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So Long, Newhall Hardware

Posted: February 12, 2008 7:20 p.m.
Updated: April 1, 2008 2:02 a.m.
 

This week the Santa Clarita Valley is losing a great treasure: Newhall Hardware.

For the uninitiated, going to Newhall Hardware meant stepping through a time warp. You walked into the wood-planked store to find old men in Levi’s tipped back on two chair legs, gossiping as they cracked open peanuts from a barrel, dropping the shells on the floor.

The frenzy of 21st-century life fled amid the shelves and buckets of hardware and the smell of metal and leather.

It felt like you’d stepped back into the Old West of the early 20th century. Kind of a combination of True Value and Knott’s Berry Farm.

Whatever the bolt, washer or hex driver you needed, you could be pretty sure this store had it.

Not only that, but employees could tell you how to accomplish the task you had in mind, along with mistakes to avoid in the process.

The place stood for 60 years on San Fernando Road (now Main Street) in downtown Newhall.

This week it’s liquidating its inventory.

Some folks say it’s hard economic times that brought the store down.

But it’s likely that routing traffic away from downtown Newhall and making it difficult to park there had something to do with it.

The city wants to turn downtown Newhall into an arts-and-entertainment venue, to make what is actually Newhall’s main street into an 1880s-style, pedestrian-friendly tourist draw.

The problem is that pedestrian-friendly apparently means car-unfriendly. And if you need a particular bolt or hex driver, it’s likely you plan to get to the store in your car, not on horseback.

Many civic leaders look to outrageously successful Old Town Pasadena when they plan to redevelop areas of their communities. But there were some big differences between Pasadena’s old downtown area and Newhall’s current one.

First, there were places to park around old downtown Pasadena. And second, the area was mostly hulking, empty buildings.

Downtown Newhall is a living, if eclectic and minority-friendly, business district.

It’s a shame we have to give up the truly old for the faux old.

Copyright: The Signal

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