Half Moon Bay History

If history intrigues you, then consider taking a pleasant stroll through downtown Half Moon Bay where you can find numerous historical points of interest. Below are a handful of historic locations you can expect to find in downtown Half Moon Bay. For a more complete and detailed list you may want to purchase a book on historic Half Moon Bay.

  • A house built by a dashing Mexican Don (Main Street)
    Pablo Vasques, son of a Mexican land grant recipient, built this redwood house in 1869. Over one hundred years ago, his fast horses, bullfights, and festive parties were the talk of the town.
  • Historic bridge over Pilarcitos Creek (north end of Main Street)
    Built in 1900, the Pilarcitos Creek Bridge was among the first steel-reinforced concrete bridges in the world – the very first in San Mateo County. The steel used for reinforcing was the used cables from the San Francisco Cable Car system.
  • The oldest building on Main Street (326 Main Street)
    Not only did Estanislao Zaballa build one of the earliest houses in the area (c1855), he was prominent in business and also mapped streets, blocks, and lots of the town.
  • The Bells of Half Moon Bay (corner of Main Street and Kelly Avenue)
    In the early years of the 20th century, school children responded to the toll of this original bell located at Mac Dutra Park. Firemen responded to another old bell now located at our new Fire Station at the south end of Main Street. (Neither bell is in its original location.)
  • A City Hall that looks like a bank (501 Main Street)
    Half Moon Bay City Hall, built in 1922, looks like a bank because it once was – first called Bank of Half Moon Bay, then Bank of Italy, and later Bank of America.  
  • Half Moon Bay jail (Johnston Street)
    Two cells and a small office remind us of simpler days on the Coastside during the first half of this century. The jail was built in 1919, and served law enforcement until 1969.


  • A church and railroad depot (corner of Johnston and Miramontes Streets)
    The Community United Methodist Church was built in 1872. Although not the first church built on the Coastside (that honor belongs to the first of a series of three Roman Catholic churches), it is the oldest one still standing.
  • The Johnston House (south end of Main Street)
    The stately home was among the first houses built by the Americans coming to the Coastside from the east. This beautifully restored house was first built (c1855) by James Johnston, one of four brothers who came to settle, do business, and help make Half Moon Bay a thriving early California town.