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Alameda, California

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

City of Alameda, California
Official flag of City of Alameda, California
Official seal of City of Alameda, California
Flag Seal
Nickname: "The Island City"
Location in the state of California and Alameda County
County Alameda
Mayor Beverly Johnson (D)
Geographical characteristics
Area 59.5 kmē
    Land   28.0 kmē
    Water   31.5 kmē
Population (2000) 72,259
    Density   1,131.3/kmē
Time zone
  Summer (DST)
Website: City of Alameda

Alameda is a city in Alameda County, California, United States. It is a city on a small island of the same name next to Oakland, California in the San Francisco Bay. An additional part of the city is Bay Farm Island, which is adjacent to the Oakland International Airport. The city has a small town feel with its Victorian homes and tree lined neighborhoods. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 72,259. Alameda is a charter city, rather than a general law city, meaning that the city can provide for any form of government. Alameda became a charter city in 1916, and adopted a council-manager government then, which it retains to the present.


The island which Alameda occupies today was originally a peninsula connected to what is now Oakland south of the Lake Merritt channel. Much of the peninsula was low-lying and marshy, but on the higher ground, the peninsula and adjacent part of what is now downtown Oakland were home to one of the largest coastal oak forests in the world and the area was therefore called "encinal", Spanish for "Oakland". "Alameda" is Spanish for "a stand of cottonwood trees", which must also have been growing in the area.

The inhabitants at the time of the arrival of Spanish explorers in the late 1700s were a local band of the Ohlone tribe. The peninsula became part of the vast Rancho San Antonio granted to Luis Peralta by the Spanish king who claimed California. The grant was later confirmed by the new Republic of Mexico upon its independence from Spain. Early European settlers at the onset of the Gold Rush in the 1850s included French lumberjacks supplying lumber to the quickly expanding San Francisco and Chipman and Auginbaugh, major landowners who founded the village of Alameda near the corner of Encinal Avenue and High Street in Alameda.

The city was founded on June 6, 1853. Originally three small settlements grew in town "Old Alameda" which was the village at Encinal and High, Hibbardsville at the North Shore ferry and shipping terminal, and Woodstock on the west near the ferry piers of the South Pacific Coast Railroad and the Central Pacific. Eventually, the Central Pacific's ferry pier became the "Alameda Mole" while the Central Pacific itself became the Southern Pacific. The Alameda pier was the site of the first train across the Transcontinental Railroad into the San Francisco Bay Area. The terminus was moved to Oakland a few years later.

As Park Street developed into the major thoroughfare of the city and the location of the main Alameda train station, residents of Old Alameda pulled up stakes and moved across town to the new downtown.

The need for expanded shipping facilities in the late 19th century in both cities led to a shipping and tidal channel that was dug between the two cities in 1902, extending and deepening the natural estuary, which resulted in Alameda becoming an "island" with most of the dug up soil used to fill in some sections of the nearby marsh land. Bay Farm Island was originally a small island which was enlarged and connected to the mainland by filling. In his youth, author Jack London was known to take part in oyster pirating in the highly productive oyster beds near Bay Farm Island, today long gone. In the 1950s, Alameda's industrial and ship building industries thrived along the Estuary, where the world's first-ever, land-based, containerized shipping crane was used. Today, the Port of Oakland across the Estuary serves as one of the largest ports on the West Coast, using the shipping technologies originally experimented with in Alameda. As of March 21, 2006, Alameda is a "Coast Guard City," one of seven in the country. [1]

In addition to the regular trains running to the Alameda Mole, Alameda was also served by local steam commuter lines of the Southern Pacific (initially, the Central Pacific) which were later transformed into the East Bay Electric Lines. The SP's electrified trains were not streetcars, but full-sized railroad cars which connected to the mainland by bridges at Webster Street and Fruitvale (only the latter bridge survives today). The trains ran to both the Oakland Mole and the Alameda Mole. In fact, one line which ran between the two moles was dubbed the "Horseshoe Line" for the shape of the route on a map. Soon after the completion of the Bay Bridge, Alameda trains ran directly to San Francisco on the lower deck of the bridge, the ferries having been rendered unnecessary.

In the 1930s, Pan American Airways established a seaplane port along the fill that led to the Alameda Mole. This was the original home base for the famous China Clipper. With the advent of World War II, a vast stretch of the marshy area south of the Alameda Mole was filled and the Alameda Naval Air Station established. This Naval facility included a large airfield as well as docks for several aircraft carriers. It shutdown in the 1990s


Today the city consists of the main original section, with the former Naval Air Station at the west end of Alameda Island, Southshore along the southern side of Alameda Island, and Bay Farm Island, which is part of the mainland proper. The area of the former NAS is now known as "Alameda Point." The Southshore area is separated from the main part of Alameda Island by a lagoon; the north shore of the lagoon is located approximately where the original south shore of the island was. Alameda Point and Southshore are built on artificial fill.


