120“The Corners” & Oak Saloon
Main St. @ Mt. Diablo Blvd.
Walnut Creek was first called “The Corners,” because the region’s two main roads – Pacheco Road and Lafayette Road — met at what is today the corner of Main and Mt. Diablo. Pacheco Road ran north-south from Martinez to San Jose. Lafayette Road took travelers west to Oakland. At this junction stood the Oak Saloon, a popular watering hole. The town’s name was changed to Walnut Creek in 1862.
121Main Street, 1910
In the early years, Main Street was a simple country lane called Pacheco Road that connected Martinez to San Jose. As the lifeline of the town’s commercial district, the road served the Pony Express in 1860-61 and became a regular route for stagecoaches in the1880s. As a dirt road, Main Street had to be “watered” during dry weather to keep down the dust. Main Street was finally paved in 1921 and served as state Highway 21 until the freeway opened in 1960.
Mt. Diablo Blvd. @ Main St.
1917A landmark flagpole once stood at the corner of Main Street and Lafayette Road (now Mt. Diablo Boulevard). The flagpole was dedicated on July 4, 1917 and served as a focal point for community ceremonies until it was removed as a traffic hazard.
125Downtown Traffic, 1950s
Mt. Diablo Blvd. and Main St.
Early 1950sAfter the opening of Broadway Shopping Center in 1951, traffic on Main Street and Mt. Diablo Boulevard often was gridlocked each afternoon. Mt. Diablo also served as Highway 24; Main Street served as both Highway 24 and 21. City officials used a series of photos to “plead their case” for the State to build a freeway bypass to ease congestion. Traffic relief came in 1960, when the new freeway opened.
124Bridge over Walnut Creek
Duncan St. and Broadway
Late 1800sBefore the creeks were “under-grounded” in the late 1950s, Walnut Creek’s namesake creek ran just to the east of downtown and parallel to Main Street. The bridge at the end of Railroad Avenue (now Duncan Street), allowed people to reach the homes and farms across the creek and connected the Southern Pacific train station to downtown.
130Harlan’s Livery Stable
Main St. @ Mt. Diablo Blvd.
This prominent corner has always been a transportation “hub” in Walnut Creek. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, a livery stable (horse barn) occupied this entire block, allowing locals and visitors to board or rent horses and buggies. The operation included barns, a wagon shed, a harness room, corrals, a 25-foot-tall windmill, and a hay shed. Joel Harlan took over the business in 1905.
1315 N. Main St.
1880Walnut Creek’s oldest remaining commercial structure, the Sherburne Building, was the home of a number of mercantile and other businesses over the years. Originally built in 1861-62, the building was partially destroyed by fire in 1879 and rebuilt the following year by its owner, Albert Sherburne. The post office operated out of Sherburne Brothers Mercantile for a number of years.
132Judge Duncan’s Courtroom
1328 N. Main St.
1914The first meeting of Walnut Creek’s Board of Trustees (City Council) was held October 22, 1914 – one day after incorporation – in the courtroom of Judge George O. Duncan. The courtroom sat in a building next to the San Ramon Valley Bank. The Board continued to meet every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in this location for a number of years.
133San Ramon Valley Bank1340 N. Main St.
1908Joseph Silveira, owner of Valley Mercantile at the corner of Main and Cypress, was the first merchant to offer banking services to residents. Recognizing that the community needed a “real” bank, Silveira established the San Ramon Valley Bank in 1907. The bank building sat at the corner of Main and Railroad (now Duncan) and was constructed in 1908.
134Rogers Hotel1350 N. Main St.
1879By 1879, Walnut Creek needed a new hotel. William Bolton Rogers seized the opportunity and opened his hotel at the corner of today’s Main and Duncan Streets. In 1880, the hotel also became a stagecoach stop. The hotel did a brisk business, and more rooms were added over the years. It changed hands and names several times before it was razed in 1959 to make room for a bank.
Main Street, 1921
In 1912, Main Street was still a dirt road, making it difficult for cars to navigate downtown streets. Worried about losing business, local business leaders spearheaded the effort to incorporate as a city. Among the group was Harry Spencer, head of the Business Men’s Association. In October 1914, Walnut Creek residents voted to incorporate. It took seven more years to secure the funds — but, finally, Main Street was paved in 1921.