Posted in Advertisment, Oakland

“Boost” Oakland With Postcards

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.

Reminder AD Oakland Tribune 1910

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

Oakland Tribune 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.

Postcard Day – 1910

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 1910
Oakland Tribune Feb 13, 1910

Postcard Day 1912

1912

Views of Oakland and other cities to be furnished by Southern Pacific.

Piedmont Park – A Beauty Spot
On line of Southern Pacific
back side Piedmont Park – A Beauty Spot
On line of Southern Pacific

Postcard Day 1913

Southern Pacific plans to help advertise Oakland with postcards to be mailed by the citizens of Oakland.

My City – Oakland

More Info:

Boost Oakland – https://archive.org/details/2349A_Gould_can_5122_4

The End

Posted in History, Oakland, Then and Now

Uptown – A Bit of History

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”

Facebook Group

Gentrification definitely gentrification”

Facebook Group

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.

An article in the East Bay Express validates that thought.

“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.”

East Bay Express

Too bad, the author of that article didn’t spend time researching the name.

Statements like this would further their belief that the term is new and made up.

“Square (the tech company) has launched its East Bay operations by moving a few hundred employees into new digs in downtown Oakland’s hip and trendy Uptown neighborhood.”  

Square sets up shop in Oakland – East Bay Times Feb 13, 2020

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.

H.C. Capwell department store, corner of Telegraph Avenue and 20th Street
Oakland Stores Collection – Oakland Public Library
https://calisphere.org/item/1e9576b6d4e13e45cb8652207f88fa61/

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. 

Oakland Floral Depot, northeast corner of 19th Street and Telegraph Avenue
Date: circa 1980 – Oakland Stores Collection
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room and Maps Division
Permalink: https://calisphere.org/item/45a075ddbec11673a0d40a3fc87d3b17/

Capwell’s, I. Magnin buildings, the Fox and Paramount Theaters, and the Flora Depot building are excellent examples of each of the styles.

I. Magnin & Co., northwest corner of Broadway and 20th Street
1951-04-24 Downtown Stores Collection
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room and Maps Division
Permalink: https://calisphere.org/item/d57eab31fed90ff765d7834b39af46b6/

Uptown the Beginning

In 1895 the Tribune’s new was located “Uptown.”

Oakland Tribune 1895

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”

Oakland Tribune Mar 20, 1927

Smith Brothers new “Beautiful Uptown Store”

Oakland Tribune Oct 25, 1931
Oakland Tribune Oct 25, 1931

It was reported in the Oakland Tribune on March 24, 1936 that 19 new leases were signed in Oakland’s uptown business district.

Oakland Tribune Mar 24, 1936

In 1944 the new Hibernia Bank was built in “Uptown.”

Oakland Tribune Dec 18, 1944

After 17 years on 14th Street Walson’s moved “Uptown” to 2000 Franklin in 1968.

Oakland TRibune April 17, 1968

I could go on and on but I won’t.

Tours

There have been walking tours of the “Uptown District” since the early 1980s.

Map of Uptown Walking Tour circa 1982

Walking Tour 1982

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.

More Info:

  • Uptown – Oakland Local Wiki
  • Oakland’s Uptown – William Sturm – OHA Newsletter November/December 1982

The End

Posted in Oakland

Oakland – 1918 Flu Pandemic – WWI

The 1918 Flu Pandemic (aka the ‘Spanish Flu’) infected and killed millions of people globally, including killing more than 1,400 in Oakland, California. (The population at that time was about 216,000.) 

There were two major outbreaks in Oakland, one in the fall of 1918, and another in January 1919. 

In one particularly grim 24 hour period in November 1918, 39 deaths were recorded.   2 Schools were closed, and citizens were required to wear masks to help prevent the spread of the disease. (https://oaklandwiki.org/1918_Flu_Pandemic)

Oakland Tribune November 2, 1918

S.O.S! Need Ten!

Wear you mask whenever you on the street”

Oakland Police

The police arrested 488 overnight on November 03, 1918. Every arrest was held over for $10.00 bail. Many stay overnight because they couldn’t raise the bail. Oakland Tribune – Nov 03, 1918

The War is Over! Celebrate!

Oakland Tribune Nov 11, 1918

World War I ended in November 1918. News about the pandemic was put on the back burner, even more.

