A massive monument of downtown’s early golden age stands on Broadway off Fresno Street, waiting in the wings for a new chapter to be written. Regarded during its heyday as the most luxurious and largest hotel between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the Hotel Fresno was where celebrities of the 20s and 30s stayed while […]
Besides the occasional pickup truck, slowing down to take the big curve in the road, you’re met with silence. And standing at this spot, it’s hard to imagine that there had been any sort of civilization, here on a lonely stretch of Road 600. Beginning in the 1880s, the town of Grub Gulch staked its […]
“Death in the Afternoon,” is how the Fresno Bee described it. In the chronicle of Fresno County history, one iconic image has stood out. This was Carl Crawford’s capture of history crashing down on April 7, 1966, the day the Fresno County Courthouse dome crumpled to the ground. Crawford was a 29-year-old photographer Crawford for […]
In early February, the old Greyhound bus station, on H Street, between Tulare and Mariposa streets, was demolished, with the site cleared to make way for the High Speed Rail station project. The large dirt lot, exposed for the first time in decades, may look just like a dirt lot, but is actually, hallowed grounds […]
Young Corbett III was Fresno’s homegrown boxing world welterweight who never forgot his roots Young Corbett’s lounge was probably a lot like the “Cheers” bar run by fictional bartender and former Boston Red Sox pitcher Sam Malone, a place “where everybody knows your name.” Patrons entering Young Corbett’s in downtown Fresno greeted the friendly bartender […]
When Marjorie Arnold arrived in Fresno in the fall of 1943, the city was abuzz with, as she says, “war work.” Fresno, like other cities on the West Coast, had become an important World War II military supply center. Many buildings became assembly plants seemingly overnight, and an untapped labor force, women nicknamed “Rosie the […]
As the California High Speed Rail Authority prepares to lay its line through the Valley, passionate voices opposing the project are echoes of similar debates 135 years ago over the fertile farmland of today’s Kings County. Although the parallels are broad, the grassroots fighting spirit lives on. A seminal event in state history took place […]
German-born Herman H. Brix, oil magnate and land speculator, was the owner of a true rags to riches story. The wealthy pioneer county resident made a statement in 1909 that he’d build the finest residence in the city, and it still stands a little over one hundred years later as a testament to his industry, […]
The history of bridges spanning the San Joaquin River north of Fresno is long, but also short. There have been only four in 130 years, and two of them have been called Lane's Bridge.
On the edge of Fresno’s old warehouse district stands one of the city’s most out-of-the-way, yet most recognizable icons: the Van Ness Avenue welcome arch.
Along a stretch of Highway 41 in Kings County, south of a junction called Hall’s Corner, sits a little adobe with ties to one of the most tragic events in California history, standing as a memorial to a heroic pioneer.
In the depths of the Great Depression, a pair of restaurateurs and a visionary young architect produced a landmark eatery that lit up downtown Fresno.
People at the bus stop on M Street at Courthouse Park might be surprised to know that just over their shoulders stood the gallows where, nearly 120 years ago, Fresno County carried out its only legal hanging.
For one of Fresno’s visionaries, opportunity knocked during a chance encounter in a barbershop in 1904.
The draining of Shaver Lake for repairs this winter presented a once-in-a-lifetime chance to revisit history. The old Shaver dam, hidden from sight for decades, was fully exposed for a few weeks. It was a reminder of the lumber trade and ingenuity that helped shape the development of the Central Valley. Before Fresno County was […]
Almost nothing remains of ghost town of Kingston, but it lives on in history largely because of an event that broke the a quiet of a Christmas season evening, nearly 140 years ago. The settlement, on the south bank of the Kings River near present-day Laton, was founded around 1855 by pioneer L.A. Whitmore, who […]
Thought by many to be the grandest building in the Central San Joaquin Valley, the old Fresno County Courthouse might also have been the most controversial.
As the nation sank into the the Great Depression, Fresnans got a needed lift in 1931 when the legendary George Herman "Babe" Ruth came to town.
For the brilliant, eccentric Kenzie Whitten “Blackhorse” Jones, the journey into the afterlife was an obsession. It also became his legacy at the Grangeville Cemetery at Armona.
Built on the birthplace of Fresno, the Southern Pacific Railroad depot represents the city’s transition from a dusty plains outpost to the West’s leading agribusiness center. The 1889 depot is the city’s oldest commercial building. Railroad officials were so impressed by the success of pioneer rancher A.Y. Easterby, who grew 2,000 acres of grain on […]
A wave of relief must have swept over early day motorists when they negotiated their way to the top of the windy old Tollhouse Road and Cressman’s at Pine Ridge came into view.
Decades before today’s water-themed amusement parks, Zapp’s Park was the place to be on the 4th of July. Fireworks lit up the north Fresno sky. The Fresno Portuguese community used the holiday to put on their annual feed. Kids would stand in line for a block for free refreshments.
Thousands of miles from the front lines, U.S. military members gave Valley folks a reminder of how much their support was needed during the depths of World War II.
By the time Fresno’s first high school graduating class took the stage at the old Barton Opera House in 1891, the seven students were well-schooled in English, science, history, math and four years of Latin.
The grandfather of today’s Fresno Convention Center and Exhibit Hall was the Fresno Auditorium.
It was a quiet Tuesday noon hour on Feb. 5, 1924, when a stranger entered the First State Bank at 401 Pollasky in Clovis.
