Laurel District

Laurel Cover_Page_1 laurel44 laurel55 laurel222 laurel666laurel77

Laurel Street may have been developed by William Stuttmeister. Rosemary told me they gave the names of trees to the new streets of Fruit Vale. I found the streetcar line that Melba took with her infant son sitting on Joaquin Miller’s lap. There is a street fair in Laurel Village.

The Fruit Vale steetcar would end at the Oakland Ferry that Melba would board to go see the father of her son who was living in the Barbary Cost. This is right out of Steinbeck.

Captain Gregory

And how many people crossing Fruitvale Avenue at MacArthur Boulevard in the Dimond District know that a streetcar line, the Highland Park & Fruit Vale, crossed there with its passengers from the old town of Brooklyn at the foot of today’s 13th Avenue?

Developers like E. C. Sessions in the Dimond District and the Realty Syndicate’s Francis Marion “Borax” Smith in the Laurel created streetcar lines like these to carry potential customers to see the property they had for sale.

(Sessions’ line stretches back to 1875. Smith and his Key System were relative latecomers to the game.) Sessions and Smith succeeded in bringing people out to these Oakland suburbs to purchase property and settle in. Before long, stores and shops (and in the Dimond’s case, beer gardens) sprouted up near the ends of these lines. Over time these shops and gardens became shopping centers.

The streetcar line blossomed along with the districts, and by 1915 Laurel and Dimond residents could catch a streetcar to downtown Oakland. They could also ride these lines to the Southern Pacific train station at 12th and Webster streets or, for a time, to the 16th Street Depot in West Oakland.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurel,_Oakland,_California

http://www.eastbaymodern.com/blog/summer-events-in-oakland.html

Weekend Fun ~ 3rd Annual Oaktoberfest!!

Tomorrow my new neighborhood of Dimond is hosting their third annual Oaktoberfest (note spelling) to celebrate the district’s German heritage with good ol’ fashioned beer drinking.  Yay!

The East Bay Express has a nice write-up in A Shining Dimond District by Ellen Cushing so I’m not going to repeat it all here.  But in a bottle cap, the central Dimond District was dense with a number of popular German-styled beer gardens from the 1890’s through the early 20th century, until Prohibition effectively shut them all down. The most famous was Charlie Tepper’s Hotel which featured music and dancing every Sunday and was located on Hopkins Street (now MacArthur Blvd) just west of Fruitvale Avenue. [photos below] The building still stands today at 2030-C MacArthur Blvd.

charlie tepper, dimond beer gardens, oakland's german beer gardens, dimond history

photo courtesy Oakland Tribune

The sign in front that read “Take Diamond Cars”  referred to the old streetcar line that used to run from downtown Oakland (13th and Washington) up to Fruitvale and MacArthur.  Oh how I long for that streetcar now…

german beer garden dimond, charlie tepper, oaktoberfest

photo courtesy DimondOakland

Other establishments included the Hermitage (actually French), Neckhaus, and Bauerhofer’s.  These family friendly destinations attracted not only local residents – apparently Dimond has a high concentration of German descendants – but also vacationers from San Francisco, Marin County, San Jose, and as far as Sacramento.  See Dimond’s Beer Gardens for more info and great historical photos.

Come check out Dimond Oaktoberfest tomorrow.  Festivities run from 11am to 6pm, centered around the Fruitvale and MacArthur intersection. There’ll be something for everyone… music, art, food, and of course, beer.

Dimond Oaktoberfest 2008 (the 1st!) on Flickr

Saturday, August 13, 2016 | 11 am to 6 pm
MacArthur Blvd between 35th Ave and 38th Avenue, Oakland
FREE

The Laurel Street Fair is proud to be celebrating their 17th year of maintaining an admission free, outdoor festival that is open to all.

2016 proves to be their biggest year yet; featuring over three blocks of locally made accessories and crafts, fantastic visual & performance artists, free community yoga, an engaging children’s carnival & petting zoo, a mouth-watering collection of local chefs & pop-up kitchens.

