May 22, 2010 19:10 pm · 51 comments

In the world of historical pictures, these are considered gems!

These photo, which were taken in 1961, show Downtown Walnut Creek from the Simon parking lot.

Click on the photos to see the larger sizes. When you enlarge ‘em, you’ll be able to see Capwells and Texaco in the background of the bottom picture!

Great photos, thanks to “Marty” for sending them in!

If anybody else has any historical photos they’d like to share of anything around CLAYCORD, please email them to me at

1 Anonymous May 22, 2010 at 7:21 PM

I remember Simon, I loved that store.

2 MO May 22, 2010 at 7:32 PM

Love the photos.
I grew up in Concord, but after I lived in Alameda and San Francisco and then back to the East Bay and shared an apartment with my Grandparents. We lived in Walnut Creek on Mt Pisgah Rd. That was 1961. I had a 4 mo old baby and a puke green VW Bug. I didn’t live there long, when we moved back to Concord and my Grandparents and I lived next door to each other on Park St (I believe)..nice apartments that would be where part of the Concord Hospital (whatever it’s name is now) is.
I don’t have any photos, but–I bet my Mother’s photo album does. If I wasn’t 2400 miles from it, I’d look.
I shopped in SIMON’s all the time. My other fav shopping spots were, Goldman’s and the store that sold Lanz brand. I went in there and looked at the clothes and then went home and sewed them.
Thanks for posting these. The cars are amazing.
I had to trade that VW Bug in for a Nash Rambler, because in ’62 I had twin boys.
Roooooom became an issue. And I praised God for scientists who invented birth control pills–Dr. Chan told me it might be 3 the next time. OH NO.-MO

3 madmom May 22, 2010 at 7:41 PM

Oh the memories. I loved to shop with my parents at Simon’s. Christmas was my favorite with all the ornament bins. I also remember Goldman’s. I used to sing and dance for the ladies while my mom shopped. Good times.

4 Anonymous May 22, 2010 at 7:46 PM

Hey, that’s my stolen car!

5 Phred May 22, 2010 at 7:46 PM

“Thanks For The Memories”.

6 Andrea May 22, 2010 at 8:28 PM

Ha! I remember Simons.

7 Anonymous May 22, 2010 at 8:53 PM

cleanliness and innocence…2 words that come to mind.

8 =) May 22, 2010 at 9:04 PM

I love these photos! And I love the bright light perspective it brings to

9 spring chicken May 22, 2010 at 9:28 PM

ughh….you want to clue the young folk as to where the heck this is now? is this where Target is? or i this YVR ?

10 Mr. Mayor May 22, 2010 at 9:29 PM

I don’t really remember, I just know it’s downtown, I believe off North California. I can barely remember it myself.

11 Anonymous May 22, 2010 at 9:42 PM

Believe it would have been in the 1200 block of S. California on East side of the street, cross of Botelho Dr. (think it is the street in second picture.)

12 Marty May 22, 2010 at 10:13 PM

I believe that Simons was located on the block between Olympic and Mt. Diablo, and S. California and Locust. I think that this picture is taken from what is now the Citibank Bldg. next to Century Theaters.

13 jtkatec May 22, 2010 at 10:13 PM

Dang, look at those cars!!! What I wouldn’t give…..

14 travel by train May 22, 2010 at 10:25 PM

As I recall, Simon’s was on the east side of South California Blvd, between Olympic and Botelho Dr. I believe the top picture was taken from near the Olympic Blvd. parking area entrance, looking to the south toward Kaiser. South California Blvd would be to the right but out of the picture.

Perhaps someone else can help “pinpoint” the location of the bottom picture. It does look like it might be Botelho Dr. as “9:42″ indicates. Anyone a bit more familiar with the two businesses across the street ???? The one sign appears to say Casual Corner and the tall colorful sign looks like Sids. Gosh – those pictures are almost 50 years ago. Yikes !!

15 Anonymous May 22, 2010 at 10:31 PM

Wow, check out the Casual Corner in the 2nd pictures.

