San Francisco Chronicle
January 23, 2006
There are few
among us who can honestly say our hometowns
didn't exist until we got there, but native
Fremonter Kathi Imholz-Mathys is one of
the daughter of Swiss immigrants, was born
50 years ago today on the same day
formed one city from the incorporation of
five separate communities.
She will be a
VIP guest at a cake-cutting ceremony at
Central Park this evening that is part of
the start to a yearlong celebration. She is
one of a handful of people identified by
searching birth records searches across East
Bay hospitals and by word of mouth. The
event starts at 6 p.m. and is open to the
"There was no
Fremont at that time, so I was born
in Redwood City, where my mother worked as
an au pair during the week," Imholz-Mathys
The story of
her immigrant family parallels the city's
history. Her parents settled in the township
of Centerville, and her father, Tom Imholz,
worked for the Cloverdale Creamery on
Boulevard and lived on the premises, said
his wife, Rosemarie. The place Imholz-Mathys
remembers as having the best ice cream
sundaes in town is now the site of
festivities will include historic tours of
the older sites in the former townships and
will be incorporated into the city's annual
Fourth of July Parade, the Festival of India
and Depot Days, said Irene Koehler,
chairperson of the
Symphony will also perform a Mother's Day
concert at the Smith Center at Ohlone
College, where they will play new music
commissioned for the city celebration, she
said. There will be celebrations for the
arts, historic tours and oral histories.
"It's a local
focus on celebrating the talents of our
community, a way to view our past, whether
it's history or sports or food, and exhibit
the community's vision for the future,"
Koehler said. The city celebration will end
in September with a two-day festival in
became a city of 22,000 residents from the
incorporation of five separate townships,
Irvington, Mission San Jose, Centerville,
Warm Springs and Niles.
Hospital was constructed two years later.
Central Park was completed in 1962, the same
year as the Hub, a shopping center that
became the virtual center of community life.
was a city of immigrants, a tradition that
has only accelerated since its inception.
from every state in the nation and 155
different countries call
home. There are 137 languages spoken in
and city officials proudly say the city of
about 210,000 people is one of the most
diverse of its size in the country. It is
the Bay Area's fourth largest city.
latest waves of residents are from East
India, Pakistan and much of the rest of
Asia, as well as the former Soviet Union and
a variety of Latin American nations. Local
media outlets descended on the city after
the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks because it is
home to the Bay Area's largest Afghan
In the late
1990s, the city experienced an economic boom
as tech firms looking to expand flooded in.
The city sits across the Dumbarton Bridge
from Palo Alto and the heart of Silicon
1,200 high-tech companies moved into the
city by 2000, and the city was projecting
the creation of 50,000 new jobs over the
next five years. Those plans included the
construction of an 840-acre campus for Cisco
Systems, which planned to locate 12,000
workers at the new site. The city once
reported that as many as 3,000 Taiwanese
businesses had located in
to accommodate the burgeoning computer
assembly and support industry.
recession that started in 2001 halted
Cisco's ambitious plan to build a new
campus. And sales tax revenues from computer
component-makers -- who sold their products
as finished goods -- lost ground to offshore
factories in China, Taiwan and Southeast
The city went
from feast to famine.
business-to-business sales, which had
accounted for about 40 percent of the city's
annual $110 general fund, collapsed. The
city cut 260 jobs, reduced revenue
projections by 20 percent, closed fire
stations and cut the public library system's
hours. To make matters worse, a $38 billion
state shortfall also shrank city coffers.
Maybe the ebb
and flow of cities' fortunes compel the
residents to come together as a community.
Celebration organizers say that's exactly
"The last 18
months of planning have strengthened this
community and built relationships between
different groups that didn't exist before,"
Koehler said. "In that way, we feel like
we've already succeeded in bringing people
"When it's all
said and done, and we've all had a good time
celebrating, we're going to be richer for
the experience and more invested in our
collective future," Koehler said.
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