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Following North Street to the end of its extension into the far- reaches of the canyon is Cable Roadway at 31 Central Avenue. It ascends/descends up to Prospect Avenue there being a jog, a break, at midpoint as it crosses over (with no real connection} Crescent Avenue and Sausalito Boulevard. At Prospect it veers a little southward. This combination of staircases and paved roadway provides access to many homes. It’ name is presumed to have been derived from its use as a "way by which materials were hauled up the hill". It was surveyed in 1889 as a possible cable tramway. It is 25’ wide and 780’ long.
It is back in this area a little south along Crescent Avenue and Sausalito Boulevard that the springs are located and where manganese was mined. The Sausalito Bay Land Company Property Map No 3d dated June 1889 notes springs between Sausalito Blvd. and Prospect, between Sausalito Blvd and Crescent and above Prospect near the Alta/Marion Avenue area.
The manganese mines which operated in the 1870s and 1880s located at the head of Sausalito Blvd. just below Prospect Avenue were uncovered in October of 1982 while repairing slide damage caused by rains of January, 1982. The tunnel was lined with decaying redwood timbers 100 feet in length. A sample of the ore and timber is with the Sausalito Historical Museum.
Water tunnels were constructed around 1910 in this area by a private company and were sold to the City of Sausalito which in turn sold the facilities to the Marin Municipal Water District in 1926. The tunnels have been abandoned since about that time.
From the base at North Street and Central Avenue, the Roadway begins with wide stone steps narrowing (22 in all) and then becomes a pathway with fortified dirt steps (145) and then 7 cement steps to a landing and 21 wood steps with a double railing to the top at Crescent. From the Sausalito Boulevard intersection it ascends 12 wood steps with a double wood railing to 2 steps at south to a wood walkway with an east wood railing followed by three series of cement steps: 6, 23 and 49. The last two having a double metal railing and traveling westward coming onto a street-wide roadway with houses on either side to Prospect Avenue at Channing Way.
Sausalito Cazneau To Filbert
This a public easement between Filbert Avenue and Cazneau Avenue the base being a short distance south from the intersection of Girard Avenue with Filbert. As it progresses up hill westward it connects with a roadway serving duplexes in the vicinity of 200 Cazneau Avenue. This pathway with steps has no other name than its street description.
This has been a very active area in New Town with other connecting ways: 1) steps from Girard just across to the east go to the Glen Drive intersection, 2) a few paces to the south steps go down Bee Street to Bonita at the corner of Central School now City Hall. Hence, we can easily go up from Caledonia/Bridgeway up to Cazneau Avenue.
Cazneau Avenue is named for General Thomas N. Cazneau an original partner in the Sausalito Land and Ferry Company. He was descended from a French family that migrated first to Boston in the late 17th century. In San Francisco, Thomas became a Brigadier General in the Army, later Adjutant General and Aide to Governor Haight. On Cazneau Avenue there are many historic houses. For example: 41 Cazneau – Laurel Lodge – home of poet Daniel O’Connell, 24 Cazneau built 1894 - the John Mason home (the first brewer in Sausalito and west of the Mississippi River), 76 Cazneau the Madrone Cottage 1874 – home of John L. Romer one of the original Sausalito Land and Ferry Company men also known as the Ritchie Home.
He origin of Filbert Avenue is unknown. At 28 Filbert is the Strittmather House built 1888. Walter Strittmather was on the WWI Honor Roll, a member of the Volunteer Fire Department and the Drum Corps and the Native Sons of the Golden West. The First Baptist Church is at 131 Filbert. Previously the Portuguese Hall, it was the site of many Chamarita festivals and parades associated with the Roman Catholic Church.
The Glen area (Wildwood Glen) – the far reaches of the canyon – was the site of an outdoor pavilion, water reservoir, swimming pool, picnic areas, gardens and early grave yard.
This easement is essentially a dirt path with steps reinforced by wood. There is a wood railing on the south side.
Sausalito Cooper Lane
Cooper Lane provides a direct connection between San Carlos Avenue and Sausalito Boulevard at Spencer – that southern arc of The Hill between Old and New Town. This is a pathway with steps in series which accesses the area of the Sausalito Woman’s Club to the south and Christ Episcopal Church (and its Campbell Hall) to the north.
The Lane is said to be to honor "Dr. C.E. Cooper and Minnie Cooper residents of adjacent property." The Cooper Cottage however was located at 14 Sunshine. It is an historic house dating pre 1895. The Coopers came to Sausalito for their honeymoon in 1880. An authority on Shakespeare and Browning, Minnie Cooper traveled and lectured. She was also President of the Infant Shelter in San Francisco for 25 years.
Christ Episcopal Church was built in 1882 and is #15 on Sausalito’s Historic Noteworthy Structures and Sites List. American Gothic, its basic structure is unaltered over the years with its wood shingles and the Bell Tower.
