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WELCOME TO DAVIS
17 September 2014
A Swap I am going to be doing soon for Swap Bot is "City Trip - Be My Guide!" The idea is to write a "unusual city guide" for my partners, introducing them to Davis. I thought I'd test it out by doing it here first. Let me give you a guide to Davis.
Davis is a bigger city than it was when we moved here. I think we've added about 20,000 citizens since 1973 and the size of the university has grown since we moved here too. Before we moved here Davis was always just a sign on the freeway that we passed on the way to Sacramento, but if this is your destination, you exit on Richards Blvd (the main Davis offramp), pass In-N-Out Burger, head under the railroad tracks and up to 1st Street, where you'll probably encounter a traffic light and while you are stopped there, enjoy the outdoor display at the Natsoulas Gallery, straight ahead.
To visit "downtown Davis" we will zig zag up and down the streets, pointing out things you might otherwise miss. So if you go right into the heart of downtown, you will be traveling down E Street (I should point out that getting around the main part of Davis is very easy since the east-west streets are numbered, 1st St through 14th St. and the north-south streets are numbered A St. through L St., but "downtown" is really ringed by B Street through G Street. A Street runs along the University and nobody ever uses that street.
As you travel down E Street, to the left are stores that weren't there when I was working downtown. I don't even know what is there, except that Sophie's Thai Place is still in the back of the multi colored Orange Court, where I used to work. I haven't eaten at Sophie's in years, but it's where I learned to love Pad Thai and it's still my favorite place for that treat. There is also the Hot Dogger which is a tiny hole-in-the-wall place that has been there since 1984 and is everyone's favorite place for hot dogs. It is so tiny that it fills up with two people inside, but there are tables on the sidewalk, if you want to eat your hot dog there.
A commercial complex is on your right, dominated by a large Victorian mansion. This is the Dresbach-Hunt-Boyer House, which now serves as the location for several city offices. It is one of the oldest buildings in Davis and is an official Historical Site, built between 1871 and 1875.
Straight ahead on the right is Baskin Robbins, noteworthy only because there was a time when all directions in Davis started at Baskin Robbins, because everybody knew where that was. The ice cream store sits on the E Street Plaza which, I must point out, is the place where there is a performing area dedicated by the Downtown Business Association to Paul, who worked downtown and was popular with many of the businesses.
There's nothing really exciting ahead, so let's turn right at the corner, pass by one of the many bike stores in town and go to F Street, the street that heads all the way to 14th street, where, if you turn left, you'll get to our house. But I digress.
On the corner of 3rd and F is the famous statue called "The Joggers." It sits in front of a restaurant that used to be the police department (most old timers give this tour by telling you not what is there but what used to be there!). When this statue was first erected, the story goes that someone accidentally ran into the statue and injured his eye on the upraised finger of one of the joggers. (Actually it never happened, but people thought it might happen.) There was a bitter debate about the safety of this statue and it was finally moved back from the sidewalk a few feet.
Now turn right down F Street and there's not much to point out, so turn left on 2nd, but first look to your right at the Varsity Theater, halfway down 2nd Street.
The Varsity Theater was here when we moved here, built in 1949, and it was a movie theater. In 1976 it was remodeled into a duplex, with two screens. In 1990 it was going to be shut down, but the city took over, and turned it into a community theater, taking down the wall between the two movie houses and redecorating it. It was a legitimate theater for 14 years, and Paul was the manager until his death. In 2005, finding it financially difficult to keep it running as a community theater it was turned back into a movie duplex again. I expect that sooner or later, someone will decide that it really would be great as a legitimate theater (see "The Philosophy of Juice and Crackers" link in the left column).
But turn left at the corner and go to where 2nd street ends, which is the historical railroad station.
The original station was built in 1868 and the current building was built in 1913, and is also an official historic landmark.
Now turn around and go back down 2nd street and between E and D on the right is Logos Books, where I volunteer one day a week. It is now the only used book store in town (the SPCA Thrift shop has a big book section, but Logos is the only store left dedicated to used books -- all the book stores left when Borders moved in. Now Borders is gone, but so are the other book stores!).
I always make sure to tell customers that their purchases go to a good cause because the proceeds are donated to Doctors Without Borders and Save the Children. Susan and Peter donated $40,000 last year and hope to donate more this year.
When you get to the corner of 2nd and D, turn right and you will find the Pence Art Gallery. It's a modern looking place now, but it was not always so and it had a performing area behind the building itself where our kids performed with the Jazz Choir and Acme Theater Company. I don't think Lawsuit ever performed there. I do miss those theatrical days, but the gallery is more hoity toity these days. The stage area fronted on an alley way and directly behind the stage was the store that is more missed than any other in town, Discoveries, which was "the" place to go for gifts. It's been gone for a long time and I still miss it.
Continue on down D Street to the park at 3rd and C. It's Central Park and covers the area from 3rd St. to 5th St. On the corner of 3rd and B is the Bike Museum (which used to be the teen center). The area bounded by 3rd, 4th, B, and C used to be called the Arden-Mayfair lot because at one time there was going to be an Arden-Mayfair built there, but that never happened. Eventually they connected the Arden-Mayfair lot with the small park across the street. Now there is a Farmers' Market on Wednesday evening (complete with lots of things to buy to eat and musical groups entertaining), and also on Saturday morning.
The Gay Pride celebration used to be held in this park (attended by city council members, sometimes in drag). The Hattie Weber Museum of Davis history is located here, and there is a marker from the old Lincoln Highway here. In 2006, a flower garden was built, showcasing sustainable horticultural practices. There is also a human-powered carousel which was built in 1995. One person pedals the thing and the others ride. Recently a big celebration was held to celebrate the addition of a new outdoor bathroom wall for the newly constructed bathroom.
We've about covered the high points of downtown Davis and we haven't even hit the Davis Co-op, Community Park, the Veterans Memorial Theater, the Art Center and the various memorials to the dead Sykeses of Davis. But at least you have a taste of Downtown Davis.
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