HAYWARD — Frank Goulart, outfitted in his semiofficial tour guide's hat, stood at the corner of B and Main streets on Wednesday and held up a plastic-coated historic photo of the Bank of Hayward to compare with the US Bank that now occupies the lot.
A cursory glance wouldn't peg them as the same building: Fanciful features have been shaved off, the design streamlined as the building was contemporized or victimized, depending on the view of the beholder.
But the two are one. And that's something that Goulart likes to illuminate during his guided downtown history walks that he hosts each summer, the first of which for this year will be held Saturday morning.
"The idea is to let people see what used to be," he said. "I like being able to get to the spot and let people take a look for themselves."
Saturday's tour will highlight the early Portuguese population of Hayward and the IDES Hall.
They came with the Gold Rush, said Goulart, but not for the gold. The skilled Old World farmers found Hayward-area land ripe for harvest, and the fruits and vegetables of their labors were eagerly devoured by miners and others in San Francisco, not far away by water.
"San Francisco was all sand dunes — not a place to grow food," Goulart said. "They found that tidal currents would float ships from the Hayward shore to San Francisco in a couple of hours."
That's the kind of information that the local historian offers on his
"The trick is to get people involved," he said. "I've been in Hayward for 55 years, and I don't know all the answers. And every time I give a tour, I learn something new."
For example, he was giving a tour on the sites of former hotels when a man in his group began speaking with authority.
"He said he was the great-great-grandson of Robert E. Lee," Goulart said. "He started raising holy hell about how California gold sunk the Confederacy."
The tour costs $5 for adults, $3 for students and seniors, and is free for historical society members.
Meet at the Hayward Area Historical Society Museum, 22701 Main St., at 10 a.m. The tour lasts about 90 minutes.
The next walk will be on July 24 and cover B Street businesses, and the last will be on Aug. 28, addressing the matter of a large sag pond that once covered the downtown core — and the indigenous grave sites that were dug into the soft surrounding ground.
"We'll be going to the sites where human remains were found," Goulart said. "I think it will be an interesting walk."
For more information about the history walks, call the Hayward Area Historical Society at 510-581-0223.