About Corte Madera

Helpful Links | Corte Madera is sometimes referred to as The "Hidden Jewel of Marin County."  It's a perfect balance between rural and urban living. Wildlife preserves like Corte Madera Ecological Reserve, Shorebird Marsh and the Ring Mountain Preserve are minutes away from upscale shopping centers such as The Town Center and The Village. Corte Madera's feet are splashed by the San Francisco Bay tides in the east, and its back rests on Mount Tamalpais in the west. There are some of the most beautiful vistas in the western United States here. Highway 101 also bisects this town, which offers easy access to Sonoma and Napa wine country and San Francisco as well.

The residents, who are lucky enough to call this Marin countryside their home, take advantage of their good fortune. Hiking, biking, picnicking, kayaking, and boating are amongst the most popular activities, and the Mediterranean climate allows the people to enjoy the outdoors all year round. Along with the great weather, and thriving natural environment, Corte Madera is also home to some of the best schools and most coveted real estate in the county. The Larkspur-Corte Madera School District is a major advantage of living in the area and is nationally distinguished.

Along with the great weather, and thriving natural environment, Corte Madera is also home to some of the best schools and most coveted real estate in the county. The Larkspur-Corte Madera School District is a major advantage of living in the area and is nationally distinguished. Several different neighborhoods, each with their own distinctive personality, comprise this community. There are many architectural styles: contemporary, modern structures, older, ranch style homes, rustic cottages and charming Victorians. You can find homes perched on the hillside with magnificent bay views, or on hidden lagoons. Wherever you live in Corte Madera, you are sure to appreciate all it has to offer.



The long and intricate history of Corte Madera begins with the Coast Miwok. After Mexican expropriation and European exploration, an Irishman named John Reed was granted the land in 1834. He quickly took to the lumber industry and began logging the areas supply of Redwoods. This wood helped build parts of San Francisco and is where the town got its name. Corte Madera means "chop wood" in Spanish. Around 1875, the North Pacific Coast Railroad ran tracks through Corte Madera.

The first post office in Corte Madera opened in 1878, and closed in 1880.The Adams post office opened in 1902, and changed its name later that year to Corte Madera. The name Adams honored Jerry Adams, its first postmaster. In 1885, a New England lawyer, Frank Morrison Pixley, was guaranteed a title for 160 acres from Reed's daughter, Hilarita. (Pixley later practiced law in San Francisco, became involved in local politics and founded an esteemed magazine called The Argonaut, whose writers included Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce.) The Pixley family was credited with creating Corte Madera's first subdivision and with developing downtown. Population continued to grow (eventually exploding after construction of the Golden Gate Bridge was completed in 1937). The first business structure in Corte Madera was a hotel and tavern just south of the train station, built by Jerry Adams of Switzerland in 1898. The three-story building still exists today on First Street, between Corte Madera Avenue and Montecito Drive.

Across from the railroad station, a huge barn was built in 1898, and was used as a livery stable, handy for horses to haul goods from nearby mines and for local freight delivery from the trains. In 1906, it then operated as Buckley & Co. general store for the next 50 years. In 1905, Del Mahood came to Corte Madera to be the railroad agent and stationmaster. He was also a telegrapher and, along with his brother Foster, Del operated the local telephone agency, the post office and a sweets shop in their building next to the Episcopal Church. The Manhood's' building still stands, over a century later, on Redwood Avenue. Other buildings remain from that burgeoning era: the dramatic triangular-peaked Holy Innocents church built in 1901 at the northeastern corner of Old Corte Madera Square still stands, as does the Presbyterian Church built on the old road above the square around the same time.

Across from the Holy Innocents Episcopal Church, two stucco structures were built in the early 1900s. That property, featuring a creamery and an automobile repair shop. Most of the remaining buildings around the historical village square went up in the 1920s and 1930s. The square around the train station was the original center of Corte Madera, around which everything bloomed exponentially and literally. Established in 1916 and preserved by the Women's Club, Railroad Park is located in the northwest quadrant of the old train station square. It was renamed Menke Park in the early 1950s after the town leased the property from the railroad and took over maintenance of the land. Today Menke Park is a beautifully landscaped area with rose bushes and hydrangea, and the bright romanticism of Piccolo Pavilion's gazebo, bordered by a walkway and antique lamp posts with hanging baskets bursting with bouquets of red, purple, yellow and pink flowers.

