Results tagged “postcard” from Raincross Square

Architectural rendering of the Main Library, downtown Riverside
(Moise, Harbach & Hewlett)

Pacific Telephone book cover

Riverside National Bank calendar

Outdoor sitting area

Maturing trees

Reflecting pools long gone

Architectural details

After several recent attempts, Riverside officials have now scrapped expensive plans to construct a new downtown library in favor of a more modest renovation of the existing building.

We realize this new directive from the city council may not serve all interests and parties involved, and we do agree a modest renovation/refurbishment is warranted. However, we also admit we're glad to see the focus back to renovation and reuse versus complete demolition. Why? First and foremost, it allows for potential preservation of the building (and most/all of its architectural features). Second, a renovation plan is much less costly (and more likely to get funded/completed).

Definitely one of Riverside's best mid-century buildings -- and certainly its most under-appreciated -- construction of the downtown Main Library (a.k.a. Central Library) was approved by voters following a $1.7 million bond measure in October 1961. After several months of controversy over the location and size of parking lots around the new building, ground was formally broken on June 25, 1963.

Though opened to the public in late 1964, the library itself was officially dedicated on March 21, 1965. Initially praised for its size and modern interior, the new library was also panned by some for its stark and mostly windowless exterior. Moreover, many were bitter over the replacement of the beloved 1903 Carnegie Library, which was demolished in late 1964 around the time the new library opened directly behind it. As such, the "modern" library has spent most of its short life suffering from harsh criticism. (Indeed, the loss of the Carnegie [one* | two*] was a travesty in its own right.)

However, as a prime example of the New Formalism architectural movement, which was popular for public, institutional and financial buildings during the 1960s, the downtown library includes several hallmarks of this mid-century style: rigid box-like appearance, floating pedestal, brick veneer, strong pilasters, large overhang, fanciful canopy and period lighting (one | two | three).

Particularly striking are the building's interwoven "dove" screens (one | two) -- a symbol not likely coincidental considering the advancing Cold War era in which the library was built. As such, we feel any major modification of the dove screens -- or worse, their removal -- in any renovation plan would be a shame and essentially strip the building of its full and meaningful context. (However, we could do without the blue LIBRARY lettering above the entrance, which is not original and looks very tacky.)

Finally, we also realize the downtown library's bold and futuristic architecture stands in stark contrast to its neighbors, the most notable being the nearby Mission Inn. The two buildings are from vastly different eras and indeed are distinctly different. However, we feel it's this very juxtaposition that actually makes both buildings more unique in their own right, bringing out both the best and worst features of each (as good organic architecture should).

All in all, we believe the 1965-era library is one of the best examples of mid-century modern architecture in the Inland region (and maybe even Southern California). And we believe it's worth enhancing and preserving. What do you think?

(Note: The city is currently conducting outreach meetings with interest groups and the general public. As part of the outreach, the city is providing residents and stakeholders the ability to comment via the Downtown Library Rehabilitation Survey. Read the questions and then submit your responses. We urge anyone interested to spend a few minutes to complete the three-question survey.)


* Riverside Public Library

Sources: City of Riverside, Riverside Public Library, The Press-Enterprise

Photos: Riverside's citrus legacy


Two weeks back, we featured an item on the recent unveiling of a downtown statue honoring Riverside citrus pioneer Eliza L. Tibbets.

In the early 1870s, Eliza secured two small navel orange trees from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for test planting in Riverside. Originating as a mutation in Bahia, Brazil, these navel trees took well to Riverside's semi-arid climate, producing a sweet, succulent and seedless navel orange. California -- and in particular, Inland Southern California -- would never be the same.

The unveiling of the statue prompted us to dig through our image bank for photos associated with Riverside's citrus legacy. Of course, it also forced us to go out and take some new photos for items we didn't already have (and update some we did).

Though certainly not a complete collection of images related to Riverside's citrus past (nor does it include images from other local citrus-rich communities, namely Redlands, Corona and Upland), we feel the gallery still manages to show the wide-reaching importance the navel orange played in shaping both Riverside's landscape and its history -- a history that was dramatically changed with the arrival of two seemingly inconspicuous navel orange trees in 1873.