16 MISTERWRITER May 22, 2010 at 10:33 PM

And the best part – no carjackings, armed robberies or cross-dressing bandits to worry about! No trash everywhere. People were expected to behave in stores…. gosh now I feel depressed. Thanks Mayor!

17 Lilly White May 22, 2010 at 10:57 PM

I remember those days and lived on Walnut Blvd. Rode my bicycle around there. Simon’s had a sporting goods department with a stuffed Kodiak bear standing on its hind legs roaring; it looked 20 feet tall to a kid.
I’m think Sid’s was a bar and my Grandma had a T-Bird like the roof of the one in the picture. I would love to have any of those cars now but they were modern then. It seems that woman’s hair styles and clothes have gone back to that time, weird even then but that’s what was good about it.

18 Marty May 22, 2010 at 11:08 PM

Somebody on facebook posted the Coming Soon flyer that has a map of its location, but it is unclear,

19 Anonymous May 22, 2010 at 11:17 PM

Simon’s sat on the lot between Main and Locust, Boetelho and Olympic – currently where Plaza Escuela is located. The Container Store sits on the old Simon’s parking lot.

20 Really Old Geezer May 22, 2010 at 11:35 PM

On the south side of the Simon Hardware building there was a PayLess Shoe Store.

On the other side of Bothelo was the “South Main” Co-Op Grocery Store.

Where Fresh-Choice is was the Co-Op Gas Station and Garage.

Simon Hardware was where the AAA and Cheesecake Factory are now. It took up that whole block from South Main to California.

It would be across the street from Citibank (Citibank is on Olympic, north side, Simon Hardware would be on the south side).

SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–May 28, 1998–Western Investment Real Estate Trust (ASE:WIR) entered into an agreement with Plaza Escuela LLC for the redevelopment of the Simon Hardware site in Walnut Creek, Calif., across the street from the Broadway Plaza Shopping Center.

The site will be redeveloped into a shopping center of approximately 99,000 square feet, with multiple anchor tenants and a variety of shops and restaurants. The lead anchor will be Andronico’s, a high-end specialty grocery-store chain, that will occupy 41,000 square feet. Plans call for construction to commence in the spring of 1999, with completion slated for the fall of that year.

21 brian prindle May 23, 2010 at 1:49 AM

The last comment is correct. It is about where the container store is. Shoeland which was attached to the Simons building is about where one picture was taken. There is also a 2 level parking structure there. This is also very close to where the Century Theater now stands. I believe one building shown is now the Fresh Choice restaurant. The old Simons store had an extremely large parking lot by today’s standards for downtown Walnut Creek.

22 Anonymous May 23, 2010 at 2:12 AM

Really Old Geezer is right on the money as to the location of the pictures. Great Shots! Locust St. used to end at Olympic. Olympic and Locust was the freight entrance for Simon’s. That place was huge with a City of Shoes attached on the Bothelo side of the street.

23 Anonymous May 23, 2010 at 2:23 AM


24 Limeridger May 23, 2010 at 4:10 AM

ReallyOldGeezer is correct. I grew up in the Creek and although I wasn’t yet born in 61, I was here in 71 and went to Simon Hardware all the time with my grandfather. In addition to the Payless Shoe Store around the corner there also used to be Ralphs Grocery where Trader Joes is now that used to sell a delicious orange chedder cheese bread. Does anyone remember the small old Lesher theater as well. Those were the days, no or little crime to be worried about.

25 Anon May 23, 2010 at 4:59 AM

The south side of simons did have a shoe store however, it was not called payless it was The City of Shoes. I loved that place it was huge, at least it felt that way when I was a kid.

26 Anon May 23, 2010 at 8:16 AM

Well, at least Mt. Diablo hasn’t changed…

27 PsychoKat May 23, 2010 at 9:13 AM

LOVE looking at those classic cars!

