People standing under the electric tower in History Park

Admire a Former Landmark of San Jose

The electric tower at the History of San Jose parkHistory Park in San Jose preserved a lot of buildings by moving them from their original location to Kelly Park. Some of the buildings are replications of former glory, like the Bank of Italy and the candy shop next door. 

An old photograph of the original electric tower taken from the information signage at History ParkNevertheless, the most recognized structure is the electric tower framing the intersection next to the Bank of Italy building. It is a half-scale replica of the original 237-foot tower that was built at the intersection of Santa Clara and Market Street in San Jose in 1881. The tower collapsed in a storm in 1915. As a monument to progress it was hoped to illuminate the downtown area by imitating moon light. J.J. Owens, editor of the San Jose Mercury, is credited with the idea. In an editorial piece, he proclaimed that by “providing a high and immense source of arc light, the night would become as day for the downtown area.” (Information signage at History Park)

Side view of the electric towerHailed as the world’s tallest free-standing iron structure of its time, some said the design influenced the 1889 Eiffel Tower. After a mock trial at Santa Clara State University, it was decided that two minds had independently come up with similar ideas. 

Ironically this concept of lighting up the downtown didn’t prove to be successful. The tower did not light the immediate area, and farmers nearby complained that the moon-imitating structure confused their chickens. 

But this was the beginning of available electricity in in cities, and gas lamps were slowly replaced with electric lights. 

Lit up replica of the electric tower during Christmas in the ParkA much smaller reproduction of this landmark can be seen lit up at Christmas in the Park sponsored by the Rotary Club.

Did you know about the electric light tower?

History in San Jose is located at 635 Phelan Avenue. Admission is free, except during special events, but parking is $6 for an all-day pass. The park is open Mondays thru Sundays, 9 am to 4 pm.



Relax in Marin’s Art and Garden Center, Ross

Relax in Marin’s Art and Garden Center, Ross

Combining art with a relaxing garden is a win-win experience. At the Marin Art and Garden Center in Ross this is exactly what you will get. The garden grounds are open from sunrise to sunset, seven days a week with free admission. 

Amongus art work by Marcia DonahueThere are sculptures placed around the ground. I most liked the Amongus from Marcia Donahue stacks of mushroom like objects in earthy tones.

The center also has an art gallery. The hours for visiting the gallery are: Thursdays to Saturdays 10 am – 4 pm, and Sundays 12 pm – 4 pm. The latest exhibit Confluence: Reflections on Our Shifting Environment zero in on the climate crisis and the relationship between humans and the natural world. Laura Corallo-Titus’s multi-media paintings, Cindy Stokes’s installation and wall sculpture, and Arminée Chahbazian’s large multi-media imagery on paper can be seen until August 28th, 2022. 

Fountain with water liliesHighlights from the garden include the Magnolia circle and the rose garden with over 150 varieties. The fountain with its water lilies is a nice place to contemplate. 

Summer fun includes concerts in July every Thursday night and a yoga class on Wednesdays.A pink rose from the rose garden at the Marin Art and Garden Center in Ross

The Marin Art and Garden Center is located at 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross. Admission is free and donations are appreciated. Open from sunrise to sunset everyday. 

Have you relaxed at the Marin Art and Garden Center?

Model train set with a train station

Follow the Trains at Moffett Field

War planes painted on the ceiling of the Moffett Field Historical Society MuseumThere are plenty of different ‘fleets’ at the Moffett Field Historical Society Museum. The model train set in the backroom was the most unusual. 

The Moffett Field Historical Society Museum illustrates the history of the various military and NASA commands at this military base. There are many fascinating exhibits illuminating the long history of the airbase.

A model of the USS MaconFor example: The history of the iconic Hanger One and the rigid airship industry was the most compelling reason to go to the museum. I have always been impressed with the size of the zeppelin hangers you can see from the 101. I learned that the USS Macon that was housed in Hangar One, together with her sister airship the USS Akron, is still the world record holder for helium-filled rigid airships. In 1935 the USS Macon was lost in a storm off the coast off Big Sur. 

