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The Source

John McLaren: The Man Who Planted Two Million Trees

Sep 25, 2019

Just about everyone knows that the largest park in San Francisco is Golden Gate Park. But can you name the second largest one? (The Presidio doesn’t count; that’s federal.) 

Named for John McLaren, San Francisco’s first Superintendent of Parks, McLaren Park is just over 300 acres, about a third the size of its larger and better-known sibling.  

The only ghost town in the Bay Area

May 2, 2018

Think of a ghost town, and San Francisco Bay is not likely to come to mind. Yet the remnants of such a place are currently sinking into the marshes near Fremont. Back in the 1920s, the settlement of Drawbridge boasted about 90 buildings, most having some connection to duck hunting.

Flickr user kate.gardiner


General Mariano Vallejo, the 19th century founder of Sonoma, had a lot of influence in the North Bay. He’s got a town named after him, of course, and he also had something to do with naming the neighboring county of Marin. KALW’s Steven Short tells us all about it in this episode of “The Source.”


Click the player above to listen to the complete interview.

This story originally aired in 2012. 

The Source: The dog days of Dogtown

Jun 8, 2017
"Dogtown" by CC Flickr user Brendan Landis, resized and recropped


Dogtown is a small unincorporated village in Marin County — the population is 32. KALW’s Steven Short tracks down the history of this tiny community and brings back the story behind the curious name of Dogtown.

   This story originally aired in 2010. 

Photo by CC Flickr user D Coetzee, resized and recropped


Ah, for the good old days, when you could buy a piece of Bay Area property for $1,000.



Marin County is noted for its open spaces, and also for some pretty pricey property. One of the towns there is considered by many to be so exclusive that it doesn’t even allow any businesses. That would be Belvedere.

The Source: How Jingletown got its name

Jan 7, 2016
"Oakland Riviera" by FLICKR user Fragmentary Evidence used under CC, resized and recropped


In our current era of electronic transfers, bank cards and direct deposit, it is easy to forget that people used to go home at the end of the week with a pay envelope filled with... money! In fact, the name of one Bay Area neighborhood is based upon that old practice. That neighborhood is Oakland's Jingletown.

California seems to be getting it from both sides. The state is in a serious drought at the same time coastal areas are studying ways to avoid being drowned. This is nothing new, according to Kay Norman of Orinda.

“Many millions of years ago Orinda used to be under a shallow sea,” she tells school groups at the Orinda Historical Society. The children are dazzled to hear that sea elephants might have been swimming by “right where [they] are sitting.”

Bolinas: a hidden town with history

Aug 5, 2014
Photo courtesy of the Bolinas Museum. /

Have you ever been to the little town of Bolinas, near Point Reyes National Seashore? Have you ever wanted to go, but couldn’t find the turn-off from the highway? Well, that’s not by accident. It has been said that if Bolinas had a welcome sign – which it doesn’t – it could read: “Welcome to Bolinas. Please Keep Moving.”  

Courtesy Sonoma County Library

You can’t talk transportation in the Bay Area without talking about bridges. Everybody knows the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge. And if you’re driving between the two, you travel on another bridge: an elevated and windy two-lane road through San Francisco's Presidio called Doyle Drive. That's changing this weekend, as the old Doyle Drive, built in 1937, continues the transformation into the Presidio Parkway.