Published March 18, 2003
Volume 11, Number 3

Downtown Pleasanton Boasts Big City Attractions With a Small Town Feel

Downtown Pleasanton

By George Walsh
Network Editor

Downtown is the heart of Pleasanton. It offers a delightful mix of historic sites, world-class eateries, shopping areas, and some of the best events in the Tri-Valley. Downtown Pleasanton is home to more than 500 businesses that include antique stores, real estate offices, banks, hair salons, clothing stores, restaurants and just about any other urban attraction you can imagine. “Pleasanton would not be Pleasanton without our historic and vibrant downtown,” says City Manager Deborah McKeehan. “Not only can you find a scrumptious meal, and a great gift in the myriad of shopping options, but you are truly entertained by the experience every time you visit.”

Historic Downtown Pleasanton
While Downtown Pleasanton offers a wide variety of entertainment and dining options, history buffs will want to investigate Downtown Pleasanton’s historic buildings representing a variety of architectural styles. For example, The Pleasanton Arch across Main Street, one of the most recognizable sights of downtown, was built by the Women's Improvement Club in 1932 for $532 and was topped with police and fire horns. Today, it is one of the few original town gateway signs remaining in California. Other historic sites in Downtown Pleasanton include:

600 Main Street, the current site of Kolln Hardware, was once the Pinklet Tin Store, a hardware emporium that was constructed around 1899. 

641 Main Street, the former New Lincoln Theater and Roxy Theater. Constructed in the 1940s in the Mission-Revival style, it still has the rear stage door entrance outside, and, inside, the backdrop from the old theaters. 

520 Main Street once housed Dall's Harness and Saddlery and local lore tells of a female ghost in a blue Victorian dress at that location. She is always seen, they say, on a Saturday morning. 

450 Main Street, Arendt Commission House. This brick Italianate building was completed in 1893 and was extensively renovated in 1984. 

288 Main Street, built in 1854, was the first commercial building in town and housed a general store, bar, and Wells Fargo stage stop.

706 Main Street, the former Schneer Mortuary. The deceased were displayed in their coffins in the front window in this 1904 Mission-Revival building. The walkway to the right was used to park the hearse. 

749 Main Street, the second Safeway grocery store. The Pleasanton chain's second store was located in this Modern-style building constructed in 1938. 

The Museum On Main Street, supported by the Amador-Livermore Valley Historical Society, is located at 603 Main Street, Pleasanton. It is in the former town hall that was constructed in 1914 with funds raised by the Pleasanton Women's Improvement Club. As the city offices moved to other buildings in town, the Museum found a new home in 1984 in the fully renovated building. Over 12,000 people visit the museum each year, in addition to the 5,000 Pleasanton schoolchildren who visit for an interpretive talk and tour. The museum has a photo and document archive, collection of artifacts, collection of local history publications for purchase, and history library open to the public. The Museum welcomes donated historic items, particularly photographs. The museum’s phone number is (925) 462-2766. 

For those fascinated by architecture’s place in history, the Pleasanton Downtown Association, architect and local historian Charles Huff, and the Amador-Livermore Valley Historical Museum have created a new Downtown Walking Tour map filled with photos and more than 60 history vignettes. 

Museum on Main

It’s All Happening Downtown
Downtown plays host to a variety of weekly and seasonal special events that are sure to pique your interest. This guide can be used as a starting point in planning your next visit to Pleasanton’s bustling downtown 

The Downtown Farmer's Market
The Pleasanton Farmer's Market is open every Saturday, rain or shine from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Shoppers will find farm-fresh produce, fresh-cut flowers, herbs, and specialty foods on Angela Street, between Main and First Streets. Afterward, browse the shops and stop for lunch at one of the 40 great restaurants.

