Preserving & Celebrating Pacifica's Past

Preserving & Celebrating Pacifica's Past

Preserving & Celebrating Pacifica's PastPreserving & Celebrating Pacifica's Past

Historical Walking Tour



Start at the corner of Beach and Montecito in Pacifica. The walk takes approximately one hour. If you start an hour before sunset, you will end with a beautiful sunset view from the pier!

1 - Spanish style wall and buildings of the old wastewater treatment plant in the 1970s. The Pacifica City Council meets in their chambers on the second floor of the main building.

2 - Walk east on Montecito Avenue to Palmetto Avenue: the “Castle” visible on the hill to the east was built by Henry Harrison McCloskey in 1908 as an antidote to earthquakes. It contains 22 rooms, 10,000 square feet and numerous theater décor treasures collected by deceased owner Sam Mazza. It was the local U S Coast Guard communication and beach patrol headquarters during WWII following decades of shadier activity. It is now operated by the Sam Mazza Foundation and is available to non-profit groups by appointment.

3 - Walk north and cross to 1831 Palmetto at the corner of Salada Avenue: the building on the NE corner was originally the Salada Hotel, one of the first buildings in Sharp Park. It was built in anticipation of the development of Salada Beach as a resort community. Two magnificent casinos planned for the area were never built because the expected real estate boom failed to materialize.

4 - Walk east on Salada Avenue to 158 and 160. These matching beach bungalows were built in 1920 by J. Downey Harvey, President of the Ocean Shore Land Company, a subsidiary of the Ocean Shore Railroad.

5 – Continue east to 1850 Francisco Blvd. the “Little Brown Church.” It was built in 1910 as the first Presbyterian Church on the coastside. Two similar churches were built in Moss Beach and El Granada. After the congregation moved into a larger church in 1955, the building continued to serve as a church, school and meeting hall for many years. The Pacifica Historical Society is restoring the now-vacant building as a museum and cultural asset.

6 - Walk around the corner to the north to City Hall at 170 Santa Maria Avenue. Constructed as the San Pedro School in 1914, it originally housed kindergarten through sixth grades with only two teachers. As enrollment increased, the school expanded into the Little Brown Church, with two classrooms for four grades in 1955. The Little Brown Church and the City Hall are officially designated historical buildings under a Pacifica ordinance.

7 – Walk north to the corner of Francisco and Paloma Avenue. Across the freeway you can see a large red building, Anderson’s Store, the first general store and telephone switchboard in the area, control point for the water supply for the neighborhood and the first source of gasoline for automobiles using a hand-crank pump on a 55-gallon drum. The building now houses a restaurant. The industrious Mr. Anderson built the store, the adjoining yoga studio building, did all of the McCloskey Castle interior woodwork and worked on the Little Brown Church.

8 - Turn west (left) to 184 Paloma Avenue. An official historical building, this was first a real estate office, then the first City Hall, then a telephone answering service and now has been expanded as a residence. 

9 - Continue west on Paloma and cross to 1614 Palmetto Avenue. The Old County Road Market dates from 1909 when what is now Palmetto was the main coastside road in San Mateo County. Operating as a market for about 80 years, it became an antique store from 2004 to 2012 and is now a realty office.

10 - Walk west on Paloma to the waterfront and then south on Beach Boulevard along the promenade. The building at 2 Carmel Avenue (on the south corner) originally belonged to San Francisco Madam Dolly Fine who used as a rest haven for her girls. She was arrested and forced out of business in 1938 having attracted too much attention when she claimed police bribes as business expenses.

11 - The Rev. Hershel Harkins (former pastor at the Little Brown Church) Municipal Pier requires no license for fishing. Striped bass, salmon and crabs are taken in some abundance. Construction was funded half by the federal government for recreation and half by the state to support the old sewer plant outfall.

Watch the sunset from the end of the pier!

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