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  Vintage Photographs

A Pictorial History of Walnut Creek

Historic Downtown Sites

Contra Costa Courier front page, Oct. 1914
Front page of the Contra Costa Courier on Oct. 22, 1914, announcing Walnut Creek's birth as the eighth city in Contra Costa County. The actual date of incorporation was Oct. 21, 1914.
Walnut Festival Parade, 1953
Everyone loves a parade...the Walnut Festival Parade on Main Street in September 1953.
Lommel's Creamery, 1939
Lommel's Creamery in 1940 at the northeast corner of Main Street and Ygnacio Avenue (today Civic Drive), which was also the stop for daily Greyhound bus service to San Francisco from 1944 to 1974.
San Ramon Valley Bank, 1908
San Ramon Valley Bank was built in 1908 at the corner of Main Street and Walker Avenue (now Duncan Avenue). It was Walnut Creek's first bank. The idea of building this institution came from local merchant Joseph Silveira, who ran the Valley Mercantile at Main and Cypress streets. The bank building was razed in late 1998 for the Broadway Pointe project.
Grape Carnival parade, 1911
The Walnut Creek Grape Carnival of 1911 was the community's celebration of electricity coming to town and a successful grape harvest. This photograph was taken looking north from the corner of Main Street and Mt. Diablo Blvd. (then known as Lafayette Street). The highlights of the event were airplane rides given by a local aviator and a softball game between the married men of Walnut Creek and nearby Concord.
Walnut Creek Meat Market, 1900
The Walnut Creek Meat Market as it appeared around 1900. It was built by Arthur Williams on the east side of Main Street, about 150 feet south of Bonanza Street. He sold it to Concord butchers Foskett, Ellworthy and Keller, who in turn sold it to Jesse Lawrence around 1910. Lawrence's son, Fred, built a new brick meat market that same year. The family continued to operate the Walnut Creek Meat Co. out of the building until 1987, when they moved the business to Alamo.
Sherburne Brothers' store, 1880
The oldest commercial structure still standing in Walnut Creek is the Albert Sherburne store, built around 1863 at the corner of Main Street and Oakland Road (now Mt. Diablo Boulevard). It was partially destroyed by fire in 1879 and rebuilt the following year. This photo shows the building around 1881. Over the years the building has housed several businesses, most notably Arthur's Liquors (1935-1973), and has been occupied since by La Fogata Mexican restaurant.
Central Fire Station, 1940s
Walnut Creek's first fire station, located on Bonanza Street, was used by the Central Fire District (later the Contra Costa Fire Protection District) from 1926 to 1965. It cost $3,000 to build, and the first fire engine, a LaFrance pumper, cost $7,000. Today the building is occupied by Havana.
Walnut Creek from Terrace Road, 1932
The City of Walnut Creek as it looked in 1932 from Terrace Road.
Ygnacio Valley Road, 1960
Ygnacio Valley Road as it looked in 1962 -- a two-lane roadway soon to be widened to four lanes to ease traffic heading west to the new freeway. The boulevard was widened again to the current six lanes in 1972.