The city of Oakland invited everyone to come and celebrate the end of the war on November 11, 1918. The event was held at the city hall plaza.

Oakland Tribune November 11, 1918

The event was to be held in “open-air” as ordered by the health department.  Oakland Tribune November 11, 1918

“Bring your Flags” and “Wear your Masks”

Official Proclamation – November 11,1918

Oakland Tribune November 1918


Oakland Tribune November 13, 1918

Britain Day!

Oakland celebrated our British allies with a parade on December 08, 1918. Thousands of people attended.  Oakland Tribune – December 08, 1918

Oakland Tribune Dec 08, 1918

No wonder there was another outbreak in November 1918 and January 1919.!  

New Cases

January 11, 1991

On January 11, 1919, 312 new cases and 17 deaths were reported in the 24 hours ending at 9 am that morning. By 11 am, that same day, another 112 new cases and three additional deaths were reported.  Oakland Tribune January 11, 1919

Be safe and stay home!

The End

Posted in History, Oakland, Schools

School War Work in 1918

Oakland Tribune October 15, 1918

War work in the Oakland Public Schools during 1918 was considered one of the most essential items in the curriculum by both the school administration and the teachers.

They felt the first duty of the schools was to aid the national government in winning the war to the best of their ability.

Service became the keynote of all work. Oakland’s boys and girls realized that they had a particular part to play in making the world a safe place to live in.

Sewing and Knitting Classes

Oakland Tribune July 07, 1918

During the summer vacation, thousands of garments for refugees were made by the children as part of their regular classwork.

Sewing Classes
Board of Education 1919

Boys and girls of all ages learned to knit, and tireless little hands were busy every spare moment making garments for sailors, soldiers, and people of stricken countries.

Berkeley Schools also helped
Oakland Tribune August 25, 1918
Oakland Tribune August 25, 1918

School and Home Garden Army

The urgent need for higher food production led to the organization of the School and Home Garden Army in Oakland. Fifteen thousand children enlisted, and 6,00 brought their gardens to successful harvests.

Oakland Tribune April 18, 1918
Gardens
Board of Education 1919

Jackson Furniture Company offered two silver loving cups as prizes, one for the school having the best school garden, and one for the best home garden.

Oakland Tribune April 18, 1918

Luther Burbank visited Oakland and personally inspected many of the war gardens.

Oakland Tribune May 15, 1918

Jefferson School won the School Garden Cup, and Lakeview School won the Home Garden School Cup.

Oakland Tribune October 04, 1918

The Art Department devoted its time propaganda of publicity of the was needs through posters.

The Manual Training shops worked closely with the Red Cross. They created items needed for hospitals.

Liberty Loans

The schools helped raised money through the various Liberty Bond/Loan Campaigns.

Board of Education 1919

More Info

Looking back at a 1918 parade that helped spread the deadly flu, leaving nearly 13,000 dead – SF Gate – September 22, 2019

1918 Flu Pandemic – Oakland Local Wiki

The End

Posted in Buildings, History, Oakland, Schools

The Oakland’s First School House

Oakland Tribune Feb 08, 1970

When Oakland became a city in 1852, there was no free public school. There was a private school at the corner of 2nd and Broadway run by Mrs. Monroe.

Old Fandango House
Oakland Tribune May 01, 1952
Sketch of Oakland’s first school building
African American Museum & Library at Oakland Photograph Collection

The town trustees saw the need for a school, so they rented a room at the rear of a dance hall called a Fandango House at 2nd and Washington. The room furnished with half a dozen wooden benches, a table for the teacher, a blackboard, a map of the world, and a rawhide whip. 12 to 15 children attended this school.

Oakland’s FIrst School House – Oakland Tribune Jun 12, 1921

For control of the area around the harbor, Horace W. Carpentier donated a school building to the city. Oxen teams from the hills brought redwood lumber, and a small structure was erected at 4th and Clay Streets. It was 30 x 20 feet with a 12-foot ceiling and a shingled roof. A belfry with a little bell. Carpentier called the building, “substantial, elegant, and commodious.”

from A Steeple Among the Oaks 

In June of 1853, when the school opened, the citizens held a parade, and 16 students carried a banner that read, “Our Duty to Our Country, First, Last, and Always.”

