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5 Years Ago in Santa Cruz

[whitespace] County Bank
Joe Hall

The old County Bank building, now the site of Pacific Wave, awaits reinforcements.

Try to imagine what it was like back at the beginning of time--that Mesozoic media era at the dawn of Metro Santa Cruz. Better yet, let's join Mr. Peabody in the Way Back Machine and set the year for--1994. The tour starts at downtown Pacific Avenue, a pitted, gap-toothed shell of a street. No Flat Iron building where Pacific and Front meet. No Redtree building at the corner of Soquel. No University Town Centre at the corner of Cathcart. No new Cooperhouse at Cooper. And, most shockingly, no Santa Cruz Cinema 9.

It's been five years since the Big One, but the Santa Cruz City Council has moved toward reconstruction at its typical glacial pace. Funnily enough, politicos like Mike Rotkin and Scott Kennedy are being pilloried for dragging their feet on reconstruction. Will they be in for a shock in five years when those same tootsies are held to the fire for playing footsies with developers.

before restoration
Joe Hall

Before downtown restoration, you could see all the way from Front Street to Pacific, with no buildings to mar the view.

Let's take a stroll over to the corner of Cathcart and Pacific, better known as Hippie Corner. Ah! Just in time for one of the many demonstrations taking place this year in response to the City Council's anti-loitering ordinance. Fools thought they could make it illegal to sit down. Next thing you know, they'll make a law against sleeping! Oh. Never mind.

We won't come back here at night--night life hadn't been invented yet in Santa Cruz. Hard to imagine that BC9 (Before Cinema 9), an after-dark stroll down the Avenue netted nothing but a dozen panhandlers and a few lost junkies.

Next stop is the Great Gray Bunker for a little looksee at the powers that be. The head dick is still Sheriff Al Noren, but he'll lose this year to the politically savvy Mark Tracy. The legendary Gary Patton is wielding the Board of Supes' gavel, and Art Danner is in about his elevendy-seventh term as district attorney. Bored already? Let's head on over to the Town Clock. Notice anything missing? That's right--that butt-ugly but Socially Significant sculpture, Collateral Damage, is nowhere to be found.

Joe Hall

Where once there was a pit, now there are nine movie screens all showing 'The Phantom Menace.'

If we had more time, we could grab a bus out to Soquel. You could witness a simpler time, before the Redevelopment Agency threw in two dozen traffic lights and screwed up Soquel Drive. Or we could visit Capitola before the birth of the Brown's Ranch Marketplace/Strip Mall and the beloved Marie Callendar's. Or the Yacht Harbor before Rosa's. But this is 1994, and buses haven't discovered how to run on time yet.

Some things never change.

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From the May 5-12, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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