From 'Deadwood City' to Thriving Downtown: Redwood City's Remarkable Comeback

Downtown Redwood City (near San Francisco) has seen an amazing turnaround due to an aggressive program of code reform, strong investments in public spaces, and a strategy of using entertainment as a catalyzing force.
Ed Bierman / flickr

Founded in 1852 as a port on a creek leading to San Francisco Bay, Redwood City took its name from the redwood lumber that was shipped from there to build Gold Rush-era San Francisco. It became one of the primary towns on the San Francisco Peninsula and had a strong downtown until the middle of the 20th century. 

As with so many American downtowns, it declined with construction of nearby malls and other shopping centers. A redevelopment plan was drawn up in the 1960s to completely demolish historic districts, create superblocks, and pedestrianize primary streets. Thankfully, this plan was never implemented, and Downtown Redwood City limped through the late 20th century struggling economically, but physically intact. 

The citizens of Redwood City had long desired for their Downtown to be revitalized, and steadily demanded that actions be taken to improve the area. The turnaround really began in earnest at the turn of the millennium and is now a juggernaut with more housing currently under way than was constructed in the previous five decades combined.

Full Story: CITY SPOTLIGHT: The New Urbanist Renaissance of Downtown Redwood City

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