I started this blog because I have collected so much information on the history of Oakland that I couldn’t wait to share. Posting in Facebook groups isn’t the best outlet for me. I love sharing what I know and reading what others share. But things get lost on Facebook.
So with the help of my dear friend Phil, I got started, and I was off and running. It should be easy, I say to myself, because, in my mind, I had already laid out actual pages and everything I wanted to say.
But it wasn’t.
I tend to get bogged down in the details. I worry about not getting my facts correct. It is hard for me to find a happy medium between too much and too little. So, this is a work in progress, so bear with me.
Down The Hole, I Go
But I have strayed from the topic of this post. Often when researching one thing, you find something else that has nothing to do with what you are looking for, but it piques your interest. That happens to me a lot.
You might know this as the “Internet rabbit hole” you see when you try to research one thing, and then accidentally go to Wikipedia, and then you are trying to find out what happened to Jimmy Hoffa? That is it in a nutshell.
One rabbit hole I get sucked into often is I will see a picture like this one and want to know more about it.
Is it still there?
Those two things can be very hard as sometimes the location is very vague and wrong. Sometimes the location is correct. When looking up the house, I am curious as to who the house was built for, were they famous or rich, maybe both?
I have compiled a lot of these pictures of newly built houses. I decided to create a map using Google Maps. The map I have created is “What was there or still is… Oakland, California”.
I have already added lots of the homes that I have found while down in the rabbit hole.
What was there or still is… Oakland California
Description of the Map
Some from long ago and long gone, but some are still there.
Based on clippings, newspapers, and photos. May not be accurate as address numbers have changed, and locations were often vague
Maroon – Still there
Black – Gone
Yellow – Landmark
Green – Berkeley
Purple – Piedmont
Red – Questions – researching
Here is a link to the map. Click on it to see. Please feel free to share it.
I still have lots of pages in the works; just have to get myself out of this hole.
I grew up in the Montclair District in Oakland. I went to Thornhill Elementary School and Montera Junior High and Skyline High School.
We lived on Capricorn Ave. My parents sold our home in 2001.
In 1983, my ex-husband and I were hired by the Montclair Presbyterian Church (where I went as a young child) as custodians. We moved into the house the church-owned next to the Sanctuary. It was at church I started to get the history bug. I found out that the church had celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 1980. I was amazed the church had been there so long.
In about 1985, I went on the Fernwood Walking Tour by the Oakland Heritage Alliance, and from that point on, I was on a mission to find out more about the history of Montclair and Oakland.
The schools were a single-story building with integrated gardens, and pavilion-like classrooms increased children’s access to the outdoors, fresh air, and sunlight. They were mostly built in areas away from city centers, sometimes in rural locations, to provide a space free from pollution and overcrowding.
New School House
Free education and fresh air has interested educators from as far away as Paris, France“
The first open-air school in Oakland was established at the Fruitvale School No. 2 (now Hawthorne School) on Tallent Street (now East 17th). When it opened, there were forty students enrolled, from grades third through seventh. Miss Lulu Beeler was selected as the teacher because she had prior experience working in an open-air school in the East.
The school designed to help cure ill and tubercular children. The focus was on improving physical health through the infusion of fresh air in the classrooms and into the children’s lungs. The school was established as a medical experiment. The school reserved for children judged to be of “weak” disposition.
The Fruitvale school is decidedly a health school”
It was constructed at the rear of the playground, one hundred feet from the existing main building.
The square, the wood-framed building was raised to prevent underfloor dampness.
Each of the sides had a different treatment to reflect the sun. The southern side had tall windows that, when open, didn’t seem to be enclosed. The east side was opened to the elements with only half of a wall. A screen protected them from insects. In case of storms awnings can be pulled down to protect the students.
The school was to be the first in a series of open-air schools installed on the grounds of Oakland’s existing city schools.
