Passers-by at the corner of Palm and Main streets in downtown Ventura would be hard-pressed today to visualize the area’s distinct past.
But the barren slab of concrete and asphalt has housed a combination of uses over the past 200-plus years — from early Spanish mission grounds to a bowling alley and hamburger shack — that arguably would not be found anywhere else in the world, local historians say.
Researchers this week are crisscrossing the parking lot using ground-penetrating radar in search of anomalies below the asphalt that could be artifacts or building foundations from years past. Archaeologists will return to excavate by hand those areas believed to contain artifacts.
It’s not a matter of if they will find anything, but how much, said lead archaeologist John Foster, who has led digging expeditions around Ventura for three decades. Anything unearthed will be recorded and documented and ultimately donated to the Museum of Ventura County.