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Bay Area native Californians, comprising approximately 45 politically independent tribelets (and who today collectively refer to themselves as the Ohlone), inhabit the region for over 2,500 years. Prior to the arrival to the Bay Area of the Spanish colonists in 1776, what is now Oakland’s Temescal district is part of the ancestral homeland of the Huchiun people, whose territory extends from Temescal Creek north to present-day Richmond. Their stability is due in part to their sophisticated land management practices, which include pruning, weeding and controlled burns. By 1805, all Huchiun Ohlones leave their tribal lands to join either Mission Dolores (in present-day San Francisco) or Mission San Jose (in present-day Fremont). Temescal Creek derives its name from the Californio period, possibly when one or more of the Peralta brothers observe a native-built “temescal” (the nahuatl word for “sweat lodge” the Spanish colonists brought north with them from Mexico) on the bank of the creek. Temescal Creek forms the largest watershed in what is now this part of Oakland.
1769 Members of a small, Spanish military expedition are the first Europeans to travel through present-day Oakland.
1776 Spanish missionaries arrive in the Bay Area and establish Mission Dolores (in present-day San Francisco), whose jurisdiction extends to the Contra Costa—east side—of San Francisco Bay.
1794 The first large groups of Huchiuns arrive at Mission Dolores. Over the next twenty years, according to mission records, 384 Huchiuns are baptize
1797 Mission San Jose is established in what is present-day Fremont
1805 Most, if not all, Huchiun Ohlones have left their tribal lands to join either Mission Dolores or Mission San Jose.
1812 Vicente Peralta, the youngest son of Luis Maria Peralta, is born
1815 In the 40 years since the founding of Mission Dolores, disease, malnutrition, and stress reduce the population of Bay Area Ohlone from an estimated 12,000 to 3,000.
1820 For his years of military service in Alta California, Luis Maria Peralta receives from the Spanish crown a land grant of nearly 45,000 acres in Contra Costa—the east side of the bay. His Rancho de San Antonio encompasses all of the present-day cities of Oakland, Alameda, Piedmont, Emeryville, Berkeley and Albany.
1821 Antonio Peralta, one of Luis Maria Peralta’s sons, erects an adobe in what is today Oakland’s Fruitvale district and begins to graze cattle on the rancho.
1822 Mexico wins its independence from Spain.
1824 Mexican government authorizes the secularization of missions in Alta California.
1834 The Mexican government acts upon its 1824 authorization, stripping the Catholic missions of their authority and property and setting the Native Americans free. Some become employees on the large land grant estates that were once their homelands.
1836 Jose Vicente Peralta, Luis Maria Peralta’s youngest son, becomes the first person of European descent to settle in present-day North Oakland when he builds a modest adobe near Temescal Creek on what is today the northeast corner of Telegraph Avenue and 55th Street Over the next several years, Vicente and his wife, Maria Encarnación, establish orchards, gardens, an extensive cattle herd, and a thriving hide and tallow trade.
1842 Luis Maria Peralta divides Rancho de San Antonio among his four living sons. Vicente’s portion, the “Encinal de Temescal,” consists of roughly 8,500 acres, extending from present-day Jack London Square to the Berkeley border, and from the crest of the hills to the bay. It includes the extensive oak grove that covers all of what is now West Oakland and for which the city of Oakland will be named.
1847 Vicente Peralta builds a second adobe, which he expands in the 1850s.
Gold is discovered in the Sierra foothills, and an influx of fortune seekers arrive in Alta California. Squatters descend on the East Bay, including onto Vicente Peralta’s Encinal de Temescal. Increasingly, rustlers steal Vicente’s cattle, and loggers move into the Peralta redwoods (present-day Redwood Regional Park) to harvest what some estimate to have been the largest old-growth redwood stand in the state.
The United States defeats Mexico in the Mexican American War. As a condition of the peace treaty, the territory of Alta California is ceded to the U.S.
