The Downtown Report: Mid-June Edition

Discover Downtown on Foot

The many videos that spotlight downtown businesses give anyone who has not actually walked every downtown street some great insight into what they are missing.  A sign posted on Amerige next to Mo’s Fullerton Music directs anyone passing by to view the “SOCO Special” on YouTube.

By George…

We all know the story, or should. In 1887, George Fullerton, President of Pacific Land and Improvement, agreed to terms with Edward and George Amerige. The brothers offered free right of way through their land, so the fledgling town was included in the new Santa Fe Railway line. This was critical of course, as Fullerton thrived with the help of this very convenient mode of transportation for humans and Charles Chapman’s Valencia oranges. Back then, having a railroad close by generated great prosperity and growth for the entire area. Others would plant oranges, walnuts, and avocados.  A real estate office, Hotel, retail stores, and homes sprang up; there was soon a downtown Fullerton, and the boom was on.

“This looks like a great spot to start a town.”

Today, our Transportation Center includes the renovated, City-owned Spanish Colonial Revival depot that was built in 1930, and it serves Amtrak and Metrolink. The Pacific Surfliner service is one many of us have taken advantage of for fun day trips, and upwards of 130,000 passengers make use of the train services each year. Along with Orange County bus lines just across Santa Fe Avenue to the north, this is one of the busiest depots in all of Orange County. The 1923 vintage Union Pacific Depot was moved across Harbor in 1980 and of course now houses The Old Spaghetti Factory. They have limited in-house dining as well as to-go and delivery. Make mine Mizithra and browned butter, keep the bread coming.

The old Santa Fe Depot.

Railway Stair Replacement

If you drop by the Downtown Fullerton Train Station, AKA Santa Fe Depot, AKA Amtrak Depot, you will discover the only way to reach the other side of the tracks is via the elevator. OCTA is replacing the stairs to the pedestrian walkway over the tracks. I checked this out a few weeks ago just as the work began and one of the workers told me it would take two months, yet the sign posted says it will take until late 2021. Looks like they have most of the new steps on the north side completed already so who knows, maybe they will get it done a lot sooner. In the meantime, the ticket vending machines under the stairs are closed, so you will need to use the QR code to the right of the ticket vending machine outside the Amtrak office.

More Than Simply Surviving

While in the area, it was good to check in at The Bowery and Bourbon Street. Many have continued to ask us about the return of live music downtown. The owners (pictured below) were positive about the recovery and said it was very important that they had the outside dining during the pandemic so they were able to survive the downturn in business.  Having a lot of faithful regulars helped too. There won’t be an immediate return to live music, and it will not likely return outdoors but we look forward to seeing musicians on the indoor Bourbon Street stage. As to continuing to serve outdoors, like many downtown restaurant operators, they hope to continue to do so and are not sure what the City will require once the guidelines are met in order to allow “business as usual.” Many people really seem to have taken to outdoor dining. Some areas are not negatively impacted by the loss of a few parking spaces, and this lot seems to work very well for outdoor dining, with many families and organizations holding parties for their kids.

Larry Houser and John Skehan.

Frank Sinatra, AKA Mike Vicari, will be performing his live tribute show at the Fullerton Elks Lodge on Friday July 23 from 7 to 10pm. We will continue to check in with The Night Owl, Joes, Roscoes, Stubrik’s, The Back Alley and of course, the Museum Center and other locations to see when they will start regular booking again.

New Mountain Range?

No, it’s just the pulverized remains of the many concrete tilt up buildings that made up the massive Kimberly-Clark facility. The lone remaining structure is on the far left of the phone. Wonder why it has escaped demise, it must be nervous by now.

Building remains at former Kimberly-Clark site.

Photo Quiz

How many domes are in this photo (below)? Send your answer to Mike at