On Saturdays you also have the pleasure to check out the train room. The building that is now the museum used to be the recreation building for the Navy. Model train building was a nice pastime. The trains ride through interesting model areas with various levels. And ad for halicrafters TV for the model trains set-up

To enter the base you are required to show a valid ID. Admission to the museum is $8 for adults, $3 for 13 – 17 year olds, and $5 for seniors and disabled persons. Persons that serve active military duty and members of the museum are free.

I highly recommend the Moffett Field Historical Society Museum to any person with an affinity to aviation (and model trains). 

The museum is open Wednesdays through Saturdays 10am – 3pm.

Have you been to the Moffett Field Historical Society Museum?


Petaluma Historical Library & Museum

Walk into History, Petaluma

Glass dome of the Petaluma Historical MuseumThe building that houses the Petaluma Historical Library & Museum is in itself a representation of history. The former Carnegie Library was built in 1904. Entering through the massive stone columns the tiled floor reads: Free to all. The most stunning feature is the glass dome. The dome is the largest free standing stained glass dome in Northern California. It is definitely worth admiring it with an upward tilted head.

A sign the reads: school cross walkOn entering the museum we were greeted by a friendly attendant and she told us about the layout of the exhibit. The lower floor has the current exhibit: Local Ties – ​​Histories of the Petaluma & Haystack Railway, Northwestern Pacific Railroad and Petaluma & Santa Rosa Railway. You can view it through July 24th, 2022. While the upper floor is dedicated to the permanent exhibition of the history of Petaluma. This reaches from the life of the native population, over school life of the past, to the history of dairy farmers.

A signage of Petaluma’s Black History reveals Petaluma’s less glorious moments. Redlining was, while banned by the Supreme Court in 1948, still a common practice in the North Bay in the 1960s. Due to this housing discrimination only one black family lived in Petaluma in 1960. In 2020 the black population accounted for 1.2%. For comparison, overall there were 5% of blacks in California listed in the 2020 census (

Memorabilia of American GraffitiAlong with the current exhibit downstairs is a tribute to American Graffiti. Most of the film was shot in Petaluma. Even these days Petaluma is in great demand as a filming location. We saw a film crew for a Christmas movie at the high school.

A small carouselThe Petaluma Historical Library & Museum

is located on 20 4th Street in Petaluma. Opening hours are Thursday, Friday and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm, Saturday from 10 am to 4:40 pm. Admission is free but a suggested donation of $5 is appreciated.


Do you enjoy local historical museums?

At the Bay Model. The sign reads: Find your way around the Bay

Walk around the Bay, Bay Model, Sausalito

An info sign at the Bay Model.It is really an accomplishment of the US Army Corps of Engineers: The  Bay Model in Sausalito is as large as two football fields. If you are like me this sounds big, but you only get the real idea of how big this actually is once you stand in the viewing area and you are trying to grasp the entirety.

The Bay Model was built in 1957 to simulate salt-water intrusion, changes to tidal flows, and even movement of pollution. Nowadays the computer models have taken over and this is an educational facility. The US Army Corps of Engineers still operates the facility and offers educational programs and tours. 

The round view point at the Bay Model is a nice view around the BayOn my recent visit I was greeted by a ranger. Before I got my map and self-guided tour brochure she gave me a run-down on the model. Going first up a ramp I choose the outside lookout to see kayakers leaving the marina. When you enter the exhibit there are historic facts and explanations of the Bay. Did you know that the gold diggers used hydraulic mining? The run-off was full of sediments and made the Bay rise by more than 10 feet, causing muddy floods! A model of the Golden Gate Bridge

The next stop was a short movie, conveniently translated in four other languages besides english. After the movie, be prepared to be blown away. As I mentioned earlier, the scale is massive! Every 14.9 minutes a 24 hour tidal cycle gets recreated. Some of the educational devices are closed off due to COVID restrictions. 

Have you walked around the Bay?

The Bay Model Visitor Center is located at 2100 Bridgeway in Sausalito. Admission is free. Opening hours are Tuesday through Friday, 9 am – 4 pm and Saturday, 10 am – 5 pm.