The Sausalito Woman’s Clubhouse (Central and San Carlos) designed by famous architect, Julia Morgan, was built in 1918. It is #39 on the City’s Historic List.
Cooper Lane provides access to several private homes on San Carlos Avenue as well as # 39 Sausalito Boulevard. It is primarily a gravel walkway with a series of cement steps as follows from base (#65-67 San Carlos): 35 steps, 12 steps, 12 steps, 2 steps, 5 steps, 7 steps, 6 steps, 16 steps, 15 steps, and 6 steps. At top there is a metal railing on the south side with a macadam-cement walkway. There are no other railings.
Note: There is another (unnamed) set of steps serving this immediate area: from 14 Sunshine Avenue to 35 San Carlos – 47 easy grade steps with an iron railing at south most of the distance.
Sausalito Noble Lane
A lane long used by the public Noble Lane’s ownership is not clear. This is true of many small pieces of land in Sausalito. Early boundaries were often vague and labeled by perishable and changing objects: waterways, trees, fences, bushes, and rocks. Land was often not formally surveyed, agreements were reached by adjoining neighbors, and areas staked, hedged or left open for use. And, areas owned by the City or assumed public have been absorbed and/or usurped: alley ways, pathways, street sides, street ends, utility easements, access easements by hedging, fencing, plantings and gardening, gates, stone walls etc. Even houses have been built across or into the public domain. This confusion of ownership and responsibility of maintenance is reflected in such objects as the decaying stump in the middle of Noble Lane. For a century now, people have walked around this tree and its stump.
Noble Lane is a good connector between Old Town and The Hill as it is at #63 Atwood at Bulkley with San Carlos above (#37) at Central Avenue where the Julia Morgan (architect) 1918 Historic (#39) Woman’s Club house is located.
There is a fire/water hydrant at base and a 1919 Sanborn map indicated a water pipe easement here. The Lane is presumed to be named for the Noble family. Hamden H. Noble was from Maine, a stockbroker whose name appears in the 1892 Marin County Voters Registration. His registration address is given as "Richardson", his age 48 years and is described as blond hair, blue eyed, 5’10 ½" in height. He was involved in the sale of real estate in Sausalito and the proposal to put a funicular along Excelsior Lane to top of The Hill. His wife, Grace Chalmers was a member of the Woman’s Club and listed in the San Francisco Blue Book of 1892.
The trail is asphalt with rock and mortar steps on the lower portion with a water run-off on the north side and no railing. It progresses between houses serving as access with a series of cement steps and at top is the entrance to #39 Central. The upper portion has a railing on the south side. From base it progresses: 17 steps, 55 steps, 9 steps, 3 steps, l9 steps, and 4 steps. The lower 6l steps have no rail. To the north (96 paces) is the Daniel O’Connell Seat - Sausalito’s first dedicated monument to this man a beloved poet. It is at the junction with Harrison and Bulkley – a nice resting place to look at the view before heading down town – there being an old walkway from #16 on down the hill along Princess Street where there are stone steps and a railing.
Sausalito Reade Lane
Reade Lane appears in maps after the City was incorporated in 1893 – the earliest noted in the Historical Society records being in 1909 (Part 5 of a 6-part map). One of three Lanes going directly from The Hill to the central-transportation center, it is the southern-most route and is directly opposite El Portal Street the Spanish name for the port of the City (the ferry terminal). A "Welcome Arch" was built here in 1908 for the arrival of the Great White Fleet in San Francisco Bay. The Lane itself, named for F.A. Reade an attorney, was purchased by the City from William F. Reade in 1904. The "Reade Cottage" is noted as an historic house in Sausalito.
According to Jack Tracy, first president of the Historical Society; the "Fire Department can trace its roots to February 6, 1888 when twenty-five prominent residents…met at Arthur Jewett’s blacksmith’s shop. (Where) it was determined that a permanent volunteer fire department with modern equipment was a community necessity." One of those men was William Reade.
At base Reade Lane is a narrow path between two buildings at the end of which it becomes 16 cement steps with an iron railing on both sides. There is a little jog south and more cement steps (39) with an iron railing on both sides followed by a narrow cement walkway with iron railing on the north side to an open roadway. The Lane is 10 feet wide for 180 feet, 20 feet wide for 200 feet. There are trees in the area notably a Douglas Fir and an Oak. To the south are "The Rivendell" and "The Vandallia" recent homes. At top at Bulkley Avenue the First Presbyterian Church (1909) is north and "Villa Ladera" a private residence at south. The First Presbyterian Church is on Sausalito’s list of "Noteworthy Structures and Sites."
Sausalito El Monte Lane
"El Monte" (The Mountain in Spanish), this "Hill" as it came top be called between Old and New Town must have been considered quite high to warrant such a majestic title in the early days. The memoirs of Dixon Chambers also reminds us of the early agricultural nature of the area for "El Monte Lane was called "Pig Alley" because at the foot there was a pig sty." The Lane’s official name, however, was derived from the "El Monte Hotel" on Bulkley Avenue, the roadway above Water Street (Bridgeway).