28 Liz May 23, 2010 at 9:35 AM

What about Lipperts, the ice cream parlor on the corner of S Calif and Petticoat Lane?
Oh my god the dates we had there. The speciality, Mt. Diablo Extravaganza, was 17 scoops of different kinds of ice cream, with all the toppings coming in huge styrofoam cups on the side so you could decorate your individual bowls. Oh, good times. It was a whole nine dollars…..geez, we made ourselves sick for days…

29 Floyd Frank Wright May 23, 2010 at 9:50 AM

Simon Hardware Co. was as big as two football fields, fully air conditioned, sported a huge parking lot, and cutting edge exterior architecture. Each department was as big as a normal hardware store. It stocked over seven million different items and offered a lifetime guaranty on any products sold. OK, I made up that last sentence.

Simon was the anti-Ginty.

30 Anonymous May 23, 2010 at 11:24 AM

Here’s a little historical trivia. Before it was Simons, it was the location of the original Walnut Creek School, which went back to the 1800’s. Simon’s used to have the original school bell from the school displayed in front.

31 Anonymous May 23, 2010 at 11:40 AM

In that parking lot across from the second picture used to be the original Walnut Creek bowling alley. They had great cheeseburgers.

32 Back in the Day asked ... May 23, 2010 at 12:33 PM

Does anybody remember any really famous people that came out of or were born in Walnut Creek? None come to mind.

Does anybody remember “Zero Frozen Foods”?

The Ice-Rink near Ygnacio and Main was one of my favorite childhood memories of Walnut Creek; also: Larkey Park; The Junior Museum; Walnut Festival; Love’s(sp?) at Ygnacio & Civic; Gene Hagen Buick on Mt. Diablo; Walnut Creek Vacuum & Well Pump Supply on Mt. Diable; Ginty Supply; Berkeley Farms (now Marie Callendars); The El Rey Theatre on Main; Walnut Creek Library; Kaiser Hospital Pediatrics when it was a little converted residential home; Crusin’-the-Main; the Cowell Smokestack; “The Green Sheet”; Fred Kelleway Hardware on Main; Dean Lesher and his McMansion in Orinda; Old Tunnel Road; The Rossmoor globe; seatbelts didn’t come as standard equipment in the family station wagon; Emil Villas when it had good food, good service, and was family owned by a family; The Greyhound bus station at Main & Civic; no County Connection, only Greyhound; the Peace & Freedom Marches; The Walnut Orchard Strangler who buried over 100 bodies but none were ever found; Manning’s Cafeteria inside Capwell’s; Senior’s Junior Boot Shop; more …

33 Anonymous May 23, 2010 at 3:40 PM

#32. Markie Post, Night Court and Fall Guy, graduated from Las Lomas in 1968/

34 sum_random_nobody May 23, 2010 at 7:44 PM

Simon’s was great, as was mentioned before the Christmas selection there was unmatched I use to love it. They also had a store in Concord where Sports Authority is now, which also included a Shoeland there where Gutiar Center is. It’s my understanding they were owned by the same group. Simon’s was a big hardware store but you could still find the little things you needed.

35 Cruisin' the Creek May 23, 2010 at 8:24 PM

A time capsule was placed in the Simons Hardware parking lot, back in 1962 or 1963, I remember. A buddy and I rode our bikes over there to see what it was all about and when we got there everyone was putting in 45 rpm records and things and my buddy tossed in his sneaker. About ten year ago he called me and tole me they were going to remove the time capsule because I think Andronico’s was moving in there. Anyway, about a week prior to the City removing the time capsule, some vandals pried it out of the ground. Also, the Oakland Oaks baseball player and Pleasant Hill High School coach Lyle Palmer was born and raised in Walnut Creek.

36 Rem Mahniss May 23, 2010 at 9:07 PM

That’s right. The Concord Store was built by Simon as Simon Plaza. There was a Good Guys there once too. I don’t think it was ever a Pacific Stereo.

Changing the name of the Center is a way around the pinchy sign-ordinance that Concord has.

37 Anonymous May 23, 2010 at 10:07 PM

I bought an older house in Walnut Creek a few years before Simon’s closed. The house is typical 1950s vintage Walnut Creek and it had a fair amount of original equipment which was almost never standard. I discovered that if I went to the plumbing or electrical department at Simon’s and asked about getting a replacement for something, the guy would ask which neighborhood the house was in and he’d know exactly what size widget or doohickey I needed cause he knew what builders and suppliers were used for the different areas.