Oakland History Room at Oakland Public Library

The first teacher of the school was Miss Hannah Jayne.  She taught until 1856 when she resigned to marry Edson Adams, one of Oakland’s pioneers.

Oakland Tribune 1936
Oakland History Group

In 1853, the First Presbyterian Church used the building for services. The current sanctuary of the church (built-in 1914) memorializes the schoolhouse in one of its stained glass windows showing church history.

Stained Glass showing Church History
CC SA-BY Our Oakland

By 1855 there were 155 children of school age in Oakland. The little schoolhouse could not house them all.

The old Carpentier school was replaced by a slightly larger building between Jefferson and Grove ( now Martin Luther King) 11th and 12th Streets.

The city continued to grow, and so did the need for schools. By 1873 there were 13 buildings with more than 2000 children receiving instruction. By 1875 there were 3,225 attending school an increase of 1000 in 2 years.

First A.M.E. Church

The First A.M.E. Church of Oakland began in 1858 by a small group of Oakland residents and is the oldest African American church in Oakland. The church founders purchased the Carpenter School House in 1863, which became the first church building.

Oakland Tribune 1883

According to the article below the building was still there in 1921

Oakland Tribune 1921
Oakland Tribune May 1952
Oakland Tribune Sep 12, 1943

In 1943 the school district celebrated its 90th Anniversary with nearly 2000 teachers, 75 schools with almost 45,000 students.

More Info

Posted in Buildings, Oakland, People, Uncategorized, West Oakland

Thomas Mahoney House

As I take a little break from my series on the schools in Oakland, I thought I would share this little bit of history with you.

Historic American Buildings Survey, Creator. Thomas Mahoney House, 69 Eighth Street, Oakland, Alameda County, CA
. Documentation Compiled After. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/ca0013/>.

These photos have popped up many times over the years and, I didn’t give them much thought. They popped up again yesterday. I decided to look into them and see what I could find.

Historic American Buildings Survey, Creator. Thomas Mahoney House, 69 Eighth Street, Oakland, Alameda County, CA
. Documentation Compiled After. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/ca0013/>.

Both photos are online at the Library of Congress. Please note there is a typo in the LOC description the address is 669 Eighth Street.

  • Thomas Mahoney House – LOC

I don’t know what became of the house after these photos were taken. I will let you know if I find out anything.

Early Pioneer

So, I started looking into Thomas Mahoney (sometimes spelled Mahony) Wow, I was amazed to find a Thomas Mahoney living at 669 Eight Street in 1871. In the 1880 census, he lives there with his wife and four children. I then locate in an obituary from Jan of 1900. In the obituary, I notice his daughter Laura’s married name is Bassett

!8718 Directory
1888 Directory

Mahoney came to California in the 1850s. He mined for awhile in Tuolumne county before retiring on his ranch in Hills of Oakland. In 1863 he sold his ranch and moved to the home on Eighth Street next the St. John’s Episcopal He was married in 1863 and raised four children in the home. His wife died in 1891 and he died in 1900.

His obituary

Oakland Tribune Jan 29 1900

Thomas Mahoney a well known pioneer of this city, died at his home, 660
Eighth Street, last evening, in the 71st year of his age.

The deceased was a native of Ireland and came to this State many years ago, where he engaged in ranching. He owned a large quantity of land to the north of the present city limits, from which the sites now comprising Mountain View, St. Mary’s and the Jewish Cemeteries was purposed by the managers of those several burial places.

The deceased was a widower, his wife having died a number of years ago. He was the father of Mrs. Laura J. Bassett, Louise H., Emma E. and George Mahoney.

The funeral services will be held next Wednesday in St. John’s Episcopal
Church. Interment will take place in St. Mary’s Cemetery

Oakland Tribune Jan 1900

Family members continued to live in the home until around 1913.

St. Mary’s Cemetery

In 1863 Archbishop Alemany purchased 36 acres of land known as the ” Mahoney Ranch” from Thomas Mahoney. The land is now known as St. Mary’s Cemetery next to Mountain View Cemetery. Thomas Mahoney was buried there in 1900.

Find A Grave – St. Mary’s Cemetery – Thomas Mahoney

Past and Present of Alameda County, California
Book by Joseph Eugene Baker
Oakland Tribune May 22, 1922

The Knave

Laura Mahoney Bassett was well known for her reminiscences in the Sunday Knave in the Oakland Tribune. She was the oldest daughter of Thomas Mahoney and she was born in Oakland in 1866 where she lived most of her 80 years. She died in 1950.