A young Scottish blacksmith made his fortune in late-1800s Fresno with a knack for business and an invention that would make history.
A pair of enterprising developers saw an opportunity in Fresno's early downtown and seized it. S.N. Griffith and R.B. Johnson paid $41,000 for a site facing the courthouse, and built what would become one of Fresno's crown jewels, a veritable temple of law called the Temple Bar Building.
Health care in Fresno was greatly enhanced in 1891 with the arrival of an innovative husband-and-wife doctor team, George A. and Jessie D. Hare.
In the heart of Fresno's old warehouse district stands a sort of time capsule, untouched for 62 years.
Journalism in Fresno has its roots in John William Ferguson's Fresno Expositor, which was founded about the same time as the young city.
Imagine steamboats chugging along the San Joaquin River across the vast plains of the Central Valley.
The Rainbow Ballroom is legendary as a music venue, but it began in post-World War I Fresno as an indoor swimming pool complex -- part of a craze sweeping the nation.
So far from the ocean, an oyster parlor operating in the heart of old Fresno may seem out of place. But what Martin Barisich served in the early 1900s at The Oyster Grotto and Chop House was anything but unusual for the day.
With patriotic bunting and flags, Fresnans gathered in 1902 for a festive Fourth of July celebration at the Club Saloon at the southwest corner of California and Elm avenues.
The railroad was vital to a community's growth and endurance in the last quarter of the 19th century. Nothing was more important.
The historic Kings County Courthouse, the 114-year-old crown jewel of Hanford's Courthouse Square, is a success story, an escapee from the wrecking ball.
Fresno's first endeavor into mass transit began in the late 1880s, a period of boom in the region. It didn't take long for entrepreneurs to realize a system of streetcars and trolleys would fill the need for easy travel within the city and attract business to the area.
A 1907 postcard shows the pride of early day Fresno, the Barton Opera House and Armory Hall (also referred to as the Barton building). It was built in 1889-1890 at the northeast corner of Fresno and J (now Fulton) streets.
Funded by an Andrew Carnegie grant of $30,000, construction of the Fresno Public Library at 1330 Broadway St., between Merced and Tuolumne streets, started in 1901 and was completed in 1904.
In 1897, the New Dexter Livery Stables — not to be confused with the old Dexter Stables — was something of a wonder for Fresno and the central Valley. The Fresno Morning Republican described it this way: “The building contains every convenience that taste could suggest and money could buy.”
The late 1880s was a boom era in Fresno, especially for banks -- the result of the newfound agricultural wealth in the Valley as this became one of the richest farming areas in the United States.
In 1910, dignitaries gathered at the Fresno Chamber of Commerce headquarters on H Street, now Broadway Street.
The distinction of the oldest Valley city between Los Angeles and the small Mother Lode town of French Camp, near Stockton, belongs to Visalia. In 1852, a hardy group of settlers led by Nathaniel Vise established a community where Visalia is today.
This was the supermarket of yesteryear, built in 1920 by brothers Fred and Henry Roth at 723 G St. in Fresno’s Chinatown — Roth Bros. Groceries.
A swashbuckler named John Dewey Fiske swept into Fresno in the 1880s, building an imposing structure to match his personality and attracting Wild West drama to an intersection where the Fulton Mall stands today.
This scene captured in the summer of 1874, one of the earliest known photographs of Fresno, shows the small wood-frame building of Jacob & Co. at the southeast corner of Mariposa and H streets, which was a general merchandise store, a post office and a Wells Fargo & Co. Express office. The business had an essential piece of technology for the Wells Fargo service attached to the building: a telegraph pole.
Before there was a Fulton Mall, Fresno's main commercial thoroughfare was Fulton Street, and for decades it bustled with business and traffic. First known as J Street, it was renamed Fulton Street by city leaders in 1910, after the death of financier Fulton G. Berry, who owned the Grand Central Hotel at J and Mariposa streets.
Even before its Old Town was old enough to be called Old Town, Clovis had a bustling central business district. In 1909, three years before Clovis became an incorporated city, horse-drawn wagons made their way along muddy Front Street, now Clovis Avenue, at Fourth Street, looking south along the business district.
In 1888, the Hughes Hotel was the talk of the town. Fresno developer Thomas E. Hughes, sometimes called the "father of Fresno, " built the hotel for a reported $300,000.
The two-story K Street School opened for classes Sept. 16, 1889, with three teachers and 50 students. Made of brick, the school was designed by architect R.L. Young and built for $20,000.
One of Fresno's longest-running businesses is San Francisco Floral, opened in 1913 at 1201 J St. (now Fulton Street) by an Italian immigrant named John Azzaro.
In the early 1900s, taking a Sunday drive along Kearney Boulevard was a popular pastime for Fresnans. The excursion invariably included a picnic in the country.
As the Valley rapidly developed into the nation's richest farming area, Austrian immigrant Spiro Obradovich operated a grocery store in the growing young city of Fresno.
One of the many businesses created in Fresno at the turn of the 20th century was Buker & Colson, a drugstore that opened in 1889 at 1908 Mariposa St., along the bustling main corridor of the growing Valley city.
It's not a view down an elegant avenue of a major metropolis such as San Francisco, but instead it is a vista circa 1893 up Fresno's once-grand Mariposa Street, with its lavish, opulent three-story brick and stone buildings that lead down to a proud seat of government, the Fresno County Courthouse.