Published May 20, 2014
Volume 22, Number 5


Hacienda History Featured in Museum Exhibit

Musuem on Main

By Zoe Francis


It's been 30 years since a vast swath of land that once was home to Ohlone Indians, Spanish settlers, hops fields, a dairy and marshland was developed into the expansive Hacienda.

The history of Hacienda and how it forever changed the Tri-Valley is the focus of a new exhibit, Thirty Years of Hacienda, at Pleasanton’s Museum on Main through July 13.

“We thought it would be a good time to look back and look at the effect the park has had on Pleasanton,” Ken MacLennan, museum curator, said. “It’s possibly the biggest thing to ever happen to the town. There are few things, apart from the coming of the railroad in the 1860s, that have really changed this place as much as the business park has.”

The true start of Hacienda dates back to the late 1970s when developer Joe Callahan had a vision to create a premier center. Ground was broken in 1982 with the first tenant, AT&T, opening in 1984.

“It was pretty clear that area was going to be developed eventually, but (Callahan) came in with a vision that gave a definite direction to the development of that area,” MacLennan said. “The actual shape the community took in the last 30 years really owes a lot to the way the park was developed and the fact of its existence as a single, coherent development.”

The land had many incarnations in its past, including being home to Ohlone Indians and a major portion of Rancho Santa Rita. A large family dairy and hops fields once dominated the land, but the area remained a tule marsh that frequently flooded.

The Spanish influence of the area led Callahan to choose the name Hacienda.

“The land was part of an original Spanish land grant,” Callahan explained. “I liked (the name) for its simplicity.”

The iconic white arches that mark the major entries to Hacienda were an ingenious marketing maneuver.

“You could easily characterize the area as the boondocks,” Callahan said of those early days of development. “The arches enabled visitors to find us.”

The park, developed by Callahan and Prudential Insurance, was marketed primarily to businesses in San Francisco, the Peninsula and Santa Clara County.

“Pleasanton had been growing, but it hadn’t quite finished that transition from a small agricultural town to something bigger,” MacLennan noted. “When they built Hacienda, this place was mostly housing and very few jobs. Hacienda actually turned that around to the point where they had to bring in more people to work there.”

The 1.37-square-mile park, billed as the largest of its kind on Northern California, now boasts 550 businesses with 17,000 employees and 1,550 homes with 4,000 residents.

It was not all smooth sailing, MacLennan noted. Some residents were not eager for such a big change. Lawsuits and referendums slowed the process, but ultimately, the city’s general plan was amended to accommodate Hacienda.

“If you’ve moved into town since the ‘80s, which about half of the population, Hacienda is something that’s always been there,” he said. “This exhibit will show how people used the land before the park, as well as showing how the park has shaped Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley area.”

Visit museumonmain.org for more details, including hours and location. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged. Visit hacienda.org for more information about Hacienda’s history.


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