San Mateo County History
History of San Mateo County
by Philip W. Alexander, 1916


THE last stage in the development of San Mateo County, from the standpoint of the ownership and apportionment of the soil—is now at hand, and consists of the division of large portions of the magnificent country estates throughout the county, into generous sized suburban lots and villa tracts. Although this period is the last stage of the subdivision of the land into its smallest segments,—it marks the beginning of an era of the greatest advancement and prosperity that this section of the peninsula has ever experienced.

San Mateo County is a "community grown up over night." Twenty-five years ago it consisted of only a few scattered villages and two good sized towns with a total population of ten thousand; today the population is almost four times this amount and growing more rapidly than ever before.

Previous to the year 1888, the county was altogether undeveloped in respect to the subdivision of its lands into suburban lots and acreage home sites. Along the Southern Pacific Railroad were dotted the older villages of Millbrae, San Mateo, Redwood City and Menlo Park. In the adjacent country lay the beautiful estates of the Eastons and Mills of Millbrae; the Howards, Haywards and Parrotts of San Mateo; the Hawes and Brittons of Redwood; and the Athertons and Selbys of Fair Oaks.

It was in the year of 1888 that William H. Howard who owned several acres lying between the village of San Mateo and what is now Burlingame Avenue, began an active campaign of subdivision, and employed Davenport Bromfield the civil engineer to lay out what is known as the Western Addition to the City of San Mateo. Mr. Bromfield subsequently laid out practically all of the most important tracts and subdivisions throughout the peninsula, from the southern boundary line of San Francisco to the Menlo Park vicinity.

The platting of the Western Addition to San Mateo was followed by the first subdivision of the Town of Burlingame (being that portion of the town now lying south of Burlingame Avenue). Later came a subdivision of a portion of Mr. Howard's home place, now known as Highland Park in the City of San Mateo. This work was the beginning of the expansion of San Mateo northerly, and the foundation of the present City of Burlingame.

The coming of the United Railroads from San Francisco to the City of San Mateo in 1902 and the perfection of their service into a daily half-hourly headway, between these two points in November of the next year, contributed largely to the further subdivision of private holdings.

The William Corbitt property at Burlingame was laid out into one-quarter acre lots, followed by the subdivisions known as Burlingame Heights, Lomita Park and Hayward Park. A few years later the tracts known as Easton and San Bruno were subdivided. All of these were contiguous to the railroad lines and on the eastern side of the State Highway. Crystal Springs Park and Highland Park were also important subdivisions.

As the beauty of peninsula property became more widely known to the San Francisco homeseeker, and its reputation as a most exclusive section for country homes became more firmly established; new tracts were thrown open, especially those more elevated lands lying westerly from the State Highway which were subdivided into larger residence and acreage lots to meet this higher priced market.

The Sharon Estate in 1889 began the subdivision of its 800-acre tract known as Burlingame Park, where today can be seen the handsome homes of the Crockers, Scotts, Colemans, Tobins, Carolans and others. This was followed by the Clark holdings, now known as San Mateo Park—the Bowie Estate, known as El Cerrito Park-the Ansel Easton Estate, San Carlos Park, Dingee Park, now known as Redwood Highlands-Valparaiso Park which is a portion of the Atherton Estate at Fair Oaks-and Stanford Park. These acreage subdivisions extending from Easton on the north to Stanford Park on the south, included every variety and character of land that the most fastidious homeseeker could desire.

Great care has been exercised by the landscape engineer in utilizing the natural contour and topography of the ground so as to place the building sites in elevated positions and allow the roads to meander along natural depressions. San Mateo and Easton are good examples of this art of the engineer.

From a bulletin issued by the United States Census Department over a year ago, dealing with the ownership of San Mateo County homes built upon the subdivisions of these large estates, the following comparative figures have been derived: about 80% of the total number of homes in the county today are occupied by urban home dwellers. Of this number more than half own their homes.


SAN MATEO COUNTY is a good place to live. Bay and ocean-girt and mountain-crowned, it is a little wonderland of a thousand unique and distinctive charms.

Better than just being a good place to liveit is an easy place to reach from the big city adjacent. A half to a full hour at the most brings the tired business man to his home. It brings him also into Southern California, as far as climate goes. This is pleasant for himbut far more so for his wife and growing children. A flower garden in a flower country is hers to do with what she will.

A place still replete with memories of the past, when the land was once part of the kingdom of Spainyet a community of up-to-date little cities, perfect roads and every modern convenience.

But San Mateo County is not a place to live only,there is work to be done here, as well as in the larger cities of the state. In different parts of the county there are thriving industrial communities, employing a large number of workmen; and there are fertile and prosperous farming communities.

San Mateo County is a place to be out of doors most all the time; a place to play and forget every care; a place to take long walks, to hunt and fish; a place to get better acquainted with the inner man and wax strong in the bodyfor those who have come to San Mateo County have done all these things.

San Mateo County is a place of pleasing harmonies,of blue lakes and blue skies, mountains and meadows, forests and streamsall within the circling embrace of placid bay and Pacific Ocean. The trees too weave their charmthe oaks of San. Mateo and Redwood City, the laurel and the manzanita of the hills, and the lofty eucalypti planted by the thoughtful hand of man.

San Mateo County is like two counties rolled into one,a county from the ocean shore, and one from the interior, with a lofty mountain chain between. If one prefers an ocean view with its ever twisting fringe of restless breakers extending far to north and south, and the roar of the sea in his ears,then let him settle upon the sea side of the county: but if the bay view, with protection from the ocean winds by the closely circling mountains, possesses greater charm, then let him choose the eastern half of the county.

San Mateo County, because of its unusual topography, balmy climate, scenic beauties and unique situation adjacent to San Francisco, lends itself to a comparatively accurate forecast of future development extending over a period of twenty-five or even fifty years.

The natural outlet of San Francisco is down the peninsula rather than across the bay; for San Mateo County is in the direct path of San Francisco's certain growth. The city's residential sections have already expanded from the ferry to the ocean. Approximately all the large empty spaces, such as Sunset and Richmond Districts have been filled up.


Transportation facilities to the most desirable portions of the county are causing new homeseekers in increasing numbers to search for homesites. At the rate at which transportation is being improved, it will be but a few years before the main carrier has further increased its trackage, and no great timeperhaps a decade or more before several other lines have been developed. The inevitable result will follow: better transportation will directly cause greatly increased population.

Within a radius of one hundred miles there is a population of more than a million people, including the residents of San Francisco, the bay region, San Jose City, and Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties. This is about one half the population of the entire state, consisting of thousands upon thousands who need but to be shown the manifold attractions and advantages of this county.

The bayside cities of the county, located along the parallel lines of the Southern Pacific Railroad, the United Railroads and the State Highway, will in the near future coalesce into one thriving and beautiful community of homeseach with its active little business section. Even now they are expanding toward one another, and in the case of San Mateo, Burlingame, Easton and Hillsborough, have already coalesced.

In the near future all these cities will stretch in a continuous line through the center of the peninsula and wind in graceful curves along the base of the protecting San Morena Mountains.

Although they will appear as one large city, with one common purpose, they will be administered by separate district governments, as are the boroughs of New York.

The foothill districts, sloping upward from the bay, will become one entire exclusive residential section. Further back, nearer the summits of the San Morenas will be found the regal country estates of the wealthy, intermixed with costly country clubs and beautiful resorts.

The entire bayshore of San Mateo County has an especially brilliant future. This section includes a considerable portion of the entire shore frontage of San Francisco Bay, and offers commercial opportunities that equal, and in many cases surpass those of the other vantage points upon San Francisco, Marin, Contra Costa and Alameda County shores.

Hubert Howe Bancroft, historian and economist, in his pamphlet, "Why a World Center of Industry at San Francisco Bay," sums up the situation of the entire bay frontage from a commercial standpoint, and his deductions in the following passage, although applying to the entire bay, are equally true for South San Francisco, San Bruno, Redwood City, and other points along the San Mateo Bayshore that will in time also become important industrial centers.

"Here then, upon the shore surrounding San Francisco Bay is the natural and logical place for a world center of industry, where the problems of the future may be wrought out, until the sun of progress turns backward in its course or wakens to new life the dead nations of the ancient East.

