Thursday, August 27, 2015

The New Alfred F. Smith Collection at UCD Special Collections: A Trove of Historical Material on Stonegate and Later 20th Century Davis (234)

1. Stonegate looking northeast, c. 1977

Alfred F. Smith, the developer of Stonegate, died in 2008 and his heirs donated his papers to the UC Davis Department of Special Collections. That department recently completed the inventory and box storage of those documents and the corpus is now available to the public (image 3).

Mr. Smith appears to have been something of a pack rat (aka hoarder) and his collection is quite amazing. It fills 265 storage boxes and the list of files in those boxes runs 163 pages (image 4).  That list can be viewed or downloaded here.

The purpose of this post is to draw attention to this extraordinary new source of information on the development of Davis after World War II. These 265 boxes contain detailed records on Mr. Smith’s various completed and proposed but never built Davis developments and, as important, a wide range of information on development in general in Davis over the 1960s-90s.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

From Gritty to Clean Labor Along the Davis Tracks (233)

Some years ago I was browsing the California State Archives and happened onto a several
foot wide by a foot or so tall map of a 1964 Southern Pacific Davis “station plan.” In addition to plotting SP property in detail, adjacent and nearby Davis structures are shown. I purchased a 178MB digital copy of it and put it aside after a brief review.

The recent brouhaha over a project called “Trackside” has prompted me to look at it again and more closely.

In that examination, my main impression is that as late as 1964 Davis was a place where work of a meaningfully real physical kind was still performed along the tracks--a type of human activity no longer found there to any significant extent. Put differently and more broadly, there has been a long-term shift from gritty to clean labor along the tracks.

The more recent phase of this long-term shift can be seen in the 1964 map, which I present in its original form as item A. It is difficult to read so I have also rotated it and broken it into four main segments, numbered 1 through 4. (High resolution files of all these images can be downloaded from  You must, though, be patient.)

Starting with excerpt 1 and running from top to bottom of each of the four segments, here is a list of 21 locations featuring “gritty” and “real physical labor.”