Recently digitized imagery gives a glimpse into the city’s past.
Story by Kate Bradshaw / Present day pics by Magali Gauthier
“It started, honestly, as office clean up.” said Thomas Rogers, principal planner for the city of Menlo Park. When Menlo Park’s City Hall was being renovated in 2017, Public Works Director Justin Murphy delivered to Rogers a number of boxes that had been sitting in his office. Inside, the boxes contained hundreds of old photographs of Menlo Park over the years, many dating as far back as the 1960s.
In the months that followed, the Planning Department proceeded to undertake a sizable digitization effort around those images, eventually making them accessible as part of the public domain and available online via Flickr.
Many of the photos are from September 1968, when—for some reason lost to time—the department took a photographic survey of the city’s downtown. Other photographs were slides that were “kind of random,” Rogers said. When planning officials were able to figure out the time period that a photograph was taken, they listed it beneath the image, while some remain undated.
In speaking about the project, Rogers rattled off a colorful list of the many interesting things he learned about city’s history while archiving the imagery: that Kepler’s used to be located on the other side of El Camino Real, near where the Starbucks is in the 800 block; that Menlo Avenue and Ravenswood Avenue didn’t intersect at some point in the past; that Santa Cruz Avenue had no median running through it at one time; and that in 1968 the BBC building was an office for the Richard Nixon/Spiro Agnew presidential campaign.
You can access the full photo archive here.
Here are just some of the many images featured in the archive, as well as some comparisons of the archive’s historical photos and what the sites look like today.
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