Oakland Tribune Jue 23, 1950

Sunday Knave

Some of her “reminiscences” in the Sunday Knave.

Oakland Tribune 1944
Oakland Tribune June 29, 1947
Oakland Tribune July 6, 1947
Oakland Tribune Aug 10, 1947

Go here to read the clip Oakland Tribune.

The End

Posted in Black History, Oakland, People

OPD – First Black Women Recruit

In 1970 Saundra Brown was the first black woman accepted for the Oakland Police Department’s Recruits Academy.

SF Examiner Dec 18. 1970

I ‘m kind of optimistic”

Saundra Brown December 1970

Saundra Brown December 1970

Born and raised in Oakland. She felt she knew the problems of the young here. She said, “in a city like Oakland, with its Black Panthers and militant groups, there is a special need for minority police officers.” She worked with teens during her college days.

Saundra graduated from Fresno College with a degree in sociology. She always had her eyes set on working with juveniles and looked into law enforcement as a possible field. She applied to OPD immediately after her June 1969 graduation. No opening existed.

She was working as a claims adjuster when she heard that OPD was looking for a “black policewomen.”

Police Academy

Saundra Brown, the first black woman on the Oakland police force, gets instructions on how to shoot a shotgun, 1970.

At that time, a MALE recruit needed only a high school diploma or a score of 262 on a GED course. WOMEN must have a four-year college degree or four years’ experience in law enforcement. She had that.

She attended the same 15 weeks Police Academy as the 22 males in her class. She was expected to compete with the males.

She took courses in criminal law and report writing, first aid traffic investigation, and the Oakland penal code. There were also defensive tactics, involving strenuous activities such as calisthenics, some judo, a little karate.

Oh, I did alright I guess” she laughed. I can throw the biggest guy in the class.

Saundra Brown – December 17, 1970

Saundra Brown – December 17, 1970

During the course, she learned for the first time in her life, to handle firearms.

I used to be scared of guns,” she laughed,. “but now I feel safer with a gun in possession because I know how to use it”

Oakland Tribune Dec 14, 1970

Oakland Tribune Dec 14, 1970

Graduation

SF Examiner Dec 18, 1970

On December 18, 1970, she accepted her star and the congratulations from Police Chief Charles Gain as the only woman in the police academy of 24.

She finished near the top of her class. She hoped to be assigned to the juvenile division. However Chief Gain had other ideas

As the only minority-group policewoman, she joined a slightly more significant minority. There were 710 men on the force; only 7 women.

At that time, women were not allowed to compete with men for advancement. Fascinated with the legal issues she encountered on the job as a policewoman, Saundra decided to attend law school while continuing to serve her hometown of Oakland as a police officer until 1977.

She served with OPD from 1970-77

Life after the OPD

She then received a Juris Doctor from the University of San Francisco School of Law in 1977.

She was a judicial extern, California Court of Appeals in 1977, and was a deputy district attorney in Alameda County, California from 1978 to 1979 and from 1980 to 1982. From 1979 to 1980, she was a senior consultant to the California Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice.

She was a trial attorney of the Public Integrity Section of the United States Department of Justice from 1982 to 1983. She then served as a Commissioner on the Consumer Product Safety Commission from 1983 to 1986, and on the United States Parole Commission from 1986 to 1989.

She was a Judge on the Alameda Superior Court, California, from 1989 to 1991.

Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong official portrait art by Scott Johnston, oil on linen, 38×27-inches, collection of the United States District Court of Northern California, Oakland

On April 25, 1991, Armstrong was nominated by President George H. W. Bush to a seat on the United States District Court for the Northern District of California vacated by William Austin Ingram. She was confirmed by the United States Senate on June 14, 1991, and received her commission on June 18, 1991.

She earned a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) from the Pacific School of Religion in 2012, and she assumed senior status on March 23, 2012

https://blackthen.com/the-real-cleopatra-jones-saundra-brown-1970-look-at-her-now/

More on Saundra Brown

The End

Posted in History, Montclair, Oakland, Uncategorized

Fire in the Hills – 1943

In December 1943, there were winds up to 75 MPH and many fires in the hills and the East Bay. There were at least 10 brush and grass fires reported all over Northern California.