As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 72,259 people, 30,226 households, and 17,863 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,583.3/kmē (6,693.4/miē). There were 31,644 housing units at an average density of 1,131.3/kmē (2,931.2/miē). The racial makeup of the city was 56.95% White, 6.21% Black or African American, 0.67% Native American, 26.15% Asian, 0.60% Pacific Islander, 3.29% from other races, and 6.13% from two or more races. 9.31% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 30,226 households out of which 27.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.7% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.9% were non-families. 32.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 3.04.

In the city the population was spread out with 21.5% under the age of 18, 7.0% from 18 to 24, 33.6% from 25 to 44, 24.6% from 45 to 64, and 13.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 92.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $56,285, and the median income for a family was $68,625. Males had a median income of $49,174 versus $40,165 for females. The per capita income for the city was $30,982. About 6.0% of families and 8.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.4% of those under age 18 and 6.1% of those age 65 or over.


Vehicle access to the island is via three bridges to Oakland, a bridge to Bay Farm Island, and two one-way tunnels leading into Oakland's Chinatown. Bridges at Fruitvale Avenue, High Street, and Park Street, and the tunnels at Webster Street and Harrison Street (the latter called the Posey Tube) connect Alameda and Oakland. Public transportation includes the AC Transit buses (which include express buses to San Francisco) and two ferry services--the Alameda-Oakland Ferry and the Harbor Bay Ferry. Both ferry services may be transferred to the Water Transit Authority shortly. The island is also close to the BART train service, with the closest stations being Lake Merritt, near the exit to the Posey Tube, and Fruitvale, near the Fruitvale Bridge.

Even though the island is just minutes off Interstate 880, the speed limit for the city is 25 mph (40 km/h) on almost every road. Many unaware drivers fail to slow down after exiting the highway. Groups like Pedestrian Friendly Alameda and BikeAlameda advocate stronger enforcement of speeding laws. Alameda has a reputation for vigorous enforcement of the 25mph speed limit.[2]


Victorian house in Alameda
Victorian house in Alameda

Due to its proximity to the Bay, wind surfers and kite surfers can often be seen along Crown Memorial State Beach and Shoreline Drive. From the beach there are also views of the San Francisco skyline and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

One of the recent attractions is the aircraft carrier USS Hornet, a museum ship now moored at the former Naval Air Station. This was the ship used by Alameda native Jimmy Doolittle for the launching of a squadron of B-25s in the Tokyo raid of World War II.

Alameda is also known for its large stock of Victorian houses; 9% of all single-family houses (1500) in Alameda are Victorians, and many more have been divided into 2 to 4-unit dwellings.[3]

Economic development

The (old) Alameda Theater
The (old) Alameda Theater

The Naval Air Station at Alameda was decommissioned and is in process of being turned over to the City of Alameda for civilian development. The area of the former NAS is now known as "Alameda Point". Portions of Alameda Point are now in commercial use, but the transfer process has been slowed down by disputes between the Navy and the City regarding payment for environmental cleanup of the land. In late July of 2006, the City of Alameda announced a deal with Navy that would turn the land over to the city for $100M. High-density development of the base is opposed by a some residents in the City who object to modifications to Alameda Measure A, passed in 1973 that intended to stop high-density development and slow population growth on the Island. Campaign flyers from the time quoted population projections based on then-current zoning for Alameda from 175,000 to 200,000 people.

After two previous failures, voters in the City passed a ballot measure in 2000 authorizing a bond measure for construction of a new library to replace the city's Carnegie library that was damaged during the Loma Prieta earthquake. The City also received state funds for the new library and it is currently under construction near the City's Park Street business district and will open in the fall of 2006.

City officials continue to seek ways to spur economic development on the Island including the reconstruction of the City's shopping mall and restoration of the historic art deco city landmark Alameda Theater. The theater restoration project is currently the subject of much controversy in the City, pitting the City's pro-development and anti-development factions against each other once again.

Local Newspapers

Alameda's first newspaper, the Encinal, appeared on the scene in the early 1850s and the paper's editor was instrumental in the movement to incorporate the city. Following the Encinal several other papers appeared along geographic lines, but the Daily Argus would eventually rise to prominence. Around 1900 the Argus began to fade in importance and east and west papers The Times and The Star combined to take the leading role as the Alameda Times-Star in the 1930s. Under the ownership of the Kofman family, the Times-Star thrived until selling to the Alameda Newspaper Group (an out-of-town news corporation) in the 1970s.

