In 1977 Sonoma County was brimming over with development, social justice and environmental concern. Hewlett-Packard was moving in, women were holding down positions of power and lake beds were bare.

Locals were thrilled by the prospect of new jobs and new lives as tech giant Hewlett-Packard began developing property in northern Santa Rosa. A startup crew arrived here in the spring of 1972 to conduct interviews with job seekers and a number were hired. Offices were under construction in 1977.

After the second wave of feminism rolled across the country bringing reforms in equal pay and gender discrimination, Sonoma County saw more women in positions once held by men than ever before. Women were doctors, lawyers and politicians. Helen Rudee became our first female Sonoma County supervisor in 1976, leading the way for Helen Putnam who already made news as Petaluma’s first female mayor in 1966. It wasn’t until 1981 that Sandra Day O’Connor became the first female justice of the Supreme Court.

In 1977, California was engaged in one of the worst droughts in its history. Lake Mendocino plunged to historically low levels and county residents were putting bricks in their toilets and letting their lawns go brown to conserve water.

Click through our gallery of photos from 1977, see what other historic events transpired 40 years ago.

- NBBJ staff contributed to this report

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