This El Monte Hotel is not to be confused with the hotel at 701-707 Bridgeway which went by various names depending upon its proprietorship: Sausalito Hotel, El Monte Hotel, Del Monte Hotel. To distinguish between the two hotels and give added status to the El Monte the latter was often referred to as "The Grand El Monte".
Of the three perpendicular central pedestrian Lanes between Bridgeway and The Hill, El Monte is the furthest north being at base directly opposite Bay Street. Like Reade Lane, it goes up only one flight. It was the walkway to and from the El Monte Hotel. The Sausalito News announced the opening on April 4, 1880: "New hotel lately built by Col. J.E. Slinkey opened last Sunday." And, according to The Post, 189l, the Honorable James E. Slinkey was well known over the State. The hotel contained 100 rooms as well as the cottages - each named and "famous fort their comfort and accommodations." Slinkley, a native of Australia, also owned the hotel at 701-707 Bridgeway for some years and was owner of the Sausalito News. The hotel was a center for social and political life. It was demolished in 1904 after being sold at auction to L.M. Hickman. Much of the property after subdivision by Hickman was given for the First Presbyterian Church. Now known as the property at 120 Bulkley, "those small houses behind the Presbyterian Church are the remaining cottages that belonged to this hotel."
The Lane is 10 feet wide and 220 feet long with concrete steps and walkway. At base are 21 steps with a metal railing to the north and south and in the middle a level area then narrower 21 steps with a rail of metal to the north and south, a level area, 21 steps with rail north and south, a level area, 10 steps with rail north and south, a level area, steps which take a slight turn northwest (and provide access at the 13th to the Casa Madrona Hotel parking lot) and no rail for l5 steps; then, continuing 21 steps with metal rail at the north. The walkway is cement with a wood rail to the north and provides access to the "Casa Isabella 1904" and also to the house at 144 Bulkley. The final steps at the top have a metal rail both north and south. Across the street is the Alta Mira Hotel.
The Casa Madrona, noted earlier, also carries an historic plaque: "This property has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior."
Sausalito Excelsior Lane
Of all Lanes in Sausalito, Excelsior Lane, as its name implies, is sovereign. Among the oldest, probably the most used and the most ornate it is located directly opposite the Fountain in the Central Plaza, Vina del Mar. It is the most direct and severest route between The Hill and the central-commercial area - the transportation corridor of Sausalito: the ferries, the central bus stop, the taxi and automobile route and, in the past, the railroad. The route has three levels crossing from Bridgeway to Bulkley Avenue to Harrison Avenue to San Carlos Avenue at Miller Avenue. It undoubtedly experiences the greatest variety of uses of any Lane in town because of its central location and the many nearby amenities. People sit here waiting for the bus. People sit here eating a bite and socializing. People meet each other here. People dash up and down en-route home or to catch the ferry or bus. People read here at all hours. People sit here just to rest and look at the view or watch others
The Lane dates at least before 1894 when it first appeared in print known in the early days as "Lime Juice Alley" in reference to the English people who regularly traversed it. Officially named "Excelsior Lane" in 1925 (in recognition of the property owner, the Excelsior Loan Company) there is an earlier reference to it in the form of a report dated February 16, 1915 by the Sausalito Incline Street Railway Company. It states, "The company has a franchise from the Town of Sausalito to construct and operate a street Railroad…" (from Excelsior up the hill to Cobb Avenue later known as Cloud View). Although the funicular was never realized it gives a perspective as to how popular the Lane was and the anticipation of increased traffic in the future.
In his memoirs, Dixon Chambers (1962) states, "The lower part of Excelsior Lane had wooden steps but from up there to the top until the 90s (1890) was only steep red clay, with triangular rocks sticking up."
Excelsior Lane is in the heart of Sausalito’s designated "Historic District". The central plaza, "Vina del Mar", was originally named and dedicated "Depot Park" in 1904. The Wells Fargo Bank to the immediate north was formerly the "Bank of Sausalito" built in 1924. To the south was the "Del Monte Hotel" built circa 1874. It was originally two buildings, which were united later by a second story. Over time it was called also (with differing proprietors), the El Monte Hotel and the Sausalito Hotel. It is #49 in the Sausalito Historic District.
At base, there are two cement-tapered pillars each with a global light. There are three series of steps here with the first having 20 steps, the second 20 steps and the third 12. On the north and south sides and in the middle there are iron railings. The balance of the Lane to Bulkley Avenue is cement paving. The section’s official width is 30 feet and its length 320 feet. A variety of evergreens overhang the area. No parking is allowed. At top on the southeast corner with Bulkley Avenue is the First Presbyterian Church (1909) and on the northeast corner, the old "El Monte" area. The land for the church (originally the tennis court for the El Monte Hotel), the church itself and its furnishings were given by Mr. And Mrs. L.M. Hickman as a memorial to their son in 1907. The church is Landmark Inventory #9 on Sausalito’s List of Noteworthy Structures and Sites. Across the street is the "Alta Mira Hotel" built originally in 1882 as the home of T.W. Jackson and was known before 1926 as "Alta Mira Villa". It is Landmark Inventory #40. The original structure burned December 25, 1926. The stone staircase is of the original Hotel Annex. Immediately south of the First Presbyterian Church are plaques commemorating the founding of the Sausalito Woman’s Club in 1911 as a group of women surrounded a Cypress tree (becoming their founders’ tree) to save it from the axe.
