at 2400 Broadway, killing downtown retail for 25 years, Bryant said.

But city officials are aiming to bring back retail and housing with the city’s Downtown Precise Plan, slated for adoption this fall.

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