Photo Gallery: Riverside's Citrus Legacy


Sources: "A Colony For California" (Tom Patterson), "Pursuing Eden - Matthew Gage: His Challenges, Conquests and Calamities" (Joan H. Hall), "A Citrus Legacy" (Joan H. Hall), "Adobes, Bungalows, and Mansions of Riverside, California Revisited" (Esther H. Klotz, Joan H. Hall), City of Riverside, The Press-Enterprise, Riverside Public Library

Postcard: Downtown civic buildings

Late 1950s
Top: Carnegie Library and Riverside County Courthouse
Bottom: Municipal Auditorium and U.S. Post Office

We thought we'd start the new year off with an old postcard showing a few of downtown Riverside's civic buildings.

Dating from the late 1950s / early 1960s, the images show the 1903 Carnegie Library, the 1903 Riverside County Courthouse, the 1927 Municipal Auditorium, and the 1939 U.S. Post Office. Three of the four buildings remain standing today (the Carnegie Library met the wrecking ball in 1964).

At least one of the photos (and maybe all) were taken by Max Mahon, whose images of downtown Riverside from that era have been used on several postcards distributed by Columbia Wholesale Supply.

Mailed from Riverside in December 1962, the personal note on the back of the postcard indicates it was sent to a locale of cold and bitter weather, which reminds us how lucky we are to reside in sunny Southern California (especially during those mild January days of 76 degrees and bright blue skies we often have):

Glad to hear you (have?) (gone?) into the house. Weather out here is nice and cool but no 12 (degrees) below thank goodness. Hope you are feeling fine and have a nice Christmas.

In the coming year, we're planning to continue our efforts at spotlighting Riverside's history, with more postcards, images and tidbits from the past. In particular, we're hoping to gather more from the post-World War II era of Riverside (which are surprisingly difficult to track down). So if you have suggestions -- and even better, images -- be sure to send them to us!

Postcard courtesy of Columbia Wholesale Supply, North Hollywood, California

Sources: "Riverside - 1870-1940" (Steve Lech)

University Avenue: TraveLodge


As mentioned before, Eighth Street -- now University Avenue -- in Riverside's eastside was once the city's "motel row." In many ways, with several motels, hotels and eateries remaining, it still serves that purpose today.

One of the earliest major chain motels to pop up on the stretch between downtown and UC Riverside was the Riverside TraveLodge. Located at 1911 Eighth Street (University Avenue), city permits indicate the motel likely opened in late 1951 or early 1952. Aerial photos from 1948 confirm the hotel was not present.

Riverside TraveLodge

Riverside TraveLodge
with expansion, pool

Riverside TraveLodge
with 'Sleepy Bear' motif

Budget Inn
with pool removed

To the right are 3 postcards from the 1950s and 1960s showing the TraveLodge. The back of the first postcard reads:

Riverside's Newest and Finest Close In Motor Hotel. 24 De-Luxe units. Beauty-rest beds, tile baths, wall-to-wall carpets.

In 1953/54, city permits were issued for an expansion that appears to have nearly doubled the number of rooms. And in 1955, a permit was issued for a swimming pool. Aerial photos indicate both the expansion and pool were in place by 1959. The second postcard -- from the mid- to late-1950s -- which shows the added rooms and pool, reads as follows:

Riverside's largest and finest close-in motor hotel. Heated pool, radio, TV and phone in rooms. Wall to wall carpeting. Tiled showers with Hollywood glass doors -- Beauty Rest beds -- refrigerated air -- kitchenettes. AAA approved.

The last postcard, which has a 1966 postmark on the back, shows new signage and the addition of TraveLodge's "Sleepy Bear" mascot to the motel's exterior. It also appears the previously pinkish-hued motel received a lighter shade of paint but with brightly painted doors added for accent. The back of this card reads:

Heated Pool -- New TVs -- Radio & Phone in Rooms -- REDECORATED! -- Beauty Rest beds, Kitchenettes, Air-Conditioned

Today, the former TraveLodge is known as the Budget Inn. We're not sure when the TraveLodge name was removed from the motel, but seem to recall it lasting into the early 1990s. However, a 1993 chamber publication lists the hotel simply as Riverside Motel while a 1996 permit to demo the pool (1965 | 2010) was issued under the current Budget Inn nameplate.


Sources: City of Riverside, Riverside Public Library

Town & Country

Sage & Sand

Caravan Inn

Courtyard by Marriott

Prior to the building of the 60 Freeway through Riverside in the early 1960s, the main highway heading into downtown from the east was Eighth Street. Visitors traveling between Palm Springs and Los Angeles could grab some rest at any one of the half-dozen or so small, roadside motels scattered along a two-mile stretch between UC Riverside and downtown. As such, Eighth Street -- now University Avenue -- became the city's "motel row."