Between Bulkley and Harrison there are seven series of steps the first in stone the others in cement with a railing at the north for the entire length. The series is as follows: 12 steps, 12 steps, 19 steps, 12 steps, 10 steps, 6 steps and 7 steps. It is 15 feet wide and 300 feet long. At Harrison, the Lane continues up a series of cement steps and walkway: 4 steps, 12 steps, 13 steps, 11 steps, 8 steps and 9 steps. After the first steps there is a metal railing on the south side. The width is 15 feet and the length 230 feet.
At San Carlos just to the north is the Christ Episcopal Church (1878). Several historic houses are in the area. Across San Carlos is Miller Avenue where autos may park on the south side only-it dead-ends after one block.
Excelsior Lane, for its entire length, provides access to many private homes.
Sausalito New Town Beginning
It was a combination of factors coalescing in the late 19th century that gave Sausalito it’s raison d’ętre. The shifting of the commercial-population center northward on Water Street to Point Sausalito and around The Hill was following the lead of Richardson himself who had located his family in the next valley. The climate was warmer, milder, less foggy and less windy than the former "Hurricane Gulch" as Old Town tended to be called. And. Sausalito Point was larger, firmer and more conducive for ferry shipping across the Bay. The advent of the railroad made this Sausalito a thriving port city. Those who capitalized on these ingredients were a group of businessmen from San Francisco who formed a partnership called The Sausalito Land and Ferry Company and methodically, tenaciously developed the area.
After Richardson’s death (1856) Samuel Throckmorton bought out the Richardson family’s interest in Rancho Sausalito, sold the Lime Point Tract (Fort Baker) to the U.S. Army (1866), joined with the men who had previously purchased the Richardson family home in New Town (John Turney and James Boyd) and sold 1164 acres to the above consortium of 19 men nine of whom incorporated on September 27, 1869 as the Sausalito Land and Ferry Company. One partner, Maurice Dore, had been the land broker and auctioneer in Old Town. A survey was made, streets and lots diagramed and sales promoted for home sites. To further the ferrying-shipping interests they had purchased and launched a ferryboat they named "Princess" (1868) at the intersection of Water Street and a street there, which they also named, "Princess". Some of the men made their homes here and many of the streets were named for themselves: Harrison Avenue for Charles Henry Harrison, Cazneau Avenue for General Thomas N. Cazneau, George Lane for Robert George, Platt Avenue for Henry Platt, Spencer Avenue for H.K. Spencer, Tillinghast Lane for W.H. Tillinghast, Woodward Avenue for William A. Woodward, Wray Lane for Alban E. Wray, Currey Avenue for John Currey, Girard for Leonce Girard, Bee Street for Frederick Bee and Easterby for Anthony Easterby.
To ensure the railroad’s location in Sausalito the Sausalito Land and Ferry Company gave the North Pacific Railroad 30 acres of the prime waterfront property in the center of town. This would be for the terminal and the ferry landing associated with it for the San Francisco connection. Men were recruited to operate the railroad and they and their families encouraged to develop associated services to support the thriving community.
Following that initial thrust of English and American people in Sausalito there came waves of those from other nationalities: French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Scandinavian -- people with the varied skills necessary for the building of a water-oriented, railroad shipping and agricultural community. People of diverse backgrounds and diverse interests and skills. And, although they tended to live in areas of Sausalito commensurate with their interests and the occupations the people of the town developed over the years an appreciation of their diversity. The General Plan of the City has reflected this as described and inscribed community goals to encourage diversity both in architecture and life styles.
Churches, schools, government and all of the accoutrements of a town developed at the turn of the century: The Methodist Church on Hannon’s Hill in 1872, the Saint Mary Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Church (Litho and Bonita Streets) in 1881, Christ Episcopal Church (Santa Rosa and San Carlos) 1882, the First Presbyterian Church in 1902. Central School was established at Caledonia and Litho streets in 1888. The city was incorporated in 1893. There has been a Police Chief (Town Marshall) since 1895 and a Fire Marshall since 1904. The streets – many of them – were paved in 1920.
