Friday, July 14, 2017

The Downtown Davis Rail Corridor in the Classic Era: A Few Glimpses (268)

Given that we now have an officially named Downtown Davis Rail Corridor,* I thought it might be of interest to bring together a few photographs of some aspects of it from what can be called its “classic era.”
The most familiar and even iconic of such photos have been published several times so I will not repeat many of them here.** Let me strive, instead, for what little new material I can scavenge from my files. I offer seven glimpses with brief explanatory captions.
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1. Image 1 is a well known but too nice not to repeat. We are standing northeast of the train depot looking northeast toward 3rd Street crossing in the mid-distance. The building in the center-left is where the current 901-07 3rd building now stands and where the Trackside Center would be. The water tower is also on that site and is estimated to rise almost 50 feet.  (That tower might well have been a sun blocking blight for then bucolic Old East Davis.)


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2. We are standing in 3rd Street looking north along the tracks. The large grain storage sheds to the left are along the west side of the tracks. Schmeiser manufactured farm equipment is being wheeled around the area in preparation for loading on trains.



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3. Photographed about 1920, this is another classic and wider shot of the Schmeiser complex with 3rd Street and the 901-07 property again visible. By way of further orientation, were this 2017, we would see Cable Car wash in the area on the extreme right.

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4. The middle section of the fa├žade of the 3rd Street Schmeiser building has a pattern of a door, a window and large, sliding and open shed door. That pattern matches the building pattern seen behind this group. So, these folks are assembled in front of the location of the current 901-07 3rd Street building. The photo is reported to be 1907. As it evident, the Davis workforce of that year is very far from the high-tech clean room tech gurus that Davis sports today. (Mr. Schmeiser is seated fifth from the left in the first row.)

(It would be wonderful if the Trackside developers put a life-size bronze statue of these people exactly as we see them here in front of its new building in the same location they are photographed here -- which would be squarely in front of the new Trackside building.)


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5. This is a 1950s advertising photo from the Davis Enterprise showing 901-07 3rd Street early in its life. Something close to half the building is a flooring store (a business bound to do well in a Davis soon to explode with brand new houses).

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6. In an unknown 1950s year, this photographer is standing on the tracks looking east down 4th street. The Roos House, 402 I, is on the left at the northeast corner of 4th and I streets. The scale of the grain storage shed -- here the Donnell Grain and Warehouse Co. -- provides a nice example of “transition” downscaling from the Downtown to Old East Davis. (Some people might call the building on the right a "wart," but it is actually a high culture ambassador to the outback.)

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7. Also in the 1950s, buildings in the Davis Downtown Rail Corridor fell to what the Enterprise here enthusiastically captions “REDEVELOPMENT.” In this period, the old saying “out with the old, in with the new” became a kind of Davis mantra. This atmosphere prevailed up to the election of 1972, when brakes were abruptly applied -- and have, for the most part, been kept on to this very day.

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* City of Davis Community Development and Sustainability Department, Sustainable Communities Environmental Assessment/Initial Study For the Trackside Center Project 901-19 3rd Street, Davis, CA: City of Davis. July, 2017, pp. 59-60.


** See, for example, Larkey, 1969, Davisville ’68: Lofland and Haig, Davis 1910-1940s; Lofland, Davis History Today, posts numbers 25, 233 and 267.