City of Redwood City
Apr 25 · 7 min read

Learn about Redwood City’s history this May through tours, online resources and more!

Preserving our historic resources is vital to maintaining the character and heritage of our City. As the oldest city in San Mateo County, Redwood City has a long and illustrious history. Originally, a port town during the Gold Rush (Did you know the Port of Redwood City is actually older than the City itself? Learn more here), Redwood City became the County Seat of the newly formed San Mateo County in 1856. Since its incorporation in 1867, the City has grown into a vital and diverse community with thriving neighborhoods, commerce, government, technology, and more.

Join the City this May for National Historic Preservation Month as we celebrate our rich history. Read on to learn about ways the whole community can celebrate.


The Redwood City community will join thousands of individuals across the country to celebrate National Historic Preservation Month this May in a month-long celebration sponsored nationally by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and locally by Redwood City’s Historic Resources Advisory Committee. “This Place Matters” is a national campaign associated with Preservation Month that encourages people to celebrate the places that are meaningful to them and to their communities.

There are several historic sites in Redwood City listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic resources.

To learn more about the National Register of Historic Places, go here. To learn more about Redwood City properties added to the National Historic Registry read a blog about it, here.

To learn more about the National Historic Preservation Month campaign, go here. For other State of California events planned to celebrate National Historic Preservation Month, go here.


During the annual National Historic Preservation Month, Redwood City’s community can all play a part in celebrating our local history. Here are a few ways to participate and learn about our local history!

Take the Self-Guided Path of History Walk Downtown

Following a celebratory proclamation by Redwood City City Council on May 20, everyone can enjoy Redwood City’s historic treasures by participating in a historic City tour or by taking the self-guided “Path of History” walk Downtown.

To download the walking tour brochure, go here.

For additional details, go here.

Join the Historic Resources Advisory Committee on a Historic Downtown Tour

An annual Redwood City tradition is the historic downtown walking tour of Redwood City, sponsored by the Historic Resources Advisory Committee (HRAC). Walking tour participants will see where Wyatt Earp occasionally came for a drink, where a Wells Fargo Express Office operated in 1875, Redwood City’s first new car showroom salon and auto repair garage, the finest theater on the peninsula in 1896, the former homes of prominent pioneer citizens and much more. Join us for a walk back in time! The tour begins at 10:30 a.m. on May 18, in front of the 1863 Lathrop House on the Corner of Hamilton Street and Marshall Street. The tour will last approximately one hour and thirty minutes.

Historic Downtown Student Tour

For 22 years, Redwood City’s HRAC has sponsored a tour that takes all seventh grade students in the Redwood City School District to three of Redwood City’s downtown historic buildings including the 1863 Lathrop House, Fox Theatre, and the Old County Courthouse. At each tour stop, there are volunteer docents that provide the students with facts and tales about each site’s history. All three of these sites are not only designated local historic landmarks, but also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The May 21, May 22, and May 30 Historic Downtown Student Tours expect up to 600 hundred students in total.

Union Cemetery Historic Tour

Another annual tradition is the 1859 Union Cemetery Historic Site tour, sponsored by the Historic Union Cemetery Association. Union Cemetery serves as a permanent archive of San Mateo County’s history. Recorded on stone are the rich and colorful lives of many pioneer families including more than 40 Civil War veterans, buried in the old soldiers’ plot established by the Grand Army of the Republic. The morning’s proceedings will copy those of the Decoration Day Ceremonies held in Union Cemetery over 100 years ago. There will be speeches, songs, poetry, and refreshments, brought by the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The ceremony will take place Monday, May 27, beginning at 10:00 a.m. The cemetery is located at Woodside Road, off El Camino Real.

San Mateo County History Museum

The San Mateo County History Museum features interactive experiences where you can explore the county’s rich and colorful history. At the museum, you can learn about the story of the 1910 County Courthouse in which it is located, see exhibits that depict the history of the peninsula, and more. During the History Museum’s Family Programs, guests can discover the past through crafts, activities and demonstrations. Adult Programs include presentations about local history and hands-on workshops. The museum is located at 2200 Broadway and is open Tuesday — Sunday, 10 a.m. — 4 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for seniors & students, and free for children 5 & under.

For an early sneak peek of the San Mateo County History Museum before National Historic Preservation month begins, admission is free on April 27 for Maritime Day, with free activities for the whole family beginning at 11 a.m. The free museum day is made in part by a sponsorship by the Port of Redwood City. The event is hosted on the same day as SteamFest, located at Courthouse Square in Downtown Redwood City.

For more about this free event, go here. For details about SteamFest go here.


With history now dating back over 150 years, these events help highlight Redwood City’s fascinating past and its prominent role in shaping the San Francisco Peninsula. As part of celebrating National Historic Preservation Month this May, we encourage the community to take some time and explore Redwood City!

Spend an hour perusing the collection of historic photos in the Local History Collection at the Downtown Library, check out Redwood City’s Fire Department history, or take a self-guided Path of History tour around downtown. You can also visit our official history website to read blogs about City history, view collections of historic photos, see a timeline of the City’s history and more.

A few featured historic blogs on the history website include:

Redwood City Parks- What’s In a Name?

Port of Redwood City- The Forties Stated Strong and Then Came World War II

Redwood City Library Was One of the First in the West

Caltrain: A Ride To The Past


Share your favorite story, historic home or historic site in Redwood City! Join us this National Historic Preservation Month by celebrating via social media. Follow the City of Redwood City on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and use hashtags #CelebrateRedwoodCity and #ThisPlaceMatters!

To learn more about how to follow the City of Redwood City on social media, subscribe to electronic newsletters or our blog, and more, go here.

For a complete list of all National Historic Preservation Month events happening this May, check out the City calendar.

Redwood City VOICE

Information & Perspectives from the City

City of Redwood City

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Official thoughts and communications from the heart of the Peninsula. “Climate Best by Government Test”.

Redwood City VOICE

Information & Perspectives from the City

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