Mary Grizzle’s personal story shows a balance of over 150 years of community history of Santa Clara, CA. Theย  early years of an immigrant family arriving in the 1950’s to Santa Clara and the impact our downtown had when the business district wasย  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.ย 

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 ๐๐ž๐š๐œ๐ž ๐‘๐จ๐ฌ๐ž, 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 ๐ƒ๐Ž๐–๐๐“๐Ž๐–๐.ย ย 

Peace Rose Santa Clara City Flower

Santa Clara CA City Flower

โ€œIf you remove City Hall from downtown, it will spell the death of all of the retailers and downtown Santa Clara itself,โ€ Santa Clara Mayor Anthony R. Toledo prophetically saidโ€ back in 1962. Unfortunately, it fell on deaf ears. It wasnโ€™t long after that the wrecking ball gave its final blows and what once was the heart of our city, was no more.ย 

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 Wilsonโ€™s Bakery. I was glad in a way I moved away to heal.ย ย 

1940 Santa Clara CA Downtown

1940’s Santa Clara CA Downtown

Fast forward to my return. I was busy working and raising grandchildren, taking care of my mother.ย  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 motherโ€™s memory and give to my great grandkids.ย ย 

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.ย  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.ย 

Mary Grizzle at Council Meeting 2018

Mary Grizzle Santa City Council Meeting 2018

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.ย 

Then why am I so sad?ย ย 

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 โ€œPeace Roseโ€ is at war amongst themselves, ๐€๐ ๐š๐ข๐ง.ย 

Peace Rose Santa Clara CA

Peace Rose Santa Clara CA

I will feel all of this through the night. But tomorrow, I will stand up and continue to fight to bring Santa Clara itโ€™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 ๐Ž๐๐‹๐˜ beacon of light unifying the city.

๐ƒ๐Ž๐–๐๐“๐Ž๐–๐ represents Hope – and if any city needs hope right now, itโ€™s Santa Clara.ย 

Written by Mary O. Grizzle -Santa Clara, CA

Santa Clara CA Parade on Franklin Street

Santa Clara CA Downtown Franklin St.

Santa Clara CA Downtown Movie Theatre

Santa Clara Downtown Movie Theatre



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Editorโ€™s Note:ย  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.ย ย 

Peace Rose Image Courtesyย 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 Photographerย 

Santa Clara Journal Newspaper articles Microfilm 1960 โ€“ 1970, Santa Clara City Central Park Library

Mercury Newspaper articles Microfilm, Martin Luther King Library, San Jose, CAย