Posted in East Oakland, Transportation

The Bancroft Parkway

This is one of those posts where I had no writing intention, let alone knowing it existed. Two examples are my most popular post, “The Forgotten Tunnel” or “The Backyard Fence War” I stumbled across articles on both while researching another post. Sometimes they pan out, and I find lots of exciting things to share. I wasn’t so lucky with this post, and it ended up being kind of a dud. I thought I would share it anyway

Groundbreaking

A groundbreaking celebration was held in November of 1956 for the new Bancroft Avenue Parkway, and construction began soon after.

Oakland Tribune November 25, 1956

Bancroft Avenue was to become a major thoroughfare linking San Leandro and Oakland, relieving the traffic on MacArthur, Foothill, and East 14th (now International)

Oakland Mayor Clifford E. Rishell and Alameda County Supervisor were at the controls of an enormous earthmover, lifting the first load of earth.   

Construction for the Bancroft Avenue Parkway near 98th Avenue in the city’s Elmhurst district. DATE: 1956 Photographic print Albert “Kayo” Harris & Associates, photographers. the Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room.

They symbolized the joint city-county participation.

Oakland Tribune November 25, 1956

The project’s estimated cost was $4,000,000 and was financed jointly from Oakland and Alameda County allocations of state gas tax funds.

Needed Relief

California Highways and Public Works Oakland Progress Page 37 – March- April 1958 

The need for this arterial was foreseen as early as 1927 when the major street plan of the City was formulated. Uncontrolled subdivision in East Oakland in the early history of the city had left a large area with no provision for the important east-west movement

California Highways and Public Works Oakland Progress Page 37 – March- April 1958 

The parkway was to provide the much needed relief of Foothill Boulevard, MacArthur Boulevard and East 14th Street (now international), as well as a direct connection to an existing major city street, Bancroft Avenue in San Leandro.

Studies for this thoroughfare were commenced in 1941 and protection of the right-of-way started.

The Bancroft Parkway

The parkway was to extend from the San Leandro city limits to East 14th Street(now International) and 46th Avenue.

“The project will convert Bancroft from a rundown noncontinuous street and railroad right-of-way to a major intercity thoroughfare and railroad parkway.”

California Highways and Public Works Oakland Progress Page 37 – March- April 1958 
Corner of Bancroft and 96th Avenues in the Elmhurst district of Oakland, California. 1965 Photographer unidentified. Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room.

The Design

The parkway had a two-lane section on each side with room for parking. In the center divider was the Southern Pacific railroad spur line to the Chevrolet Assembly Plant.  It was concealed with trees and shrubbery.

California Highways and Public Works Oakland Progress Page 37 – March- April 1958 

The Units 

  • The first unit was 1.17 miles and was from the San Leandro border to 90th avenue.
  • The second unit was between 90th to 79th Avenues. – June 1957
  • The third unit was 79th Avenue to Havenscourt Blvd – Spring 1958

Total Length: 4.25 miles

Oakland Tribune June 14, 1957
Oakland Tribune Aug 26, 1961

Removal of Buildings

The City of Oakland acquired property along the route.

  • The east side of Church Street and 68th Avenue.
  • Between 90th Avenue and Parker Street.
  • The western side of Church Street and 73rd Avenue
  • The south side of Bancroft Avenue east of 74th Avenue.
  • The north side of Bancroft Avenue between 96th and 98th Avenues.

The following is a list of structures that were removed for the extension of the Bancroft Parkway.

Oakland Tribune

A miscellaneous collection of buildings along Bancroft Avenue between 73rd Avenue and Havenscourt Blvd. were offered for sale by the City of Oakland.  

Oakland Tribune Apr 16, 1958

The assortment included duplexes, a store, several homes, and garages. They had to be moved or demolished. The minimum bid was $2,850 for the entire group.

Oakland Tribune 1961

The Final Destinatination

Oakland tribune March 27, 1951

Today Bancroft Avenue is down to one lane in each direction with bike lanes.