1850 California becomes the 31st state.
Oakland’s 'city founders,' squatting on Vicente Peralta’s land, lay out a town and sell titles to lots.
The town of Oakland is incorporated.
May 3. The state legislature creates an act 'to provide for the construction of telegraph lines within the state of California.'
A petition by citizens is filed to construct a county road where a dirt track leads from Vicente Peralta’s house to 14th Street in the town of Oakland. Road District No. 6 is created, and Francis K. Shattuck is appointed Supervisor.
The Alta Telegraph Company constructs a telegraph line between San Francisco and Sacramento, routing it through Oakland. The line out of Oakland and crossing the East Bay Hills follows a route that soon will become known as the Telegraph road—today’s Telegraph and Claremont avenues
Oakland incorporates as a city.
Recognizing that the tide of illegal squatters is irreversible, and to cover taxes and the cost of his legal battles to retain title to his land and corrupt dealings by his lawyers, Vicente Peralta sells off all but 700 acres of his Rancho Encinal de Temescal. The portion he retains becomes known as the 'Vicente Peralta Reserve.'
1855 Connecticut-born Solomon Ellsworth Alden, a successful San Francisco restaurateur, begins to purchase what eventually will total 600 acres about a mile north of Oakland’s boundary at 36th Street—within the area referred to as Temescal—where he establishes a home, farm, and orchards.
Anthony Chabot, an engineer who developed hydraulic mining in the Sierra gold country, establishes the Contra Costa Water Company and constructs a dam at the confluence of the main artery of Temescal Creek and Tunnel branch. The resulting Lake Chabot—later renamed Lake Temescal—is the source of Oakland’s first municipal water supply.
A commission is appointed jointly by the boards of supervisors of Contra Costa and Alameda counties 'to survey the Telegraph road with a view to its permanent improvement.'
Vicente Peralta’s adobe burns. The next year, he builds a two-story, wood frame Victorian house.
Solomon E. Alden plats his first subdivision of commercial and residential lots, Temescal Park, an approximately seven-square-block area extending southeast from the present-day intersection of Telegraph Avenue and 51st Street. Temescal’s commercial district begins to form where Telegraph Road meets Temescal Creek (at present-day 51st Street), not far from Vicente Peralta’s original adobe.
Josiah Lusk, faced with a surplus of produce on his Temescal farm, located in the vicinity of present-today 40th Street a half-mile west of Telegraph Road, establishes a canning factory on his property.
October 21. An earthquake centered in Alameda County occurs just before 8:00 AM, causing minimal injury but 'a great destruction of property.'
1868 The portion of Telegraph Road extending from downtown Oakland to Temescal Creek (to today’s 51st Street) is starting to be referred to as Telegraph 'Avenue.'
The Central Pacific transcontinental railroad, with its western terminus in Oakland, is completed.
The Oakland Railroad Co. (whose president is Joseph Emery, founder of Emeryville) establishes Oakland’s first horse trolley line, which runs from the foot of Broadway down Telegraph to the Oakland city line at 36th Street.
1870 The horse trolley line on Telegraph Road is extended along Telegraph to Temescal Creek (present-day 51st Street), linking the outlying community of Temescal more directly with Oakland and San Francisco (via ferry). A car barn and horse stables are built on the west side of Telegraph Road just south of Temescal Creek (at present-day 50th Street, on the site of today's Walgreens parking lot). This spurs more residential and commercial development in the nascent town of Temescal.
1871 Vicente Peralta, the youngest son of Luis Maria Peralta, dies at the age of 58 and is buried in nearby Saint Mary’s Cemetery (where his tomb can still be seen).
1872 The Cattaneo Building, also known as the Brick House, at 5006-5010 Telegraph Road (now home to a restaurant and clothing store) is completed.
Summer. Buildings on the University of California Berkeley campus are constructed. The University of California officially moves from Oakland to Berkeley in September.
