Petaluma: Its History Remains


I spent a few hours on my own walking through the back alleys of Petaluma a week or so ago.  From the main street Petaluma looks like most other northern California small towns with newish facades on older buildings.  But a trip through the back alleys along the Petaluma River reveals much of the older parts of Petaluma that was originally founded in 1859.  One of the oldest towns in California it was also the only town in proximity to San Francisco to survive the 1906 earthquake relatively intact.  This is evident from the remaining cobblestone alleys and abandoned rail tracks that run along the river bank.  Like so many other California towns with river frontage, the town backs to the river rather than fronting along the river as I am accustomed to having grown up in Long Island.

In these images I’ve tried to capture some of the textures that reflect the true age of this special city.  Petaluma seems to embrace its history by retaining the remnants of its past development, yet also tries to show a more modern face to its main street.  This day my interest was in the historic “Back” story as I think it’s what distinguishes it from many other more redeveloped cities in Northern California.  The abandoned train tracks, the back doors, the cobblestones, all tell a tale of resilience and pride in the history of this little town on the river.  I love hanging out here.


Equipment:  Nikon D810; Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 lens

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