More:

The End

Posted in Oakland, People, Transportation

Santa Claus Rides the Bus

On Facebook, I have been sharing photos of holiday-themed AC Transit Coaches (Bus). In researching the tradition, I learned that Nickolas P. Alevizos played Santa Claus for more than 40 years. A bit of history here.

Nick P. Alevizos -In front of a 10 seater Model-A Motor Bus one of the original West Oakland Motor Buses – Undated AC Transit Photo

Santa Claus – St Nick

In December of 1960, AC Transit’s new streamlined “Transit Liners” went into service on Christmas Day.

AC Transit Photoflickr

A colorful parade called the “Travelcade of Progress” was held on the streets of downtown Oakland to introduce the new buses. The parade included all forms of East Bay public transportation since the horse and cable cars. 

AC Transit Times December of 1960

Alevizos led the parade as Santa Claus .

Alevizos became a legend by dressing as Santa Claus at wheeling through the East Bay in an AC-Transit holiday-themed decorated bus.  

Oakland Tribune 1964

He started playing Santa Claus in 1933 for the Shrine, Richmond Kiwanis Club, and at the Division 3 Christmas parties.

Oakland Tribune 1975

He also played the roles of Abraham Lincoln, Christopher Columbus, and Uncle Sam on the year’s appropriate dates. But Santa Claus remained his most extended running role, beginning in 1933.

Oakland’s Early ‘Jitney King’

Oakland Tribune May 23, 1971

A transportation pioneer in the East Bay, Nichols P. Alevizos, in 1921 started a jitney bus service. The major Oakland Jitney route was 7th Street from Pine Street to Clay Street. There were 16 jitneys and 16 drivers on the run, with 15 in use each day and the 16th taking the day off.

West Oakland Motor Bus Lines 1928 – AC Transit flickr

Alevizos organized a jitney association in 1924 and became its first and only president. In 1928 the association bought 8 Model A Ford buses. The association was named West Oakland Motor Bus Lines.

Oakland Tribune 1929

In 1935 Alevizos sold the company to the Key System.  Part of the deal made by Alfred J. Lundberg, Key System president, was for Alevizos to have a lifetime supervisor job with the company.

Oakland Tribune 1934

He served as superintendent of the Key System and later AC Transits Richmond Division. His career spanned 56 years.

AC Transit Times December 1962

Retirement

Alevizos retired at the end of 1977, his career spanned over 56 years. He continued as Santa for 2 more years . He passed away in April of 2000.

History of the Holiday Bus

In 1963, AC Transit launched its first holiday-themed bus.  The “Candy Cane Express” was painted white and tied with big red bows.

AC Transit Times

In the years that followed, the Holiday Bus became more elaborate, with the vehicles being custom-painted and decorated with handmade wooden ornaments. By the mid-1960s, a full-size sleigh was installed on the roof, in which “Santa” would ride.

The 1966 “Santa Claus Express”AC Transit Flickr.AC Transit Times December 1966

There have been many versions of the Holiday Bus throughout the years. Decals and full custom vinyl wrap have replaced the custom paint jobs and bolted on decorations.

Santa’s Toyland – 1969 – AC Transit Times
Santa’s Workshop 1970 – AC Transit Times
Santa’s Express – AC Transit –
Winter Wonderland – 1979 – AC Transit Times
Santa’s Toyland – 1973 – AC Transit Times

This year’s (2020) theme is “Holidays Always Keep Their Sparkle.”