At the base of The Hill through the business area-heading northward was Water Street. On the side of The Hill from Old Town, Sausalito Boulevard and Central Avenue emptied into Bulkley, Harrison, and San Carlos – parallel roads winding northward then joining in intersecting loops and emerging as two as they pursued their course deep into the far reaches of the canyon of New Town, Wildwood Glen. The names of the routes changed as they wended around the bend but to only Santa Rosa and Lower Santa Rosa (later Glen Drive). Between these two lateral roadways they developed with use and time connector paths (uphill-downhill to the central area). A 1909 map shows many lanes and private roads and narrow strips of land between properties. Several of these lanes named are active pedestrian ways today: Sacramento Way, Reade Lane, Excelsior Lane, and El Monte Lane.
The valley floor of New Town was laid out in a grid similar to Old Town but all streets were given names. The streets, also like Old Town, ended up going into the water or going into the hillsides. The latter frequently resulted in pedestrian only streets, lanes, steps and walkways - -connections to the next upper lateral.
The County Road, the original horse trail north to Mission San Rafael and the County Seat began at Caledonia Street and Napa Street at the foot of Hannon’s Hill (named for Mr. And Mrs. Michael Hannon and their family of community involved residents for some years).
At the very top coming down from and going up to the Ridge (Wolfback) was Spencer Avenue with Prospect feeding it and Cobb Avenue (Cloudview) joining the parallel roads around The Hill – winding down to the water’s edge, down into this Valley sometimes referred to as Turney Valley (on behalf of it’s owner following William Richardson.
Dirt roads, rock-strewn roads – clay and fragmented Franciscan rock – dry and dusty in the Dry Season and wet, slippery and clogging in the Rainy Season. Paths and steps of dirt and stone – mud and stone passing through oak trees, Laurel trees, ferns and high grasses. Horse trails and roads, with riders on horses, horse carts, and wagons drawn by horses. The livery stable was near the Wells Fargo Bank. Wells Fargo had a delivery service. The Chinese Grocery delivered, firemen themselves pulled the fire-hose carts up the hill. Fred’s on Main Street delivered. There was a horse-drawn taxi, bus, butcher cart and milk wagon.
John Parsley quit school to work on a milk wagon and at 18 was working for the railroad. Fred Perry delivered milk and had a paper route. Dr. Carl Larsen walked to nearby calls and took a horse-drawn taxi to those further away. Edith Wood recalls, "The men ran down the hill (to the ferries) had breakfast aboard or played cards and relaxed." Mignone Conner enjoyed walking through the grass up into the Glen picking pansies and gathering blackberries and hazelnuts. Frenchy Gales had a taxi service at the age of 17: "The first automobile was in 1915 – the Coast Road took passengers and mail."
There are three pedestrian routes, which directly connect the residential Hill Area with the downtown-commercial: Excelsior Lane, Reade Lane and El Monte Lane. There are four others higher up, which feed into these: Sacramento Way, Noble Lane, Cooper Lane and Saghalie Lane. In the Valley the Street ends and Street Steps are Locust Street, Litho Street and Bee Street. These named, these described here, are the ones, which have lasted and been consistently, used over the years. There are other steps - cut-offs at corners where streets intersect making navigation easier for the walker. There are lanes running beside the roadways as with Bulkley and Harrison (sometimes blocked by housing and obscured with plantings). And, there are very narrow passages between and around properties whose ownership and rights-of-way may be questioned. Herein described are the most used and prominent of the passages in the Hill-New Town area.
Sausalito North Street Steps
From the precipice above the Bay, this dramatic end of North Street marks the northeast end of Lt. Emmons’, "Map of Saucelito", dated June 8, 1851. At base, this sharp square- turn at the junction of Bridgeway (old Water Street), Richardson and Second Street has been quite precarious with mud, rocks and tidal movements. Nevertheless, to scale it or descend it was a direct route between the main thoroughfare and the hillside that framed the northern boundary of the valley of Old Town. So far as can be determined the stairway dates from 1928 when Sausalito street lights were put in - running from Richardson Street north through the central commercial area to Napa Street.
Tiffany Park now at its base (named for William Zobel Tiffany the Town Clerk from 1913-1939) was originally on the waterside of Bridgeway. When this roadway was redesigned/reconstructed in 1962 the park was moved to the west. In so doing, it joined and expanded the park area - fore the immediate locale at the foot of the steps had priorly been tended by and referred to as "Anna Duffy Park" in honor of the woman beloved by those in the area for her caretaking role who, herself, had donated the original bench and water fountain so that people could pause, rest, communicate and watch the comings and goings at this beautifully appointed juncture of nature.
A plaque at the base of the wall supporting the steps above a long bench and the drinking fountain reads:Fountain and Bench, Gift of Anna Duffy - 1890-1950, "Little Mother of the Old Town.
At top the stairway is North Street’s junction with Josephine (at #201). From bottom to top the stairway is varied: 24 steps, a landing, 26 steps, a walkway with another lighted pillar on the south side and a bench for viewing across San Francisco Bay; 22 steps, a landing, 22 steps, a landing, 27 steps to top – 121 in all. At base there is a metal railing on the south side. At the top section there is a double metal railing. The area is 180‘ long and 50’ wide with landscaping by neighbors on both sides. The steps and lighting were renovated and up-dated in 1984 through voluntary efforts of local citizens in cooperation with the Historical Society and the City government.