With its proximity to the city's early industrial areas, UC Riverside, March AFB and the now defunct Riverside International Raceway, the accumulation of motels, hotels and restaurants grew considerably during the 1960s and 1970s as national chains the likes of Ramada Inn and Holiday Inn began popping up. And by the 1990s, larger hotels, such as Days Inn (now Courtyard by Marriott), had sprung up as well.

However, as in many cities across the nation, when the newer and larger hotels arrived, the smaller motels began decaying, eventually leading to seedier surroundings. Likewise, the 1987 opening of downtown's 12-story Sheraton (now Marriott), the closing of Riverside International Raceway in 1989 and the 1993 reopening of downtown's historic Mission Inn dealt a tough blow to even the larger hotels. By the mid-1990s, control of the former Ramada and Holiday inns would be assumed by UC Riverside, which uses the adjacent properties for offices, classrooms and exchange student housing.

Since 2000, however, Riverside has invested millions of dollars in implementing the University Avenue specific plan that included refurbishing and/or phasing out the older, seedier motels and adding landscaping to the curb and street medians. More recently, several of the decaying motels have been demolished. A large, mixed-use apartment complex for UCR students replaced one, a retail center replaced another, while a few others have become empty lots awaiting redevelopment.

Over the ensuing months, we hope to spotlight a few of these motels and hotels and maybe even a couple of the eateries, some of which no longer exist. For now, below are a few photos from the three mid-century neon signs that remain from "motel row's" past.

Farm House

Sources: City of Riverside, Riverside Public Library

Postcard: Harvest House at the Tyler Mall

Harvest House Cafeteria
3535 Tyler Mall
Riverside, Calif. 92503
We invite you to visit other Harvest House locations throughout the United States and Canada

This October will mark the 40th anniversary of the Tyler Mall in Riverside. Previously, we did an overview of how the mall came into existence and how it came to be as it's known today -- Galleria at Tyler. In the coming months, we'll add a few more posts about various aspects of the mall. For now, we begin with one of the few postcards we can find associated with the mall itself -- Harvest House cafeteria.

... in 1954, (F.W. Woolworth) began setting up its own chain of cafeterias and restaurants, named Harvest House. Located near, usually adjoining, Woolworth stores, the new Harvest House restaurants, with their cornucopia insignia, were not intended to take the place of the in-house lunch counters and soda fountains, but to supply more leisurely settings for customer dining."
F.W. Woolworth and the American Five and Dime
(2003, Jean Maddern Pitrone)

The Tyler Mall Harvest House opened with the mall in October 1970. It was situated on the mall's southeastern side halfway between anchors JCPenney and May Co. (though May Co. would not open until 1973). Immediately adjacent to Harvest House was a 61,000 sq. ft., 2-story Woolworth's (today, the former Woolworth's basement serves as a Tuesday Morning outlet).

Grand Opening

Harvest House

According to a Press-Enterprise article on the mall's grand opening, the general manager of the new Woolworth's was Larry G. Shappart while the manager for Harvest House was Francis A. Costanzo.

One variation of Harvest House's "Colonial" theme (as seen in the postcard above) gave the cafeteria style restaurant a down-home "Americana" feel. But the wood brown paneling with red carpet and green-hued walls also made it feel dated and dreary (at least to us kids). And when the dining room was near empty, as it often seemed at the Tyler Mall location, it felt more like a mausoleum than a restaurant. Only the occasional kitchen noise and faint sounds of shopping activity drifting in through the entrance from Woolworth's would break the eerie silence.

Moreover, one of the strangest aspects of Harvest House was the indoor mall entrance itself, which consisted of an elaborate blue, mansard-style facade with a large cornucopia underneath as part of the "Harvest House" signage. (As a kid, nothing says mystery food better than a strange looking cornucopia. There was also a larger, much creepier version adorning a dining room wall.)

Once past the semi-formal entryway, patrons encountered a long narrow hallway -- separated from the dining area -- leading back to the cafeteria service. (Again, as a kid, this is where the trepidation, wondering what kind of awful food is actually served here, would begin -- assuming you hadn't already begged your parents to go to McDonald's instead).

By 1976, there were 50 Harvest House cafeterias in existence, with even more lunch counters/cafes still in operation inside many Woolworth's (including, at one time, a small cafe attached to the Tyler Mall store). Surprisingly, Harvest House lasted well into the 1980s, with the last one closing in the mid-1990s (we seem to recall the Tyler Mall HH had closed by 1990). Woolworth's itself would succumb in 1997, though the parent company lives on in the form of its most successful division -- Foot Locker.