2015 Holiday Bus – ACTransit
2020 Holiday Bus – AC Transit

More Info:

Themes

  • Seasons Greetings – 1965
  • Santa Claus Express – 1966
  • Candy Cane – 1967
  • Happy Holidays – 1968
  • Santa’s Toyland – 1969
  • Santa’s Workshop – 1970
  • Santa’s Toyland – 1971
  • Santa’s Toyland – 1973
  • Happy Holidays – 1974-1975
  • Santa’s Toyland – 1976
  • Santa’s Express – 1977
  • Candy Cane Coach – 1978
  • Winter Wonderland – 1979

The End

Posted in Black History, People, Transportation, West Oakland

Oakland’s First African American Cab Driver

Phillip Richard Springer (1874-1952) was the first black man in Oakland to own a taxicab. He was born in Barbados, in the British West Indies and left home at age 16. At first he operated under a jitney permit in Oakland, but he later had the license changed to a taxicab permit. By 1915, Springer’s Cab Company was well established.

The Pullman Porters and West Oakland

The 1916 Directory listed Springer at 1926 Chestnut Street with chauffeur as his occupation

1916

1926 Chestnut – Google Maps

In the 1917 directory, he is listed at 835 Union Street with chauffeur as his occupation.

1917

In the 1925 directory, he is listed along with his wife Edna at 879 Campbell Street with taxi cab driver as his occupation.

1925

From 1927 until his death in 1952, he lived at 957-35th Street with his family. The 1930 census reports that he owns his home, and he was a taxi cab driver at his own stand.

1935

The Springer Home from 1927-at least 1952
957- 35th Street – Google Maps

Exhibit at the African American History Library Oakland

Oakland Tribune Nov 1952

Taxicab Driver Robbed

Oakland Tribune 1942

SF Examiner Jan 1947

Accident

The End

Posted in Early Montclair, History, Transportation

The First Bus Lines in Oakland

New Service to Montclair
From Ac Transit Time Sept 1961

In May of 1921, The Key System began to operate a motorcoach service. The first line opened up on May 16, 1921, to Mills College and a week later on May 21, service to Montclair began.

The Realty Syndicate purchased and paid the bills for the motor coaches, to provide transportation for potential customers to Montclair. The coaches were painted to match the streetcars.

There is a little dispute as to which line was first, the Montclair, or the Mills College lines. My feeling is a tie – they both started in May 1921.

The first tract office was a tent, and later it was a small building.  The tract office was then moved the triangle piece of land at Mountain Blvd, Antioch St, and Antioch Ct.  The building later became the offices of Winder Gahan, real estate agents in dealing with Montclair.  The original site as seen in the photo was located on the opposite side of Moraga Rd (at LaSalle) which is now in the middle of the Warren Freeway (Hwy 13).

Oakland_Tribune_Sun__Feb_25__1940_ (1)
Offices of Winder Gahan at Antioch St and Antioch Ct. circa 1942

 The Schedule

During the commuting hours, 6am-9am and 5 to 7pm every 20 minutes. During the remainder of the day, a 40-minute service. The fare was 6¢ with transfer privileges to streetcars.  In 1924 they offered service to run until midnight.  Before this, bus transportation had been confined to the out-of-town service along the highway.

New Terminal – October 1928

In 1928 a new $18,000 Terminal was built in Montclair.  It was located at the corner of Mountain Blvd and La Salle, a short walk to the Sacramento Northern station.  The Spanish Style building was designed by local architect  Hamilton Murdock and was the first building structure in Montclair.  An Architectural Guide – Pg. 276 

The building is still standing and is located at  6206 La Salle Ave.

A Reunion

In September of 1961, a forty-year-old photo led a reunion between to former drivers who pioneered local motorcoach service in the East Bay.

J.L. “Marty” Martin started working in May 1921, and C.E. Pehrson began in September of that same year.  They met in Montclair at the approximate site of the first terminal and discuss new verses or coaches and how much things had changed.

AC Tansit newsletter
Sept 1961 – Reunion – Please see link ( 2) below to read the online version of this

Various from the Oakland Tribune

References
  1. Historical Photo of Early Bus Found  Transit Times April 1975
  2. Reunion of early drivers  Transit Times September 1961
  3. More on A.C. Transit – Transit Times September 1963

The End