Entrance of the Richmond Art Center

Acknowledge Local Art, Richmond Art Center

Dewey Crumpler's exhibit at the Richmond Art CenterIt’s not just local art at the Richmond Art Center. But the nod to local artists are clear in the two large exhibition rooms. The main gallery shows well-known artists that have a connection to the Bay Area. Currently, until June 4th, this is Dewey Crumpler: Crossing. A take on the impact of the global shipping industry, with large scale collages, drawings, and paintings. There is also one sculpture, I almost missed, but really was my favorite! Multiple dragons crashing into and out of shipping containers. Dewey Crumpler's sculpture of dragons and shipping containers

The West gallery honors local artists. Right Here, Right Now: A Biennial of Richmond Art is a collection of eight Richmond artists ( Adrian Delgado, AJ Serrano, Daniel Ballesteros, Heather McAlister, Janet Lipkin, Jeff Maylath, Karen Seneferu, Melanin Buford). This exemplary exhibit ends on June 3rd, 2022 but the idea will be part of the Art Center’s biennially showcase. 

Video installation of Right Here Right Now at the Richmond Art CenterThe West galleries new exhibit The Eastern Shore, of artist J.B. Broussard opens June 8th till July 22, 2022. Broussard’s work centers around bronze sculptures of Tubman and Douglass shared with earlier charcoal drawings, sculptures, and paintings reflecting the Black experience. The opening reception will be together with Emmy Lou Packard: Artist of Conscience on June 18th, 2022.


When I spoke with the attendant she was very excited about the upcoming exhibit of Emmy Lou Packard. Packard was a student of Diego Rivera and has worked at the Kaiser shipyard’s newspaper, Fore ‘n’ Aft, in Richmond. She is well-known for her linoleum prints. The exhibit will be on view from June 22 till August 20th. This will also be accompanied by some events. 

Mark your calendars:

Opening Reception: Saturday, June 18, 2pm-4pm

How Emmy Lou Packard Made Her Prints (demonstration): Saturday, July 16, 12pm-2pm

Rebel Art: Emmy Lou Packard’s Legacy (panel discussion): Friday, July 29, 6pm-7:30pm

Film screening of Rivera In America: Thursday, August 11, 6:30pm-8:30pm

Closing Reception with The Great Tortilla Conspiracy: Saturday, August 20, 12pm-2pm

Mural of people participating at the Art CenterAll events are free and open to the public. No RSVP needed.

Gallery Hours are Wednesday-Saturday, 10am-4pm at  2540 Barrett Avenue, Richmond, CA 94804. The Art Center asks for a $5 donation.

Have you been to the Richmond Art Center?

Rev. Hershel Harkins Pier in Pacifica.

Walk into History, Pacifica

Last week’s post was about a self-guided historic walking tour in Redwood City. Usually I shake things up a bit, but this week there will be a follow-up of some sort. The history walking tour of Pacifica takes about an hour and starts near the pier.

Historic beach bungalow in Pacifica.The historical society of Pacifica that compiled the walking tour suggests starting about one hour before sunset, in order to enjoy the sunset at the end of the tour. When we did it we started in the morning devouring treats from Rosalind’s Bakery on a bench near the ocean for breakfast.

The first of eleven stops on the tour is the Spanish inspired old water treatment building and wall. The second one, Sam’s Castle, you’re not too near to, but worth a separate tour if you get a chance. The Salada Hotel (3) and the two beach bungalows (4) tell more of a story, as Pacifica was built as a resort community enticing rich San Franciscan to establish second homes here. 

The Little Brown Church is now the Coastside Museum. Next stop, the ‘Little Brown Church’ is a must-see for any history buff. Nowadays known as the Coastside Museum, it opens its doors for visitors Tuesdays, Thursdays, and  Saturdays, from 1 pm to 4 pm. Many of the following buildings have a connection with the Little Brown Church. (6) Former Pedro school expanded their classrooms into it, (7) Mr Anderson from the Anderson’s store did all the woodwork, (11) and the pier is named after Rev. Hershel Harkins, a former priest at the Little Brown Church.