Photo Gallery: Galleria at Tyler


Sources: City of Riverside, Riverside Public Library, The Press-Enterprise, WikiPedia

Old clock returns to downtown mall

1908 Seth Thomas clock

Earlier this month, the 102-year-old Seth Thomas pedestal clock, which was damaged last year during the refurbishing of the pedestrian mall, made its way back to downtown Riverside. Though the clock itself dates back to 1908, it didn't appear in Riverside until the 1920s when it was planted outside a jeweler's store on Main Street.

The clock's current location near the corner of Main Street and Mission Inn Avenue (near Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf), sits across the mall and about a half-block north from its previous spot near the former Westbrook's/Imperial Hardware building.

We're not certain when the clock was placed in front of Westbrook's. Some say it was moved there from its original spot elsewhere on Main Street. But a postcard from the 1940s indicates it had been in front of Westbrook's for several decades before being damaged last year by a contractor -- who paid for the repair -- and eventually moving to its current location near Mission Inn Avenue.

Interestingly, based upon old photos, it appears the clock had also been moved several feet toward University Avenue and placed a bit closer to the center of the pedestrian mall at some point while located near Westbrook's.


Near Westbrook's
(second clock in distance)
(view full postcard)
Near Westbrook's (prior to mall)
RCC yearbook
(view close-up)
On the Mall
North High School

Former mall location
Current spot
Slight differences

Sources: The Press-Enterprise

Postcard: Main at Ninth streets

Main Street Looking North* - Riverside California

Color Photo by Luis and Virginia Kay / Columbia Wholesale Supply, N. Hollywood, Calif.

Above is a view of Main Street in downtown Riverside looking south* toward Tenth from Ninth. The view, from approximately 1963/64, is just prior to the construction of the Main Street pedestrian mall (a), which opened in 1966 and stretches north from Tenth to Sixth.

At left is Gordon's (here's a different view). According to its sign, Gordon's has been in business since 1905.

Just out of view on the immediate left (adjacent to Gordon's) would be F.W. Woolworth. It opened on the SE corner of Ninth and Main in 1940. We're not sure when the store closed, but according to this 1967 view looking north toward Ninth from Tenth (nearly the opposite view of the postcard), it appears to have remained open at least until the late 1960s (here's a close-up view).

Prior to Woolworth's, the corner was home to the Rowell Hotel, which opened in 1887. In 1902, the Rowell became the Reynolds Hotel upon being purchased by George N. Reynolds who operated a department store directly across Ninth Street in the 3-story Reynolds Building. That building, which later housed Montgomery Ward (1934 - 1966) and Pic 'N Save (b) (until about 1970), was built in 1900. It was demolished in the early 1980s and replaced by a small parking lot. (The site is being used as staging area during the refurbishment of the former Rouse Building into UCR's Culver Center of the Arts.)

Back to the postcard ... hanging above the third car on the right is the black & white "Piano & Organ" sign for Cheney's Music. It opened on Main Street in 1944 where it remained until moving in 1970 to the Tyler Mall (now Galleria at Tyler). Owned by Warren W. Cheney, the store remained in business at the mall until the early 1980s.

A bit farther down on the right can be seen 4001 Main Street (Tenth and Main), which once housed the Security Investment Company (here's a more recent view). Also seen is the crane used during construction of the 8-story Citizen's/Crocker Bank (c). It was downtown's first modern, mid-rise office building when it opened in 1965 (here's a more recent view).

Today, if one were to stand in the same location as the postcard, their view would be blocked by City Hall, which replaced the businesses on both sides of the pedestrian mall (Main Street) between Ninth and Tenth streets in 1975.

For those interested, here's the back of the postcard, which was mailed to W. Medford, Mass in 1967.

* Postcard incorrectly states the view as being toward the north, but in reality, you're looking south
(a) Courtesy of Ruhnau, Ruhnau & Clarke
(b) Courtesy of RPD Remembers
(c) Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce

Sources: City of Riverside, The Press-Enterprise, Los Angeles Times, "Riverside in Postcards" (Steve Lech), "Riverside - 1870-1940" (Steve Lech), "Colony for California" (Tom Patterson)

Then & Now - Riverside Town House

Then & Now
Riverside Town House: 1950s - 2009
Flash: View photo overlay

We know little of the history surrounding the block bounded by Fifth, Sixth, Lemon and Lime streets in downtown Riverside, but a 1948 aerial photo shows the entire lot devoid of development, with grass, shrubbery and some trees as well as a few walking paths. Although it's likely the block once contained at least a few homes, the 1948 aerial gives the impression the lot had recently become an impromptu neighborhood park.

