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Berkeley High holding vigil Saturday for student who drowned

Berkeley High School has announced that a vigil will be held Saturday for Efejon Ustenci, 17, who died Wednesday while swimming in Long Lake in Placer County:

Dear Berkeley High Community,

There will be a vigil on the Berkeley High courtyard tomorrow evening, June 25th, from 5:00 – 6:30 pm. Please join us as we mourn the loss of Efejon Ustenci, and also celebrate his life.

When: Saturday, June 25, 2016, 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM
Where: Berkeley High School Courtyard

In an effort to help pay for Efejon’s burial, the following crowdfunding site has been set up:
https://www.youcaring.com/parents-of-efe-ustenci-591578#.V233-0sgHyc.email

Thank you,

Sam Pasarow
Principal
Berkeley High School

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Berkeley: Vintage views of Adeline Street as a major streetcar corridor

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A shop on Adeline in 1949.

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The 3200 block of Adeline Street in Berkeley looking toward Oakland in 1952.

The annual Juneteenth Festival in Berkeley returns from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 19 on a five-block stretch of the Alcatraz-Adeline corridor south of Ashby Avenue that will be closed to motor traffic.
Adeline has seen a lot of changes since Key System streetcar tracks ran down the middle of the street, the reason it remains so wide today.

More changes are in the works. Berkeley is holding workshops and discussions about its Adeline Corridor plan, so we thought it would be interesting to offer some views of Adeline as it looked in the years after World War II for comparison of what it was, what it is now and what the city and community envision for the thoroughfare.

Berkeley lists these as the goals for its Adeline Corridor Plan:

Objectives of the planning process include:

Identifying community goals, including but not limited to, affordable housing, local jobs, historic preservation, and an arts district
Identifying priorities for physical improvements, such as a cohesive streetscape design, public art, pedestrian safety, improved connectivity and increased accessibility, and “complete” streets
Identifying opportunity sites to help achieve these community goals
Better positioning the City to receive funding for physical improvements along the Corridor

Our friend and railroad expert John Stashik notes that in two of the photos, the portion of “double track with switch into single track were used by Key System trains of the F line from 1941 to 1958. The rail geographically west of Key’s tracks was used as a freight lead for Southern Pacific to access customers at Ward Street. Originally a double track line for the Red Trains until 1941.”

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Adeline Street at Woolsey in 1949.

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Adeline Street at Woolsey looking toward downtown Berkeley in 1949.

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Another view of Adeline Street at Woolsey in 1949.

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Thursday will mark one year since deadly Berkeley balcony collapse

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A small memorial has been placed on the sidewalk outside Library Gardens on Kittredge Street in Berkeley.
Thursday will mark one year since six students died in #Berkeley balcony collapse. Five were Irish; one Irish-American and tributes to them have been held in Dublin, Ireland on the anniversary, reports Irish news website www.breakingnews.ie.

The Irish Immigration Patoral Center in San Francisco announced that a mass will be held at 7 p.m. June 15 in Oakland:

On behalf of the Irish Immigration Pastoral Center, the Consulate General of Ireland and St. Columba’s Church, we invite you to join us to celebrate a First Anniversary Mass for Olivia Burke, Eoghan Culligan, Ashley Donohoe, Lorcán Miller, Niccolai Schuster and Eimear Walsh who lost their lives in Berkeley on June 16, 2015.

The First Anniversary Mass will be celebrated on this Wednesday, June 15, at 7.00 p.m. in St. Columba’s Church (6401 San Pablo Avenue, Oakland).
We invite all of our community to remember those who died and also to pray for the continued recovery of those injured – Aoife Beary, Clodagh Cogley, Sean Fahey, Conor Flynn, Jack Halpin, Niall Murray and Hannah Waters.
Mass will be followed by a Community Reception in the Parish Hall.
To assist us with planning for the reception, please RSVP to admin@sfiipc.org if you plan to join us.

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Overnight closure of I-80 in Richmond and San Pablo set for June 18

Interstate 80 will be closed in both directions between Barrett Avenue in Richmond and San Pablo Dam Road in San Pablo from 11 p.m. June 18 to 7 a.m. June 19, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority is warning.
The closure allows work on the major project to upgrade the congested San Pablo Dam Road/I-80 interchange.
“These closures will enable crews to grade (properly adjust and align) falsework recently constructed for a new pedestrian overcrossing at Riverside Avenue, which will replace the current overcrossing.When complete, the new overcrossing will extend across Amador Street, enhancing safety for Riverside Elementary School students and the community.”
A map of local detour routes around the closed portion is below.