California Beer Society’s Laurel Biergarten “Pouring Oakland’s finest brews” will be featuring over 20 local craft beers, and, of course, a musical line up that honors Oakland’s exceptionally beautiful & diverse population.

http://sf.funcheap.com/laurel-street-fair-neighborhood-celebration-oakland/

http://laurelstreetfair.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Laurel-Village-Association-Laurel-District-Oakland-CA-64131668917/

http://www.laurelvillage.org/

http://macarthurmetro.org/201408/feature/4525#_self

https://rosamondpress.com/2015/07/18/whos-who-among-the-women-of-california/

 

Oakland’s Laurel District

First in the Series:
History is All Around Us

On August 15, 2007, I published the first in a series of books that will feature Bay Area history. This first book focuses on the neighborhood where I’ve lived for twenty years. The second book will appear in February 2008 and will feature Oakland’s 220-acre Victorian-era Mountain View Cemetery.

Click here to see a sample chapter.

Here’s what Hills Newspapers history writer Erika Mailman had to say:

PEOPLE WHO ARE Oakland history buffs inevitably encounter Dennis Evanosky at some point. An enthusiast who created www.oaklandhistory.com for the pure love, Evanosky firmly believes in getting history out to the people. To that end, he is the author of several local history books. His latest creation is “Oakland’s Laurel District,” which he released right around the time of the Laurel World Music Festival last month. “The history is conversational, like Dennis, and full of fun facts,” says Luan Stauss, owner of Laurel Bookstore. “He gives you lots of tips on where to go to see what is described, and the text is peppered with all the names of people we now know of because of street names. It brings the past alive in our little community.”

For instance, Evanosky writes about two early farmers in Laurel: John M. Redding and James Quigley. Today, their legacies are the streets named for them. In 1862, Redding met with Don Antonio Peralta, son of the man who was granted the entire East Bay as a gift for good soldiering. Peralta sold land to Redding to establish his farm. Next door, James and Bridget Quigley, Irish immigrants, also bought land from Peralta. With two other men, farmer George Adams and builder William Toler, the region that would become Laurel was settled.

The book is peppered with maps and includes recurring sidebars called “See for yourself,” which allow you to lace up your shoes and go take a look at some of the things Evanosky writes of, such as the only surviving old growth redwood from the original logging days of the 1800s or Luis Maria Peralta’s San Jose adobe.

“Oakland’s Laurel District” also touches on more recent history, pointing out current businesses and what they used to be. The Goodwill Store was once the Hopkins Theater, Launderland was a Safeway, and the King Kong Restaurant was once a Piggly-Wiggly! The (former) Hilltop Tavern (next door to King Kong), Evanosky writes, “is the only National Park Service Ethnic Historic Indian Site in Alameda County . . . the American Indian Movement met here and planned the 1969 takeover of Alcatraz.”

Such a neighborhood-specific book was seemingly built forthe Laurel Bookstore to sell. And indeed, Stauss encouraged Evanosky to write it. She also suggested that he write a history of Mountain View Cemetery since so many patrons ask if something like that exists — Evanosky obliged, and that book will be coming out later in 2007. The Laurel book, as a badge on the cover attests, is the first in a series of local histories Evanosky will be producing with the Stellar Media Group.

“I love to support writers and how much closer to home can you get than a book about the district where your store is? Love that. But also it gets people talking about how long they’ve been here, what they remember and what things were like in the past. That’s a wonderful bit of unintentional community building,” Stauss says.

“I have the book on both the front counter and in the window and every day someone is delighted to see the pictures of old Laurel. The people interested range from young black men to elderly white folks, all who live here and have a ton of pride in our neighborhood. Everyone loves to see what the area used to look like from the photos, the maps and the drawings included.”

So is the book selling well? Like hotcakes.

“We’ve sold nearly one a day on average since it came in. Dennis was kind enough to get me 10 copies a couple of days before the Laurel World Festival and we’d sold all but two by the time he came to the booth that day to talk about the book,” Stauss says. One book a day is an amazing statistic for an industry where most books never sell more than 2,500 copies.

And how many people crossing Fruitvale Avenue at MacArthur Boulevard in the Dimond District know that a streetcar line, the Highland Park & Fruit Vale, crossed there with its passengers from the old town of Brooklyn at the foot of today’s 13th Avenue?

Developers like E. C. Sessions in the Dimond District and the Realty Syndicate’s Francis Marion “Borax” Smith in the Laurel created streetcar lines like these to carry potential customers to see the property they had for sale.

(Sessions’ line stretches back to 1875. Smith and his Key System were relative latecomers to the game.) Sessions and Smith succeeded in bringing people out to these Oakland suburbs to purchase property and settle in. Before long, stores and shops (and in the Dimond’s case, beer gardens) sprouted up near the ends of these lines. Over time these shops and gardens became shopping centers.