In December 1948, however, a building permit was issued for a 96-unit apartment complex, which would encompass the entire block. According to the permit, the applicant (and owner) was Mr. J.J. Goldbach, who listed a McAllister Ave. address in the Arlington area of Riverside. The permit also lists architect William F. Mellin, A.I.A., of 671 "D" Street in San Bernardino.

The "Riverside Town House" project, which was given an address of 3489 Sixth Street, was initially valued at $500,000, resulting in permit fees of $292.00.

Nearly 60 years later, excepting for the addition of utility lines, the much taller palm trees and a few re-positioned light poles, it appears little else has changed.

Flash: Riverside Townhouse: 1950s - 2009

More: - Then & Now

Sources: City of Riverside,

Then & Now - Downtown Post Office


Over the past 96 years, downtown Riverside has seen 2 main post offices built, the first in 1912 and the second in 1939.

U.S. Post Office
Late 1950s - 2008
Flash: View photo overlay

First came the 1912 Federal Building located on Seventh Street (Mission Inn Avenue). Sporting Italian-Renaissance architecture, the building served as the city's main post office for nearly 30 years. Afterward, the building became the headquarters for the 4th Air Force during World War II. Later uses included housing the city's police department*, and currently, the Riverside Metropolitan Museum.

The second downtown post office, located a few blocks away on the northeast corner of Ninth and Orange streets, came online just as World War II was beginning. Built at a cost of $175,900, this later version sports Spanish-Mission architecture with Art Deco/Moderne-influenced designs inside.

Seen in photos approximately 50 years apart, this second post office remains an architectural gem in downtown today. Note in the 1950s photo the lack of trees but a hedge which still remains today. Note also that Orange Street is a two-way street as opposed to today's one-way between University Avenue and Fourteenth Street.

Finally, visible in the far right background of the earlier photo is the First Baptist Church. Located at the northeast corner of Ninth and Lemon, the church site today is home to a 5-story building constructed in the late 1980s.

Flash: Downtown Post Office - Late 1950s - 2008

* Photo courtesy of RPD Remembers

Sources: City of Riverside, Riverside Metropolitan Museum, The Press-Enterprise, "Colony for California" (Tom Patterson)

This colorful "Empire" extends into the San Bernardino, Riverside,
and Los Angeles counties.

Color Photo by Luis and Virginia Kay / Columbia Wholesale Supply, N. Hollywood, Calif.

We're not certain of the exact year, but this postcard appears to be sometime during the 1950s. Based upon "Int'l Airport" being used for notating Ontario Airport, it's likely post-1946 -- the year Ontario Municipal Airport was re-named Ontario International Airport. Likewise, the lack of Lake Perris means it's pre-1974.

Note also the current-day routes for the I-15 and I-215 freeways are signed as 71 and 395 respectively and the 60 Freeway between Riverside and Pomona appears to follow the old Mission Blvd. route, which again, likely dates the card to the 1950s.

At any rate, the postcard hails from a time when Inland Southern California was better known for its orange groves and outdoor recreation rather than for explosive, suburban growth.

One of the things we find fascinating are how places and/or buildings change -- or don't change -- over time. Sometimes it's a simple paint job on an old house or building while at other times an entire building -- or entire block -- is completely redeveloped. Sometimes the transformation takes several years, while in other cases the landscape changes rather quickly.

Click the image below for two views of "E" Street in downtown San Bernardino, first from the 1940s and next from 2007.

Both views are looking north toward the intersection with 3rd Street (note: the 1940s postcard incorrectly states the view as being from 3rd Street as opposed to being toward 3rd Street).

On the immediate left is the Harris Co. department store, with its decorative elements, while just beyond it is the Andresen Building, which was the former home to Bank of America. As seen in the 2007 view, both structures remain standing today, though the Harris Co. building is currently closed.

On the right, the scene has changed dramatically. Civic Plaza -- which encompasses City Hall, Exhibit Hall and the Clarion Hotel -- has replaced the buildings on the immediate right, including the one-time branch of Citizens' National Bank (foreground) and the four-story, 1890 Katz Building (background).