The Telegraph Road horse trolley line is extended from the bridge over Temescal Creek to the new University of California campus in Berkeley, fostering commercial and residential development along its route. The newly graded stretch of road is named Humboldt Avenue (possibly after Humboldt Park, located on the east side of the road across the bridge).
The dam on San Leandro Creek is completed, forming Lake Chabot.
1876 The population of Temescal totals 1,896. Temescal is defined roughly as the unincorporated area extending north from the Oakland city line at 36th Street to the Berkeley border, and from Broadway west to San Pablo Road.
Josiah Lusk moves his cannery to a new site (occupied today by the DMV and former Safeway market). His operation is touted as the largest fruit cannery west of the Mississippi River.
Circa 1880: A portion of what had been known as Telegraph Road is renamed Claremont Avenue
1887 Temescal Grange meets at the Humboldt Park Hotel for a discussion on the subject of 'Squirrels and Gophers, and What We Know about Them.'
The J. Lusk Canning Factory closes due to the financial failure of one of its partners.
July 14. The Temescal fire bell is mounted on Telegraph Avenue adjacent to the streetcar barn so that the car barn night watchman can sound the alarm in the event of a fire in town.
August 27. Fire destroys the landmark mansion that Zachary Montgomery, a prominent real estate developer and civic leader, had built at 41st Street and Telegraph Avenue.
1880s – 1890s
1880s – 1890s Italians, predominantly from the northern regions of Genoa, Liguria, and Piedmont, settle in Temescal, whose climate and soil are similar to that of their homeland.
Electric streetcars replace horse car service on Telegraph Avenue.
Henry Babcock protests the public’s call for widening Claremont Avenue where it approaches the Telegraph Avenue bridge over Temescal Creek.
Saint Joseph’s Home for Deaf Mutes, founded by the sisters of St. Joseph from St. Louis opens in an existing house at the northeast corner of Telegraph Avenue and 40th Street. It purportedly is the only Catholic institution of its kind west of the Rockies.
December 28. A petition to have the city of Oakland annex the Temescal area is presented by prominent Temescal residents to the city council. The petition is signed by 2,275 voters residing in Oakland, and 500 persons from Temescal.
1895 The move to have Oakland annex the town of Temescal is rejected by Temescal voters.
Temescal voters approve annexation by the city of Oakland. Also approved for annexation in the same election are the northern areas of Golden Gate, Peralta, Mountain View, Butchertown, Linda Vista, and portions of Rockridge and Piedmont. As a result, Oakland’s population grows to 10,000.
In November, fire breaks out at Sacred Heart Church and school at 40th Street and Grove (present day MLK Jr. Way). With no hydrants nearby, city firefighters are unable to save the buildings.
January 13. A committee of the Telegraph Avenue and Northern Improvement Club forms to come up with an alternative to the name “Temescal” as the official designation of both the post office and school board. The committee chooses the name "Alden" after the late Solomon E. Alden, an early pioneer and large landowner in the area.
April 14. The Telegraph Avenue and Northern Improvement Club's petition to change the name “Temescal” to “Alden” is approved by the Postmaster General in Washington, D.C. By this time, however, the state Supreme Court’s approval of the city of Oakland’s recent annexation of Temescal nullifies the name changes. The post office in Temescal becomes a substation of the Oakland Post Office.
1900 Vernon Avenue is renamed 51st Street.
1900s – 1930s
1900s – 1930s Many of the commercial buildings lining Telegraph Avenue are built in the first three decades of the Twentieth century.
In fulfillment of the city’s promise to Temescal townspeople over the issue of annexation, Oakland Fire Department establishes Engine Company No. 8 at 466-51st Street (directly across from the current fire house). this two-story, wood frame building is designed as a temporary facility to serve North Oakland until a permanent station can be built.
