Thursday, July 22, 2010

#955 Menlo Park Railroad Station

Visit Date: July 5, 2010

The great railroad stations of the gilded age celebrate arrival and departure with grand architecture and massive open spaces. Therefore, we thought it a good idea to start our journey with a visit to a railroad station, even if it is not particularly grand. More practically, we also already knew where this marker was, as I had once commuted to and from this station for an entire summer. I am sure that we will get lost looking for a marker at some point during this experience, but we wanted to start out with a sure thing.
Menlo Park Railroad Station circa 1918.

The Historical Marker
Located at 1100 Merrill Street, the Menlo Park Railroad Station is the oldest passenger station in California. Today it remains in use as a stop on the Caltrain commuter railroad between San Jose and San Francisco. The building, which now houses the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce, is in good condition and retains its Victorian architecture. We have embedded a slideshow of some pictures below and will try to do this for all markers that we visit.

Getting there
I am a huge fan of public transportation and we had thought about taking Caltrain to the station, but it was a holiday which meant that Caltrain was running a frustratingly intermittent weekend service. We drove.

In the neighborhood

The Menlo Park Railroad Station is in a great neighborhood not too far from Stanford University. Immediately next to the station is Kepler's Books, a nice independent bookstore where I picked up a book on California history, and Cafe Borrone, a popular local coffee spot.

The Marker

This building, constructed in 1867 by the San Francisco and San Jose Railroad Company, is the oldest railroad passenger station in California. The victorian ornamentation was added in the 1890's when the station was remodelled to serve the newly-opened Stanford University. The extension on the northwest was added to accommodate increased traffic generated by the establishment of Camp Fremont nearby during World War I.
California Registered Historical Landmark No. 955
Plaque placed by the State Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the City of Menlo Park, July 4, 1983.

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