The streetcar line blossomed along with the districts, and by 1915 Laurel and Dimond residents could catch a streetcar to downtown Oakland. They could also ride these lines to the Southern Pacific train station at 12th and Webster streets or, for a time, to the 16th Street Depot in West Oakland.

The Dimond business district predates the Laurel’s by some 20 years. Commerical development began in the Dimond in 1878 with the opening of The Hermitage, a hotel and restaurant. Tepper’s Beer Garden served up its first beer in 1895. The Neckhaus and Bauhofer’s beer garden followed, and the Dimond gained a repution as a fun place to get “out of town”’ and enjoy yourself. (Prohibition spelled the end of the beer gardens, but the district continues the tradition with its annual “Oaktoberfest.”)

The 20th century bought groceries, feed, hay and coal to the Dimond. Both the Dimond Grocery and Neilson & Anderson’s opened in 1905.

In the Nov. 8, 1970, edition of the Oakland Tribune, historian Vernon Sappers took a walk down memory lane with George Gruner and Bill Henderson. The pair described to Sappers a sidewalk stroll along Hopkins Street and described what they would have seen about 1910.

“Hopkins Street is now MacArthur Boulevard,” Gruner and Henderson explained. “Nevertheless, imagine it is still the early 1900s and you are on the east side of Hopkins Street walking from Dimond Avenue toward Fruitvale Avenue. Perhaps you’ve just walked out of Doc Mason’s Drug Store at the northeast corner of Dimond and Hopkins.

Next door is the Diamond Movie Theater. “Note the spelling; even then it was a struggle to keep the ‘a’ out of Dimond,” Gruner explained. “But you wave a salute to James Lima, the theater owner.” (This theater predated the Dimond Theater [note correct spelling] on the site of today’s Farmer Joe’s.)

“On we go, passing the Prout Meat Market and Mrs. Short’s Candy Store before reaching the corner grocery store once operated as the Dimond Grocery Company and later as Macdonald’s Grocery,” Gruner tells Sappers.

Bank of America now occupies the old Macdonald Grocery site at the northwest corner of Hopkins Street and Fruitvale Avenue.

Across the street on the south side of Hopkins there was a big vacant field just prior to 1912. Cybelle’s Pizza is on that corner of Fruitvale and Hopkins now.

Gruner and Henderson continue their walk on Hopkins Street and cross Fruitvale Avenue.

“On the northeast of Fruitvale and Hopkins stood The Hermitage.Next door was a barber shop and then a shoe repair shop adjoining Nielsen and Andersen, grocers who maintained a feed, coal and wood yard as well.

“Bauhofer’s picnic grounds was next where music and dancing were an attraction on weekends and holidays, a spot that bordered Mrs Electa Sedgley’s cherry orchard.”

(Bauhofer’s had a boxing ring and the Oakland Tribune reported how the neighbors complained that Bauhofer’s was a haven for the “toughs and their Janes.”)

“From the orchard on up to Lincoln Avenue, was another open field. And looking across Hopkins, you’d notice that Bob Taylor’s saloon faced Champion Street just down the hill from Lincoln Aveune.

“Behind Macdonald’s Grocery on Fruitvale Avenue was the original Dimond Post Office and Dorn’s Meat Market was next door,” Henderson said.

(Joaquin Miller, the “poet of the Sierra,” once lived along the road that bears his name. He would cause quite a sensation when he would arrive on horseback to pick up his mail.)

Laurel’s commercial district had just begun to develop about the time that Gruner and Henderson took their walk. The Laurel became accessible by streetcar in 1907 thanks in large part to Allendale resident Knut Bergendahl.

Bergendahl worked for the Oakland Traction Co. He convinced his employer to run a streetcar line up Liese Aveune (as 38th Avenue was known until 1914) from East 14th Street (now International Boulevard) to Hopkins Street. The arrival of the streetcar at Liese and Hopkins Street delighted the developers, who opened real estate offices on both sides of Liese Avenue at the end of the line.

One real estate office employed a donkey-driven wagon to tranport prospective buyers to see the lots the company had for sale.

A grocery store opened just across Hopkins Street from the streetcar’s end station. Its name “Key Route Grocery” reflected the original name of the neighborhood: “Key Route Heights.”

We have a wonderful panorama of the district taken by a Realty Syndicate photographer in 1912. Thanks to this photo we know that nothing had been built on today’s MacArthur Boulevard at that time.