A tunnel through the hills (above today’s Caldecott Tunnel) opens, connecting Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
Francis Marion “Borax” Smith consolidates independently owned streetcar lines into a single company, the Oakland Transit Company, later known as the Key System, which serves the cities of Oakland, Piedmont, Emeryville, Berkeley, Alameda, San Leandro, Albany, El Cerrito, and Richmond.
Claremont Avenue is widened and its intersection with Telegraph Avenue is re-aligned.
Idora Park, an amusement resort built to rival Santa Cruz’s Boardwalk, opens on a site extending north of 56th Street, and between Telegraph and Shattuck avenues. Among its offerings are nightly opera performances; a roller coaster, miniature steam train, and other rides; a small zoo; hot air balloon stunts; and the largest roller skating rink west of Chicago. A project of the Realty Syndicate (founded by Francis Marion “Borax” Smith and Frank C. Havens), Idora Park also functions to attract potential homebuyers to the recently annexed but still relatively undeveloped area of Temescal where the Realty Syndicate owns numerous undeveloped parcels.
1906 Fleeing the San Francisco earthquake and fire, thousands of San Franciscans take shelter in Oakland. Many families of northern Italian descent choose to settle in the Temescal neighborhood. Temescal subsequently becomes known as the East Bay’s Little Italy, claiming to have the largest concentration of residents of Italian descent of any East Bay community.
Independent garbage collectors—almost exclusively men from northern Italy—join together to form what will become the Oakland Scavenger Co., with headquarters on Claremont Avenue between Cavour and Clifton streets.
Damaged in the San Francisco earthquake and fire, the A. Vander Naillen School of Practical Engineering (established in 1864 in Pittsburg, relocated to Chicago, then opened in San Francisco in 1874), moves from San Francisco to 5175 Telegraph Avenue in Temescal.
Engine Company 8, at 466-51st Street (north side, between Telegraph Avenue and Clarke Street), is demolished and replaced with a two-story, concrete building on the same site. The Oakland Fire Department Machine Shop is moved into the new facility.
Over the past decade, Oakland’s population doubled to 150,000 residents.
1911 The Oakland Unified School District acquires a property at Shafter Avenue and 49th Street, as well as Realty Syndicate lots 1 to 14 on the same block, for a new school, Emerson Elementary.
1913 Frank Armanino hires architect A.W. Smith to draw up plans to build a theater with stores at 5110-14 Telegraph Avenue.
1914 The theater at 5110-14 Telegraph Avenue opens. The new building, known to as the L.D. Purdy Theater, after its operator, Lawrence Dorman Purdy, includes a store on either side of the theater’s front entrance.
1915 Oakland’s head librarian, Charles Greene, applies for funding totaling $140,000 from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie for four new branch library buildings. Specifically, it is the Alden Branch’s several moves during the previous half-dozen years, forced by landlords’ refusal to renew leases, that convinces him of the need for Oakland to own its branch library buildings. Greene’s funding request aligns with Carnegie's philosophy of creating branch libraries in working-class neighborhoods where books are accessible to the public.
1917 April 6. The U.S. enters World War I by declaring war on Germany.
1918 November 11. Germany signs an armistice with the Allies, officially ending World War I.
1919 The Temescal Merchants Association is formed.
1920 The Colombo Club, an Italian American fraternal organization, is founded. The organization purchases a property at 4915 Broadway.
The Bank of Italy building on the southwest corner of Telegraph Avenue and 49th Street is completed.
The Kingfish, originally a bait shop, opens on Claremont Avenue to cater to fishermen heading t the Sacramento Delta.
Fiorio and Figone Hardware opens at 4869 Telegraph Avenue, later the site of Temescal’s post office.
1923 With voter approval, twelve independently owned water companies in the East Bay are consolidated to form the East Bay Municipal Water District.