Sausalito Old Town Settlement
Although Old Town Sausalito was the first area settled, it’s development was quite irregular. Jack Tracy, founder and first President of the Sausalito Historical Society in his book, SAUSALITO, Moments in time, tells how it all began. Commodore, A. P. Gatesby Jones of the United States Navy in the late l840s supplied his ships with water, wood, and beef at William Richardson’s Ranchero in Sausalito Cove. His activity there lead to an informal business venture for a lumber mill near the wharf and the supplying of lumber for the U. S. Navy in the hope of establishing a formal and permanent naval base there. An attorney and Navy storekeeper, Charles Tyler Botts, purchased approximately l00 acres from Richardson, which was mapped by Navy Surveyor, Lt. George F. Emmons. The sale occurred on April 10,1849. Lots as drawn on the map were offered for sale.
Jones’ venture, however, was short- lived as the Navy in 1852 decided to locate its West Coast Base at Mare Island instead. And, in addition, it was found that the Cove was not practical for ferrying lumber across to San Francisco – a new and larger wharf being projected further north at Sausalito Point in "New Town". The settlement in Old Town at this time consisted of the Navy storehouses, a few homes on the lots purchased by Navy men, a hotel called "Fountain House" at the foot of Main Street next to the creek, a ten-pin alley in a small house between Second and Third Streets, and the "Saucelito House" a hotel (which remained until 1875).
In 1866 Sausalito’s southern boundary, and thereby Old Town’s, was defined when the United States Army purchased the southern portion of the Sausalito Peninsula at the Golden Gate from Richardson through his attorney, Samuel Throckmorton.
Charles Botts sold his remaining property to a group incorporated in 1870 as the Old Saucelito Land and Drydock Company (see notice of auction dated July 22,1873). This map shows the beginning ties with New Town with streets projected up and around the higher ground. There were two events in the Old Town area, which gave these businessmen hope. One was the discovery of manganese during 1870-80 in the western hillside resulting in several tunnel borings and the building of the Saucelito Smelting Works at the wharf to process the ore. The small amount excavated, however, did not make this profitable. The second was the establishment of the Pacific Yacht Club with the clubhouse at the south shore in the late 1870s. An offshoot of the San Francisco Yacht Club it remained until (as its members died off) 1899 when the house and grounds were sold to Adolph and John Spreckels for their summer home. The site is on South Street where the Cote d’Azur is now.
In 1887, Major Orson C. Miller purchased the land then available in Old Town and drew up yet another map under the name Sausalito Bay Land Company, "Saucelita Marin Co. Surveyed April 1, 1888 ". It shows Sausalito Boulevard sweeping from the Pacific Yacht Club around westward through the area of the springs and around northward over the projected Old Town boundary to New Town. Central Avenue also appears on this map.
After these initial starts and stops, Old Town’s stable growth came only after that of New Towns, with the re-location of the ferry landing and the new railroad terminal at Sausalito Point. It was in Old Town on West Street (1869) that Sausalito had its first school. It was followed by a larger one called South School on North Street in 1905. Located between Third and Fourth Streets, it is where South Park is now. This school was closed and replaced, too, when Central School was built in New Town. By the 1920s the City decided to pave the streets in Old Town.
Over the years, Old Town has become a very special place both because of its history and its location. The neighborhood commercial area is still centered in the original water-site area at the foot of Main-Richardson-Valley Streets. The wharf and piers are gone but a few old pilings remind us of these days - and, the beach remains. As Sausalito has filled out, so has Old Town. With the coming of the Redwood Highway (Rte 101) and the Golden Gate Bridge (1936) Sausalito and, especially, Old Town have been vulnerable to increased traffic pressures leading to protective measures such as the directional signage of the City’s main entrance to the north. Fort Baker, with the Army’s entrance to the south of Sausalito, has been in the past of limited use to Sausalito (the gateway at Alexander Avenue and East Avenue marking the boundary). This has changed dramatically, however, since recent Federal legislation in 1997 provided for the incorporation of these lands as a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (with exception of the Coast Guard Station) under the supervision of the National Park Service. From Sausalito, this gate is the main access to the GGNRA. The impact, from the development of this area for broad public recreational, educational and related uses, is of deep concern to Sausalito citizens at the present time.
Sausalito Prospect Steps And Easement Along Route 101 To Spencer Ave.
The steps the end of Prospect Avenue (beyond Channing Way) provide easy access along the easement parallel to Highway 101 over the top across Cloudview Trail to and from Spencer Avenue and the bus stop there. There is an overpass across the highway, as well, between Cloudview and Spencer (The Spencer Avenue Overpass) to Sausalito’s Wolfback Ridge Area. On the west side, however, there is a signed gate reminding the pedestrian or driver that this road is the private property of those who live here. A public route to Wolfback Ridge and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is under the Highway a few yards beyond the Spencer Avenue/Highway junction – an underpass. Directly opposite it on the west side is the Morning Sun Trail a delightful staircase and trail through meadow and Eucalyptus grove to the Ridge and Alta Avenue.