"We find ourselves standing on the border of a great ocean whose waters equal all the other waters of the earth combined, and cover one fourth of the earth's surface, while the Canal cut through the continent into this ocean makes commercially all the waters of the earth one sea. And in this coming together of West and East, with only the waters between, there will be many undreamed of developments, each as magical as any which have yet appeared upon this earth.

"We have but to open our Golden Gate to show a spot singularly suitable not only for a world center of industry but for a world commercial clearing house. At present New York harbor is the greatest of seaports, as the Atlantic is commercially the greatest of oceans, but as the far greater natural wealth of the far greater ocean is utilized, the first port of the Pacific should attain an eminence surpassing all others. . . .

"Here is this matchless bay, which with its tidal rivers tributary, offers dockage space practically unlimited, over five hundred miles of water frontage being already available for pier construction, which may be further increased by dredging sloughs and reclaiming tule lands."

Thus in accordance with the great historian's prophecy, the low lying bayshore will be occupied by factory sites, each with its accompanying homesite colony of industrial workers. In many places the shore—particularly at South San Francisco, San Bruno, San Mateo, Belmont, San Carlos, Redwood City, and Ravenswood will be honeycombed with wharf-lined channels and turning basins filled with seagoing vessels and pulsating with commercial activity.

Great progress has already been made along these lines at South San Francisco, San Bruno and Redwood City.

The amusement business is another line of development along which the county bids fair to progress in the near future. This is especially true in the case of Coyote Point, which because of its comparative closeness to San Francisco, both by train and boat, should sometime equal the record of New York's famous Coney Island.

The coast side will also grow into a great suburban community through the coalescence of its various coast cities and resorts. Improved transportation will hasten this result.

With its setting of ocean and cliff, and possibilities as a residence community, with pleasure resorts for San Franciscans, its future is equally as brilliant as that of the bayside communities. It is not hard to picture a new Riviera which will rival that of Europe, with its imposing villas set close to the shore in a frame of clean, white sand, while further back, nestling at the base of the abrupt ascents to the San Morenas will be found the imposing mansions of the rich. Prosperous ocean towns with their long slender piers running far out to sea and crowded with pleasure seekers is merely another glimpse of what the future has in store for this promising section.

From the foregoing outline of future possibilities, it will be seen that San Mateo County will come into its own with a probable population of one hundred thousand before the end of the next ten years.


THE descriptions of the various bayside cities of the county follow in the order of their distance from San Francisco—Daly City, Colma, South San Francisco, San Bruno, Lomita Park, Millbrae, Easton, Burlingame, Hillsborough, San Mateo, Belmont, San Carlos Park, Redwood City, Atherton, Menlo Park and Ravenswood.

There are seven incorporated municipalities in San Mateo County, all of which are located on the bayside. Daly City, South San Francisco, San Bruno, Burlingame, Hillsborough, San Mateo and Redwood City the county seat.

The rapid growth of San Mateo County has been centered mainly in her cities. San Mlateo and Redwood City were the first two towns whose growth and size first commanded attention. San Bruno, one of the first communities of the county, early attained some degree of importance, being situated upon the intersection of two county roads,-the old Mission Road leading out of San Francisco down the peninsula, and another county road from the city following more closely the bay shore.

Burlingame of later origin, sprang up almost adjacent to San Mateo. Today the two towns have grown together; and with Easton, which is really an addition to Burlingame, form one well knit civic unit. Hillsborough, adjacent both to San Mateo and Burlingame on the west, is a distinct and separate community, although it might be considered an off-shoot from Burlingame.

The various towns of the county enjoyed a steady growth until about ten years ago when the stirring influence of a building boom was felt throughout the peninsula. This was the direct result of the San Francisco fire of April 18, 1906, when many of the former residents of the city decided to come to San Mateo County to live. This resulted in an increased population of several thousands, with correspondingly augmented business activity. In 1906, the population of San Mateo was about 2,000. Its expansion to a figure three times this, at the present day, illustrates the general growth of all the towns of the county.

Daly City is one of the fastest growing municipalities in the county, due to its proximity to San Francisco and the rapid transportation facilities. Its inhabitants are industrious mechanics who own their own homes. Because of this, the community is well governed. The town has a pretty school house and municipal building where the city offices are housed. There are two newspapers and a number of churches, fraternal orders, clubs and other organizations. The city conducts its own water works and is carrying on a comprehensive plan of street work and general improvements.

Daly City is served by the United Railroads and the Peninsula Rapid Transit Company. It is located 7.7 miles along the State Highway from Fifth and Market Streets, San Francisco.

The estimated population is 3,651.

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Colma, one of the oldest towns in the county, lies southwest of Daly City.

The recently completed coast road to Pescadero passes through Colma on its way to the ocean.

Colma is served by the United Railroads and the Peninsula Rapid Transit Company, which pass through Daly City, from which Colma is only a few minutes walk. It is located 8.9 miles along the State Highway from Fifth and Market Streets, San Francisco.


The estimated population is 1,557.

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The City of South San Francisco had its beginning in the fertile brain of Peter E. Iler of Omaha, Nebraska.

In 1889-90 Mr. Iler obtained options on 3,500 acres fronting on the bay of San Francisco, at San Bruno Point. Thereupon the South San Francisco Land and Improvement Company was incorporated, with P.E. Iler as general manager. Among the large holders of stock in the new enterprise were P.E. Iler, of Omaha and M.C. Keith, of North Platte, Nebraska; Henry Miller, Henry S. Crocker, P.N. Lilienthal, E.R. Lilienthal, and Jesse Lilienthal of San Francisco, with P.D. Armour, G.F. Swift and Nelson Morris, millionaire meat packers of Chicago, owning a majority interest.

Among the parcels of land included in the Iler deal was 1,600 acres belonging to Miller & Lux, known as the "Home Ranch," upon which the present city of South San Francisco has been built.

The land company made two distinct districts of its big tract, setting apart all of the land east of the right of way of the bay shore railroad for factory sites, and all west of this line for business houses and homes. The town site was surveyed and subdivided, streets graded, concrete sidewalks laid, sewers constructed, a water system developed through artesian wells, and a pumping plant installed of sufficient capacity to supply water for factory, household and fire protection uses.

An inner harbor with a channel to deep water was dredged out and slips and wharves were constructed.

The Western Meat Company was organized and incorporated, and eighty acres of land fronting on the harbor wore conveyed by the land company to the meat company as a site for stock yards, abattoirs and a meat packing plant, as well as for sites for by-product factories, such as glue works, wool pullery, etc. On December 5, 1892 this company commenced business.

The first house in South San Francisco was built by John Nunn, in November 1891, at Grand and Cypress avenues. The same month W.J. Martin erected the second building in the town, which he used as a real estate office.

In April, 1892, W.J. Martin was appointed land agent for the South San Francisco Land and Improvement Company. Mr. Martin then began a ceasless campaign for the industrial development of this city, which he has carried on with unflagging zeal and remarkable success from that day to this. Through his efforts, factory after factory has located here, until today a score of great manufacturing industries are in active operation, with an aggregate annual payroll of over one million dollars.

Beginning with the Western Meat Company in 1892, the following-named industries have located and established plants in the factory district of this city, viz: The Western Meat Company, Steiger Terra Cotta and Pottery Company, the Baden Brick Company, the W.P. Fuller Paint Oil and Lead Company, the South San Francisco Lumber and Supply Company, The Corrugated Pipe Company, the Pacific Coast Steel Company, the Pacific Car and Equipment Company, the Federal Wireless Company, the Enterprise Foundry Company, the Meese-Gottfried Company (site only), the Schaw-Batcher Pipe Company, the American Marble and Mosaic Company, the Western Sand and Rock Company, the Erickson & Peterson Machine Shop Company, the South City Printing Company, the Standard Oil Supply Company, the South San Francisco Water Works Company, the Prest-o-Lite Company, the Wihls Manufacturing Company, the Metallic Antimony Company, the Carson Chemical Company, the Union Ice Company, the Fuel Oil Supply Company, the Studebaker Service Company, the Union Stockyards Company, the South San Francisco Glue Works Company, the South San Francisco Wool Pullery Company, the South San Francisco Soap Works Company, the W.P. Fuller Varnish Works Company and the American Barium Company.

The only bonded indebtedness incurred is the $62,000 sewer bonds and a small additional sum still due on the second issue of schoolhouse bonds.

