Mary Grizzle’s personal story shows a balance of over 150 years of community history of Santa Clara, CA. The early years of an immigrant family arriving in the 1950’s to Santa Clara and the impact our downtown had when the business district was destroyed in the 1960’s because of urban renewal. There are multiple news articles showing how Mary spoke to the City Council in the 1960s against these disastrous town events to save the town. Mary Grizzle is actively working today reclaiming our downtown Santa Clara and in the community with five generations of family stories of her own mother, her children, grandchildren, and her great grandchildren. She recently has been honored for her activism and community work from the city. Thank you Mary Grizzle for sharing this personal story and focus for community unity of the people.
TEARS FOR MY CITY Santa Clara, CA By Mary Grizzle
June 19, 1962, the Santa Clara City Council voted unanimously to have the most beautiful of all the flowers, the 𝐏𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐞 𝐑𝐨𝐬𝐞, dedicated as the official City Flower. Yet, why the Peace Rose, when the city was waging war and devastation upon its citizens in the form of bulldozing 25 acres known as the city’s 𝐃𝐎𝐖𝐍𝐓𝐎𝐖𝐍.
“If you remove City Hall from downtown, it will spell the death of all of the retailers and downtown Santa Clara itself,” Santa Clara Mayor Anthony R. Toledo prophetically said” back in 1962. Unfortunately, it fell on deaf ears. It wasn’t long after that the wrecking ball gave its final blows and what once was the heart of our city, was no more.
I cried many tears for all those people that lost their beautiful old homes, tears for old friends who owned and ran their little shops, tears for the loss of the fun times at the theater, the bowling alley, candy store and of course Wilson’s Bakery. I was glad in a way I moved away to heal.
Fast forward to my return. I was busy working and raising grandchildren, taking care of my mother. When I finally retired, and my grandchildren were grown, I purposely stayed away from the politics of the city. My mother passed away soon after and I was either going to wallow in misery or get involved with something I was passionate about. Something I could honor my mother’s memory and give to my great grandkids.
I joined Reclaiming Our Downtown, not because I thought it would be easy, but because I wanted one of the main unifiers of the city: It’s Downtown. I knew it would be a long, arduous road. But I knew that the memories of the bitter tears shed so long ago could be cleansed with a new downtown and leave a beautiful legacy to my beautiful mother and my great grandkids.
Yes, the Downtown Precise Plan, the Form-Based code and the EIR are in the final stages. A study on moving City Hall back to the downtown is underway and, if our statistics are correct, city hall will grace the downtown once again.
Then why am I so sad?
I have spent the day on and off shedding tears for my city. Tears of great sadness for a city which lost its way. The most beautiful city in all of Northern California. My city whose flower is the “Peace Rose” is at war amongst themselves, 𝐀𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐧.
I will feel all of this through the night. But tomorrow, I will stand up and continue to fight to bring Santa Clara it’s Downtown. I will do it for me and the thousands of Santa Clarans who put their faith in Reclaiming Our Downtown to get it done. After watching the ugliness of this week,
I am more convinced than ever that the return of the Downtown is the 𝐎𝐍𝐋𝐘 beacon of light unifying the city.
𝐃𝐎𝐖𝐍𝐓𝐎𝐖𝐍 represents Hope – and if any city needs hope right now, it’s Santa Clara.
Written by Mary O. Grizzle -Santa Clara, CA
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Editor’s Note: Thank you to the following articles and pictures and are used with permission from Donna West. Please contact for permission to use. Comments are welcome..
Images are courtesy of Bob Emerson, Rod Dunham, and over 4,000 contributing group members of Reclaiming Our Downtown Facebook group.
Peace Rose Image Courtesy of diyah-purnama-sari-z1Rxrjw24Us-unsplash
Peace Rose Image Courtesy of: trish-h-c-4n1Z3a1Z3pY-unsplash.jpg
Santa Clara City Council Meeting 2018 Mary Grizzle Courtesy of Malcolm High Community Video and Photographer
Santa Clara Journal Newspaper articles Microfilm 1960 – 1970, Santa Clara City Central Park Library
Mercury Newspaper articles Microfilm, Martin Luther King Library, San Jose, CA
There is a third side, a positive side we embrace.
The article by Mary Grizzle resonates with so many! Although I was not in this area during the time the beautiful downtown existed. The decision to demolish. such an iconic and beautiful downtown was devastating to the city of Santa Clara. Furthermore, it’s very embarrassing when people ask where is your downtown?
my answer, although Google maps shows Santa Clara downtown; we don’t have one.
Thank you Betty for sharing. It is still hard to understand why this part of Santa Clara was kept secret.
I moved away in 1961, but Santa Clara will always be my hometown. I was born in San Jose hospital, and was taken home from the hospital to a little red house on the Lester and Lester ranch.
We went on to live on two other pear ranches, one in Milpitas and the other on Kifer Rd. Santa clara. We moved to town in 1949. What a happy girl I was. I aquired friend and enjoyed myself. We to Santa Clara intermediate and then to good ole Santa Clara high and the panthers. Graduated in 1954. The best time i ever had was in Santa Clara.I had married and had two little girls 1957 and 1960. Then off I went to Navy life. When I found out about the destruction of our town and the destruction of our fruit trees. I think destroying food and the best so anywhere is worth being upset. I cried a few tears. Sorry I wasn’t there to help in some way. Y’all that’s my town too.
Thank you Marion for sharing your story and the emotions that you experienced with this