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On-Ramp: 1963

On-Ramp: 1963

The southbound on-ramp to U.S. 101 in Corte Madera, California, in a Kodachrome slide I shot through the back window of our 1956 Rambler station wagon in January 1963. Corte Madera is the "twin city" of my home town, Idyllic™ Larkspur. Rising up in the distance is Marin County's iconic symbol, Mount Tamalpais. Closer and to the left, Corte Madera's "Christmas Tree Hill" is so-named from the practice, in days of yore, of homeowners banding together to illuminate their houses to produce an outline of a Christmas tree when viewed from the distance. To the right, Larkspur's Little and Big King Mountains. Yes, we call hills "mountains" in Marin County. Fortunately, they're protected from development by open-space regulations, and Mt. Tam by state park and Marin Municipal Water District ownership. View full size.

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Shorpy Mods

James, the moderation is probably a key to the longevity and success of There are many forums on the Web that I've enjoyed until they degenerated into a political or otherwise contentious morass.

I've had comments that were submitted but not posted, and that isn't something to stew over; one must respect the moderators and the decisions they make. They have a basis for what they do.

And I, for one, am interested in the Larkspur photos and history. It somehow reminds me of where I grew up. Like Larkspur, Naples, Florida, had changed much since the 1960s.

So please enjoy for what it is: One of the most interesting and best-moderated sites on the Web!

Just my two cents--



I am a new commenter to Shorpy and I don't imagine you will publish this comment because it is apparent that the comments are tightly moderated and I will be challenging accepted orthodoxy. But here goes. As of this time of writing (early afternoon on Sunday), it has been 24 hours since the last of many fine reflections on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK. Why was this stream cut off? So we could delve back into the childhood minutiae of tterrace in Larkspur? Really, what is more important on Shorpy: the collective response of its readership to a mythic event in the nation's history, or the distinction between a Chevron and a Standard gas station?

[I'm not sure what you mean by "cut off." People are still leaving comments for the Kennedy post. Which is separate from this post. Two entirely different streams, flowing hundreds of miles apart. - Dave]

Coming soon to a gas station near you

I guess Standard became Chevron.

[At this time in California, company-owned stations were branded as "Standard" and independently-owned stations as "Chevron." The station we used a couple miles away in Larkspur was Cliff Archer's Chevron, for example. -tterrace]

About the mountain

I got on Google Earth (as I often do to compare today's landscapes with those in the old photos) after I saw Vintagetvs' post. The reason for this was I am puzzled as to why the mountains (we call them hills in WV) appear to be much farther away in the current views than they do in tterrace's picture. I even moved in a little closer, keeping the tile-roofed building in view. Then I "drove" about a mile or two closer and still those hills look farther away. Did it have to do with the lens you used that day or is there another explanation? I gots to know, it's bugging me, man.

[Wide-angle lenses, such as those used in the Google street view cameras, produce extension distortion, making close objects appear larger and distant objects smaller in comparison to lenses of normal focal length, such as the one in the Kodak Retinette 1A I used for my shot. Telephoto lenses produce the opposite effect, compression distortion, often called foreshortening. -tterrace]

Home sweet home

Thanks for posting this wonderful image. I've lived in Corte Madera for the past 35 years or so, and it was much the same then as in 1963. But in the intervening years a lot has changed.

I can well remember when there were no stoplights between my house and Highway 101. Now there are four.

EDIT: I tried to match a Google street view but couldn't line it up exactly. But one thing does still remain: the Union 76 gas station is still on the same corner.


The car over at the left, along the frontage road, looks to be a c1955 Simca Aronde. You can vaguely make out the yellow 1956-63 license plate on the front. Black plates with yellow characters were issued in '63.

+ 50

The Motel with the Spanish Tile roof is still there as a Budget Inn.

[In those days it was called the Meadowsweet Motel. -tterrace]

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