South San Francisco has cheap fuel oil, gas and electricity for power and light. It has a local supply of pure water, abundant for all uses. It has a belt line railroad covering its entire water front and manufacturing district, operated for the benefit of its factories and connecting them with the main line bay shore railroad.

Of its many operating industries, ten are rated at a million or more.

It receives and forwards annually more than half a billion pounds of freight over the Southern Pacific-Railroad alone, which means an average of thirty-five carloads per day of twenty tons per car. This does not include the water and automobile truck freights.

It has a well organized, clean municipal government.

With all its improvements its tax rate is among the lowest of the cities of the state.

Over 50 per cent of its dwelling houses are owned by the occupants, and of these nine-tenths are workingmen. It is best of all a "pay roll" city, where an average of $100,000 per month is paid out as wages every month of the year.

In 1908 the belt railroad was built, having a length of seven miles circling the water front, covering the factory district, and connecting at both ends of the half circle with the Southern Pacific Company's railroad, but owned and controlled by the Land and Improvement Company.

On September 3, 1908, South San Francisco was incorporated as a city of the sixth class, and the following named citizens were chosen as city officials: Trustees Harry Edwards, Andrew Hynding, Thomas L. Hickey, Daniel McSweeney, and Herman Gaerdes; clerk, Thomas Mason; treasurer, C.L. Kaufmann, and marshal, Henry Kneese.

Since the incorporation of the city, there have been completed twenty-one miles of concrete sidewalks and eight and one-half miles of paved streets.

The Bank of South San Francisco was incorporated and opened for business July 15, 1905, with a paid up capital of $50,000.

The electric railway from Holy Cross to the factory water front was completed in 1913.

South San Francisco has a fine hotel, Carnegie library, a progressive newspaper, a primary, grammar and high school, and a well equipped hospital. There are three churches, Grace Episcopal, Catholic and Methodist Episcopal Church.

There is a well organized Chamber of Commerce of which Mr. E. Woodman is the Secretary Manager. Much of the development of this part of the peninsula is due to the activity of this body.

South San Francisco is served by the Southern Pacific and the United Railroads. It is located 9 miles from the Southern Pacific's Third and Townsend Street Depot, San Francisco. The local railroad between South San Francisco and Holy Cross, connects with the United Railroads. The Bay Shore Highway from San Francisco, by way of Railroad Avenue and San Bruno Avenue, passes through South San Francisco, and connects with the State Highway at Uncle Tom's Cabin in San Bruno.

The estimated population is 3,500.


San Bruno outgrew its boundaries, merged with Lomita Park and incorporated a city which has the distinction of being, from the standpoint of area, the largest in the county. Its rapid development has forced San Bruno to contract for sewer, street and bridge work, costing $66,000; to issue bonds for a $20,000 schoolhouse and to call an election to provide for more adequate water service and fire protection.

A bank has just been incorporated for San Bruno. Taking these activities into consideration in conjunction with a Street Paving Commission, San Bruno is beginning to utilize its possibilities in a manner that is winning the admiration of its neighboring communities. There has been more building activity in this town during the past year (1915) than in the last three or four years combined.

San Bruno is located at the junction of the State Highway and the County Road out of San Francisco, which meet at Uncle Tom's Cabin.

San Bruno is served by the Southern Pacific Railroad, the United Railroads and the Peninsula Rapid Transit Company. It is located 11 miles from the Southern Pacific's Third and Townsend Street Depot, San Francisco; and 13.1 miles along the State Highway from Fifth and Market Streets, San Francisco.

The estimated population is 1,752.

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Lomita Park is a thriving little community close to Millbrae and adjacent to San Bruno. In fact, Lomita Park and San Bruno form one thickly settled community, with Millbrae further south growing toward them. Each is a distinct town as far as religious, fraternal and educational advantages are concerned.

Lomita Park is served by the Southern Pacific Railroad, the United Railroads and the Peninsula Rapid Transit Company. It is located 12 miles from the Southern Pacific's Third and Townsend Street Depot, San Francisco; and 15.3 miles along the State Highway from Fifth and Market Streets, San Francisco.

The estimated population is 345.

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The little village of Millbrae is located a few miles south of Lomita Park and adjoining the newly created district of Easton. Much of the Millbrae territory is the property of the D.O. Mills estate, which was laid out by Olmstead, the famous landscape gardener of New York.

Recently Millbrae has added many new homes to its colony of bungalows. It is located sufficiently far south to escape the fog which occasionally rolls over the extreme northern portion of the county, yet close enough to San Francisco to be within very comfortable commuting distance.

Millbrae is served by the Southern Pacific Railroad, the United Railroads and the Peninsula Rapid Transit Company. It is located 14 miles from the Southern Pacific's Third and Townsend Street Depot, San Francisco; and 16.8 miles along the State Highway from Fifth and Market Streets, San Francisco.

The estimated population is 468.

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Easton, which is really a subdivision of Burlingame, recently began a remarkable growth. Easton's hills, traversed by the famous Easton Drive, proved a lure for many San Franciscans. The number of homes erected in 1914 and 1915 exceeded the construction of any two previous years.

Easton is served by the Southern Pacific Railroad, the United Railroads, the Peninsula Rapid Transit Company, and an independent electric railway which connects the foothill residences of this community with the main carriers from San Francisco. It is located 15 miles from the Southern Pacific's Third and Townsend Street Depot, San Francisco; and 17 miles along the State Highway from Fifth and Market Streets, San Francisco.

The population of Easton is figured in that of Burlingame, of which it is a subdivision.

Among peninsula cities, none have shown a more remarkable growth than Burlingame, celebrated for its aristocratic tone, its country clubs, polo grounds, well paved streets and excellent schools.

From a picturesque hamlet, Burlingame has become an ideal suburban city. So rapid has been this growth, that today more commuters leave Burlingame station daily than any other point between San Francisco and San Jose.

The business section of the city is well built, but thus far its enterprises are of the kind that supply the wants of the immediate territory in which they are situated.

The town, in addition to its charms as a commuter's paradise, has other possibilities that should not be overlooked. The eastern boundaries skirt the bay at a point one mile distant from the railroad, which portion of the city will undoubtedly be seized upon, in the future as a site for large industrial plants.

There are two elementary schools, four churches, fraternal orders, clubs and other organizations.

Burlingame has experienced a pronounced building boom during the last few years, with a quickening in real estate values. As far back as eight years, it was told how a lot on the main street of the city, which had been bought for $480, to be used as a garage site by a wealthy family living back on the hills, was sold for $3,000. Today this lot is held at $20,000.

In 1915 more than seventy new homes were erected in this attractive community.

It is a fact of historical interest that some of the land now occupied by the town was formerly owned by Mr. Anson Burlingame who was minister to China, and subsequently Chinese minister to the western world.

Burlingame is served by the Southern Pacific Railroad, the United Railroads and the Peninsula Rapid Transit Company. It is located 16 miles from the Southern Pacific's Third and Townsend Street Depot, San Francisco; and 17.8 miles along the State Highway from Fifth and Market Streets, San Francisco.

The estimated population is 4,209 including the Easton Addition.

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Hillsborough, known as the "municipality of millionaires," and richer per capita than any other city in the world, is an attractive and altogether unique suburban community extending along part of two sides of the town of San Mateo and the westerly boundary of Burlingame. It covers six and a quarter square miles, and although much of the land is occupied, it has only a little over one hundred residences.

Here on rolling foothills at the base of Black Mountain, nestling among the luxuriant shrubbery and lofty trees, are the estates of many of California's oldest and wealthiest families.

With its famous Burlingame Country Club, San Mateo Polo Clubs, golf links, sweeping lawns and gardens, beautiful homes and winding drives, Hillsborough and its environs is one of the show spots of the state.

In 1910 Hillsborough was incorporated as a city of the sixth class in order to prevent annexation to San Mateo, and at the same time put into effect what the incorporators considered an ideal form of government. Another object of the wealthy city builders was to preserve the sylvan aspect of the countryside and prevent the crowded effect of an ordinary city.

As a result Hillsborough has become a unique municipality. It has no sidewalks, store, saloon, hotel, boarding house, newspaper, theatre, postoffice, telegraph office or express office.

The town hall, aside from its beauty of structure has a historical interest in that it was reconstructed from the original Howard family residence for which the timbers were brought around the Horn in the early days.

