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1031 E. Hillsdale Blvd., Suite F
Foster City, CA 94404
phone 650.573.7600
fax 650.573.5201
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History of Foster City

With a vision of creating a new town, the family partnership of T. Jack Foster & Sons acquired the four square miles known as Brewer Island in 1960. This land had been reclaimed from the Bay some 100 years ago, when, under a reclamation district proceeding, levees were built in the mud flats adjacent to San Mateo and the enclosed area was permitted to dry. It was put into cultivation and was a vast hay field at the time of acquisition by the Fosters.

While the future government of the area was uncertain and no one knew if it might incorporate, annex to San Mateo or remain indefinitely in its unincorporated state, the Fosters named the area Foster City to express the new town design concept they envisioned for the development. A model of the early design is on display at the Community Center. The original concept has remained substantially unchanged: to develop a balanced community able to function physically, economically, and socially to meet the needs and desires of its residents.

The only access to the island from San Mateo was on 3rd Avenue—the approach to the old San Mateo/Hayward Bridge— where the toll station also stood. One of the first decisions was to construct a bridge at Hillsdale Boulevard, thereby providing the second point of access from San Mateo to Foster City. The third point of access came when the State built the 19th Avenue Freeway as the approach to the new San Mateo/Hayward Bridge. The new bridge eliminated the lift section over the deep water channel, and the toll plaza was moved to the east side of the Bay in this reconstruction. A section of the old bridge remains today as Werder Pier, a part of the county park system.

jackA massive construction operation was necessary to convert the land to a new city. Eighteen million cubic yards of fill were necessary to provide gradient for the storm water runoff and cover for the utility lines as well as support for the buildings. Two hundred and thirty acres of lagoons had to be created to collect the storm water and hold it for pumping into the Bay. Water was brought to Foster City through the City of San Mateo from the San Francisco water system at Crystal Springs Road. A complete sewage treatment plant was built with an outfall line carrying the treated effluent over a mile out into the Bay at the deepest part of the channel.

To pay these large front-end costs and to operate the city during the early years prior to incorporation or annexation, the State created the Estero Municipal Improvement District. Since there were no residents, the State gave the land owner the right to vote in this District, to authorize the bond issues and to elect the directors. This legislation provided for a turnover of control to the residents as they began occupying the city.

Enough of the land was prepared and utilities extended that construction of homes could commence in late 1963. By the spring of 1964, these homes were ready for occupancy and the first families started moving in.

T. Jack Foster died in 1968, convinced of the ultimate success of his great venture. His sons continued the development with large sales of land to other builders and developers. Finally, in 1970, they sold the remaining vacant land, both developed and undeveloped, to Centex West, Incorporated, a subsidiary of Centex Corporation of Dallas.

By 1971 there were more than 10,000 residents, and they voted to incorporate as a city. Since then, public facilities, commercial development, and new homes have continued to be built.

The first civic building—a Fire Station—was completed in 1969. In 1972, the City opened a new City Hall, Council Chambers, and Library. In 1974, the Recreation Center opened at Central Park—now known as Leo Ryan Park—on the shores of the lagoon. In 1976, the fourth and last of the bridges crossing the Foster City lagoon system was completed and it was named the Bicentennial Bridge. A Police Station located at 1030 East Hillsdale Boulevard was dedicated in March 1985. Construction of a Corporation Yard was completed in 1994.

In 2003, the Government Center Project was completed. The project consisted of the construction of a new City Hall/Fire Station building, the remodeling/expansion of the Police Station, the construction of a new, state-of-the-art Council Chambers building, and Civic Center Master Plan landscape and site improvements.

Today, 49 years after the Foster family first acquired and began building Foster City, redevelopment continues to ensure that Foster City remains one of the best examples of a successful planned community in the United States.


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