Dr. Emmett Lane Rixford in his taped Oral History interview recalls from his childhood a path at Spencer and Prospect going up to the top of the Ridge called "Hogs’ Back". It became the Highway overpass when the road cut was made here. And, Dr. Frank Rossman recalls hiking to the top (before the Highway) for picnics and gathering mushrooms. To go over the top, was to go to Grolli’s Beach at Fort Cronkite picking wild pansies en route, according to his wife Margaret Ammerman Rossman.
The street name "Prospect" may have come from the hope of deriving a wealthy pocket of manganese in this area. Spencer Avenue is named for A. Spencer who was associated with the Sausalito Land and Ferry Company – this route appearing on the 1869 map.
The concrete steps and asphalt pathway are 500’ long. There are plantings at the top at the end of Cloudview. At Prospect, the steps with a double metal railing proceed as follows: 21, landing, 52, landing, 70, landing, 15, landing, 17, landing, 12, landing, 17 to top. The steps at Spencer Avenue from base are 23 to landing, 22 to top – all with a double metal rail.
Sausalito Second Street Steps
These steps ascend-descend from midway in the block between Richardson Street and North Street. They are quite steep with a separate staircase on each side and with access landings to adjacent houses. It is a well-traveled area, which connects Old Town and New Town over The Hill.
Pauline Ratto, whose family lived at the base of this hillside, recalls as a child joining other children with their sleds sliding down over the high grass here. Often they climbed up on the area and ate lunch there. The sleds were wood with wood runners greased with animal suet. There were no paths there then. The paired steps were built, she recalls, when the streets were paved probably around 1900. The original plantings were tended by people living on either side. Currently the City maintains them.
The staircases vary slightly. At base, the east ascends as follows: 46 steps, landing, 6 steps, landing, and 24 steps landing at North Street. The west ascends from base 21 steps, landing, 31 steps, landing, 26 steps, landing, and 3 steps at North Street.
Lighting is provided only on the west side. It is at ground level on the property side of the corner house at North Street. There is a metal railing on the east side of both staircases.
Sausalito Spring Street Valley
Walking north to Spring Street Valley (or Woodward Valley) one can: 1) Follow the established road, Bridgeway, with its western sidewalk to Easterby, Spring and Olive Streets; or, 2) Walk up and over and down the narrow little wood steps and walkway (corner Caledonia-Napa-Bridgeway) passing the houses tucked in there. The first is Aker’s Ark (moved there from the foot of Napa Street on the water in the 1930s). The second is the second school house in Sausalito (the first for New Town), Richardson School, built 1871 at 1709 Bridgeway. The walkway terminates in the parking area for several houses and at the base of Filbert Street where it meets Bridgeway proper; or, 3) Climb the steep west grade of Napa Street turning north on Filbert and west on Marie Street to Woodward Avenue.
Spring Street Valley, the narrowest of the valleys, lies between Hannon’s Hill of New Town (including the heights area to the south, Monte Mar Vista-Toyon Terrace) and Cypress Ridge bordered by Rodeo Avenue to the north.
Spring Street Valley, Spring Street and Spring Hill Creek all acknowledge the importance of the springs of fresh water pouring from the hillsides of this valley giving life to it – and, to Sausalito. The water now, for the most part, is channeled underground. Old- timers speak of a trail that wound up and around the back of the Valley – now blocked by houses and a cliff-like excavation made to accommodate housing to the south.
Housing in the Valley is a mix of recently constructed multiple units and older single-family homes. The bulk of the development occurred during the late 1950s and early 60s. There is a small neighborhood commercial area between Olive Street and Easterby.
The lower extension of the northern ridge of Spring Street Valley was originally a small hill called Pine Hill and/or Pine Point (or Alameda Point as an early railroad stop). This hill was severed on the west side when the main artery, Bridgeway, was cut through in the 1930s. The balance of Pine Hill was demolished in 1942 to lay the floor for the shipyards (Marinship) to build the Liberty Ships, the merchant vessels, for World War II. Residents of Pine Hill were summarily evicted (40 homes). Some were allowed to move their houses back into the Spring Street Valley itself.
Current trails and steps in the area which offer a view down into the area are:
- The wooden steps and walkway to and from Langendorff Playground. Beginning from Marie Street-End at Woodward Avenue it goes down to and crosses a little streambed there.
- The roadway (to the south) off Rodeo Avenue at the top of the hill – Cypress Ridge Open Space area – which parallels and is adjacent to Highway #101.
- The steep wood staircase between Woodward Avenue at base and Laurel Lane in the heights. This way is not maintained currently and is hazardous at base.