1st Wednesday Street Parties
Live bands fill the air with music and local restaurants fill your stomach on the first Wednesday of each month throughout the summer from 6:00 pm-9:00 pm. Pleasanton and Tri-Valley businesses show off their wares. Charities, school groups and non-profits bring together their community spirit in the heart of Pleasanton. Livermore Valley Wineries and local micro-brewed beers are available in the Beer Garden. This event draws 3,000-4,000 people per evening on Main Street between St. John Street and Old Bernal Avenue. This year’s themes are:

May 7th  The Season Opener, A Celebration of Sports
June 4th A Caribbean Carnival
July 2nd Surfin’ the Streets Beach Party
August 6th An International Fest, Your Passport to the World

Friday Concerts in the Park
These concerts take place every Friday, June 6th through September 19th from 7:00 pm-8:30 pm (with the exception of August 22nd to accommodate the Hot Rod Heaven event) at Lions Wayside Park. Enjoy live music ranging from blues and rock to high school bands and Dixieland. Children dance in front of the bandstand, and expert picnickers start hours before the concerts begin. Concerts include:

June 6 Off the Record Top 40 & Rock
June 13 Silicon Valley House Rockers Rock
June 20 Amador Valley High School Variety
June 27 Clay Burton Band Blues
July 4 Independence Day Concert Patriotic
July 11 Blackbird Jass Band Jazz
July 18 Finding Stella Rock
July 25 Star Celebrations Top 40, R&B, Rock
August 1 Greg Richmond & The Other Guys R&B, Popular Dance Tunes
August 8 Patty & Abigail Acoustic Pop
August 15 Tommy & The 4-Speeds Variety
August 29 Midnight Hour Dance/Top 40
Sept. 5 Direct Access Classic Rock
Sept. 12 Georgi & The Roughweek Rock/Blues
Sept. 19 Savoir Faire Hits from the 50’s to present

Heritage Days BBQ and Crafts Festival
On June 7th & 8th  (10:00 am-7:00 pm Saturday, 10:00 am-5:00 pm Sunday) Main Street in downtown Pleasanton hosts hundreds of arts and crafts vendors. Food booths serve a variety of ethnic and BBQ treats and live music plays all day in the beer and wine garden. 20,000 people come downtown during this popular weekend event.

Wine Stroll
On Thursday, July 17th from 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm, businesses throughout the district will offer Livermore Valley Wines for you to taste and experience, while the downtown restaurants provide the food.

Hot Rod Heaven
On Friday, August 22nd, from 5:00 pm-9:00 pm, hundreds of custom and classic cars line Main Street and 30,000 car enthusiasts fill the streets and sidewalks. Live bands, beer gardens, and packed dance floors provide even more entertainment.

Rib Cook-Off
On September 20th and 21st (10:00 am-7:00 pm Saturday and 10:00 am-5:00 pm Sunday) downtown Pleasanton hosts its annual Rib Cook-off. While trying the ribs, shop the numerous art and crafts booths and listen to the great line-up of blues inspired bands.

Antiques Faires
On Sunday, May 25th and Sunday, October 12th from 8:00 am-4:00 pm, attend one of the largest outdoor antique fairs in California. This event is for purists; only antiques are allowed.  No crafts, just the real deal! Over 400 dealers make this one of the best antique shows anywhere.

Holiday Evening
Join the businesses in historic downtown Friday, November 21st from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm as they celebrate the season by handing out holiday treats. Carriage rides along Main Street, pictures with Santa, and a Treasure Hunt are part of the festivities.

The Pleasanton Downtown Association
The Pleasanton Downtown Association is a community of dedicated individuals and business owners. Through cooperative efforts, community events, and activities in the downtown area, the Association strives to make the Downtown area a rewarding place to visit and to shop. The PDA's four committees-organization, design and beautification, marketing and promotions, and economic restructuring-serve the needs of the business district. The committees and sub-committees, under the leadership of president Darryl Alexander, are comprised of dozens of PDA members, property owners and city residents, and create a forum for maintaining cultural and economic vigor.

“Downtown Pleasanton plays many roles in our community. It is the heart of our town, and a social gathering place,” says Pamela Stoddard, executive director of the Pleasanton Downtown Association. “It is a commercial district that offers a wide variety of goods and services, and a broad selection of restaurants that will tempt any palate. It is an activity center that brings people together to enjoy year-round events. The Pleasanton Downtown Association works to support that vitality.”

If you’d like to support the Downtown area but don’t have a business there, the PDA offers an Associate Member program that allows businesses located outside downtown to join the group. Associate Members are entitled to a number of benefits, including the opportunity to promote their businesses with a booth at the 1st Wednesday Street Parties. For information on becoming an Associate Member or to learn more about Downtown Pleasanton, visit the Pleasanton Downtown Association’s web site at www.pleasantondowntown.net or call the PDA office at (925) 484-2199.

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