Although Hillsborough is separated from the Southern Pacific and United Railroads by the towns of Burlingame and San Mateo, it may be regarded nevertheless as served by these lines. The Peninsula Rapid Transit Company passes along the State Highway within easy reach to the east of the town. It is located 17 miles from the Southern Pacific's Third and Townsend Street Depot, San Francisco; and 18.8 miles along the State Highway from Fifth and Market Street, San Francisco.

The estimated population is 953.

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San Mateo, the largest city in the county, is primarily a residential community and does not seek large manufacturing enterprises; in fact, the city by a vote decided to be a home community and leave the manufacturing industries to seek locations along Redwood City's water front, or South San Francisco.

Public improvements have kept pace with the city's growth, evidence of which is shown in its many miles of well paved asphalt streets and concrete sidewalks, and an excellent sewer system.

The city of San Mateo is best known as the "Floral City" because of its wonderful growth of flowers and shrubbery.

"The Floral City," although a region of homes, is desirable from every viewpoint-social, commercial, educational, and religious. It has a large and prosperous business district. Reaching out from San Mateo like the ribs of a fan, are a number of points of interest to the visitor-the famous Crystal Springs Drive past the Spring Valley dam, impounding the beautiful lakes that supply San Francisco with water; Coyote Point; Leslie Salt Works, producing 30,000 tons of salt annually; San Mateo Beach and oyster beds, surrounding country estates; scenic drives and walks in all directions.

"A very pleasant and enchanting lawn, situated amidst a grove of trees at the foot of a small hill," wrote Vancouver in describing the situation in 1792.

Educational and religious advantages are exceptionally good. There is a divinity school of the Protestant Episcopal Church, an accredited high school, four grammar schools and a free kindergarten.

The churches having houses of worship include the Protestant Episcopal, the Roman Catholic, the Congregational and the Methodist Episcopal. The Christian Science Church also holds services. Good order is preserved by a well organized police department, and the utmost security to life and property is assured throughout the community. There is a free public library with about 8,000 volumes.

There are about thirty fraternal orders, clubs and other social organizations, Red Cross Hospital, two banks and three newspapers.

Minimum insurance rates are enjoyed by reason of a well equipped fire department. Property receives a very low assessment rate for taxation purposes. The entire city is lighted by electricity. Gas is available for every house.

The San Mateo Board of Trade performs all the functions of a Chamber of Commerce for this section of the county. The manager of this is Paul Pinckney. This body is commencing an active campaign for the upbuilding of the central portion of the peninsula.


San Mateo is served by the Southern Pacific Railroad, the United Railroads, of which it is the southern terminus, and the Peninsula Rapid Transit Company. It is located 18 miles from the Southern Pacific's Third and Townsend Street Depot, San Francisco; and 19.8 miles along the State Highway from Fifth and Market Streets, San Francisco. It is also the center of a number of auto transportation lines, serving all parts of the county.

The estimated population is 6,500.

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Belmont, the first county seat, is admirably located in the Canada Diable, a minature [sic] valley, flaring to the bay. By its beauty in early days, Belmont attracted such men as Colonel Cipriani, William C. Ralston, Governor McDougall and Senator Sharon, who had ther homes there. Much is expected for the future of this section.

Belmont is served by the Southern Pacific Railroad and the Peninsula Rapid Transit Company. It is located 22 miles from the Southern Pacific's Third and Townsend Street Depot, San Francisco; and 24.6 miles along the State Highway from Fifth and Market Streets, San Francisco.

The estimated population is 735.

*  *  *

This pretty little village lies adjacent to Redwood City and is a comparatively new homesite. Particularly noteworthy is the frontage of this community at the Southern Pacific Station, where it is tastefully embellished with flowering shrubs and trees. The streets are well laid out and much improvement work has been accomplished.

[Picture: "B" STREET, SAN MATEO.]

San Carlos is served by the Southern Pacific Railroad, and the Peninsula Rapid Transit Company. It is located 23 miles from the Southern Pacific's Third and Townsend Street Depot, San Francisco; and 25.6 miles along the State Highway from Fifth and Market Streets, San Francisco.

The estimated population is 270.

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Redwood City, the county seat, owes its early growth and importance to its natural advantages as a shipping point, and its proximity to the redwood forests that formerly covered the hillsides to the west. Situate upon an oak-studded plain, bisected by the railroad and State Highway, and bounded on the east by a deep waterfront, this city has two sides-commercial and, residential.

In the life of Harriman, the master mind of the world of transportation, there was evolved a plan to make San Francisco the western terminal of all rail lines, and out of this plan came the great Dumbarton bridge, built across the lower arm of San Francisco Bay at a point two miles east of Redwood City.

This bridge, a mammoth steel affair, is the link, from the railroad standpoint, needed to connect San Francisco with the mainland. It is open to all lines. Consummation of the Harriman plan means that Redwood City will become the southern portal of San Francisco.


Its accessibility to San Francisco has made Redwood City an ideal home center and attractive to San Franciscans seeking suburban life. West of the highway are scores of bungalows of typical California construction.

In addition to the school buildings, Redwood City has many handsome public buildings. As the county seat of San Mateo County it is the site of a $250,000 courthouse of imposing dimensions and ornate construction. A Carnegie library building, up-to-date three-story brick hotel building, two lodge buildings, a theatre, two stone bank buildings, a city hall and several store blocks give the town a fine appearance.

Redwood City is paved from end to end, its main thoroughfares being bitumenized and side streets macadamized. It is well lighted in every section. The city owns its own water distributing plant, the supply coming from artesian wells.

Catholic, Baptist, Methodist Episcopal and Congregational places of worship, with two Christian Science reading rooms, afford the churchgoers of Redwood City ample opportunity to attend divine worship.

Nearly every branch of fraternal life is represented in Redwood City, the Foresters and Odd Fellows owning their own halls. The Masonic order recently purchased a site on Main street upon which it is proposed to erect a handsome temple.

Redwood City has already developed five miles of its water frontage where there can and will be located factories to supply many of the needs of the world. Redwood City has broad acres back of the water front where several other factories are located.

At present two tanneries, three large lumber yards, a leather finishing plant, two large salt works, a codfish packing plant, planing mill, chemical works, two yards for the manufacture of street and road paving materials, an asbestos plant, a cigar factory, and an electric light station and gas-making plant employ hundreds of Redwood City's citizens. There are several large garages, each employing a number of men. Nearly a quarter of a million dollars has been spent in reclaiming land for industrial sites on the water front. A spur track has been built from the main line of the Southern Pacific to this industrial area, as well as a wagon and auto road. Six sites have already been sold to growing concerns.

Redwood City has an active Chamber of Commerce founded during the latter part of 1915. This body, under the able direction of Mr. Ed McGettigan, its manager, is doing much for this section of the peninsula.

Redwood City is served by the Southern Pacific Railroad, the Peninsula Rapid Transit Company, and a line of bay freighters, making regular daily trips to San Francisco. It is located 25 miles from the Southern Pacific's Third and Townsend Street Depot, San Francisco; and 27.6 miles along the State Highway from Fifth and Market Streets, San Francisco. Redwood City is the half-way point between San Francisco and San Jose.

The estimated population is 3,700.

*  *  *

Atherton, one of the most attractive communities in the county, is located south of Redwood City. Here are found some of the handsomest residences in the state.

Atherton is served by the Southern Pacific Railroad and the Peninsula Rapid Transit Company. It is located 28 miles from the Southern Pacific's Third and Townsend Street Depot, San Francisco; and 30.7 miles along the State Highway from Fifth and Market Streets, San Francisco.

The estimated population is 1,000.

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Menlo Park is the last southerly town of the county after Atherton. Its beauty was fully recognized by the millionaires of the old Comstock days, who built for themselves magnificent country homes which are still standing among the enticing oak groves.

Menlo Park has three famous schools-St. Patrick's Seminary, St. Joseph's and Sacred Heart Academies.

Menlo Park is served by the Southern Pacific Railroad and the Peninsula Rapid Transit Company. It is located 29 miles from the Southern Pacific's Third and Townsend Street Depot, San Francisco; and 31.9 miles along the State Highway from Fifth and Market Streets, San Francisco.

The estimated population is 1,866.