1926 Genova Delicatessen opens at 4937 Telegraph Avenue.
1928 The Bank of Italy on the southwest corner of Telegraph Avenue and 49th Street becomes Bank of America.
1929 Idora Park closes, and shortly thereafter its structures are razed.
The Claremont Theater closes for several years during the Great Depression
During the Depression years, the Alden Branch remains 'one of the few diversions people of the Temescal area can afford.'
1936 November 12. The San Francisco-Oakland 'East Bay' Bridge opens.
1939 Germany invades Poland. France, Britain, and the Commonwealth countries of Australia, India, New Zealand, and South Africa declare war on Germany.
Oakland's population reaches 300,000.
December 8. The U.S. enters World War II by declaring war on Japan, following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.
1943 The Original Kasper’s Hot Dogs, established in 1929 by Kasper Koojoolian, relocates to a converted service station at the 'gore' of Telegraph and Shattuck avenues.
May 7. Germany unconditionally surrenders, officially ending World War II in Europe.
August. Following the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima on August 6, and Nagasaki on August 9, Japan surrenders on August 14.
By the end of World War II, Oakland’s population increases to 450,000.
Studio One, an adult arts program consisting primarily of ceramics classes, is introduced by the Oakland Recreation Department at Bushrod Park in North Oakland.
The North Oakland Recreation Center Committee completes its community-wide fundraising drive to purchase the former Children’s Home on 45th Street in Temescal from the Oakland Ladies Relief Society, and donates the building to the city of Oakland for use as a recreation center. The purchase includes the adjacent former boys playground, on which a municipal swimming pool will be built.
November and December. Several streetcar lines operated by the Key System, including those on Telegraph Avenue, are replaced with buses.
1949 Financed through a city of Oakland bond measure of $600,00 providing funding for five municipal swimming pools, the Temescal Pool opens to the public.
1950 August. The Oakland City Council unanimously votes to institute an anti-Communism loyalty oath that all 3,000 city employees are required to sign.
1951 December. The Colombo Club moves from its building on Broadway to its newly built facility at 5321 Claremont Avenue.
1957 Sacramento Northern Railway freight train service along Shafter Avenue is discontinued.
1958 April. The last Key System E train rolls down Claremont Avenue. The last C train rolls down 40th Street.
1960 The Key System streetcar company is sold to the new public agency, AC Transit.
1960s The state Department of Transportation demolishes hundreds of single-family homes, multi-unit residences, and businesses along an approximately three-mile strip through Temescal and Rockridge in preparation for the building of the Grove-Shafter Freeway (Hwy. 24) and BART.
1964 In response to deteriorating conditions of Temescal’s core business district (brought about, in part, by the disruptive effects of the building of the Grove-Shafter Freeway), Oakland planning staff propose developing 'the Temescal area into the North Beach of the East Bay . . . that would serve as a tourist attraction, including fine restaurants, theater, gift shops, specialty stores, etc.'
Sunday, July 2. A group of seven men and women, meeting at Marcella and Jesse Ford’s home, establish the East Bay Negro Historical Society. The other founding members are Eugene Lasartemay, Ruth Lasartemay, E. Harold Mason, Morrie Turner, and Madison Harvey Jr.
December 13. A night-time fire burns the Question Mark Bar and second floor resident hotel at 4801 Telegraph Avenue. Next door, at 4803 Telegraph Avenue, the small storefront office of World Savings and Loan is significantly damaged in the fire. *TP* *FH*
1966 Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, members of the African American Student Association at Merritt College (formerly Oakland City College), found the Black Panther Party.
1967 October and December. Protesting the draft and the Vietnam War, an estimated 4,000 demonstrators march down Telegraph Avenue from Berkeley to the Armed Forces Induction Center in downtown Oakland.
1969 The first section of the Grove-Shafter Freeway (Highway 24), between 24th Street and Claremont Avenue, opens.
With plans to create an arterial access to the new Grove-Shafter Freeway (Hwy. 24) from Pleasant Valley Road, the city buys up all the properties along the north side of 51st Street for four blocks east of Telegraph Avenue, and along the south side of 51st Street for four blocks west of Broadway. Once all of the structures on these parcels (including the old Engine 8 firehouse) are demolished, the city and Caltrans reconfigure 51st and 52nd streets, linking them together and transforming them from narrow, residential streets into a six-lane freeway feeder.
