El Granada: Vision & Reality

Note: Here’s a very sentimental piece I wrote about El Granada a long time ago…some of the things I describe may not be around anymore.


A recent [see “note” above] walk past tall apartment buildings on Avenue Alhambra in El Granada–where a concrete slab is all that remains of the Ocean Shore Railroad–led me to reflect on the first buildings that appeared some 83 years ago.

In 1910 the 38-mile long railroad was running daily from San Francisco to Tunitas Glen, south of Half Moon Bay. The iron road closely paralleled Highway 1, which was to come some 40 years later. Two attractive, but strikingly different train stations were constructed. Until then prime agricultural land captured the eye, much of it farmed by Dante Dianda, the “Artichoke King.” Otherwise, the narrow strip of marine terrace, bordered by mountains and sea, was almost devoid of structures.

One station stood at the northern end of El Granada. Shot from afar, a vintage photo of the station is framed by endless rows of healthy artichokes, an artful contrast of man’s work with a farmer’s bountiful produce.

Another station stood near Avenue Portola; the building was later moved to accommodate a club, then a private residence.

Some people talk of three stations in El Granada. That’s because the Ocean Shore also built a platform used to store wood and other construction materials in southern El Granada. I guess some riders got off there, too.

Subdividing El Granada seemed like a good idea after the horrific 1906 earthquake and fire. El Granada was close to San Francisco but hard to get to because of the unforgiving geographical barriers. Fearing more earthshaking, and wanting to get away from it, city dwellers looked to other communities. Perhaps they were unaware that the moody fault line cut through the Coastside as well.

…to be continued…