*  *  *

Commercially, there is much promise in the development of a large manufacturing district which has already commenced at Ravenswood, a mile to the cast of Menlo Park on the shores of the bay. A large zinc plant has been erected here, which is connected with the Southern Pacific by spur tracks.

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Woodside and Portola among the hills, still retain much of that pioneer attractiveness which was theirs in the early days when this district was one of the first to be settled in the county. Its importance at that time was due to the surrounding magnificent growth of redwood timber which found its market over the waterways a few miles away at Redwood City. Many magnificent specimens Of these monarchs of the forest still enhance the beauty of the surrounding hillsides.


Woodside and Portola have now entered on a new era of prosperity as a desirable region for homes and farms. The soil and climate are particularly adapted to diversified farming. Poultry raising is a growing industry here. The famous vineyards of the county are located in this section, and are recognized as producing the best wine in the state.

This locality, including La Honda, a beautiful mountain retreat, promises to become a second Hillsborough.

Woodside and Portola are reached from Redwood City over the Coastal Road to La Honda, Halfmoon Bay and Santa Cruz. Woodside and Portola are located bout 7 miles from Redwood City.

The estimated population of Woodside is 555; Portola 225; La Honda 192, which increases greatly during the summer months.


TAKING into consideration the accessibility of home properties, in the various parts of San Mateo County, to San Francisco, their beautiful and inspiring surroundings, balmy climate, modern type of improvements and the representative class of neighbors—the cost of property in this community is surprisingly low.

Property values vary of course in each section, according to the nearness to railroad or trolley station, the class of improvements and the natural surroundings.

The average suburban home can be reached as quickly and easily as the residential sections across the bay or in the outlying districts of San Francisco; while the price paid per front foot for peninsula suburban home sites is from one-half to one-third the price of property, similar in appearance and improvements, across the bay; and from one-third to one-fifth the price of that in San Francisco. Property which is suitable for the erection of the highest priced residences costing from $3,000 to $12,000 or even $50,000 each, can be bought for $60 per front foot, while similar property in San Francisco, such as West Clay Park or Presidio Terrace, sells for as high as $250 to $300 per front foot. These choice metropolitan residential sections are practically no further from the center of the city than the most desirable of San Mateo County's home sites.

The following comparative figures were secured from the most prominent real estate dealers in San Mateo County and San Francisco, making a specialty of peninsula property. They represent the price per front foot of lots averaging 150 feet deep, with all improvements including street work, gutters, cement sidewalks, parking, sewer work and gas and water mains.

Beginning from the northern end of the county, the first city that demands our attention is South San Francisco. This is not a suburban community. Town residence property here varies from $10 per front foot to $25. Industrial property averages $1 per square foot.

Residential property in San Bruno, Millbrae, Lomita Park and Beresford varies from as low as $15 per front foot to $20 and $30, the last two figures being for the most desirable suburban property.

Easton, Burlingame and San Mateo offer the prospective investor a range of prices of from $20 to $60 per front foot. Of these three sections, Easton is the nearest to San Francisco and property a trifle lower than in Burlingame and San Mateo.

Hillsborough, located adjacent to Burlingame and San Mateo, has the distinction of containing the highest priced property in the county. Villa sites of an acre each, being held at about $4,000, with very little property for sale.

At Belmont, still further south, property is figured in acreage rather than in town lots, the price varying from $1,500 to $3,000 per acre, with limited improvements.

In San Carlos, acreage is also sold from $1,000 to $3,000; while city lots bring from $15 to $40 per front foot.

Redwood City residence property displays a greater variation than any other district upon the peninsula. Beautiful residence lots fully improved and only a short walk from the station can be purchased for as little as $10 per front foot; while other property ranges as high as $60 per front foot.

At Menlo Park and Atherton, residence sites are figured principally in acreage ranging from $1,500 to $3,000 per acre. Very attractive half and quarter acre home parks can be purchased in these locations at corresponding prices.

On the coast side of the county where the land is chiefly valuable for farming purposes, hill land sells for about $100 per acre while the fertile soil in and about Pescadero is worth about $750 per acre.

Beach residence property in the neighborhood of Halfmoon Bay sells at from $5 to $30 per front foot.

In ten years, the business of the Recorder's office has increased 600%. 1915 was a banner year, records having been broken in the department showing realty transfers, building contracts and other documents indicating development. Additional figures from this office show more than four million dollars worth of building construction under way.

Figures upon the total value of all assessed property in San Mateo County as far back as 1880 show astonishing increase. In 1880 this was $7,764,610; in 1890, $13,595,230; in 1900, $14,421,018; and in 1910, $27,573,681. In the following period every year shows a distinct gain. In 1911, $30,346,078; in 1912, $30,739,041; in 1913, $30,693,920; in 1914, $31,221,825; and in 1915, $33,836,225.


SAN MATEO COUNTY is typical of California at its best. The days in summer are delightfully warm and balmy, being enhanced by clear skies, brilliant sunshine and clean, sweet air laden with the fragrance of blossom and cedar. The perfect ripening of fruit and the perennial bloom of flowers is convincing proof of this.

Those who first enter the county from the San Francisco boundary are impressed by the immediate change from the harsh weather of that place, with its high winds and fog banks, more or less prevalent throughout the entire year, to the agreeable warmth and brilliant sunshine which becomes more and more pronounced toward the south.

To the commuter and the motorist this is particularly noticeable. In the neighborhood of San Bruno, the fog banks disappear. Here the landscape will be found aglow with sunshine and not a cloud in sight except upon the hills to the right, where masses of fog-laden ocean clouds are piled high against the summits of the San Morena Mountains, which like giant hands hold them back in obedience to their perennial charge: "Thus far and no farther."

This unusual climate—like a bit of sunny France or Italy transported bodily to San Mateo County, is the result of purely local topographical conditions or "the lay of the land." It is caused by the protecting influence of the San Moreno range and the San Bruno hills, on the west and north respectively, and by the proximity of the warming waters of San Francisco Bay.

There are never any great extremes of heat or cold; and even the hottest days of the year are tempered by cooling afternoon and evening bay breezes. The fogs and cold winds that are usually so prevalent in ocean counties are to a great extent lacking, so that outdoor sports are enjoyed the year around. On the ocean side of the peninsula the climate is more vigorous, winds from the Pacific cleansing the air frequently. But even these and the fogs that sometimes roll in, are not of a character that is disagreeable.

To understand the basic causes of San Mateo County's climate, we must first analyze the general climatic conditions of central California.

This portion of the state is comparatively free from storms, as most of the recognizable disturbances pass far to the north. In the summer the climatic conditions here are in distinct contrast to those of other portions of the Pacific Coast; they create what might be termed a purely local climate. This reversal is caused by the great heat generated in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys which causes the colder air from the Pacific Ocean to rush in from the coast. Because of the break in the coast mountains at the Golden Gate, this becomes the smaller end of a great funnel through which pass vast volumes of ocean air.

These air currents constitute the prevailing easterly winds and are intensified by the formation of the Gate. They are then deflected down the peninsula as north winds by the obstructions in the bay, consisting of the Contra Costa and Alameda shores, the Berkeley Hills, Angel Island, Yerba Buena and Alcatraz, the Sausalito Hills, Mount Tamalpais and the numerous hills of San Francisco.

In winter there is a reversal to normal of general climatic conditions when the prevailing winds are from the southeast and southwest.

The mean rainfall at San Francisco is about 23 inches, San Mateo about 21 inches and at San Jose about 15 inches, showing a steadily decreasing rainfall toward the south.



ALTHOUGH the city of San Mateo seized upon the designation of the "Floral City" some few years ago, this title could well be extended to take in practically the whole county; the rich soil, dependable rains, and equable temperature causing a growth of semi-tropical verdure the year around. Wild flowers and orchids, palms and hardy apple trees—all seem to do equally well, some of the larger country estates being famous for the beauties of their gardens, while nearly all of the most modest bungalows are surrounded by beds of roses or covered with clinging vines.

San Mateo County in its entirety, from northern to southern boundary; and from bay to ocean, is one extensive flower garden. As proof of this claim it may be stated that the county supplies 75% of the cut-flowers used in San Francisco. Besides this, the peninsula florists and growers are making daily shipments of cut flowers, plants and seeds to all parts of the country—especially Oregon, Washington, and the middle western states.