Black Panthers help organize the boycott at the Mayfair supermarket at 5730 Telegraph Avenue, and at other Mayfair and Safeway stores, to protest their purchasing beverages from companies that refuse to hire black drivers.
1975 The last stretch of Temescal Creek still flowing in its original stream bed through the Temescal and lower Rockridge neighborhoods (including where the DMV’s rear parking lot is today), is buried in a large, concrete underground culvert. A two-block stretch of a shallow, “reconstituted” creek is landscaped above the culverted creek. At Hardy Park (near the present-day FROG playground), water from the culverted creek is pumped up into the reconstituted creek to simulate the flow of a natural creek.
1978 Voters approve California Proposition 13, creating uncertainty about future funding of local programs.
1979 The overall adult literacy rate in the U.S. is 99.4%; among African-Americans, 98.4%.
1983 The Cattaneo Building, or 'Brick House,' at 5006-5010 Telegraph Avenue is designated an official city landmark.
Chanting and carrying signs protesting against pornography, a group marches in front of the Pussycat Theater at Telegraph Avenue and 51st Street.
Vern’s Market, occupying the former car barn at Telegraph Avenue and 50th Street, is demolished to make way for a new shopping center.
October 17. The Loma Prieta earthquake collapses the two-tiered Cypress Freeway in West Oakland.
December. Fioio Hardware, at 4799 Telegraph Avenue, closes.
1991 Two years after the Loma Prieta earthquake and the devastating collapse of the Cypress Structure in West Oakland, a grass fire in the Oakland hills grows into a firestorm covering 1,520 acres. Station 8 joins crews from throughout the city and beyond to fight the deadly fire.
1993 The 1918-built Temescal Branch Library is officially designated as a city of Oakland landmark.
November. Oakland voters approve Measure I, a general obligation bond that includes $2,160,000 for seismic retrofitting, ADA (American with Disabilities Act) upgrades, and long-deferred repairs of the Temescal Branch Library.
The Temescal Square Farmers Market opens on 49th Street and along Temescal Alley, just east of Telegraph Avenue.
The Bank of America branch at Telegraph Avenue and 49th Street closes after nearly 60 years of operation.
The Genova Deli and Ravioli Factory, at 4937 Telegraph Avenue, closes, and the building is demolished to make way for the proposed Temescal Plaza shopping center (which Genova Deli subsequently moves into). The Genova Ravioli Factory relocates to a separate location several blocks to the east, at the northeast corner of Broadway and Mather Street.
2000 January. With funding from a Community Development Block Grant, the Tool Lending Library opens at the Temescal Branch, providing residents of North Oakland free use of any of 325 construction and gardening tools. Over the year, 566 residents register to use the service. Monthly checkouts of tools peaks in September at 601.
2002 The Original Kasper’s Hot Dogs, at the “gore” of Telegraph and Shattuck avenues, closes for repairs and upgrades.
The Original Kasper’s Hot Dogs, at the “gore” of Telegraph and Shattuck avenues, closes for repairs and upgrades.
March. Plagued by mold and asbestos, and unable to accommodate modern firefighting apparatus, Fire Station 8 at 463-51st Street is demolished. Construction of a new facility on the same site begins immediately.
December. The new Station 8 firehouse on 51st Street opens.
2015 The Kingfish pub—building and all—is moved from 5227 Claremont Avenue to its new site at 5227 Telegraph Avenue, next to the Temescal Branch Library. A houses located on Telegraph Avenue backing up to the original Kingfish is also moved across Telegraph Avenue to a site directly behind the new Kingfish. The Kingfish in May 2015.