The Macdonald Landmarks are a series of sculptural interpretive markers designed to share the history of Macdonald Avenue - Richmond’s "Main Street." The markers describe the Avenue’s many evolutions, including its important role as the heart of the city during WWII, when Richmond was home to the nation’s largest shipbuilding effort. They serve as the first permanent interpretation in downtown Richmond for Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park.
Marker #1 Transit Village Plaza on Macdonald Avenue
Generations from across the United States and the world have continued to arrive at Richmond’s doorstep seeking a new life. Waves of immigration from Mexico and Central America expanded the pre-war Latino population, while refugees from war in Southeast Asia built a vital community, enhancing Richmond’s dynamic cultural mix.
Marker #2 NW corner of Marina Way and Macdonald Avenue
In 1968, Richmond was shocked when its premiere furniture store, Travalini’s, was burned to the ground near here. The arson was fueled by larger tensions: Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, civil rights protests, and closer to home, the shooting of an African-American youth by Richmond police.
When Hilltop Mall opened four miles away in 1975, Macdonald Avenue was no longer the place to shop and gather; but community leaders and activists refused to let it die. By the turn of the 21st century new transit, housing and retail developments began making the street a destination once again.
Marker #3 NW corner of Harbour Way and Macdonald Avenue
For decades, Macdonald Avenue has been the vibrant heart of Richmond; a place where you’d catch the latest movie, get your first job or visit with neighbors on the sidewalk. However, not all were welcome downtown. African Americans felt more accepted in North Richmond and Mexican American Zoot-suiters endured slurs, while Japanese Americans were required to register as “enemy aliens” at the Post Office just one block away.
The flood of defense workers changed Richmond from a quiet town to a boiling city of more than 100,000. Despite conflicts, important issues brought old and new residents together during and after the war – walking picket lines and pushing to make Richmond one of the first cities in California to ban job discrimination once again.
Marker #4 NE corner of 11th Street and Macdonald Avenue
Can you hear the music floating across the street? Since 1923, the Winters Building has kept Richmond residents moving to the beat even as the city changed with the times. German immigrants Adolph and Elisabeth Winters built the handsome structure, installing a flower shop and music store on the ground floor. During World War II shipyard workers forgot their worries as they danced to big bands in the upstairs ballroom and tried to ignore that the building was also part of Richmond’s network of air raid shelters.
Marker #5 Macdonald Avenue and 12th Street
Music and nightlife have shaped Richmond’s soul since the city was founded. World War II migrants brought their varied tastes to Richmond, creating a rich musical stew. The Base Hit Bar and the It Club kept Macdonald Avenue jumping all night long. Rhythms of western swing packed local dance halls, and in North Richmond, Minnie Lue’s and Tappers Inn cooked up rich soul food and down home blues, drawing fans from throughout the Bay Area.