Palm Drive becomes a grand pedestrian promenade.
|Take a stroll: For much of the 20th century, as this shot from the 1950s shows, The Alameda was a thoroughfare that splits what today is the heart of campus. Now Palm Drive too is a pedestrian-friendly promenade. Photo from SCU Archives
The stretch of road that once jogged between Mission Santa Clara de Asís and Sherman Street near the main entrance of campus is gone—the gray pavement and parked cars traded in for an elegant brick walkway better fitted to the University’s historic church. Construction of the new Palm Drive promenade was just finished as this magazine went to press, with completion on track for late September, in time to welcome back faculty and students for the fall quarter.
The new pedestrian mall highlights the Mission Church as the centerpiece of SCU. It also makes the heart of the campus more foot-friendly, a process that started decades ago. “It will not just look better, it will be safer for students and pedestrians,” says Joe Sugg, assistant vice president for operations at SCU.
Look both ways
Those who remember dodging cars on The Alameda before it was rerouted in 1989 will perhaps best understand that the conversion of Palm Drive into a brick-paved, tree-lined pathway has more than aesthetic benefits. As for The Alameda, what was once a four-lane highway is now a grassy plaza. But years of new building on campus meant that Palm Drive, while never the thoroughfare that The Alameda was, became a stretch of pavement increasingly shared by walkers and drivers.
Now, though, for students strolling between classes, the only vehicles they’ll have to worry about dodging at most times are bikes and skateboards.
The next phase of the project will convert the campus portion of Alviso Street into a similarly landscaped pedestrian mall. That will create a north-south promenade stretching from beyond O’Connor Hall past the Donohoe Alumni House. Construction takes place in summer 2014.
As in the past, visitors to SCU can enter through the main campus entrance on El Camino Real and park in the main garage to the left or in an available lot. Plus there’s a new parking garage on the north side of campus, at Franklin and Alviso streets, that adds 383 spaces. It should be open in mid-November.
In addition to the new parking structure, handicap-accessible parking spaces are being added around campus. And vehicles will still be able to navigate the new pedestrian mall for emergencies or ceremonies at the Mission.