FAIRFIELD — Fairfield’s history can be found in many of its streets names.
True, many areas of town have more general names, such as the streets named after states, birds, golf courses and presidents. But there are some street names that have special meaning unique to Fairfield.
Here are a few of those street names and the history behind them:
Waterman Boulevard: This name honors the man to whom Fairfield owes its existence. Capt. Robert Waterman founded the city.
Waterman was a New York native who gained fame as a clipper ship captain, at one point sailing the Sea Witch from Hong Kong to New York in a record 74 days. Waterman has a mixed reputation, having been charged and acquitted with mistreating crew members, but he unquestionably helped shape Solano County in a big way.
By the 1850s, Waterman had come to Solano County and was determined to establish an important city on his land holdings and those of his late partner. He tried and failed to found an area shipping hub, getting beat out by Suisun City. He then founded Fairfield and offered land to Solano County for the county buildings.
Solano County voters decided in 1858 to move the county seat from Benicia to Fairfield. That gave Fairfield a reason to exist and assured the city’s future.
Waterman finally got a Fairfield street named after him in 1974, when Fairfield decided that portions of rural Mankas Corner Road that it annexed and a short portion of Air Base Parkway would bear the name of the city’s founder.
Ten Gate Road: This residential road in northern Fairfield has a Waterman connection. Waterman had his Ten Gates Ranch here, local historian Leslie Batson said, noting that Fairfield dropped the ‘s’ in “Gates” for the street name. The former Waterman home is at the end of the street.
Great Jones Street: This residential street near downtown Fairfield has yet another Waterman connection — maybe. The story goes that Waterman named the street after a former sweetheart, incurring the wrath of his wife Cordelia and prompting Waterman to name the town of Cordelia after her.
But Batson questions this version, which David Weir put in his 1957 book, “That Fabulous Captain Waterman.” The plat map for Fairfield showing local street names got filed with the county in 1857, after the town of Cordelia had already been named, Batson said.
Broadway: The mystery with Broadway isn’t the name itself, but why this particular street bears it. The street is indeed broad, being the widest in the original town of Fairfield. But it is a residential street, not a street with stores and commerce, as one might expect.
Batson said Broadway was to be the main street in the downtown area. Instead, the honor ended up going to Texas Street because the state highway took this route in the early 20th century.
Tabor Avenue: Tabor should properly be spelled as T.A.B.O.R., since it is an acronym. Fairfield bestowed the name in 1958 on a former county road known as Travis Air Base Old Road.
What is now called Air Base Parkway got built as a four-lane road to the base in the mid-1950s. That made Tabor obsolete as a main way to reach the base, but it became an important local road for Fairfield.
“After Air Base parkway opened, I remember driving it for the first time,” former Fairfield Mayor Gary Falati said recently. “It was a highlight.”
He also remembers driving on the old county road that became Tabor Avenue. He had sheep on property in the Cement Hill Road area near the base and made the drive each morning to feed them, Falati said.
Canova Lane: Then-City Councilman George Pettygrove in 1995 decided Fairfield should name more streets after prominent citizens to acknowledge their contributions. He suggested that Water Works Lane near southern Pennsylvania Avenue be rechristened Canova Lane to honor the late John Canova, who owned and operated the local Canova Moving & Storage for 49 years.
Pettygrove’s wish came to pass. The following year, the city renamed Water Works Lane as Canova Lane.
Gold Ridge subdivision street names: Pettygrove’s desire to honor prominent citizens went beyond Canova and he saw this come to pass, too. The Gold Ridge subdivision near Travis Air Force Base is now full of streets named after civic leaders.
There’s Falati Lane, named after Falati, who served as Fairfield mayor from 1977 to 1993. There are streets named after H.C. Sheldon, the city’ first mayor, and Josiah Wing, the city’s second mayor, to name only a few.
Cement Hill Road: The “cement hill” that gives Cement Hill Road its name is nearby, serving to separate Fairfield from Vacaville. It contains tufa that the Portland Cement Co. quarried for cement from 1902 until 1927. Portland Cement Co. also established a town of Cement for its workers, complete with a post office, hospital and hotel. All that remains now is some foundations and parts of old structures such as the rock crusher that can be seen in the hill rising above Fairfield’s Paradise Valley area.
Manuel Campos Parkway: Manuel Campos ran the Food Fair market on Texas Street, lived in the Goosen Mansion on Empire Street, got elected to the City Council in 1958 and sat on the council for 20 years — not consecutively — during four different decades. He served two two-year terms as mayor.
Photos of Campos after his 1958 council election victory show him in a suit with a bow tie and wearing thick-framed glasses. Acquaintances described him as a crusty but caring person. Former Fairfield City Manager B. Gale Wilson at Campos’s funeral told how Campos paid a substantial city tax on behalf of a poor family. Campos ordered Wilson to tell no one, not even the family, and pounded the table to make certain Wilson understood.
Campos died in 1995 at the age of 74. Fairfield in 1997 renamed its Foothill Parkway in his honor.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929, or [email protected]