There are other ways, officially named and recognized but not developed: two "Lanes" in the south hill area (Scenic and Wray), three "Easements" in the Crescienta-Toyon area, and Maple Street-End between Bridgeway and Woodward Avenue.
The developed and maintained walkways are Marie Street-End, Olive Street-End, Pearl Street-End and Testa Street-End.
Sausalito Valley Street Steps
Valley Street (on Lt. Emmons’ June 8,1851 map of Old Saucelito) runs from West Street to the Bay shore. It is between Main and South Streets. The steps provide easy access to the beach here over an otherwise steep and dangerous grade. In fact, two automobiles were known to have gone over the cliff between 1973 and 1979. The way was upgraded with new steps and railing in the year 1977-78.
Fred Nau, whose family settled in Sausalito in 1849, speaks fondly of his childhood in this area: "We kids swam at Valley Street Beach. Access was by a broad wooden staircase, which extended out to the water line. On the beach to the left of the stairs was an ark where two fishermen, Frank Laraman and Ingersoll lived. On the right side on the beach Jim Banks had set up a railroad boxcar. He lived there and also served cioppino, cracked crab and eel-ends and holidays to people who came from San Francisco on the ferryboats. At that time the Bay was very clear and porpoise would swim along the shore and welcome the ferry boats to Sausalito."
The area later became known as Valley Street Park with a float for swimmers. Early pictures show children with rowboats and inner tubes as well – the Army had removed the old commercial piers. The little park was dedicated October 30, 1985 as Swede’s Beach in memory of Captain Ralph K. "Swede" Pederson a beloved fireman. The beach park is 5000 square feet.
The steps cover a 50’- wide street area 130’ long. The steps themselves are of wood - 42 - with a wood railing on each side and an added metal one on the north side. There is a cement-stone bench on the beach site.
Sausalito Walking Old Town
In Old Town, between the southern boundary and the division between it and New Town (North Street and its extension: Prospect to Spencer and across the Highway to Wolfback Ridge), there are many ways – pathways – to walk.
At the lower level most streets have sidewalks and many streets have street-ends developed for walking (usually steps). To follow the shore, there is the boardwalk over the beach between Bridgeway at Richardson and Main Street at Second Street, the sidewalk on Second Street, the beach itself (most easily reached at the foot of Valley Street), the sidewalk along South Street as it narrows into Alexander Avenue and Fort Baker’s entrance. To reach higher climes one walks on the streets, which wind both up and around and/or uses the staircase walkways. The water-route from the hillside springs has been obscured by the houses and the undergrounding, but the springs themselves are easily detected in the far reaches of the valley.
The Central Avenue area, the Old Town grid, can be covered by use of the sidewalks. Some houses are built flat to the ground and some are accommodated to the creek beds with stilts. And, as the ground rises on the three sides of the valley, a variety of creative adjustments may be noted. The old alleys (between the numbered streets) have been absorbed by the landowners. The following roadways make the hillsides accessible: South-Edwards-Marion-Hecht; Sausalito Blvd.-Sunshine-Central-Prospect, North-Josephine/Atwood. They provide a wide and glorious view of the depth and breadth of this valley as well as the vista across San Francisco Bay. Hecht Avenue is the highest – a dirt road extending from #42 Marion for about one mile while paralleling Highway 101.
Four of the street-ends have been finished off into usable pathways: Second Street from Richardson to North Street, Valley Street from Second Street to the beach, North Street from Josephine Street to Bridgeway and West Court (the north end of West Street) to North Street.
Other usable pathways are Cable Roadway and the Prospect Avenue steps and path to Cloudview Trail and Spencer Avenue. The Second Street Steps, West Court Steps and North Street Steps provide access to and from Old Town to New Town and "The Hill" which divides the two valleys.
Sausalito West Court Steps
The West Court Steps are at the northern terminus of West Street called West Court. It is the northwest corner of Lt. Emmons’ " Map of Saucelito" dated June 8,185l – at it’s intersection with North Street. Here, too, at top is the beginning of Central Avenue (at the end of North Street) which was an early roadway around The Hill into New Town.
West Street was the locus of the first school for Sausalito. Built in 1869 it has been converted into a modern home (a one-story saltbox shape). Can you find it? South School built in 1905 was located on North Street between Third and Fourth Street. It was closed in 1958, torn down and the area converted into South Park. It is loved, enjoyed and maintained by the neighbors in Old Town. This hillside area Pauline Ratto describes as being "another great area for sledding over the tall grass " and Fred Nau in his memoirs speaks of running down the hill across the fields and over to the beach for a swim after school. The "Koster House" at number 220 West Street is Landmark #52 on the City’s list of Noteworthy Structures and Sites in Sausalito.
The Steps are concrete with a metal railing on each side. The area is 40’ wide and 80 ‘ long. At landings they access houses on the slope and progress as follows from the base: 37 steps, landing, 40 steps, landing, 26 steps to top.