There was some objection in opening the school, from the parents of the selected children and the children themselves. The parents did not want their children singled out; the children worried they would be teased as being “sick.” These fears were realized, and the teachers struggled with how to deal with the repeated taunts
The idea of the open-air classroom was incorporated in many of the new schools built in the 1920s. I don’t know how long the Fruitvale Open Air school was open. I will update if I find more information.
The Fremont Tract opened in 1911. The tract is located at the intersection of MacArthur and High Street with frontage on MacArthur, High, Masterson, Quigley and Porter Streets. The Realty Syndicate handled the sales.
“The tract is near Mills College and commands a beautiful view of the hills.”
Every lot in the Fremont Tract was a full 35-front -foot lot. The prices ranged from $10 to $18 a front foot – the terms from $35 to $85 for the first payment. The balance paid at $5 or $10 per month.
“Natural beauty and delightful surroundings, combined with even temperature, make this a delightful spot to build a home and enjoy living every day in the year. Every lot is high and well-drained.“
The eastern side of Quigley Street is now the High Street freeway exit, and Redding Street is part of the freeway.
This photo was most likely taken from the hill behind the present-day Walgreens on High and Redding Streets.
3315 Vale Street
3333 Vale Street
St. Lawrence O’Toole
Location of Walgreens today
Freeway exit ramp
Macarthur Blvd and High Street
Kanning Street is now Masterson Street, and Franklin Avenue is now 39th Avenue, and Hopkins Street is now MacArthur Blvd.
3651 39th Avenue
3625 Patterson Avenue
3840 MacArthur Blvd
St. Lawrence O’Toole
St. Lawrence O’Toole Catholic Church at the corner of Porter and High Street opened in 1911, in time for Christmas Eve Mass. The church was dedicated on August 25, 1912.
In March of 1956, the Diocese of Oakland broke ground for a new church just three blocks up High Street. They held the first mass on Thanksgiving Day in 1957.
A bit of history of 2062 Mountain Blvd. According to the OHA, the building was constructed in 1946 for Klee’s and designed byFrederick Dyer-Bennet. An addition was made in 1951, designed by John Carl Warnecke. The building was divided and the facade changed c.1990.
I could only could find one photo of the Equinox.
Johnnie Lee Jackson was the chef in 1948-1949. Johnny Radell was chef in 1949
In 1951, the restaurant was purchased by A. J. Flagg and John S. Flagg, who already owned Pland’s Restaurant. A. J. spent considerable time and money remodeling the restaurant before opening it in March 1952. Joe Kiklas was manager, and famed maitre d’hotel, Jerome DeFelice was host.
In 1953, the restaurant was sold to Sanford Cohn. Sanford’s closed in 1972.
Oakland’s oldest flatiron building resides at the juncture of Peralta, Center, and 17th Streets in West Oakland. Built in 1879 for William Walsh, the two-story redwood structure initially housed the Center Junction Exchange Saloon with apartments above.
A native of Ireland, Mr. Walsh purchased the Peralta Street lot in 1877. Peralta Street was one of the main avenues to Berkeley.
By 1877 the saloon had evolved into the Junction Cash Grocery and Liquor Store. In 1894 Mr. Walsh partnered with Austin O’Brien. The firm of Walsh & O’Brien was described as:
“importers selling direct to families, groceries, wines, cigars, home furnishing goods, hay, feed, and grain.”
Mr. Walsh bought out O’Brien’s share of the company in 1901 and changed the name to Walsh & Co.
Most who grew up in the Montclair District of Oakland have fond memories of Mort’s Drive-in on the corner of Moraga and Medau. My memories of Mort’s are from when it was on Thornhill Drive next to the 7-11. The smell of french fries (the best!)wafting through the air and into our classrooms would make our mouths water. I can still remember how good they smelled and tasted. Yum!
Long before Mort’s opened at the corner of Moraga Avenue and Medau Place, the land was part of the Medau Dairy. (read about the Medau’s here).
