Sandals on a dock
BIRKENSTOCKS As if awaiting their feet’s return, a pair of sandals rests by a local lake.

Summer solstice is behind us. Summer is here. Time to get your Birks on! Swimming ponds, rivers, the Pacific, pools, playgrounds, campgrounds, summer vacations taken here and there—get on out there and enjoy summer. 

With perfect timing, Birkenstocks were introduced to the U.S. market in the summer of 1966 and reportedly sold through health stores. Originally taken up for healthy feet and emblematic of the hippie movement, Birks have been trending with techies. In each group, this “shoe” brand found success expressing environmentally friendly, casually comfortable, unconventional style.

Many say that nothing provides cool summer comfort for their feet like a well-worn pair of Birkenstocks. Just ignore the first week’s painful experience of breaking them in. Then, enjoy.

Fun facts: Birkenstocks date back to 1774 in Langen-Bergheim, Germany, where Johann Adam Birkenstock was a “subject and cobbler.” Around the late 1800s, family members developed the flexible-contoured footbed that provided arch support. Physicians and podiatrists were endorsing Carl Birkenstock’s footbed by the 1930s.

Birkenstock USA had been based in Marin since 1971. Its former U.S. headquarters can be seen on the west side of Highway 101 in Novato. John Savage Bolles designed the unconventionally styled, mid-century modern building with white pyramid roofs, triangular-eyebrow overhangs and concrete walls in 1962. It was originally built for McGraw Hill Publishing as a warehouse and distribution center. 

Birkenstock became the building’s tenant from 1992 to 2008. The company partially moved back to the site in 2014, but permanently vacated in 2020. The building now reportedly sits vacant.

Back to Sandals

Two thousand years ago sandals were also in style. Wisdom from those days remains in style in some places, and in some places not. With no fewer troubles on the horizon, it’s worth remembering simple advice from those sandal-wearing times in treating everyone as we treat ourselves this summer. 

A special thank you to firefighters who labored through the night to contain the recent Point Fire with minimum property losses in beautiful Dry Creek Valley.

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