Former house of Madam Dolly Fine.The most intriguing stop was number 10 on the list, a house on 2 Carmel Avenue. The self- guided sheet reveals juicy details about a former resident, Madam Dolly Fine. “She was arrested and forced out of business in 1938, having attracted too much attention when she claimed police bribes as business expenses.” 

To hear more details about the history of Pacifica I highly recommend visiting the Coastside Museum.

Where do you walk on historic grounds?

Peek Inside the Art Kiosk, Redwood City

Peek Inside the Art Kiosk, Redwood City

Blue night by Kiki Smith, with glass facade of the art kiosk.Whenever I visit Redwood City I make sure I press my nose and camera to the glass of the art kiosk on Courthouse Square. This tiny public exhibition space, a cube whose ground measures 152 by 166 feet and a height of 153 feet, gives (local) artists a space to express their connection to Redwood City.

acrylic animals hanging inside the art kioskFirst installed in 2019, this was only meant to be a 10 month collaboration between the FUNG Collaboratives and the Redwood City Improvement Association. I could not find an end date to this exceptional art display. 

The kiosk has glass on all four sides, and artists usually use the space with full efficiency. 

Fish hanging from the ceiling and a goat reflecting the outside tree.The latest installment, Blue Night by Kiki Smith, also incorporates the light that shines in through the windows. Blue and translucent acrylic sheets represent 18 animal constellations. Each animal happily deflects the sunlight, or at night spotlights help to set the tone reflecting blue lights and shadows.

Blue Night will be on display until May 15th, 2022.

The Art Kiosk is on 2208 Broadway, Redwood City.

Next installments for the Art Kiosk are:

Homero Carrillo-Leon   Not Defined                                                    May 21 – June 26

Jennifer Cannon           The Gown                                                        July 02– Aug 07

Valerie Mendoza           The Destination Cafe                                      Aug 13 – Sept 25

Ilya & Emilia Kabakov   They Are Flying                                                Oct 1 – Nov 13

Wendy Wischer            In Search of New Growth                                Nov 19 – Jan 02

(dates are for 2022)

Have you peeked inside the art kiosk?


Experience 50 things to do in Mountain View, CA

Experience 50 things to do in Mountain View, CA

50 Things to do in Mountain View, CAIn 2017 I started my series of 50 things, a challenge to find 50 interesting things to explore in one city. Mountain View, CA was the first city I chose and it was about time to update it. 

Many attractions I had previously mentioned changed. Places closed down, Android figures disappeared, and new gardens came to my attention. It’s clear that this project is constantly  in motion and I will do my very best to keep everything up to date.

Luckily some of my favorite things are still around, like relaxing at Shoreline Park, the in-person festivals, and the farmers’ market on Sundays. 

What are your highlights in Mountain View, CA?

Please let me know if there are any places you would like to see on this list, or have any comments.

Watch the YouTube video of 50 things to do in Mountain View!

Search out a Little Free Art Gallery, San Jose

Search out a Little Free Art Gallery, San Jose

Little free libraries are present in a lot of neighborhoods and worth seeking out. Not only do they offer free reading materials, but some extended their selection during the pandemic with canned foods or seeds. I also admire the creativity people invest in making these small cabinets.

Hart Little Free GalleryThe little free art galleries are an extension of this genre. The principle is the same as the little free libraries, come to see some art, grab something that catches your eye, or contribute to the fun. As far as I know San Jose now has two of these neighborhood gems. One of the galleries is stocked by Jennifer Hart, a local artist, who enjoyed the challenge of creating small art. The gallery is located on Booksin Avenue in Willow Glen. You can also see the current inventory at her Instagram account “Hart Little Free Gallery”.  Drawings of a woman. One is titled: you are perfect

SJFLAG little free art galleryThe second gallery is nearby, in the Reed Elementary School area. SJFLAG is also on Instagram, but it asks that if you want to know the exact address you should PM them. I did not realize this on my quest, so it took me a little while to find the SFMOMA inspired box. 


Smooth Ray of Trumansburg, NY created a directory for free little art galleries. A snail at SJFALG

Have you been to a little free art gallery?