With the redevelopment of Carousel Mall -- of which the Harris Co. building anchors its eastern end -- becoming much more probable, the immediate area is likely to change dramatically once again.

Flash: 'E' at Third: 1940s - 2007


Harris Co.

3rd Street toward E Street
(where Carousel Mall
sits today)

E Street toward 3rd Street

E Street toward 3rd Street

Sources: City of San Bernardino, San Bernardino Sun

Then & Now - Main at Mission Inn


Before there was a Main Street Pedestrian Mall in downtown Riverside there was, well, an actual Main Street, with actual cars -- and curbside parking.

Seen here in photos approximately 50 years apart is a view of Main Street looking north toward Mission Inn Avenue (formerly Seventh Street) from near University Avenue (formerly Eighth Street). On the far right is the historic Mission Inn and on the far left, with its pyramid-shaped, red-tiled roof (as seen in lower photo), is the Loring Building, which was built in 1890. Obviously, the scene has changed dramatically, but how and why? (To fully appreciate the change, check out the Flash overlay.)

Main Street at Mission Inn
looking north toward Mission Inn Ave. (Seventh St.)
Flash: View photo overlay

Following the 1956 opening of the nearby Riverside Plaza, downtown shopping began a slow but steady decline. In response, city leaders soon started working at remaking the city's civic center. Plans included a landscaped pedestrian mall with spruced-up storefronts. Eventually, it was envisioned the mall would be anchored by what officials hoped would be a new city hall, a convention center / hotel and a performing arts center. (Only city hall and the convention center / hotel would come to fruition.)

In late 1965, the city settled upon an initial plan and work began in May of 1966 at tearing out Main Street between Sixth and Tenth streets. On November 23, 1966, the mall was officially dedicated* and open for business. However, with its opening coinciding with America's growing appetite for suburban shopping centers, the pedestrian mall got off to a rocky start.

One major retailer (Sears*) had already relocated to a larger new store elsewhere in Riverside while two others (Montgomery Ward, JC Penney) would eventually follow suit. The flight of retail only got worse with the 1970 opening of Riverside's Tyler Mall** (now Galleria at Tyler), which was double the size of the earlier Riverside Plaza and -- more importantly at the time -- it was enclosed.

Although the loss of the major retailers was significant, the pedestrian mall's plight began stabilizing in the mid-1970s with the opening of the new city hall and convention center (anchoring opposite ends of the mall) as well as an 11-story Security Pacific National Bank building (seen here in 1976**: one | two), which replaced aging storefronts near the mall's center. But America's love affair with large enclosed shopping centers -- and free easy parking -- continued to erode the downtown retail market.

By the early 1980s, storefronts along the pedestrian mall consisted mostly of small local shops and empty spaces. The slow decline of the Mission Inn, which had transformed from an opulent hotel into rental/student apartments, certainly did not help. For a while, it appeared the mall's future was in doubt. One bright spot development-wise during this period was the 6-story Mission Square building, which in 1984 replaced another block of mostly empty and aging storefronts between Ninth and University.

In 1988, however, things began looking up as a refurbished Mission Inn hotel was set to reopen. Renovated over 3 years to the tune of $30 million (which would eventually approach $50 million), the newly christened Omni Mission Inn** was seen by civic officials as an important catalyst for reviving the floundering pedestrian mall. Yet just weeks before its official grand opening, the Inn's owner -- Carley Capital Group -- went bankrupt, forcing a takeover of the Inn by Chemical Bank of New York. The bankruptcy dealt a serious blow to both the mall and downtown in general. Moreover, it would be another 4 years before the Inn fully reopened.

Another significant event was the 1992 merger of Security Pacific National Bank into Bank of America, which saw the mall lose one of its primary anchors. Subsequent plans for re-using the bank's 11-story building included an option of reopening parts of the pedestrian mall to limited traffic. Fortunately, a second event later that year -- the purchase and reopening of the Mission Inn by local businessman Duane Roberts -- helped keep the pedestrian mall intact and free of cars.

Today, the downtown pedestrian mall stretches upwards of 7 blocks from Tenth to Third streets and remains one of Southern California's only true pedestrian plazas. Although it has taken 40 years to arrive at where it is today -- and indeed, a few rough spots remain -- thankfully, most residents simply could not imagine it reverting back to just another traffic-clogged street. In fact, the pedestrian mall is about to undergo a face-lift -- its first major rehab since being built in 1966.