Several homes constructed during that time pay tribute to the New England influenced architecture of the late 1880s, and can still be seen in the Old Square's surrounding neighborhoods. Through all of its evolutions, Corte Madera's Old Town Square diligently preserves its spirit with constant club and merchant support, and a few community festivals. The Fourth of July celebration joining Corte Madera and its "twin city", Larkspur draws thousands of spectators and residents from all over the Bay Area. The event includes a rollicking parade through Old Town as well as festivities and a picnic in the nearby Town Park.


Location | Climate | Weather

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.4 square miles of which 3.2 square miles of it is land and 1.2 square miles of it is water. Corte Madera is one of the richest towns in Marin.

Corte Madera extends from San Francisco Bay on the east side of Highway 101 to Mt. Tamalpais on the west. Corte Madera occupies an area of four square miles of land plus surrounding water tidelands. This small vital town located 12 miles north of San Francisco, is generally alight with sunshine that peeks through fog shrouded Mt. Tamalpais. It is within hiking, biking and driving distance of some of the most beautiful vistas in the western United States.

Experiencing a Mediterranean climate, Corte Madera's temperature ranges from an average low of 41 degrees, to a high of 83 degrees. The rainfall averages 49 inches per year. This temperate weather, and amazing location is perfect for outdoor recreation.


Corte Madera Schools

Corte Madera schools are part of the Larkspur - Corte Madera School District. This is a distinguished school district and is highly sought after. All schools in the districts have API's over 850, and all schools are ranked at a 9 or better on the statewide ranking system. Neil Cummins School is kindergarten through 4 grade, Hall Middle School serves grades 5 to 8, and The Cove School elementary school will open in the fall of 2014 to better educate this growing family friendly community.

The children of Corte Madera homeowners attend Redwood High School, which is nationally ranked and recognized as one of the premier schools in the nation with some of the State's highest test scores, rates of graduation and college acceptance. Click Helpful Links for more information.



Corte Madera has a major bus on Tamalpais Avenue and Highway 101. The ride to San Francisco is just 30 minutes. Corte Madera is located 12 miles from Lombard Street in San Francisco and estimated drive time is 20 minutes without commute traffic. Alternatively the Larkspur Ferry is 2 miles away and a 5 minute drive. The ferry ride is approximately 35 minutes. For schedule and fees please visit the Golden Gate Transit site for more details.


Things To Do

Corte Madera is home to two of Marin County's biggest and best shopping centers. The Town Center and The Village at Corte Madera, with anchors of Nordstrom and Macy's, a variety of boutiques and restaurants. The Corte Madera Certified Farmers' Market with California grown produce and local products occupies the central courtyard in the Town Center every Wednesday afternoon. Corte Madera has its share of outstanding California restaurants, Il Fornaio Authentic Italian Restaurant and Bakery, Pacific Catch, plus Marin Joe's, a Marin County institution for 50 years. Lodging for short and long term visitors is readily available at reasonable prices.


Parks & Recreation

Corte Madera reflects the easy, outdoor living long associated with a California lifestyle. It has a magical blend of contrasts, from its rural, sprawling hillsides and bay-views to its cosmopolitan, upscale homes and businesses. Situated at the intersection of Corte Madera Creek and San Francisco Bay, at the foot of Mt. Tamalpais, it is an active community that enjoys hiking, biking, kayaking, boating and fishing.

Rowers can be observed practicing every morning on Corte Madera Creek. Birdwatchers flock to the Corte Madera Ecological Reserve and Shorebird Marsh, a 31-acre wildlife habitat, which provides feeding and nesting areas for migrating meadowlarks, great egrets, snowy egrets, avocets and sandpipers. At the southeastern edge of Corte Madera lies the Ring Mountain Preserve, a significant area of designated open space overlooking the San Francisco Bay. All of these protected natural areas are examples of the town's commitment to preserving the area's wildlife and habitat.



In May's first two weekends are Marin Open Studios for local artist to open their studios to the public to show and sell their art. This is a free, self-guided art tour. July 4th is the annual Corte Madera-Larkspur Fourth of July Festival and Parade long Magnolia Avenue to Town Center. This is a hometown parade for Marin’s Twin Cities, and is regarded to be Marin’s finest. Additionally, a family friendly festival featuring arts, crafts, food and live entertainment is held in Corte Madera's Town Park.

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