FYI – I don’t know why McKeen’s was sold. I am thinking the owner’s political life was taking up a lot of his time. But that is just my opinion.
The Corner of Moraga and Medau – 6420 Moraga
Here is how the corner looked like in 1954.
McKeen’s Charcoal Broiler
On a shakedown run, they sold three hundred “Big Mac’s” in four hours.
“Big Mac” & “Little Mac”
In 1958 Robert “Bob” Mckeen, a local realtor, opened a delightful contemporary style barbecue restaurant. The ex-Cal basketball star planned on eventually having a chain of them, and Montclair was the first one. It offered both take home and on the site dining.
“Montclair claims Big Bob and his natty new spot.”
Morton “Mort” and Gertrude Saunders bought McKeen’s in 1961 and reopened it as Mort’s Drive-In.
In April of 1966, fire swept through Mort’s Drive-In, causing several thousand dollars in damage.
The building was broken into through a rear window. Police believe the intruders were disappointed in not finding any cash on the premises. Papers and rubbish were piled in the middle of the room and set on fire.
Mort Sauders, the owner, offered a reward of $100 for information.
Going, going gone!
Crown Liquors and Cleaners
In 1967 a new building replaced the Drive-In.. Crown has been there ever since.
A special thanks to Chris Treadway for the clippings from the Montclarion.
In the first 36 years, the school changed location five times and gone by eight different names.
A Bit of History
In January 1915, McClymonds High School started in a small building formerly occupied by Oakland Technical High School at 12th and Market with sixty students. Originally called the Vocational High School and was the first public school in California to offer vocational training.
J.W. McClymonds directly inspired the organization of the school, superintendent of the Oakland Schools between 1889-1913 (Oakland Tribune Mar 09, 1924), and the name was changed to McClymonds Vocational School.
In 1924 the school was moved to a new building at 26th and Myrtle, and its name was changed to J.W. McClymonds High School.
It became just plain McClymonds High in 1927. The building was condemned in 1933, and classes were moved to Durant School.
In 1936 McClymonds High School and Lowell Junior High School were merged to form a new high school on Lowell Site at 14th and Myrtle Streets. McClymonds High thereby became a four-year high school.
In 1938 the name changed from J.W. McClymonds to Lowell-McClymonds, then in July of the year to McClymonds-Lowell High School.
Finally, in September 1938, they moved back to the old site at 26th and Myrtle Streets after the buildings were reconstructed at the cost of $330,000. The alumni won out, and once again it was McClymonds High School as it is today.
The new high school occupying the entire block at 26th and Myrtle Streets, erected at the cost of $660,000 was dedicated in March of 1924.
The school was named in honor of J.W McClymonds, who had died two years earlier. The ceremony was held on Mar 09, 1924.
McClymonds High School was completed in 1924 as a part of the school building program of 1919. The new building contained 35 classrooms, 11 shops, administrative offices, storerooms, science, millinery, and art rooms and an auditorium with a seating capacity of 1000. There were shops for forge work, auto repair, machine work, pattern making, woodworking, electrical engineering, and printing. The machinery in the shops costs several thousands of dollars.
The milliner’s art “so dear to the hearts of the fair sex” was introduced as a course for girls in schools of Oakland. Mcclymonds had a shop with machinery for fabricating and molding the millinery.
“The girls are virtually flocking to the new course, which teaches the latest in chic, feminine headgear.”
Out With The Old
In 1954 a new three-story reinforced concrete structure was dedicated.
The structure designed for 1200 students and contains 42 classrooms, an auditorium, cafeteria, and library. Corlett and Anderson of Oakland were the architects.
The auditorium is in the two-story south wing and classes in the three-story building.
A class of 75 students was the first to graduate from the new McClymonds High in 1954.
In 1953 the old gym was condemned as an earthquake hazard and wasn’t replaced until 1957.