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For more details call the project hotline at 510-277-0444 or visit http://ccta.net/SanPabloDamRoad. Construction updates will also be posted to Twitter at @i80spdr.

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Video: El Cerrito tolerance celebration includes moment of silence for Orlando shooting victims

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El Cerrito Mayor Greg Lyman welcomes celebrants to the city’s first Loving Day observance at City Hall on June 12, 2016, and asks for a moment of silence for the victims of the mass shooting the day before in Orlando, Florida. He also explains the significance of the city celebrating a court ruling allowing interracial marriage by noting that Dorothy Clark and Sundar Shadi were forced to go from California to Nevada to legally marry in 1934 before returning to their home in El Cerrito.

Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto of El Cerrito’s Human Relations Commission explains the history of Loving Day and the landmark court decision behind it at the city’s first Loving Day observance at City Hall on June 12, 2016.

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1946 views of Golden Gate district for Love Our Neighborhood Day in Oakland and Berkeley

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San Pablo Avenue looking toward downtown Oakland in 1946, with the Gateway Theatre on the left. The Oakland Tribune tower is visible in the distance

In honor of the second Love Our Neighborhood Day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 4 along a stretch of San Pablo Avenue in Oakland and Berkeley, here are some vintage views of the Golden Gate neighborhood in Oakland.
One of the events during Love Our Neighborhood Day will be a walking tour of the Golden Gate and Paradise Park neighborhoods led by author and historian Gene Anderson.
The walk will set out at 11 a.m. from the southeast corner of 59th Street and San Pablo, and last about two hours.
San Pablo Avenue will be closed to motor traffic from Stanford Avenue in Oakland to Ashby Avenue in Berkeley for the street party.

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Detail showing the Gateway Theatre on San Pablo near Stanford. The building is now a church.

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San Pablo Avenue at 65th Street in 1946, showing Trader Vic’s in its original location, left, and Walt’s Trading Post on the right.

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Tilden Regional Park steam trains celebrating 64 years this weekend

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The popular steam trains in Tilden Regional Park known collectively as the Redwood Valley Railway will celebrate 64 years of operation this weekend.
“All four engines will be steamed up both days including guest engines from our sister railroads,” the railway volunteers say.
The celebration is 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 4 and 5 at the Tilden Park Steam Train off Grizzly Peak Boulevard at Lomas Cantadas Road.

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Eastshore Highway, ancestor of Interstate 80, officially dedicated in El Cerrito 79 years ago this week

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The granddaddy of the Bay Area freeway system was dedicated 79 years ago this week at a ceremony at San Pablo Avenue and Hill Street in El Cerrito on May 27, 1936. The Eastshore was the first newly built highway in the Bay Area, constructed to handle traffic heading to the new Bay Bridge and Oakland and relieve the increasing volume on San Pablo Avenue. At the time it was dedicated it was described as “one of the most modern and finest stretches of roadway in California.”
Modern or not, the highway saw continual upgrades almost from the time it was completed. The highway was expanded from two lanes to three in each direction and in 1940 stoplights were added at the entrances on Ashby and University avenues in Berkeley.
Then as now, officials in Berkeley were hard-pressed to figure out how to handle the complex interchange at Gilman Street.
In 1942 a second roadway branching off at Albany and originally dubbed the Shipyard Highway, was created using more Bay fill to handle the volume of traffic from defense workers going to the Kaiser shipyards in Richmond. That roadway is now a portion of Interstate 580 and connects to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.
The Eastshore Highway became the Eastshore Freeway in the 1950s, expanded and extended through West Contra Costa to the Carquinez Bridge. Today the successor to the cornerstone of the Bay Area freeway system is 10 lanes wide, with dedicated carpool lanes, yet it consistently ranks at or near the top of the most congested freeways in the Bay Area.

Eastshore Highway under construction in 1934.
Original caption: “S. F.. BRIDGES.. S. F. OAKLAND; E. B. FILL LEADING TOWARD BERKELEY” from the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection

Eastshore Highway April 1936.
Original caption: “This aerial view looking north toward Berkeley from the Distribution Structure of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge shows the Berkeley Fill which will be completed in time for the opening of the great bridge to automobile traffic early in November. Highway engineers under the direction of C. H. Purcell, Chief Engineer of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and State Highway Engineer, are designing this approach to be one of the finest and safest arterials in California.” From the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection

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With the Bay fill in place the contracts to build the actual highway were awarded in June of 1936.

