Pioneering Patterns of Growth
Journey to Work
Changes in transportation helped San Mateo County develop as a premiere suburban area of the West.
T ransportation shaped the development of the Peninsula. Early development started around the stage stops of the stage lines and the train stations near the large estates of the railroad commuters. In the 1900s, suburban growth occurred near streetcar stops and along new roads built for automobiles. Local transportation made San Mateo County into one of the premier suburban areas of the West coast.
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Stagecoach Lays the Foundation
After the discovery of gold in 1848, stage lines were organized to connect San Francisco with other emerging cities. Long, difficult journeys prevented people from daily commuting by stagecoach. However, stagecoach lines and mile houses provided the foundation for future development.
Railroad for First Commuters
The completion of the San Francisco to San Jose Rail Road in 1864 created a commuter culture in San Mateo County. By train, the trip from San Francisco to San Jose took less than 2 1/2 hours. Due to the cost of the trip, only the elite could work in the City and live on the Peninsula.
Streetcar Provides Rails for All
With the mechanization and expansion of streetcar companies, the middle classes could start commuting between the Peninsula and San Francisco. Compared to the railroad, the streetcar had more stops, lower fares and an extended schedule. By 1903, the streetcar reached San Mateo where it terminated.
Automobiles Expand the Commute
After 1912, growth in San Mateo County was shaped by the automobile. New roads were built across the county and along the Coast. Highways and freeways opened the county to suburban development and a commuter culture based on the automobile.
Public Transportation Provides Options
History Museum Quiz
Take our quiz and test your knowledge on Journey to Work.
When stagecoach service started in 1849, how much did it cost to travel from San Francisco to San Jose?
Due to a lack of competition and equipment, the first stagecoach service from San Francisco to San Jose cost $32 or 2 ounces of gold. The average American worker was earning $1 a day.
What made it difficult to complete the construction of the San Francisco and San Jose Rail Road in the early 1860s?
The Civil War (1861-1865) led to a shortage of steel and labor, making it difficult to build a railroad.
In 1870, what time did the first train from the Peninsula arrive in San Francisco?
The first train arrived in San Francisco at 9 a.m. The last train left San Francisco at 4:40 p.m.
In the early 1900s, people rode the streetcar to:
The streetcar was used for commuting and shopping. There were special funeral cars to bring people from San Francisco to the Colma cemeteries.
In 1912, the first paved section of the California Highway system was in:
In 1912, state funding was for roads in unincorporated areas. At the time, San Bruno was unincorporated.