The smell of burning eucalyptus hung over the city for hours

Oakland Tribune Dec 09, 19443

The fire in the Oakland hills started near Broadway Terrace and Skyline, in the area above the Broadway Tunnel (Caldecott Tunnel). There also was a fire on Snake Road.

Oakland Tribune Dec 09, 1943

The fire started just after midnight and burned for about 3 hours. The fire was most likely started by down wires knocked down by gale-force winds. There were over 30 fires reported all over Oakland.

 

Oakland Tribune Dec 09, 1943
Oakland Tribune Dec 09, 1943
Oakland Tribune Dec 09, 1943
Oakland Tribune Dec 09, 1943
Oakland Tribune Dec 09, 1943
Oakland Tribune Dec 09, 1943

Wind and Fires Wreck Havoc

Oakland Tribune Dec 09, 1943
Oakland Tribune Dec 09, 1943
Oakland Tribune Dec 09, 1943
  • Fire destroyed the garbage facility at the end of Davis Street
  • Fire on Mt. Diablo
  • 50 Boats smashed in Monterey
  • Tilden Park Fire
  • 1800 Acres burned in Concord
  • Napa County Swept by Fire

More

Posted in History, Oakland

Leona Canyon Fire – Oct 1960

Oakland Tribune October 16, 1960

On Saturday, October 15, 1960, a brush fire started in the area of Mountain Blvd and Burckhalter Avenue.

The fire bore a striking resemblance to the disastrous 1923 Berkeley fire, which swept from the hills, destroyed 600 buildings, and leaving 4000 homeless.

Oakland Tribune October 16, 1960

The fire started at 11am and was under control by 2:30 pm and officially out by 4pm.

Oakland Tribune October 16, 1960

More than 200 firemen from the Oakland and San Leandro fought the fire for over four hours with the help of the residents who lived in the area. At times the fire came within feet of homes and rained sparks on their roofs. The damage was held to the loss of two houses, brush and oak trees.

From noon until 2pm the battle was a see-saw affair

Oakland Tribune October 16, 1960

Weekend Warriors

SF Examiner October 16, 1960

For the residents, it was a battle to the death. They stood of roofs and garages pointing hoses with little pressure behind them at the walls of flame, which roared through the brush and oak trees.

In the hills above, Leona Street flames roared 50 feet into the air and came within that distance of homes. At one point, police advised people to advise the residents on Leona Street, Mountain Blvd, and Mountain View Avenue to evacuate.

Cause Unknown

Oakland Tribune October 16, 1960

The cause of the fire was unknown. It ranged over an estimated 1200 acres after it starts near Mountain Blvd and Burckhalter Avenue. It’s course along Mountain Blvd northwesterly to Bermuda Avenue and up the hill towards Skyline Blvd.

There were unconfirmed reports of two boys playing with matches in the quarry area just before the fire started.

Oakland Tribune October 16, 1960

At the time, the winds gusted 45 mile-per-hour, which spread the fire across Mountain Blvd. but quick work by firemen and homeowners stopped the fire from spreading in that direction.

More than 100 homes were endangered during the day. Most were in the $30,000 bracket.

The Homes

  • 6384 Mountain Blvd – destroyed
  • 6434 Mountain Blvd – destroyed

The home at 6434 Mountain Blvd belonged to William Crecque, and 6384 Mountain Blvd belonged to Charles Suggs.

More

The End

Posted in East Oakland, History, Oakland, West Oakland

Backyard Fence War

In June of 1965, the Oakland Housing Authority (OHA) began what was called a “Beautification Program.”

Under the housing authority’s plan, fenced-in yards were to be removed and replaced with turfed areas in the following projects:

  1. Lockwood Gardens
  2. Peralta Villas
  3. Campbell Village.

According to the tenants of the Peralta Villa housing projects in West Oakland, they first heard about the program when the group of boys from the Alameda County Central Labor Council (funded by a grant from the War on Poverty) started demolishing the backyard fences and flower gardens.

The fences were removed, Housing Authority officials say, as the first step in a program of “beautification”

The tenants were irate because some had paid the OHA for the fences and planted their gardens. No advance notice was given – the workers just started tearing everything up.

