It seems like every email I’ve received in the past week has been a “Happy New Year” email. Whether from friends, or work associates, or advertisers, everyone is wishing me, with varying degrees of sincerity, a happy 2019.
So of course, I wanted to be different, which Is why I’m writing to wish you, on behalf of Downtown Santa Cruz, a happy anniversary. 2019 is a year of many notable anniversaries for Downtown Santa Cruz, starting, perhaps with the 250th anniversary of Spanish explorer Don Gaspar de Portola showing up on Saint Laurence day and giving name to both our river (San Lorenzo) and the rolling hills above (Santa Cruz).
This year also marks the 170th anniversary of the California Gold Rush, which ushered in industry, commerce, new forms of entertainment and social settings, and of course potatoes. Lots of potatoes. There are many important markers in our history, but It was the gold rush, and the subsequent exploits of Elihu Anthony, including the first California foundry outside of San Fransisco, which produced the first non-wooden pick axe, and the first Santa Cruz Wharf, that established Downtown Santa Cruz’ location as the town’s central business district.
It has been 140 years since “Silent Charley” Parkhurst died. A death that only amplified a remarkable life, revealing a unprecedented gender bending life, and the realization that among other notable claims “He” was presumably the first woman to vote in America.
100 years ago the Glenwood Highway quite literally paved the way for the automobile era, connecting Santa Cruz with San Jose.
2019 also celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Pacific Garden Mall. Designed by Architect Kermit Darrow and Landscape Architect Roy Rydell, the botanic diversity, mix of concrete and tile and the winding avenue keep a romantic nostalgic place in the hearts of some.
Of course, this October, we will reflect on the 30 years of rebuilding after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. The Devastating 4 minutes in October that took lives and destroyed a majority of Downtown buildings, also brought the community together as never before and set the city on a course to build the Downtown that we know today.
There are many other anniversaries this year. Many of our favorite Downtown businesses will be celebrating milestones, and we will be there to celebrate with them.
So, happy Anniversary, and yes, Happy New Year. 2019 will provide ample opportunity to reflect on our history as a Downtown, as a City, and as a people. But more importantly it will provide us opportunities to make history, What anniversary might we celebrate in 10, 50 100 years? What great things will the people of Downtown Santa Cruz achieve, discover, initiate to change the Downtown and to change the world?
I look forward to celebrating the anniversaries of your achievements.