To really understand something you should know it’s history. On my recent exploration through Santa Clara I came across a few opportunities to learn the city’s history.
The first one is the Stroll Into The Past, a seven station, self-guided tour behind City Hall. The stations start with the Ohlone, and move to the Mission and to the settlers that came, to being the center of the tech evolution. There is a good overview, and a lot of reading.
If you prefer a more visual approach, stroll over to City Hall and check out the photographs that are displayed in the hallway. Here, I learned that Santa Clara was once the home of one of the largest tanneries in the world.
Finally you can arrange a visit to the Harris-Lass House Museum, the last farm site in Santa Clara, and number 11 on your walking tour. This place is only open by appointment (408-249-7905, leave a message).
Stanford’s most iconic structure is the Hoover tower. The observation platform on the 14th floor is a nice place to comfortably see the whole campus and beyond, even for someone who is afraid of heights.
The entrance hall showcases the careers of Herbert Hoover, 31st President of the US, on one side, and his wife, Lou Henry Hoover, on the other. Both were alumni of Stanford. The entrance fee is $3. For more information you can visit the Stanford site: http://visit.stanford.edu/plan/guides/hoover.html
Another presidential dig is a bit harder to spot since it is a floating fully functional ship. The Potomac used to be called the floating White House for President Roosevelt. He apparently hated flying and used this accommodation quite often. Like I mentioned it is still in service, you can rent it or take a cruise, so it wasn’t available on my recent visit to Oakland. To check availability, visit their website: http://www.usspotomac.org
Do you know of other presidential digs in the Bay Area?
So, California’s first municipal state park is right around our corner, Alum Rock in San Jose founded in 1872.
In the 1930’s this park was well known for its mineral springs. Having over 20 different springs with minerals like magnesium and sulfur and naturally carbonated soda springs, a few doctors at the time attested their health benefits. The park also once had a natatorium, a heated indoor pool, plus about 50 mineral baths that pumped in the sulfur water right from the springs. Build in 1912 this was the major attraction in the park. It was closed after 1970, and only a plate remains where it used to be.
While doing the short mineral springs trail you can see the grottos once built around the springs to identify and protect them. And look for the tiled tubs that were holding tanks to warm up the water that was piped to the bathhouses for the actual baths.
But Alum Rock is also San Jose’s largest park, with various hiking trails, a lot of different picnic areas, a playground, a beach volleyball court and the Youth Science Institute.