Since the December 1992 reopening of the Mission Inn, the pedestrian mall has steadily picked up steam. The former Security Pacific Bank building has become a collection of offices mostly for the state of California while small independant shops throughout the mall coexist alongside a mixture of banks, eateries, service-related businesses and cultural arts establishments.

Recently, the mall has seen an influx of higher-end establishments such as Renuance Aesthetic Care and eateries Trilussa, Omakase and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. The most surprising empty spot remains the long-shuttered Imperial Hardware building, which in a strange twist has actually added a bit of flavor to the mall on account of its colorful art and mid-century facade, both seemingly frozen in time.

The one item still missing is a national retailer or major bookstore, which is likely to change within the next few years as the city's plans for 500-plus condos and lofts begin taking shape (see: m' sole and Fox Plaza). Our hope is that any potential influx of national chains, which could greatly increase out-of-area foot traffic, does so not at the expense of too many of the unique local shops -- a few of which have survived a number of lean years.

Indeed, the recent surge in activity, the upcoming face-lift, the soon-to-be Culver Center for the Arts and the planned residential/office development nearby promises to solidify the mall as downtown's cultural and civic plaza. Without a doubt, the pedestrian mall is a unique gem that Riverside is fortunate to have.

Flash: Main at Mission Inn: 1950s - 2007

Photo Gallery: Main Street Pedestrian Mall

P.S. -- For those curious, the back of the 1950s postcard, which incidentally misidentifies the intersection as Seventh at Orange (as opposed to Main at Seventh) reads as follows:

RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA - Seventh Street near Orange. This is a city typical of California at its best. Its tree-lined streets, Mission architecture, groves of fragrant orange trees and its atmosphere of hospitality never fail to impress the visitor.

Update -- Though it has had some lean times, luckily Riverside's pedestrian mall did not suffer the fate of this one in St. Louis, which opened in 1977: Urban Review St. Louis: 14th Street Pedestrian Mall, Thirty Years Ago Today


Main Street
Main Street
Main Street

Main Street
Main Street

* Courtesy of RPD Remembers
** Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce

Sources: City of Riverside, The Press-Enterprise, Riverside Public Library, "Colony for California" (Tom Patterson), "Riverside in Postcards" (Steve Lech), "Riverside - 1870-1940" (Steve Lech), Riverside Chambers of Commerce, New York Times, WikiPedia

Then & Now - County Courthouse


Considered one of the finest examples of Beaux Arts Classical architecture in the nation, the Riverside County Courthouse is a gem among civic buildings.

Designed by the architectural firm of Burnham and Bliesner of Los Angeles, the 1903 courthouse is patterned after the "Grand Palais" (Grand Palace) and "Petit Palais" (Little Palace) both from the 1900 Universal Exposition (World's Fair) in Paris.

Riverside County Courthouse
Main Street at Tenth Street
Flash: View photo overlay

Grand Palais
Paris, France

Riverside County Courthouse

The courthouse, which originally cost a mere $160,280 to construct, was rededicated October 5, 1998 following a 3-year, $25 million renovation and seismic upgrade.

The picturesque courthouse was the indirect result of an intra-county tax dispute. San Bernardino County -- of which at the time included present-day Riverside -- voted to raise taxes to fund expansion of the existing county courthouse located in downtown San Bernardino. However, this new tax was not taken lightly in Riverside, wherein higher property values equated to a higher share of the overall courthouse tax. Compounded by other similar issues, this new tax spurred Riverside officials to expedite proceedings that eventually led to the May 2, 1893 establishment of Riverside County.

Of course, Riverside now needed to fund and build its own county courthouse. Fortunately, the city's continuing rise in wealth made such funding much easier. In fact, by 1895 -- just 2 years following the establishment of the new county -- the City of Riverside was the richest city per capita in the United States. As such, the city soon began the process of commissioning new civic buildings -- including the courthouse -- that reflected the city's new wealth and stature.

However, had the city and county gone the expected route of building a Mission Revival-styled courthouse (as backed by influential Mission Inn owner Frank Milller), the elegant courthouse we see today may not have been. Instead, county supervisors were eventually persuaded in favor of a French-inspired, Beaux-Arts design. Without a doubt, the significance of that decision could not be more important today as the unique courthouse stands out among civic buildings.

In 1930, a major expansion to the courthouse by local architect G. Stanley Wilson increased courtrooms on the back, or eastern elevation (Orange St.). Designed to mimic the original Beaux-Arts motif, the expansion fits in well against the original design. However, a bulky and spartan post-war addition to the southeastern elevation (Orange/Eleventh streets), though unique in its own way, stands out in stark contrast against the magnificently detailed facades of both the original and expansion.

