Hill Valley, California, was the hometown of the McFly family, the Brown family, the Tannen family, as well as several thousands more families.

Early settlement

The town of Hill Valley was first settled in 1850 and was incorporated in 1865. By the 1880s, it was connected by railroad to San Francisco. Construction of a new county courthouse was well underway in 1885, the year a new clock was dedicated for the building. The Shonash Ravine Bridge was completed in the Summer of 1886, around the same time the ravine was renamed the Eastwood Ravine Bridge (or Clayton Ravine Bridge, depending upon which timeline one focuses upon).

Rise and fall of town square

The area around the courthouse was developed in the following seventy years and by the 1950s had become the downtown of Hill Valley. A grass-covered town square was built in front of the courthouse, while stores, theaters and cafés opened on the surrounding streets. On Saturday, November 12 1955, at 10:04 p.m. PST, lightning struck the courthouse's clock tower, freezing the clock at 10:04. The clock was never repaired and as it became a landmark of Hill Valley over the years, it was preserved in its non-functional state by the Hill Valley Preservation Society.

By a few decades later, Hill Valley was no longer a town but a city — as confirmed by the greeting sign of 1985. Many of the town square businesses had moved or closed down. The new businesses which replaced them included a second-hand shop and an adult book store. The courthouse fell into a state of disrepair, while at night at least one homeless person slept on the town square park benches. To accommodate the growing need for parking space, the grassy park outside of the courthouse was converted into a parking lot. What happened to everybody's home town is obviously the same thing. They built the mall out in the boonies, and killed all the business downtown, and everything changed.

Hill Valley Greeting Signs

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Hill Valley - A Nice Place To Live. The "WELCOME TO HILL VALLEY" greeting sign in 1955.

"WELCOME TO HILL VALLEY" greeting signs was present in 1955. The greeting sign bore the motto A Nice Place To Live, and had symbols representing the Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions clubs. In addition, the 1955 sign had the logos of the Hill Valley Chamber of Commerce, YMCA, United States Junior Chamber, Camp Fire, American Legion Auxilary, the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, Optimist International, and National FFA Organization while the 2015 sign had those of Crime Stoppers USA, 4-H and three other currently unidentified logos. The 1955 and 2015 greeting signs bore reminders of "PLEASE DRIVE CAREFULLY!" and "PLEASE FLY SAFELY / EJECTION SEATS SAVE LIVES" respectively, with the latter also displaying below the city's name the wording "GOLDIE WILSON jr. / MAYOR".

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Welome to the City of HILL VALLEY. The Hill Valley greeting sign at the intersection of Hill and Main in 1985 (on the far right). The name of Hill Valley's mayor, Goldie Wilson, is displayed below that of the city.

A greeting sign reading "Welcome to the City of HILL VALLEY" stood at the intersection of Hill and Main in 1985, which displayed below the city's name the wording "Goldie Wilson / MAYOR", but did not have the motto A Nice Place to Live nor any club or organization symbols.