Happy birthday El Cerrito, which officially turns 100 this week

Headline in the Richmond Independent on Aug. 17, 1917 announcing the election results of El Cerrito’s vote on incorporation the day before. (Richmond Museum of History)

Happy birthday to El Cerrito, which officially incorporated 100 years ago last Wednesday, and was formally acknowledged by the state on Aug. 23, 1917. The city’s incorporation was approved at an election on Aug. 16, 1917 by a vote of 158 to 131, as residents of the sparsely populated area resisted efforts to be annexed into Richmond. The name of city, which brought together the settlements of Rust, Schmidtville and part of Stege, had already been chosen.

The city’s centennial is being marked with events all year, the next being the dedication of  a Centennial Time Capsule from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Aug. 23 at City Hall, 10890 San Pablo Ave.

Visitors can see the capsule, which will be dedicated at 6 p.m., enjoy light refreshments, and take a tour of City Hall! The time capsule will be stored upstairs near the History Room and will include newsletters, photos and memorabilia from the city and over 25 community groups.

The city’s incorporation was not without opposition, particularly from large real estate interests, as the Oakland Tribune reported in June of 1917.

Critics of incorporation claimed resistance to annexation to Richmond — which had already taken in the settlements of Pullman and much of Stege and the Richmond Annex — was led by saloon interests that wanted to remain outside of that city’s more stringent regulations.

But incorporation was approved by a 27-vote margin (women did not yet have the vote) and the new city at the county line, formerly known as Rust, became official.

Richmond Independent coverage of the El Cerrito incorporation vote.

The new City Council sided with frugality in its meeting three weeks after the incorporation vote.




Oakland Tribune September 1917

Another early action by the City Council was a license fee on saloons, by far the dominant business sector in town 100 years ago.

Below is a link to the El Cerrito incorporation order filed with the state on Aug. 23, 1917, a date the city is celebrating with the time capsule dedication. The filing, indicates it was a city of the Sixth Class, rather than the Fourth Class as reported in news accounts at the time.


EC Incorporation Order_1917

el cerrito golden jubilee parade029

A float in the Golden Jubilee parade celebrating El Cerrito’s 50th year in 1967. (Courtesy El Cerrito Chamber of Commerce)

Chris Treadway