38 anon May 23, 2010 at 10:13 PM

Great photos! Amazing to see all of the great cars, great businesses that had great service ethic and the clean, clear blue sky.

39 DJmichaelV May 23, 2010 at 10:34 PM

Great stuff, we used to visit simon’s throughout the 60s, 70s, and in to the 80s. reminds me of our other favorite store Kellaway’s Hardware.

40 Anonymous May 24, 2010 at 12:02 AM

My grandfather owned that Texaco station in the background that’s when they would come out fill your tank, wash your window, check tire pressure and check your oil,I think they even used to wear a bow tie as part of the uniform. You can trust your car with the who wears the star the big red Texaco star, LOL

41 Joe Carpenter May 24, 2010 at 7:01 AM

The first commercial use of The Simon Plaza in Concord (that I can remember) was Diamond National Lumber a full-service real-deal contractors lumberyard. Later, they changed their name to Diamond International Lumber. They’re the only lumberyard I’ve ever seen that had a security guard, in uniform, check the lumber on your truck against the lumber on your due-bill. He caught a lot of mistakes, so after a while we figured out it was better to load the truck, have the guard make a list, then go in and pay for it, based on the guard’s list.

42 Clear Sky May 24, 2010 at 8:19 AM

I see the smog; that was the beginning of smog control and now when an old smog exempt car drives by I can smell the unburned gas.

43 Anonymous May 24, 2010 at 8:52 AM

Those were the good old days! Wish it was like that again.

44 Jeremy L May 24, 2010 at 10:58 AM

I’m 35 yrs old and clearly remember that area looking very much like it does in these pics (stayed that way through the mid 80’s). That was before Walnut Creek BECAME Broadway Plaza unfortunately. It used to have character, now is just 1 new strip mall after another, sad. Simons was an AWESOME store, and Capwells became Emporium-Capwells (my first job) and then Macy’s I think. My grandpa used to work at the Lucky’s store where Nordstrom is now. Those were the good ol days for sure. Sigh…..

45 Simons Blues May 24, 2010 at 11:27 AM

I found a couple of Blues songs that were recorded in the 1960s at a Co-Op Hootenanny in the South Main Co-Op Grocery Center (that was located behind the Casual Corner in the 2nd photo).
Saint James Infirmary Blues
Ode to an Olive

46 will May 24, 2010 at 11:34 AM

@ lilly white, i’ve got a 1963 t-bird, same body style…would you be interested?

47 I'm The Urban Spaceman May 24, 2010 at 12:39 PM

Ohh I remember pig-outs at Lipperts, 4 people to finish off a Mt. Diablo extravaganza(they used to make a bunch of noise and parade it around the room before ceremoniously serving you)after that stupid feat, topped it by finishing one in 25 minutes with three people.

48 Anonymous May 24, 2010 at 2:42 PM

Simon’s was on the south-east corner of California and Olympic, right?

I used to buy my eye glasses at Crest Optical on Olympic and I always turned left heading south on California at the Simon’s parking lot to get there. This was in the early 80’s.

It’s great to see what WC looked like in the year of my birth. Now I feel old.

Mt. Diablo hasn’t changed much in almost 50 years. :-)

49 Anonymous May 24, 2010 at 9:19 PM

The car in the foreground of the lower photo is not a Ford Thunderbird. It’s a 1961 Ford Galaxie sedan. You can tell it’s a sedan by the chrome triangles in the lower corners of the rear windows; a feature in the Town Victoria. All T-Birds were coupes that year. The photo itself is awesome!

50 romleys May 25, 2010 at 8:39 AM
51 Kristen May 25, 2010 at 11:16 PM

I believe Simon Hardware was located kitty corner of where Marie Callendars is. I think the Cheesecake now takes up most of what used to be Simon, as well as that block. Simon was a big place. I don’t think I got to go in it, but we’d always stare at it while we ate our Genova’s sandwiches in the car at the end of that parking lot. Walnut Creek is rapidly changing and a lot of old buildings have been demolished :(

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