Regardless, thanks to the foresight of county supervisors in 1995, the grand courthouse will stand for generations to come, reminding residents and visitors alike of both the wealth and vision of the city's residents during the formative years.

Flash: County Courthouse: 1960s - 2006

Photo Gallery: Riverside County Courthouse


Petite Palais
Paris, France
Riv. Co.
Riv. Co. Courthouse
1930s expansion
Riv. Co. Courthouse
Post-war addition

Sources: City of Riverside, Riverside Metropolitan Museum, "Colony for California" (Tom Patterson), The Press-Enterprise, WikiPedia

Then & Now - Main at Ninth


One of the things that most facinates us are how places and/or buildings change -- or don't change -- over time. Sometimes it's a simple paint job on an old house or building while at other times an entire building -- or entire block -- is completely redeveloped. Such is the natural evolution of cities.

Main Street at Ninth Street
looking north toward
University Ave. (Eighth St.)
Flash: View photo overlay

With that said, one of our favorite sections of this site is the "Then & Now" feature. A simple exercise in comparing and constrasting the same building, street or block from one time period to another. Maybe it's a 100-year-old photo or 50-year-old postcard, or simply a few years of passage. Whatever the timespan, it's interesting to see how much -- or how little -- things have changed from one era to another.

First up, is a view looking north on Main Street at Ninth Street from 1949. Immediately on the right is Rouse's Department Store (green canopy) followed by the Kress Building (partially covered by palm tree). Standing tall is the 1911 First National Bank building. Beyond these is the now-gone Evans Building (red brick) and in the distance are two towers of the Mission Inn. Visible on the left is the top of the still-standing Loring Building (red, triangular-shaped roof) located at the corner of Seventh Street (Mission Inn Avenue) and Main Street.

The exact same view from 2006 shows that, first and foremost, Main Street has been removed, or rather, turned into the Main Street Pedestrian Mall (1966). Although the Rouse (UCR/Culver Arts Center), Kress (UCR/CMP) and First National Bank buildings remain standing on the right, all the buildings on the left have since been replaced by office buildings (partially hidden). Of course, foilage now also blocks the view of the two Mission Inn towers. However, peeking out between the trees on the lower left is the triangular-shaped roof of the Loring Building.

Lastly, directly behind the camera sits City Hall (1975), which was built to anchor the south end of the pedestrian mall.

Flash: Main at Ninth: 1949 - 2006

Similar view (within
shadow of City Hall)
First National Bank
and Kress
Rouse Department
Store (UCR/Culver
Arts Center)

Sources: City of Riverside, Riverside Public Library

Razed, Rebuilt, Revived


Update: Original opening date corrected from 1955 to 1956-57; renovation updated from mid-1980s to 1984

Riverside Plaza - late 1950s
Riverside Plaza, LLC

Riverside Plaza

Can a reborn shopping center inject new life into an older suburban neighborhood? Indeed it can as witnessed with the recently rebuilt Riverside Plaza.

Opened in three stages in 1956-57 as an outdoor shopping plaza and enclosed during a 1984 renovation, Riverside's first mall-like center has now come full-circle with its rebirth as an outdoor plaza once again.

As part of the rebuild, an assortment of new shops and eateries have planted roots with still more to come in a second phase currently under construction ("The Orchard Shops"). The only portion left from previous incarnations is the 1957 Harris-Gottschalks department store, itself receiving a complete makeover.

Also new to the mix is the addition of a Borders Books & Music and a 16-screen Regal Cinemas, which combined with the main street-like atmosphere and new eateries -- including California Pizza Kitchen, Ooka Japanese Restaurant, Citrus City Grille -- makes the new Plaza much more of a dining and entertainment destination than before. Oh, and we can't forget about the relocated Trader Joe's, which in reality is only about 25 yards from where it previously stood.

Likewise, adding extra life is the regularly-held events involving local schools and community organizations as well as "holiday flavoring" with a bit of fireworks during Fourth of July and a dash of snow during Christmastime.

More importantly, however, is that with the revival has come a renewed sense of place and reinvigoration within the surrounding Magnolia Center neighborhood, as highlighted in a recent article in the Los Angeles Times: Plaza revival breathes new life into Magnolia Center.

Slideshow: Rebirthing Riverside Plaza


Sources: City of Riverside, Riverside Plaza, The Press-Enterprise, Los Angeles Times

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