Posted in Early Montclair, East Oakland, Oakland, Streets, West Oakland

Naming Our City Streets

Growing up in Montclair (for me), Thornhill Drive was always just Thornhill Drive. But come to find out it was once called Thorn Road (sometimes Thorne Road). Thornhill is a more delightful sounding name than Thorn. But there is a perfectly good reason as to why it was called Thorn Road.

Thorn Road

From the 1878 Map of Oakland,

William J. Dingee 1878 Map of Oakland, Berkeley, and Alameda. David Rumsey Map Collection –

The name goes back to 1856 when a man named Hiram Thorn (Hiram Thorne) built the road at a hefty expense. Thorn’s road brought redwood logs to Oakland out of the vast forest known as the Moraga Redwoods, where he ran a lumber mill on Pinehurst Road. Thorn was later given a franchise to run and collect tolls for the road, it was one of 3 toll roads in Oakland. In 1933 Thorn Road officially became Thornhill Drive.

From the 1870 Oakland City Directory

Since I found out about Thornhill Drive, I have been inquisitive about the names of our city streets. If you are interested, you can read more at the Oakland Local Wiki page Street Names.

Oakland had lots of streets named after trees.

  • Acacia
  • Beech
  • Birch
  • Holly
  • Linden
  • Locust
  • Palmetto
  • Pine
  • Poplar
  • Plymouth
  • Redwood
  • Sequoyah
  • Spruce
  • Walnut
  • Willow

In the Laurel District, there are streets named for the states.

  • Maine
  • Vermont
  • Jersey
  • Montana
  • Texas
  • Ohio (now Dakota)
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • California
  • Wisconsin

Maine, Vermont, and Jersey are no longer due to the construction of the MacArthur Freeway. I happen to live on Georgia Street.

In Sequoyah Hills, which located in the Oakland Hills above 580, off of Keller Avenue, directly below Skyline Blvd.

They are varieties of horse-drawn carriages. Better yet, the theme is a pun, considering the wheel-like arrangement of Shay, Phaeton, and Coach streets radiating from Hansom.

  • Hansom
  • Coach
  • CHariot
  • Phaeton
  • Shay
  • Surrey

View Post

In Montclair, there is a group of streets possibly named for early explorers.

  • Balboa
  • Cabrillo
  • Cabot
  • Drake
  • Gasper
  • Magellan
  • Mendoza

Another group of streets seems to be named after WWI Generals.

  • Liggett
  • Pershing
  • Sims
  • Wood

The Signs of the Zodiac

  • Aquarius
  • Capricorn
  • Leo
  • Taurus
  • Uranus

English Names

  • Ascot
  • Chelton
  • Scarborough
  • Keswick
  • Chatsworth
  • Camelford
  • Chelsea
  • Holyrood
  • Carisbrook
  • Darnby
  • Exeter
  • Girvin
  • Haverhill
  • Beaconsfield
  • Bagshotte
  • Westover
  • Rydal
  • Stockbridge
  • Melville
  • Morley

The following is a group of articles by Albert E. Norman from the Oakland Tribune in 1960-1960.

Oakland Tribune Jan 1960

Oakland Tribune Jun 12, 1960

Oakland Tribune Jun 19, 1960

Oakland Tribune Jun 26, 1960

Oakland Tribune Jul 03, 1960

Oakland Tribune Jul 10, 1960

Oakland Tribune July 17,1960

Oakland Tribune Jul 24, 1960

Oakland Tribune Jul 31, 1960

Oakland Tribune Aug 07, 1960

Oakland Tribune Aug 14, 1960

Oakland Tribune Aug 28, 1960

Oakland Tribune Sept 04, 1960

Oakland Tribune Sept 11, 1960

Oakland Tribune Sept 18, 1960

Oakland Tribune Sept 24, 1960

Oakland Tribune Oct 02, 1960

Oakland Tribune Oct 09, 1960

Oakland Tribune Oct 16, 1960

Oakland Tribune Oct 23, 1960

Oakland Tribune Nov 06, 1960

Oakland Tribune Dec 11, 1960

Oakland Tribune Dec 18, 1960

Oakland Tribune Dec 25, 1960

Oakland Tribune Jan 15, 1961

Oakland Tribune Feb 1961

If you have wondered about the name of your street, leave a message below, and I will check it out.

Links:

Oakland related links:

Misc Street Links:

Coming soon Gold Star Streets

The End

Author:

II have been an Oakland history buff since going on an Oakland Heritage Alliance Tour of the Fernwood Neighborhood in the Montclair District of Oakland, in the mid-'80s. On that tour, I learned that there use to be a train (Sacramento Northern) that ran through Montclair in the early 1900s and that people lived the area as early as 1860s — been hooked ever since. Since then, I have spent a lot of time looking into the history of Montclair, and I have learned a lot. I feel this will be the best way to get it out of my head and onto paper.

11 thoughts on “Naming Our City Streets

    1. I thought about Zinn Drive when I was writing this post. It is right in the middle of the streets named after California Explorers. I can’t find anything directly. Rincon Drive which crosses Zinn Drive. Rincon means “angle or corner” in Spanish, which fits. It could be someones last name.

      Like

  1. I’ve always loved the group of street names where I grew up, Merriwood, Robinhood, Crown, and Abbot. It seems someone at that time loved to read adventure stories.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is so interesting to read about! Any info on Meldon Ave in Maxwell Park? I tried doing some research at the Main Oakland library and all I came up with was a student at UC Berkeley with the last name Meldon in the late 20’s (I think). My house was built on Meldon Ave in 1932.

    Like

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