Like many cities whose heydays in bygone eras have been become victims of the caprices of changing times, Tracy has gone through its own growing-up pains. A lot of that is starkly evident in its downtown area.
Several of its historic structures that once contributed to a burgeoning economic era decades ago are empty but still standing proudly like a grand old lady reminding all of its glorious past. Tracy, of course, can’t claim to be the only one that has seen and gone through the economic ravages that left many cities across the United States fiscally scarred.
But despite all the economic scars evident throughout the Bean Town’s historic downtown, there remains a host of good reasons to leisurely pound the pavement and browse through the commercial nooks and crannies found in the heart of Tracy that, unfortunately, escape the visual attention of many travelers passing through the 205 Bypass freeway to get from the Bay area to destinations such as the foothills, Yosemite National Park Park, the Sierra and beyond.
While it’s sad to see many of the imposing old buildings empty and commercially mute in the historic downtown, in the same token, it’s emotionally uplifting to know that these have been preserved and have avoided – so far – the destructive blows of a wrecking ball that have dispatched many of their structural contemporaries, such as Manteca High School’s imposing and architecturally impressive tower, to the architectural graveyard. There are several of these architectural attractions around the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts, one of the lucky old structures that the city has rescued from visual and utilitarian demise, thanks to an infusion of redevelopment money approved by the city’s enlightened leaders.
Any pavement-pounding jaunt around a downtown like that in Tracy suffers no shortage of palate-pleasing experience. And this one is no exception. Hankering for Southeast Asian cuisine? There’s a Thai Café and several ethnic Chinese cuisines all over. There’s even a nostalgic diner just a few blocks from downtown along Eleventh Street which promises carhops, burgers and shakes in the tradition of Foster’s Freeze. It’s called “Johnny’s Diner and Creamery – 1950s fun.”
And if your heart is into the arts, downtown Tracy does not disappoint, thanks to the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts. Check out the center’s website – www.atthegrand.org – to check out the host of entertainment offerings throughout the year, from concert featuring giant and legendary performers like Willie Nelson, to the latest art display in the two galleries that are open to the public.
For the shoppers at heart, downtown has enough variety of shopping venues – from a thrift store whose revenues go to the non-profit McHenry House Family Shelter, to quaint shops that offer one-of-a-kind great finds at great prices.