The City of Redwood City
Redwood City – Climate Best By Government Test – is celebrating its 150th year. The summer calendar is full of music and movies in the square, festivals and special events.
I’ve heard several stories about how the City of Redwood City became the city of Climate Best By Government Test. Thankfully, the 2017 Special Edition Magazine Celebrating Redwood City’s Sesquicentennial explains the real story.
Wilbur Doxee won the 1920’s contest promoted by the Chamber of Commerce with his entry, “By Government Test, Our Climate is Best.” There were also entries that included “City of Contentment,” and “The Hometown for Home Lovers” – nothing cheesy about that one.
Henry Finkler lived on land that’s now Edgewood Park – one of Redwood City’s favorite neighborhoods – and Natural Preserve kept weather records. Finkler determined that the world’s perfect climate belts were the Canary Islands, Africa and a 20-mile radius around Redwood City. Henry was the originator of the “climate best” phrase.
San Mateo County Courthouse, Redwood City
Today Music and Movies in the Square dominate the outside of the early 1900’s courthouse building; while the San Mateo County Museum inhabits the interior.
In 1857, when legislation designated Redwood City as the county seat, it might have been because it was already an established center of commerce and home to a thriving lumber industry or because it was far from the corrupt politicians of San Francisco. The decision was made during the first election of more than 2,000 votes in a county with about 1,500 voting-age residents.
Although an earthquake in 1868 damaged the second floor of the building, they continued working there until 1882 when a new court was built in front of the old building. The site definitely didn’t have the security we’re used to now. The father of a rape victim shot the defendant three times during trial, killing him. The law wasn’t what it is today either: the man evaded a murder charge by claiming insanity; the public sentiment helped by believing the father acted in an understandable manner.
A new jail was built in 1876 reducing the number of escapes from the previous location; even though manacled inmates were escorted through a saloon and a field to get to court.
The replacement court building started in 1903 – designed to be a landmark with a rotunda and stained glass dome – was destroyed on its opening day, April 18, 1906, by the Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire.
The current site was fully utilized until 1955 when the Hall of Justice and Records was built and the main portion of the courts moved to the new location. The original courthouse was then used on a limited basis until 1988.
The San Mateo County Historical Association established the county history museum which opened in 1999.
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