The new gym was the first Oakland school building to be built with tilt-up wall construction in which concrete wall sections are poured flat on the ground then raised into place.
Folding bleachers will seat 875 spectators. A folding partition will divide the main gymnasium into boys and girls for physical education classes.
The building also included an exercise room, shower and locker rooms, first-aid rooms, instructor’s office, and storage areas. Ira Beals designed it at the cost of $427,000.
McClymonds Field Dedicated – 1960
The new $625,095 track and field facilities was touted as one of the finest in the East Bay when the it was dedication ceremony was held.
The new tennis courts adjacent to the gym were dedicated to the memory of Earl M. Swisher, a former teacher, and tennis coach.
In 1964 three McCLymonds High School seniors drowned in the icy waters of Strawberry Lake in Tuolumne County.
The victims were:
Gloria Curry – Age 17
Carolyn Simril – Age 17
Melvin Lee Moore – Age 16
The trip was for the about 150 students called “honor citizens” because of outstanding community and school service.
Most of the students were on the ski slopes, and sled runs at Dodge Ridge. Between 15 and 20 of them were on the frozen lake when the ice gave away.
The students said there were no signs on the lake warning of thin or rotten ice.
A heroic rescue by three boys and two men saved the lives of at least ten students when the ice broke about 150 yards from the shore.
Carolyn Simril died while trying to pull somebody out and fell in herself.
A large crowd waited in front of Mcclymonds High for the three buses to return. They knew that three students had drowned, but they didn’t know who they were.
McClymonds High School is a highly valued icon of the West Oakland community as it is the only full-sized OUSD High School in the region. It is located near the intersection of Market Street & San Pablo Avenue in the Clawson neighborhood, which contains a mix of residential and commercial development with a handful of industrial yards
The school is located at 2607 Myrtle Street Oakland, CA 94607
In 1909 a newly appointed commission met at city hall with then Mayor Frank Mott to assume the responsibility of establishing a public playground system.
Oakland was the second city in California to establish a playground system; the first was Los Angeles in 1905.
Superintendent of Playgrounds
In May of 1909, the commission appointed George E. Dickie, the first playground superintendent, and that summer, the city opened two “experimental” playgrounds at Tompkins and Prescott Schools.
Before 1909, the Oakland Women’s Club operated summer playgrounds for two years at West Oakland’s Tompkins and Prescott’s schools at their own expense.
With a budget of $10,000, the commission opened three municipal playgrounds in 1910.
The first was opened on January 10, 1910, at de Fremery. The park included a dozen swings, two long slides, a baseball diamond, two regulation tennis courts, and courts for basketball, volleyball, and handball.
Two weeks later, they opened Bushrod Playground at 60th Street and Shafter. The land was deeded to the city in 1904 by Dr. Bushrod Washington James of Philadelphia with the stipulations that it is maintained as a public park forever.
The first recreation “center” was built at the site, and the structure remained standing until 1943.
They then provided playground equipment to the West Oakland Park (which later became Bayview, and is now Raimondi Field)and Independence Park ( now San Antonio).
Recreation for Everyone
In 1911 the city charter was revised to include the role of recreation in the community, this resulted in disbanding the commission, and a board of playground directors was created to oversee the parks. The Parks and Recreation Department was formed
In the summer of 1931, a group of property owners in the central downtown section formed an association called the Downtown Property Owners Associations.
One of the first projects they took on was the modernization some of the “elderly buildings” in the downtown area. They were losing tenants to the new modern buildings going up in the downtown area.
The association took care of all the details of the program.
“Just try to find a vacancy!”
Jonas Building – 1932 – Northwest corner of Broadway and 11th Street in downtown Oakland, California. Abraham Jonas owned the building. He ran a clothing store for men.
The Jones building was the first to be remodeled and modernized.
The Abrahamson Building – Southwest corner of 13th and Washington streets. Opened in 1893 as Abrahamson’s Dry Goods. Owned by Jules and Hugo Abrahamson.