The rarer specimens of the nurseries; which cover the largest area under glass this side of the Rockies, are in demand in the east and abroad. Particularly is this true of the orchids raised, valuable shipments of which have been made to the King of England .and the Queen of Holland.

It is estimated that the public nurseries, with their stock equipment, represent an investment of $1,000,000, with an area of thirty acres under glass. There are at least fifty large private nurseries on the various country estates, and the total sale from this business aggregates $750,000 a year.

This is shown to be a comparatively large amount when compared to the total output of nursery products in the State of California, which in 1909 were valued at $3,601,301. From these figures, San Mateo County is shown to produce about 20% of the state's entire floral output.

San Mateo County's floral industry is divided into three almost distinct growing districts, each adapted to its own particular variety of flowers, plants or seeds. In the northern section of the county, fanned by the cooling ocean breezes, are the violet gardens; in the central portion roses are the principal product; while in the warmer southern district, orchids, chrysanthemums, carnations and smilax are produced. An extensive seed industry is carried on in the southeastern portion of the county near the shores of San Francisco Bay and also on the coast side.

An inspection of the county's floral productiveness shows large areas devoted to exclusive culture, as in the northern corner between Colma and South San Francisco where 450 acres of land are used solely in the cultivation of violets, grown chiefly by Italians, and sold to the San Francisco wholesalers. That part of the output not sold directly in San Francisco is packed in cracked ice, and sold to customers as far east as Missouri and Kansas. In the violet season from August 1, to June 1, one hundred dozen bunches come to San Francisco daily. The popular variety is the Prince of Wales.

At Millbrae, a few miles south of the violet belt, there is a nursery doing a good business in flowers and potted plants. Carnations, Chrysanthemums, American Beauty roses, and other cut flowers and nursery stock are sent to the San Francisco market from the extensive conservatories of the Hillsborough Nursery on the estate of Mrs. Malcolm D. Whitman, located a little over two miles further south.


From Burlingame, adjacent to Hillsborough, large daily shipments of roses are made to San Francisco, consisting of as many as 7,000 separate flowers. Many of them are reboxed and shipped to the north and middle west. These roses come from the firm which has its hothouses in this city. This concern has more than 300,000 square feet of flower beds under glass. Few people realize that in Burlingame is located the largest rose nursery in California. The roses handled include the American Beauty, pink, and white Killarneys, Richmond, Mrs. Aaron Ward, and the Mme. Cecil Brunner.

In San Mateo City there is located a dahlia farm which grows more varieties of dahlias than any other dahlia farm in the west—with one exception. About a thousand varieties are produced here. This concern was awarded the Grand Prix at the recent Panama Pacific Exposition.

South of San Mateo near Beresford is the establishment of the MacRorie-McLaren Company which located down the peninsula six years ago, and now has an extensive area of about eighteen acres under cultivation. One of the most important branches of this company's business is orchids. In the recent Panama-Pacific Exposition their exhibit of these rare blooms was the largest of its kind and attracted much favorable comment.

The San Mateo County climate is thus shown to be most favorable to the cultivation of these rare and exotic blooms, in fact seven eighths of all the orchids used in San Francisco are raised here.

The chrysanthemum district in San Mateo County extends all the way from the city of San Mateo to the southern extremity of the county, emphasizing the adaptability of the county's soil and climate for these flowers. It is interesting to know that local growers have walked away with the prizes at all the chrysanthemum shows held in Central California.

At Atherton are the elaborate conservatories of Mr. Jos. B. Coryell, whose orchids are famed throughout the country. Here are a large number of hothouses, in charge of an expert nurseryman, containing about a hundred varieties of orchids yielding daily from 200 to 300 blooms for the market during the season.

The Lynch nursery at Menlo Park, ships out daily during the height of the season, more than two thousand chrysanthemums and an equal number of carnations. This concern has the distinction of growing more smilax than any other firm in the world.

Still further south on the Dumbarton Cut-off is located a seed farm where almost a thousand acres are devoted to the growing of seeds alone. This tract belongs to the Braslan Seed Company.

The Morse Seed Company, one of the largest in the world also has a flourishing seed farm on the coast side of the county.

Many of the blooms from these nurseries found their way to the floral booth in the county's recent exhibit at the Panama Pacific Exposition. Here the continuous and unrivaled display of flowers attracted the attention of many visitors to the California State Building where the exhibit was located.

Before ever a hothouse or garden was located in the county, the wild flowers adorned the mountain slopes and sheltered meadows. Wild mustard was especially in evidence, growing so high that it almost obscured the view of a man on horseback. The entire county is famous for its many varieties of wild flowers as well as for its cultured blooms; and enjoys the unchallenged reputation of growing more wild varieties than any other county in the state.

In one of the school competitions which were held every year until recently, a boy entered ninety-six varieties which he had picked in one section of the county near Hillsborough. These were classified by a representative from the botanical department of the University of California. Among the specimens he secured were several kinds of wild orchids.




SAN MATEO COUNTY extends from the south line of the City and County of San Francisco to the San Francisquito Creek and a line extending westerly from the source of this creek over the San Morena Range to the Pacific Ocean and out to a distance of 3 miles. Its eastern boundary is the bay of San Francisco; and its western boundary is the Pacific Ocean. Santa Cruz and Santa Clara Counties are adjacent to the southern boundary line.

The area of the county is 447 square miles out of the peninsula's total area of 550 square miles. The extreme distance between northern and southern boundaries is 41 miles and that from east to west is 18 miles. The county's narrowest width is found up toward the northern extremity where it is but five miles from bay to ocean. On the south, the irregular boundary formed by Santa Cruz and Santa Clara Counties is about 65 miles. The County's greatest area is between the San Morenas and the bayshore.

This land slopes almost uniformly from the mountain crests to the bay, and is interspersed with valleys. One of these, the Canada de Raymundo, the most extensive of the county's interior valleys, runs parallel to the San Morenas and inside a range of foothills to the east. There are other smaller valleys throughout the San Morena Range, of which the shallow valleys flaring out at its base, and sheltering the towns of San Carlos, Belmont and Burlingame are the most important.

Upon the coast side, the San Morena Mountains drop to the sea in steep declivities and cliffs with very few gradual descents.

This range, with its average height of 1200 feet, gradually increasing southward to a point back of Searsville where the altitude is about 2,500 feet, extends north and south through the county and divides it into two parts,—the bayside and the coastside. The San Bruno Hills which are a part of the San Morena Range extend at right angles to the bay from this range, running between San Francisco and South San Francicso. The San Bruno Hills are pierced here by five tunnels constructed by the Southern Pacific Company at an expense of $7,000,000.

Near the northern border of the county, the summit of the San Morenas is seen to be split in a line from north to south. Here lies a tableland or shallow valley in whose center extends a picturesque chain of three artificial lakes,—Pilarcitos, San Andreas and Crystal Springs.

Few counties of the state are better supplied with lakes and streams than San Mateo County. San Francisquito Creek, which for a long distance is the dividing line between San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, has its source in the foothills and empties in the southern extremity of San Francisco Bay. Northward of this are courses of considerable carrying capacity in the rainy season, but dry in summer. These include the bed of the San Mateo Creek which flows through the city of San Mateo, and is the second in size on the bay side of the county.

On the coast side of the county from north to south, are the San Pedro, Denniston, Frenchman's, Pilarcitos, Purissima, Lobitas, Tunitas, San Gregorio, Pomponio, Pescadero, Gazos and White Horse Creeks, all of which are filled with water during the summer months. Waddell Creek is just beyond the county line.

The best fishing is in the Purissima, San Gregorio, Pescadero and Gazos Creeks.

The Pilarcitos, Purissima, San Gregorio, Pescadero and Gazos are the largest and most important of these coast streams. The San Gregorio, Pescadero and Gazos Creeks are fed by tributaries. The tributaries of Pescadero Creek are the Butano (in turn fed by the Little Butano) and Peters and Rock Creeks. The Pescadero Creek is the longest in the county and has the most extensive watershed. The tributaries of the San Gregorio are the Borgess, Corte Madera, Herrington, La Honda, Mindege, and Alpine Creeks.