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Contractors ran into trouble in August of 1936 when a portion of the fill collapsed.

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Berkeley took advantage of the newly enclosed area to the east of the highway by creating Aquatic Park in 1936.

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Workers construct Aquatic Park in Berkeley in 1935.

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Berkeley also extended Gilman Street to the highway, awarding a paving contract in October 1936 to provide another entrance.

Eastshore Highway 1938.
Original caption: “Division of the Eastshore Highway approach to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge with a medial strip was the Bay Region’s most important recent contribution toward the cause of accident prevention, in the opinion of traffic experts. The result has been a minimum of collisions on one of the most heavily traveled thoroughfares in Northern California.”
From the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection

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The portion of the Eastshore Highway north of University Avenue took longer to construct because it ran inland from the Bay and had to cross railroad tracks, which required construction of a bridge by Albany Hill and digging through hills in the Richmond Annex. Above is the elevated roadway at Albany Hill, along with Albany’s original entrance to the highway at Pierce Street.

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Albany quickly found out that there were problems with the entrance at Pierce Street, including visibility, the volume of traffic and cars driving the wrong direction on the one-way route to the on-ramp.

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The first crash on the new portion of the highway was recorded in July of 1937.

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This September 1937 aerial view from the Oakland Tribune shows the original route of the highway.

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Happy birthday to the original Carquinez Bridge

The Carquinez Bridge opened on May 21, 1927. Here are some vintage images from the era and a 2011 Nilda Rego column on the origin of the bridge.

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carquinez bridge opening may 1927

How the Carquinez Bridge came to be
By Nilda Rego
Nov. 13, 2011

Aven J. Hanford may have been in his early 20s, but he already owned three rather successful grocery stores, one in Vallejo, one in Oakland and the third in Alameda.
However, there was a problem. Hanford trucked his own merchandise, buying from a farmer or a jobber and delivering the products to his stores. It would take him a full day to get from the Vallejo store to the other two. Not only was his time consumed, but the long, arduous trip was wearing out his truck.

It was 1917. There were no bridges. Hanford bought a barge and would go across the Carquinez Strait in his truck, taking along a few passengers to help defray the costs.

Also traveling the same route day after day was Oscar H. Klatt, a young salesman for a San Francisco wholesale grocery company. The two met and determined to find a better way to get from Vallejo to other East Bay cities.

They came up with the idea of a ferry and started the Rodeo-Vallejo Ferry Company, which was a good idea, except for the fact there was a war going on. All the shipyards were way too busy to build a ferry. So if the two couldn’t get a new boat, what about a used one? Hanford heard of a little steamer called the Issaquah that ferried people around Lake Washington near Seattle.

Hanford went up to Seattle, bought the Issaquah and had it refurbished. Then he hired a crew, and even though he had no seafaring experience, he took command of the ferry. It was a harrowing trip. Hanford sailed the Issaquah through a fierce storm with a crew that was close to mutiny. But he made it.

It was a very popular ferry. Hanford gave up the grocery business. The company bought more boats. But there were always long lines of cars waiting to board. Sometimes, people had to wait for three hours, and the lines kept getting longer.

Hanford and Klatt realized a bridge was the answer. Then they heard that someone else was seeking a franchise to build a bridge across the Carquinez Strait. Hanford went looking for a lawyer and found A.F. Bray, of Martinez, who later became the presiding justice of the District Court of Appeal in San Francisco.

Bray suggested that Hanford ask the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors for a franchise because, according to the law, the governing county was the one situated on the “left bank descending the stream or arm of the Bay.” Hanford and Klatt got the franchise and organized the American Bridge Company. Hanford became the president of the company. The stock sold rapidly. However, both Hanford and Klatt had to mortgage their homes and all their personal property to add to the earnings of the ferry company for the construction fund.

Construction on the Carquinez Bridge started in February 1923 and was completed in May 1927. Hanford never got to see the completion of his project. He died at the age of 40 at his home in Berkeley.

His obituary in the Oakland Tribune reported “His death was caused by a brain hemorrhage due to overwork.” Klatt took over Hanford’s job as president to complete the bridge.

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