As a direct response to the lack of a local news source, Alameda realtors John Crittenden and John McNulty decided to combine their two publishing efforts into a new East End voice, Alameda Journal, in 1987. Crittenden had published a real estate shopper while McNulty was known for the Island Journal, a provincial publication focused on local restaurant reviews. The new paper found itself the hometown paper of choice until it sold to the Hills Newspaper chain owned by Chip and Mary Brown. The Browns, Oakland residents, had assembled a chain of five East Bay weeklies or biweeklies: The biweekly Alameda Journal, The biweekly Montclarion (serving the Montclair district of Oakland), The Piedmonter (Piedmont, CA), The Berkeley Voice, and The Albany/El Cerrito Journal.

In 1997, the Hills Newspaper chain sold out to Knight Rider, at the time, the second-largest newspaper chain in the U.S. Following the buyout, former Hills Newspapers employees recognized the lack of a local community voice in Alameda, and again formed a new locally-based newspaper, the Alameda Sun, in 2001. In 2006 Knight Rider announced its impending sale to McClatchy Corp., a Sacramento-based publishing firm. McClatchy Corp., has put the Contra Costa Times, which under the Knight Rider reorganization now included all 5 of the original Hills Newspapers, up for sale. The current owners of the Alameda Times-Star, MediaNews, Inc., based in Colorado, have announced a strong interest in buying both the Contra Costa Times chain and the San Jose Mercury News, consolidating the daily newspaper market of the East Bay, effectively under one owner. The California State Attorney General as of June 2006 has been investigating the sale of the former Knight Rider properties to MediaNews in the event of a potential breach of anti-trust laws. The upshot of the sale to MediaNews would be the original victor of Alameda's newspaper wars losing in the end, being bought out by the newspaper company once considered vanquished.

Alameda Power and Telecom

Unlike surrounding communities, Alameda has a municipal power and telecommunications service (Alameda Power and Telecom) that delivers services directly to consumers.

There have been proposals by the power producer to produce energy from waste, but not within the city of Alameda. Instead this energy would be produced at a waste transfer station located in neighboring (and downwind) San Leandro. Owing to the expected release of toxic emissions from what is essentially a garbage incinerator, the mayor and city council of San Leandro rejected the proposal. The mayor vowed to fight this proposal, suggesting that Alameda could instead place this near their municipal golf course.

Also, unlike the three major power producers in California, as a municipal utility, Alameda is not required to establish net metering for home photovoltaic power producers, so the city currently lags far behind other communities in producing truly "green" energy, even though they have a potentially productive site for supplemental wind energy on the western edge of the former naval air station.

Arts and culture

The Alameda Arts Council (AAC) is the Alameda City arts council serving the arts in the Alameda area.

"Art In the Park"

Art In the Park is an annual event that takes place in Jackson Park (Encinal and Park Ave) and is produced by the management and staff of the Alameda Recreation & Parks department . This event is held in the late summer and features over 100 local artists, two music areas, a children's activity area, food, poetry readings and art demonstrations. This event is free to the public.

"Shining Stars In The Arts"

Shining Stars In The Arts is an evening event that celebrates the community members in Alameda who have made an outstanding contribution in the Arts in the city. Features a fundraising silent art auction, food and music concludes in an award ceremony for the Shining Star Honorees. Held in May.


  • The Posey tube was used, along with other Bay Area tunnels, in the filming of the 1970 version of THX-1138. It was also used in the filming for The Matrix Reloaded.
Alameda High was renamed to Clearview High in the Animatrix episode: Kid's Story
Alameda High was renamed to Clearview High in the Animatrix episode: Kid's Story


Private Schools

Public Schools, Alameda Unified School District

Continuing education

  • Alameda Adult School
  • Woodstock Child Development Center

High schools

Middle schools

  • Chipman Middle School
  • Lincoln Middle School
  • Wood Middle School

Elementary schools

  • Ruby Bridges Elementary School
  • Bay Farm Elementary School
  • Amelia Earhart Elementary School
  • Edison Elementary School
  • Franklin Elementary School
  • Henry Haight Elementary School
  • Longfellow Elementary School
  • Donald D. Lum Elementary School
  • Miller Elementary School
  • Frank Otis Elementary School
  • Paden Elementary School
  • Washington Elementary School
  • Woodstock Elementary School

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11
3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: 3:2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3:3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 3:4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 3:5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, 3:6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 3:7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 3:8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. 3:9 What does the worker gain from his toil? 3:10 I have seen the burden God has laid on men. 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

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Last updated: 08/20/06.