Bays are a feature of the coast that add considerably to its attractiveness. Halfmoon Bay is the deepest indenture upon the county coast line. At Seal Rocks the land extends seaward in the form of a hook, and from here to the southward for a distance of about 6 miles in a gradually widening half moon-like curve, the formation of the bay exists, growing less and less prominent. At the mouth of the Pilarcitos, San Gregorio and Pescadero Creeks are little lagoons where the fishing is good. Where the Arroyo de las Frijoles flares out on the ocean shore, in the southern extremity of the county, there is also a lagoon.

The Great Basin, an attractive portion of which lies in the southern part of the county, with its eternal giants of the forest, and rushing mountain streams, is another spot still unprofaned by the hand of man and little marred by fire. This big preserve lies directly between Los Gatos and Pescadero, and is reached by a delightful drive of twenty-five miles from the Ocean Shore Railroad's present terminus at Tunitas Glen.

Upon the map published by the United States Geodetic Survey can be seen a wide channel of deep water extending to Hunter's Point from Dumbarton. Redwood Creek opens into this channel, thereby guaranteeing this city unlimited water transportation to San Francisco and other points, when the intervening arm of the sea has been properly dredged and straightened. This natural channel skirts the bayshore, upon which there are four places where wharves can be cheaply constructed for the accommodation of deep water ships: South San Francisco and San Bruno Point nearby, where the channel has already been enlarged and a turning basin created, Coyote Point near San Mateo, and Redwood Point near Redwood City.


The bayshore of the county located a few miles east of the railroads with its thriving communities, is for the most part, a low lying area. The bayshore winds in and out in a series of complicated and involved curves. Before this land can be used for residential or manufacturing purposes it must be reclaimed and filled in, to a depth of almost six feet, which will make it very valuable for farming land, homesites, of industrial purposes, and repay many times over the expense of reclamation.

Extending along the bay shore from a point near Lomita Park to beyond San Mateo, are located a number of oyster beds covering an extensive area and projecting several miles out into the bay. The greater portion of these belong to the Morgan Oyster Company, although much of this territory is apportioned off in private ownership; the D. O. Mills Estate in particular holding thousands of acres of this valuable marsh land.

The oysters produced are classed as Eastern oysters, are of a high quality and command a good price in the San Francisco markets.

In direct contrast to the bayshore, the ocean side of the county presents an aspect of beauty as well as usefulness. For the entire length of the county's ocean sweep of fifty-five miles there is an almost unbroken stretch of beautiful beach, winding in gentle curves to the south, and admirably adapted to recreation and suburban homes. This frontage added to the thirty-five miles of bay frontage, gives the county a total water frontage of ninety miles.


AUTOMOBILISTS declare that San Mateo County is the leader in highway construction. This is attested to by the astonishing fact that a fair Sunday or holiday brings forth 15,000 motor cars on the main highways, exclusive of the traffic on the coastwise roads, which have just been opened to the public.

To accomplish the work of road building, now a reality, millions of dollars and herculean energy were required. Streams were traversed by bridges and mountains reduced to hills in order to make the boulevards practical for all purposes of traffic.

Nature has been kind to San Mateo County, and the road builders have done the rest in making this peninsula community most accessible.

The result of this is that San Mateo County is famous for its scenic boulevards, which are unrivaled from a standpoint of beauty and practicability.

The great results achieved in the construction of a system of scenic boulevards in this peninsula county, have been obtained through the untiring efforts of the Board of Supervisors, composed of Joseph M. Francis, James T. Casey, William H. Brown, John McBain and Dr. C. V. Thompson. No little mention should also be given to the Advisory Roads Commission, which, when originally appointed, had M. B. Johnson, the late George L. Perham, E. M. Moores, H. C. Tuchsen and William A. Moore as members.

Behind this great activity, in taking advantage of natural opportunity, stands the San Mateo County Development Association, an organization which awakened the "sleeping beauty community" of California.

With the formation of this Association wretched roads have been turned into beauteous boulevards, while proposed buildings took the form of reality after the Association began its scheme of public improvements.

The big men of the peninsula are members of the San Mateo County Development Association. The spirit of civic pride has been fostered by this organization, which started the wheels in action that resulted in San Mateo County floating a bond issue of $1,250,000 for good roads. Many thought that the task undertaken was hopeless. Hard work gave a vote of four to one in favor of the proposition. Since this incident, the tide of progress, directed by the hand of the San Mateo County Development Association, is sweeping the county.

The seven municipalities of San Mateo County,—Daly City, South San Francisco, San Bruno, Burlingame, San Mateo, Hillsborough, and Redwood City, are building miles of asphalt streets, and, as a whole, have surpassed any other seven municipalities in the state for good thoroughfares.

When San Mateo County citizens voted for good roads, shrewd business judgment was shown. The convenience to the residents, and increase in property values will repay the county many times over in the next twenty years. In addition to this, there is an advantage which the county is beginning to reap, that very few voters foresaw when they cast their votes for the bonds. The highways are beginning to solve the transportation problems. Given a paved road, the community's transportation problem is greatly reduced; given a paved road in addition to steam train and trolley facilities, the transportation problem is reduced to nothing.

Automobile transportation lines are now running in every direction in San Mateo County: San Mateo is connected with San Francisco, Daly City, San Bruno, Burlingame, Redwood City, Halfmoon Bay, and Palo Alto by regular auto service.

Without the 200-mile system of boulevards, transportation would still be San Mateo County's most perplexing problem.

That these good roads are fully appreciated is shown by the great volume of travel developed over then as soon as they were opened to the public. This is exceptionally well shown by El Camino Real, the State Highway down the peninsula. Before this road was improved there was very little motor car traffic. There would be approximately 250 machines on busy holidays, but that would be very much of an exception to the general rule. At the present time, more machines pass over these improved roads in one day than would traverse them during a period of several months before improvements were made.

What has happened there will happen again, in proportion over every good road that may be built. Showing the county continually to so many people over these good roads is good advertising.

Located as a neighbor to San Francisco, where thousands of people are looking for homes which they can quickly reach without the trouble or danger of crossing the bay, San Mateo's many beautiful locations along the line of these roads are certain to make a very favorable impression. From now on, ever increasing numbers of those seeking homes outside of the congested city will "come and see and stay."

With the main trunks of the road system extending down the peninsula to the city; one along the ocean and the other on the bayside to the county line, and with the laterals crossing from one main line to the other—one of these from San Mateo or Belmont to Halfmoon Bay and the other from San Gregorio to Redwood City or Menlo Park—and the main branch roads connecting with these—a choice of routes and scenery is given such as cannot be surpassed anywhere in the state. San Mateo County has mountains and valleys, ocean and bay, lakes and streams, wooded land and open country, altogether forming a constantly changing panorama of perfect natural beauty. Over these good roads a varying combination of trips can be selected running from sixty to one hundred and fifty miles without the necessity of going over any of the same routes twice.

San Mateo County's success in road building has attracted more than state-wide attention; and all communities arc looking to it for leadership in boulevard construction. San Mateo County's policy is the continual construction of additional highways to maintain its supremacy in perfect boulevards.

The trip by auto to San Francisco from almost every part of the county can be accomplished almost as quickly as by train—and every auto owner claims, with greater convenience and pleasure. Many business men are now using this means of conveyance in preference to the trains, in their daily trips to the office. Residents of the county are now driving up to the city to spend the evening at the theater and various other social functions.

The main highways of the county are for the most part constructed of concrete, over which is laid a coating of asphaltum. The specifications under which they are built, are identical with those of the finest grade of street work.


The stretch of State Highway from San Bruno to San Francisco, passing by way of South San Francisco, and the Visitacion Valley along the bay shore to San Francisco, is the most recently completed portion of the county's highway system.

Although designed primarily for automobile truck traffic, this stretch of highway awards the autoist a scenic treat, unsurpassed by any other road in the state, with its varying panorama of bay and hill, and flower-clad meadows.

On a Sunday in August of last year an accurate count, kept by traffic officers at Millbrae, during a period of twelve hours, showed that 21 motor vehicles passed this given point every minute.

Another great accomplishment of the highway system is the increased valuation of the assessed property of the county, which has shown an increase of $3,500,000 during the last two years. This is a profit of about 280% on the original investment in the county highway bond issue for $1,250,000.



ON account of the natural barrier of mountains and hills separating the Coastside from the other districts, this particular part of the county was somewhat retarded in its growth until the coming of the Ocean Shore Railroad. This portion of the peninsula possesses a romantic interest, in that it was the first place in the county to be discovered by the Spanish people when taking possession of the seacoast of Central California.

