By Mahala Herron, @MahalaHerron
Have you ever ridden near or walked by a historical landmark and wondered, “What’s the story behind that building or eclectic piece of public art?” As it turns out, there are some pretty neat landmarks and art pieces around the Peninsula. Here are a few of the sites you’ve probably wondered about that are located near different Caltrain stations.
“Rrrun” by Marta Thoma
Marta Thoma created this sculpture in 2006 as a commentary on the daily commute. “Rrrun” was sparked by Thoma’s thoughts about how long it takes to commute by car. The statue is visible to pedestrians, cars driving down Alma Street, and Caltrain riders stopping or rolling through the California Avenue Station. Take Caltrain to the California Avenue Station to view the sculpture in person at Jerry Bowden Park located between High and Alma Street.
The statue in front of the San Mateo County Transit District building
The San Mateo County Transit building was once a Eureka Federal Savings building, but fell to its demise from making risky investments in the late 1980’s. The company was once a sponsor of the one-time Eureka Federal Savings Classic, which was a pro golf tournament on the Champions Tour in San Francisco in the early 1980’s, and apparently the building served as a frequent party location of late celebs such as Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra. While the artist and perspective of the statue is still a mystery (even to the city of San Carlos), the statue anterior of the building features a family linking hands, symbolizing unity. The placard below the statue reads, “This statue is dedicated to God, our country, and the family whom we serve. Dedicated September 4, 1979. Kenneth L. Kidwell, chairman of the board and president. Eureka Federal Savings and loan association.” To view the sculpture, take Caltrain to the San Carlos Station and walk approximately two minutes down San Carlos Avenue.
Historic Menlo Park Depot
Menlo Park’s depot was constructed in 1863 to provide shelter to train riders. Still standing today, the building’s design features brackets, fancy moldings, decorative “fish scales” and scallop cresting on the roofline to give the depot a homey aesthetic. In 1917, the depot was enlarged for the second time in order to serve the needs of the troops going to and from the Army Training Center during World War I. A few Peninsula residents have said they’ve seen Jane Stanford’s ghost pacing in the windows of the historic depot. You can ride Caltrain to the depot and exit the Menlo Park Station for a closer inspection.
El Camino Real Mural
Artist Mona Caron’s beautiful 2011 masterpiece can be viewed near the Hillsdale Station. The mustard plant and color of the painting are used to metaphorically describe the path of the historic El Camino Real, while also representing native California botanicals. In addition, the lamp post is a symbol of the El Camino Real, to mark the “original route” from San Diego to Sonoma. There were originally about 450 bells along the road, but theft occurred, leaving about 75. The bells are now only located in eight counties and some are featured in an art exhibit in Ventura County. The mural also includes California poppies and Indian Paint brush, which are native California Wildflowers. The focal point of the mural includes a beautiful view of San Mateo, paired with the Mt. Diablo Horizon.
Mahala Herron is one of the San Mateo County Transit District’s summer interns. She studies at UCLA and is from Oakland. She is interning in the District’s communications department.