Three years later another photographer snapped the picture you see below. We see that the Key Route Grocery was serving the residents. The neighborhood had little else. “The district is very muddy, innocent of sidewalks or drains,” an early resident recalled.

A grove of eucalyptus trees can be seen on the distant hill and the 1910 Laurel Elementary School stands out on the left side of the photo.

Construction of commercial buildings began in earnest in 1926. “Laurel came into its own as a commercial district in the 1920s and this is reflected in its architecture,” writes historian Pamela Magnussen-Peddle. “Storefronts here are predominantly from the 1920s and have multi-colored glazed tiles, stucco, or gold-toned decorative brick of different textures.”

“By the 1920s Hopkins boasted hardware and drug stores, restaurants, a planing mill and a coal, hay and feed shop,” writes historian and retired Oakland History Room librarian Bill Sturm.

(Sturm lived in the Laurel as a younster and attended Laurel Elementary School in the building you see in the picture below.)

A walk down Hopkins Street from Laurel Avenue would have taken you past Hilltop Tavern and the Piggly Wiggly Grocery Store. You could have caught a streetcar here for the Dimond District. Streetcars never ran the length of today’s MacArthur Boulevard.

The Key System had plans for a streetcar line down this stretch to run to (believe it or not) to San Jose. The Great Depression got in the way.

By the 1930s Laurel District residents could go to the movies at either the Laurel or Hopkins theater, borrow books at the Hopkins Cirulating Library, get a prescription filled at Johnson’s Pharmacy and shop at either the Laurel Supermarket or Safeway.

Today’s shoppers in both districts can walk the same street as shoppers did more than 100 years ago.

The name was changed from Hopkins Street to MacArthur Boulevard in 1943 to honor General Douglas MacArthur. (The plan was to have a MacArthur Boulevard stretch from Canada to Mexico. The idea apparently only caught on in Oakland). Both the Laurel and Dimond districts survived the opening of the MacArthur Freeway in 1964. This new road not only cut both disticts in half, it took all the traffic around, and away from, the shopping districts as well.

Many of the buildings remain but the storefronts match 21st, rather than 19th, century tastes.

The theaters are closed. The Dimond Distict’s Farmer Joe’s now offers groceries where audiences once cheered the adventures of Errol Flynn and laughed at the antics of Laurel and Hardy. (Farmer Joe’s Laurel location was once home to Guy’s Pharmacy.) The Hopkins Theater, where Sally Rand danced on opening night and where a Goodyear blimp delivered the film for the first move, now houses a Goodwill Store and an Autozone.

The Hopkins closed in 1953 and was converted to a Hagstroms grocery store. The Tribune reported that Hagstroms celebrated its opening with “orchids for the ladies and balloons for the kiddies.”

On its way to becoming a Goodwill store and an Autozone, Hagstroms mophed into a Century Foods store, and then into a Hollywood Video (with the word Hollywood appropraiately emblazoned onto the old Hopkins Theater blade.)

Just a block or so away from the old Hopkins Theater you can do your laundry at Launderland, where Safeway shoppers once bought their groceries.

(Safeway moved to High Street into a building many remember as “Laurel Liquors,” and then to today’s Walgreen’s futher down High Street.

The building in the Dimond District where patrons enjoyed their meals at The Heritage now houses the Radio Shack. (The Presbyterians never liked the somewhat shady reputation that The Heritage brought to the neighborhood. They saw to it that the Fauvre family, who owned the restaurant, could not renew their liquor license. The Fauvres packed up and left for the Central Valley.)

History is everywhere in the Laurel and Dimond districts. Tastes and styles change, but people always need to shop or stop and enjoy a meal or a drink.

They’ve done so here for more than 100 years and, as vibrant as these districts remain, the tradition will no doubt continue.

Credits: The author would like to thank Pam Magnussen-Peddle and Bill Sturm for their research on the early Laurel District. He’d also like to thank Vernon Sappers not only for his writings about Oakand’s streetcars, but for the interesting walk he took in 1970 for the Oakland Tribune. The Dimond streetcar photograph is courtesy Vernon Sappers; the Laurel District photograph is from the Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room; and the collage is courtesy Pipi Ray Diamond.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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1 Response to Laurel District

  1. Reblogged this on Rosamond Press and commented:

    William Oltman Stuttmeister is listed as living in Oakland when he wet to Dental College.

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