In the beginning there were only a few settlements and large ranches for dairying, grain and farming purposes.

All this is being changed, as there has been a great development in this section during the last few years, marked by the growth of a number of promising communities which have taken the place of much of the territory formerly devoted to farming and grazing.

The soil in this district has always been known for its splendid fertility. All the lowlands and many of the side hills along the coast, clear to Pescadero, having been given over entirely to the. raising of vegetables. Here, that dainty aristocrat among vegetables, the artichoke, planted in great fields develops a flavor that it attains nowhere else.

The winters are so mild that the plant is at its best during the Christmas holidays and early spring, just when it is needed and appreciated the most, on account of the lack of other fresh vegetables. Early peas, lettuce, cauliflowers, potatoes, sweet corn, string beans, brussels sprouts, horse beans and many other vegetables do equally well.

Among the county's most important products are cabbages. Cabbage gardeners in the vicinity of Colma and Baden make large shipments,—one of these sending eight carloads to the city in his busy week. Cauliflowers are also shipped out in carload consignments.

Grain is another important crop, particularly red oats, which is raised quite extensively.

The coast climate is well adapted to the perfect ripening and fine flavor of such fruit as apples and pears. Strawberries and huckleberries grow in abundance farther back upon the hills. Poultry raising is also assuming an important rank as a paying industry.

Nevertheless it is general truck gardening that pays best in this region, having proved so successful, that lands suitable for this purpose will now rent for as much each year, as they were considered to be worth per acre ten years ago. The best of this land averages $500 per acre although three times this figure is not an unusual price to pay for the most productive farms. Figures taken from the United States Census of 1910 show the total value of all farm property in San Mateo County to have been over twenty million dollars. Most of this is located on the coastside.


One phase of the coast climate deserves special mention at this point: it is what might be called a "second spring." This phenomenon takes place in the autumn, and somewhat resembles the Indian Summer of the eastern states. At this time many crops may be planted again, as they were in the original Spring of the year. The weather at this time is particularly balmy and pleasant.

Another interesting and important industry that has been located upon the coastside of the county since its earliest days, and still maintains noteworthy proportions, is the lumber business. It is an interesting and little known fact that a large body of untouched redwood lumber—the largest south of Mendocino County, lies along Pescadero Creek; while upon the shores of Butano and Gazos Creeks to the south, are also millions of feet of untouched redwood lumber. Lumbering operations are still in progress in this latter section where the timber is being turned into shingles and railroad ties. Pescadero is the nearest town to the scene of these activities.

The entire coast as far down as Tunitas Glen, the present terminal of the Ocean Shore Railroad, is rapidly attaining prominence, not only as a satisfactory suburban home community, but as a holiday resort that is easily accessible from San Francisco.


New towns have sprung up along the coast from San Francisco, where homeseekers from all parts of the country are selecting sites.

It is to such districts as these that people migrate each summer from the enervating climate of the interior.

The greatest thing next to the coming of the Ocean Shore Railroad, that has yet taken place to open up this coastal section and advertise it to the world, was the building of the Coastside Boulevard. This high class road not only branches out to all other parts of the county, but makes direct connections with San Francisco. It is one of the most popular and beautiful trips for pleasure seekers, as well as a quick and direct commercial route to the metropolis.


The beaches along this fifty-five mile strip of seashore are ideal recreation grounds for holiday or week-end trips, when business cares are forgotten in the pleasures of the seashore. Here is a variety of sport to meet the whims of everyone—strolling or resting in the clean white sands, or bathing in the surf. There are shell fish to be gathered, or fishing can be indulged in from beach or rocks. The redwoods which are only a short distance back of the beach, invite the picnic party.

The beaches at nearly every station along the line of the Ocean Shore Railroad, are sheltered from sweeping winds by high bluffs and protected from treacherous undertow, so characteristic of many ocean bathing places, by the natural formation of the coast line into rocky reefs and inland curves. The temperature of the water is modified by the warm Japan currents which skirt the coast of central California and make bathing delightful.


Surf bathing is indulged in to a great extent at Salada Beach, Brighton Beach, Moss Beach, Marine View, Princeton, Granada, the town of Halfmoon Bay and Tunitas Glen. Beautiful bath houses have been erected at Salada, Moss Beach, Princeton and Granada, where crowds go daily, in summer, to enjoy the snow-white sands, the invigorating salt air and a dip in the surf.

These towns and resorts are strung out along the coast in a line similar to the formation of the bayside cities. The entire population, although growing rapidly, is yet small as compared to that of the sister community across the mountains.

There are two good sized towns,—Halfmoon Bay and Pescadero. The remainder of the settlements are in the nature of summer resorts, around each of which cluster the summer homes of many San Franciscans as well as the year 'round residences of commuters.

The towns located on the coastside along the line of the Ocean Shore Railroad between San Francisco and Pescadero are Edgemar, Salada, Brighton Beach, Rockaway, Pedro Valley, Farallone, Moss Beach, Montara, Princeton, Granada, Miramar, Halfmoon Bay, Lobitas, Tunitas, Purissima, San Gregorio, and the world-famous Pebble Beach.

Halfmoon Bay, originally called Spanishtown, is the largest and oldest town upon the coastside of San Mateo County. It is located in a very fertile valley which flares out upon the shores of the Bay of Halfmoon.

Here indeed is a bit of Old Spain—a little village that might have been transported from the land of the Dons, when the Spanish nation was at the height of its colonizing era in the new world.

The situation of the town is one of the most picturesque on the coast, where the wild beauty of bay, mountain and plain are at their best. At this point, the mountains have fallen back from the sea, leaving a highly fertile plain of several thousand acres stretching along the shores of the bay. Here the waters seem particularly blue, and the sand of an extraordinary whiteness.

Upon this plain grow the artichoke and brussels sprout. Halfmoon Bay artichokes are known from San Francisco to New York and have made the name of Halfmoon Bay famous.

Here also is located the largest mushroom farm west of Chicago, the output of which is shipped to the markets of San Francisco and other bay cities.

There is a high school, grammar school, two churches, and, several fraternal orders, clubs and organizations.

Halfmoon Bay is served by the Ocean Shore Railroad. The Coastside Boulevard from San Francisco passes through Halfmoon Bay, with branches to Redwood City and San Mateo. A line of automobile busses over these roads connect Halfmoon Bay with these cities.

The estimated population is 1,100.

Hidden away in a nook of the mountains and surrounded by one of the richest farming regions of the entire state, is the town of Pescadero,—second in size among the coast towns of the county.

In the old Spanish days, Pescadero was one of the most important stopping places upon the Camino Real. As far back as the early seventies it was a famous resort for honeymoons and parties, and rendezvous for sportsmen from San Francisco. Before this, it was the center of a great cattle district from which hides were shipped to Monterey. An old adobe or two yet remains to remind the historically inclined of the pioneer days of Alta California.


When San Francisco was being expanded into a city, the level land around Pescadero became one vast potato patch, the product being shipped from Pigeon Point, six miles below.

The romantic charm of this little town with its famous pebble beach, bracing climate, scenic beauties and lagoon three miles to the south, where there is unexcelled fishing for striped bass, steelhead and salmon, exerts a magical attraction upon the modern day motorists.

The Ocean Shore Railroad extends only to Tunitas Glen, although its right-of-way has been graded to Pescadero. An automobile stage is operated from here through Pescadero to Santa Cruz and intermediate points, affording train connection to people along the route.

In the town there are two churches, a grammar school, fraternal organizations and clubs.

Pescadero gives the impression of contentment and industry, and above all of cleanliness. Many writers describe the place as a sort of "Spotless Town," because of its well kept streets and predominance of white-painted cottages.

Few people who have not actually enjoyed the stimulating climate on the ocean shore can realize its attractions. Foggy clays are in the extreme minority. Here the hot summer clays are tempered by ocean breezes, and winter days are at their best and are surprisingly warm. In fact the coastside is warmer in winter than the bayside, and cooler in summer, maintaining a more equable temperature the year around.

Source: Alexander, Philip W. History of San Mateo County : from the earliest times, with a description of its resources and advantages, and the biographies of its representative men.  Burlingame, Calif.: Press of Burlingame Pub. Co., 1916, 247 pgs.

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last updated: 14 April 2005