Thursday, March 7, 2024

Petaluma, California

Petaluma Visitors Center


At the southern end of California’s Sonoma County sits the city of Petaluma. This center of the local farm economy is a home to beautiful buildings from the early 20th century, along with trendy stores and restaurants.


Petaluma River

The Petaluma River is a navigable path from the San Francisco Bay. In the 1850’s this made the town an important place where farmers could ship their crops to the big city, and where goods and supplies for gold miners could brought in. Steamships plied the route, and they even dug out a large area for the ships to easily turn around. By the 1920’s, Petaluma was known for storing and milling grain, and for processing chickens and eggs. The center of town flourished during this era, as a center of commerce developed, and Victorian houses were built for local business leaders. 

Steamboat turn-around

Ghost Advertisement for Steamed Gold Beer

Petaluma was hit hard during the Great Depression, and it remained cash poor for several decades. The tourism that developed in northern California bypassed this area in the 1960’s. As a result, there was never a movement to “rebuild” downtown area. When artists, fleeing the rising rents of San Francisco, started to look for new places to settle, they found the older buildings downtown, and the abandoned industrial areas. They moved in, and helped to preserve them. Today, the area west of the Petaluma River is home to these beautiful buildings, stores, and great places to eat.





East of the river is the old industrial area. Many of the unused factories and warehouses have been repurposed as large art studios. The old train station is now the town’s visitors center, and its out-buildings are the home of the Petaluma Arts Center. The silos of Dairyman Feed and Supply Co-op still tower over the riverside. 

Artwork Outside the Petaluma Art Center


Works from Reared in Steel LLC

Dairyman's Feed and Supply Co-op

Petaluma is a great place to visit from the Bay Area or while in Sonoma County.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the mini-vaca to old California. It's a cold and windy day and your lens took me away. Thanks for sharing.