Mountain View Voice

Opinion - October 2, 2009

If not Eiffel, why not a Castro Tower?

by Allen Price

Great cities often have landmarks at important intersections.  It is both an expression of the city spirit and a visual compass for its people. Washington, D.C, has them, Paris has them.  In Silicon Valley, we've been living in one-story "tilt-up land" for so long that we could be called flatlanders.

I've lived in Silicon Valley for 42 years and in Mountain View for 18, and often have wondered: Where is the "mountain" in Mountain View? And more importantly, where is the "view" in Mountain View?

I'm proposing we change that with a stunning landmark tower at the intersection of Castro Street and the Caltrain tracks and Central Expressway.  A tower with a platform to see the architecture of our city set against the Santa Cruz Mountains in one direction and the Bay and the Diablo Range beyond in the other direction.  Imagine the sunrises, sunsets, and the drama of night above Castro Street.  It could actually be romantic.

The accompanying photograph shows a concept of the tower, although it is not conceived as a design that could actually work. But in this concept the arches of the base would support a 360-degree viewing platform and tower structure. The arches also would be high enough to allow for regular and high-speed rail trains and any grade separations at the intersection.

The design should be elegant and classic, one that would be a visual joy forever.  It would be lighted at night much like the "necklace" of the Bay Bridge.  It could become a symbol for the valley and our city that could provide viewers with a "sense of place" that is now lacking.

In addition, I envision "people pods," sliding along the arches much like ski trams, that would whisk pedestrians between Castro Street to Moffett Boulevard. It would also lift patrons to the viewing platform. No more "death walks" or delays for pedestrians attempting to cross Central Expressway and the railroad tracks.

The pods would be large enough to accommodate strollers and bikes, and would conveniently link the neighborhoods around Central Expressway and Middlefield Road to the downtown. More downtown customers would mean a healthier downtown.

The operation of the pods should display world-class engineering that is the hallmark of our valley.  People should be awed by how simply and efficiently they work.  Its display of pods should say, "This is a city that knows how."  The surprising fact is, Mountain View has been on the world stage for some time and we really do know how.

By now you must be asking, "And just who would pay for this little jewel?"  I believe there is only one realistic answer — private funding, corporate and private.  Everything else appears to be pie in the sky.  With the energy in this town, this tower could really happen.  Our livelihoods have been built by the same creative drive that could light this tower up on a warm summer night.  See for yourself. Go down to that spot, look up in the sky ... and just imagine.

See the Web site: for more information.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Oct 3, 2009 at 3:12 am

Why not have the Globe that use to stand at Catro and El Camino, whwn i was child i always know we were going to downtown and people i know from the past always remember when they got to Mtn View. It was so cool.

Posted by Gazer, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 3, 2009 at 5:28 pm

Yeah, Mountain View needs a big giant iconic thing downtown. Seriously! It is kind of blah blah land down there right now. Big, unique landmarks create nostalgia and a feeling of familiarity. Kids especially love to see monuments and landmarks. I remember the first time I walked around a corner in Paris and spotted the top of the Eiffel Tower behind some buildings. Goosebumps moment! Which reminds me of Hangar One and how that gave me goosebumps the first time I came here and saw that famous landmark. I knew I was nowhere else on earth but Silicon Valley, land of innovation and futuristic thinking.

Posted by eric, a resident of another community
on Oct 4, 2009 at 12:07 am

Nobody needs edifices for their own sake. City Hall Plaza and Pioneer Park are extraordinary features for a downtown, and help create community.

As far as people-movers: one can bike, skate or walk MV virtually end to end without seeing a car via the Stevens Creek Trail-- get the blood pumping!

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