A five-story structure at the southeast corner of 13th and Washington Streets was the second project in the modernization program. J.H. King supervised the transformation of the building, and E.T. Foulkes was the architect.
The facelift was complete in March of 1934 with the opening of the Union Furniture Company. The firm occupied all five floors of the building.
Over the years, other businesses occupied the building.
Delger Building – northwest corner of thirteenth and Broadway
M.K. Blake Building. – A four-story store and office structure at the southwest corner of 12th and Washington Streets.
The building was stripped of the bay windows, cornices, and other ornamentation removed. New tile was placed on the exterior walls.
Glenn Building – 1308 Broadway –
According to the Oakland Tribune, the Glenn Family had owned the building for 50 years.
In 1937 work began on the Glenn Building at 1308 Broadway as part of a modernization program of the Downtown Property Association.
The improvements to the two-story cost $5,000 and included all new tiles on the front of the building. Edward T. Foulkes was the architect on the project.
Most people will recognize the building as the home of De lauer’s Newsstand.
In total, 31 buildings were rebuilt or given a “facelift.” The program was a success, buildings were filled with stores, and the stores were filled with people who were shopping.
Plaza Building at 15th and Washington Streets
Farmers & Merchants Savings Bank Building at 13th and Franklin
S.H. Cress Company on 14th and Broadway.
Federal Telegraph Building at 12th and Washington streets
Fuller-Sparks Building on 14th Streets.
Masonic Temple Building on 12th Street for the new Lerner Store
Postcards been an important tool in advertising the city of Oakland for a long time. I have collected postcards of Oakland for years. I recently came across a small ad published in the Oakland Tribune reminding people that “Postcard Day” was coming up. This piqued my interest.
I tried to find the exact postcards but I didn’t have a whole lot luck, except for one or two. I have shared what I think might be them. If I get lucky and find them I will update this.
Here is what I found.
OAKLAND IN PICTURES
First off I found this about postcard advertising.
In 1905 W.J. Laymance of the Laymance Real Estate Company suggested a unique way of advertising Oakland in which every citizen, even the humblest, could take part. They could send illuminated postal cards of this city to friends in other sections of the county, and thus calling attention to the beauty and resources of Oakland.
The subjects of some of the cards were as follows: “Oakland Water Front.” “Residence District,” “Lake Merritt,” “Court House,” “Club House,” “Piedmont Springs,” “Among the Flowers, Piedmont Park,” “East from Fourteenth and Franklin Streets,” “North from San Pablo and Fourteenth Streets” ” University of California,” “Injured Football Player,” and “Greek Theater.”
There were about 20 illuminated postal cards illustrating beauties of the city. They sold the cards at the rate of two for five cents, ten for twenty-five cents. The postal cards were sold at drug and stationery stores. They hoped 10,000 people of Oakland would participate.
Oakland’s PostCard Day 1910
February 12, 1910, was designated “Oakland’s Post Card Day.”
The chamber of commerce undertook the extensive campaign of publicity. Every man and woman in Oakland and most of the children were expected to send one or more cards advertising the city.
The card was a double booster card with the decorative scheme of dark green and orange on both cards, but the views of Oakland will be different. The first half of the double card was to be retained by the recipient. The second half was detachable and was to be sent to the Chamber of Commerce requesting a brochure.
Picturesque residences on the shore of Lake Merritt, seen through the overhanging branches of beautiful old oak, the orange in the glowing sunset was a striking contrast to the deep green of the tree. The other one was of the busy harbor.
Postcard Day 1912
Views of Oakland and other cities to be furnished by Southern Pacific.
Postcard Day 1913
Southern Pacific plans to help advertise Oakland with postcards to be mailed by the citizens of Oakland.
There have been many discussions and articles about the name “Uptown” for an area in downtown Oakland. Most people hate it, except for the new people who just moved here, who call it “hip” or “trendy” (this is just my opinion I did not conduct a poll).
