Photos: Redwood City March 2003

I landed a temporary technical writing contract with Openwave, whose office was in the Pacific Shores office park of Redwood City, California. This office park was as far out into San Francisco Bay as you can be and still be in Redwood City. It's very flat, surrounded by salt ponds, and the office buildings there seem out of place. Even if you believe that aliens built the pyramids, you'll never come up with an explanation for Pacific Shores. It was unlike anything I'd ever seen before. So I took some photos.

I also read up on local salt history in Mark Kurlansky's book, Salt: A World History, which I recommend. It discusses San Francisco Bay salt in the chapters "Red Salt" and "Big Salt, Little Salt". I included some quotes below, but there's plenty more.

[Photo: Approaching the Pacific Shores Office Park] As you drive out along Seaport Boulevard out towards the tip of the peninsula, you see these buildings squatting there, rising up from the flats without context. They are reflected in the flat salt ponds.
[Photo: Openwave Office Building] I find the Pacific Shores office park to be rather horrible. I don't think it's the fault of the architects. The buildings are nice enough. It's not the fault of the architects that their buildings are stuck out in the middle of nowhere. There's a sense of unreality about the place. This is the Openwave office building. You can see it has two parts connected by a plus-15. One part of the building isn't used--it's sealed off. Openwave crowds into the the other part, short of cubicles, and writes off the empty part for tax purposes.
[Photo: Ditch Gate] The Pacific Shores office park is surrounded by tidal flats and salt ponds. It has no restaurants, no bookstores. It does have some lovely green ditches.

In his book Salt: A World History, Mark Kurlansky writes

...The southern end of San Francisco Bay is an insalubrious marshland with ideal conditions for saltmaking. Not only does it have more sun and less rainfall than San Francisco and the north bay, but it has wind to help with evaporation.

[Photo: Pacific Shores Empty Parking Lots] Pacific Shores office park is a flat place. It's surrounded by tidal flats and salt ponds: these are flat. Due to a poor business climate, it is surrounded by acres of empty parking lots. These are flat.
[Photo: Pacific Shores Office Park] What were they thinking? (Please pardon this stiched-together panorama.)
[Photo: View of the Tidal Flats] The tidal flats are pretty, and home to many birds. I don't want you to think that this area is without merit. It's pretty.
[Photo: Silos] This might be the favorite thing close to the Openwave office. There are some industrial silos. After the jarring unreality of the office buildings, it's comforting to see something that's had a chance to age.
[Photo: Pacific Shores Office Park in Perspective] Really, the best thing about the Pacific Shores office park is the industrial neighborhood you pass by to get there. When you see (just the tippy-top) of Pacific Shores over the top of a fence, it doesn't look so out-of-place. I was glad to explore the area.
[Photo: By the Salt Ponds] There are some salt ponds next to the Pacific Shores office park.

In his book Salt: A World History, Mark Kurlansky writes

...San Francisco Bay salt was considered of low quality... But in 1859, something happened that drove salt prices back up. In western Nevada near the California border, a three-and-a-half-mile stretch of the Sierra Nevada mountains was found to hold the richest vein of silver ever discovered in the United States... The silver ore was being separated by a technique similar to the sixteenth-century Mexican patio process, and it required mountains of salt.

[Photo: Rail-Car by Salt Pond] There's a miniature rail-way around the salt ponds. I can't tell if the rail-cars are rusty from disuse or from salt exposure.
[Photo: Salt Pond Barrier] The salt ponds are separated by a wall. It's made of dirt, held together with a layer of boards on each side. There's an occasional sluice gate.

In his book Salt: A World History, Mark Kurlansky writes

...After a few years of scraping, the area was running out of naturally evaporated salt, and the salt producers started building successive artificial ponds, pumping the water from one pond to the next by the power of windmills.

[Photo: Salt Pond Panorama] The salt ponds are very large. They are vast. Please pardon the poor quality of this stitched-together panorama.
[Photo: Marina] Further back towards the mainland, there's a marina. I saw buildings for the Sequoia Yacht Club and ?Spinnaker Sailing Rental?.
[Photo: Conveyor] The marina also had views of some fine industrial equipment, including this fine conveyor.
[Photo: Hazardous Waste] The marina is around back of a hazardous waste site with lots of large tanks.
[Photo: Hazardous Waste Tanks] It looks like some of the hazardous waste was brought here from other places.
[Photo: View of Another Office Park] From the marina, off in the mists, I caught glimpse of another out-of-place office park rising up out of the flats. Are those the Oracle offices? They might be.
[Photo: Extra Tracks] Seaport Boulevard has a few interesting industrial places. The metal scrapyard (or is it the gravel place?) uses a spur railline. There are often a few railcars sitting out by the road.
[Photo: Redwood City Rock City] This gravel yard had big heaps of gravel and some neat-looking conveyor belts (both covered and uncovered).
[Photo: Side Road] I didn't follow this little side road off of Seaport Boulevard, but it was pretty enough to take a photo.
[Photo: USGS Station] There's a USGS station in the area. Maybe they're trying to figure out how much poison is leaching into the bay.
[Photo: Buoys] The USGS station has many cool toys out in their yard. Check out these buoys!
[Photo: Circular Thingy] The USGS station toys are sometimes mysterious. What could this circular structure be?
[Photo: Dredges? Sleds?] I have no idea what the USGS could possibly use these structures for.


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