They Organize

The War on Poverty ran into a major obstacle this week – the War on Poverty”

Oakland Tribune June 30, 1965

Oakland Tribune June 30, 1965

As a part of the War on Poverty‘s, a work-study program was funded to provide the salaries of University of California students to work with the tenants.

The students worked with the residents of Lockwood Gardens to help them develop a sense of community identity and to learn how to help themselves.

It was these students that encouraged the tenants to form the Lockwood Improvement League.

The program funded by the War on Poverty the same people supporting the “Beautification Program” and removing their fences.

The tenants of Peralta Villas met at Cole school and formed the Peralta Improvement League. Thirty tenants volunteered to create their own “human fence” they wrote up a list of demands and began their fight to save their gardens.

  1. Stop tearing down the remaining fences
  2. Rebuild the fences already taken down
  3. Reimburse the tenants whose private property was destroyed
  4. Consult the tenants first before doing any further work

Oakland Tribune July 1965

The labor for the “Beautification Program” was provided by the Alameda County Labor Council through a grant from the War of Poverty.

Lockwood Gardens

The OHA decided on June 25, 1965, to “beautify” the projects. They started with Lockwood Gardens.

The people of Lockwood Gardens newfound sense of community identity was outraged.

Each of the thirty- plus dwelling units in Lockwood Gardens had its own yard, and most had fences. Some had lawns, and some had shrubs and flowers.

The enclosed yards gave the tenants a sense of individuality, security, and pride.

All backyard fences would come out; the lawns, shrubs, and flowers would be dugout. A common turf area without fences would replace private yards.

Oakland Tribune June 30, 1965

They had been using my yard as adverstiment for years.”

Jim Sorenson 1137 65th Ave – Oakland Tribune

Jim Sorenson 1137 65th Ave – Oakland Tribune

Oakland Tribune June 30, 1965

They were also upset by the lack of advance warning. They got 200 signature in favor of keeping the fences.

The Lockwood Gardens tenants were all for beautification but not at the expense of their backyards. One tenant was upset because he had just rebuilt his fence. Not all the tenants of the tenants took care of yards or kept their fences in repair. But they felt the OHA could work it out with those tenants.

The Protests

The tenants of both Peralta Villa and Lockwood Gardens protested and managed to halt or limit the amount of work that could be done at either of the projects.

Oakland Tribune July 13, 1965

The OHA laid out a new backyard fence policy

Residents must keep their backyards neat and in repair; no new fences could be installed; no satisfactory fence will be torn down now, but eventual elimination of all fenced areas can be expected.”

In August of 1965, the OHA board voted to poll each family of Campbell Village, Lockwood Gardens, and Peralta Villa if they want a fence. Everyone was to be asked even the people who lived on the 2nd floor. There was a total of 916 total units in the three projects.

The tenants were given 2 choices in the questions asked :

Oakland Tribune Sep 01, 1965

It appears to be a lower-the-cost- maintenance program”

The Pro-Fence group leader

The Pro-Fence group leader

In July 1966, all the fences had been removed, and the place looked like a dump reported one tenant. The lawn was dead in most areas as it wasn’t being watered.

More on the Beautification Program

  1. Program Stumbles on Its Own Results – Oakland Tribune June 30, 1965
  2. Battle of Backyard Fences on New Front – Oakland Tribune July 02, 1965
  3. Battle of Backyard Fences – Pg 2 – Oakland Tribune July 02, 1965
  4. Peralta Villa Folk in Fence Victory – Oakland Tribune July 04, 1965
  5. Back Fence War Halts in Standoff – Oakland Tribune July 12, 1965
  6. Back Fence War Halts in Standoff Pg. 2 – Oakland Tribune July 12, 1965
  7. New Tactics Ease Backyard Fence War – Oakland Tribune July 13, 1965
  8. Anti-Poverty War needs Tighter Control – Oakland Tribune Aug 01, 1965
  9. Pro-Fence Forces Get Poll on the Issue – Oakland Tribune Aug 10, 1965
  10. Battle of the Backyard Fences Pg 1 – Oakland Tribune Sep 01, 1965
  11. Battle of the Backyard Fences Pg 2 – Oakland Tribune Sep 01, 1965
  12. Beautification Fencing Match – Oakland Tribune July 13, 1966

The End