Most recently on one of the Facebook groups, I belong to. Just about everybody who commented hates the use of word uptown. Only two people actually read my comment about the history of the name. One still didn’t buy my explanation, and the other thanked me.
No as a native oaklander we have never used the word uptown it was always downtown”
Gentrification definitely gentrification”
We went Downtown
Growing up in Oakland, we always went downtown and never uptown because we went home.
It still is downtown to us and will always be! I will not argue that!
People are assuming the name “Uptown” comes from newcomers or “gentrifiers” that are taking over the area.
I know I questioned it, thinking they (the developers) were trying to make it sound like New York.
“The use of “Uptown” to refer to what is really part of downtown Oakland is relatively new and followed the city’s massive gentrification project to renovate the Fox Theater and build 10,000 new units of housing around Grand Avenue and Telegraph in the early 2000s.”
A couple of years ago, I decided to research the name a little more. I was reading an old report from the redevelopment agency from the 1980s and I saw a reference to the “Uptown District”. That got me to thinking and the rest is history.
A bit of history follows.
During the first fifty years of Oakland, the primary business activity centered around 9th and Broadway. The first map of Oakland, drawn in 1853, marked 14th street as the northern boundary of the city.
Businesses initially were built near the waterfront at 1st and Broadway. As transportation improved and the population increased, buildings moved further up Broadway.
A prominent sign of upward commercial advance was the completion of the First National Bank in 1908 at Broadway and San Pablo, along with the Cathedral Building and City Hall.
Uptown Historic District
The Uptown Historic District runs from 18th Street to 21st Street along Broadway at the north end of Oakland’s central business district. It includes three blocks of the triangular gore between Broadway and Telegraph Avenue, plus the Fox Theater on the west side of Telegraph and portions on the eastern side of Broadway at the 19th Street intersection.
The district represents a phase of the expansion of the central business district, in the 1920s and 30s. The new shopping and entertainment center was at the north end of the turn of the century downtown, anchored by the new Capwell department store and developed by Capwell’s 20th and Broadway Realty Company.
The district is an essential collection of small to medium scale commercial buildings of the 1920s and 30s, historic brownstone and terra cotta buildings from the 1920 and colorful Art Deco Terra Cotta from the 1930s.
Capwell’s, I. Magnin buildings, the Fox and Paramount Theaters, and the Flora Depot building are excellent examples of each of the styles.
Uptown the Beginning
In 1895 the Tribune’s new was located “Uptown.”
In the early 1900s as Oakland grew from the waterfront people started calling the area past 14th Street “Uptown.” By 1903 the area just below 14th Street was called getting crowded and the large mercantile businesses were reaching out for more space. They could only go uptown.
The real expansion uptown began in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Capwell’s was built in 1928.
Pioneers in “Uptown Oakland”
Smith Brothers new “Beautiful Uptown Store”
It was reported in the Oakland Tribune on March 24, 1936 that 19 new leases were signed in Oakland’s uptown business district.
In 1944 the new Hibernia Bank was built in “Uptown.”
After 17 years on 14th Street Walson’s moved “Uptown” to 2000 Franklin in 1968.
I could go on and on but I won’t.
There have been walking tours of the “Uptown District” since the early 1980s.
I like that the “old” name was used and not changed to something awful like the following:
“NOBE” is possibly the baldest and most obnoxious attempt to rename part of Oakland. Devised by realtors, the name is an acronym referring to North Oakland-Berkeley-Emeryville.”
East Bay Express
“Baja Dimond” This is a ridiculous name that some realtors have tried foisting on the part of the Fruitvale just below the Interstate 580 freeway across from the actual Dimond neighborhood. It’s the Fruitvale, not the Dimond.
East Bay Express
Just remember that Uptown is a part of Oakland’s History and they a linked in history.