Santa Cruz: The Walnut Avenue Stairs

The stairs along Walnut Street that go up to the top of Mission Hill at Towne Terrace.
The stairs along Walnut Avenue that go up to the top of Mission Hill at Towne Terrace.

This retaining wall and stairs are one of the distinctive features of Walnut Avenue. The Pratchner family lived at the top of these stairs and George Pratchner built the wall. His construction company was awarded a job in 1893 to grade this curve at Walnut Avenue, and build the retaining wall that remains today. He also built the original stair at the end of Cliff street on Beach Hill, and many other stone structures that still remain in Santa Cruz.

Everyone  wonders: who was Pratcher??
Everyone wonders: who was Pratcher??

From the landing, there is a nice view of downtown Santa Cruz. You can see the many redwood trees which were planted downtown more than 100 years ago. There is a particularly large one at the corner of Walnut and Rincon near the bottom of the hill.

View from the landing of the Walnut Avenue stairs.
View from the landing of the Walnut Street stairs.

At the bottom of the stairs and up the hill is Santa Cruz High School. There are a few stairways between the school buildings on the hill and the flats below, but they are now closed to the public.

Take the Self-Guided Mobile Tour

This piece is part of the Mission Hill Staircase Tour made possible by local history researcher Linda Rosewood. Download the free app with many tours of the Santa Cruz area and beyond.


Go to Mobile Ranger Guides in the Apple App Store
Go to Mobile Ranger Guides in the Google Play Store
  1. Sources Used

    • Work Starts on Newest of Apartments; Ground Broken for Mrs. Peter’s New Plant on Mission Hill,” Santa Cruz Sentinel, April 1, 1937.
    • New Peters Apartments are Formally Opened. Santa Cruz Sentinel, October 19, 1937.

About The Author

Linda Rosewood

Linda Rosewood loves to research Santa Cruz history and has lived in downtown Santa Cruz for over 30 years. She loves to walk everywhere; that way she can find the next interesting local landmark to research. She posts her discoveries at her blog, History Right Here.

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