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.
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.
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.
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.
Caltrans has issued the following announcement about Interstate 80 resurfacing work that will mean Lane reductions and ramp closures on the Carquinez, Zampa bridges tonight through May 26:
Nighttime Lane/Ramp Closures Scheduled for Interstate 80 (I-80) Carquinez Bridge –
May 19 through May 26
Crockett/Vallejo, Calif. – Caltrans is conducting work for a project to resurface Interstate 80 (I-80) across the Carquinez and Zampa Bridges between Crockett in Contra Costa County and Vallejo in Solano County.
The following closures will impact I-80 eastbound and westbound across the Carquinez and Zampa Bridges nightly:
• I-80 EB and WB will have lane reductions from Thursday May 19 at 8:00 PM until Friday May 20 at 5:00 AM.
• I-80 EB and WB will have lane reductions from Friday May 20 at 11:00 PM until Saturday May 21 at 10:00 AM.
• I-80 EB and WB will have lane reductions from Monday May 23 through Thursday May 26 from 8:00 PM until 5:00 AM the following day.
• The on ramp to I-80 eastbound at Pomona Street in Crockett may be closed intermittently for the same time periods. Motorists will detour to Cummings Skyway.
More information is available at: http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/carquinezzampabridgesmaint/
Motorists should drive with caution through the work zone. Get real-time traffic on Caltrans Quickmaps: http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/ Or follow Caltrans on Twitter: http://twitter.com/CaltransD4. Caltrans appreciates your patience as we work to maintain California’s highways. Please #BeWorkZoneAlert.
The operators of the El Cerrito Kennel Club, the greyhound racetrack that operated in the city from 1932 to early 1939, were masterful with promotions to keep the 10,000-capacity stands full. A typical evening could feature 11 races and added attractions such as boxing or wrestling matches, a post-race dance in the clubhouse or drawings for a new Plymouth.
One of the most memorable promotions came in 1934, the track’s third year of operation, when the attractions included a drawing for a Plymouth sedan, a race featuring the “famous Hollywood monkey jockeys” riding greyhounds in a race (and presumably wearing jockey silks), and the main attraction, “pretty girls riding the famous racing ostriches.”
The ad for the day is pictured here, but now — thanks to youtube and a company called Critical Past — there is video online of old film footage showing young ladies jumping onto the ostriches and holding on for dear life as the birds run around the track. If you look closely in the background, you can catch a glimpse the historic 1907 Pierre Allinio house, which is now for sale.
A ribbon-cutting on a Bay Trail link will be held at the northwest corner of Christie Avenue and Shellmound Street in Emeryville at 9:30 a.m. May 12, which is Bike to Work Day. The new section “connects southbound cyclists from Emeryville, Berkeley and Richmond to the Bay Bridge Bicycle and Pedestrian Pathway and the Mandela Parkway, and connects northbound cyclists from Oakland and beyond to the Emeryville and Berkeley Marinas, and shorelines up to and through Richmond.”
“The Emeryville Connection” Ribbon Cutting will dedicate “the opening of the new cycle track section of the Bay Trail, from Powell Street to Shellmound Street on the north edge of Christie Avenue, along with Emeryville’s second dedicated bicycle turn signal at Shellmound Street and Christie Avenue.”
A Bike to Work energizer station will be at that location from 7 to 9 a.m. that morning.
The Richmond Police Officers Association is hosting a fundraiser on April 29 at Salute Restaurant to assist the family of Officer Gus Vegas, who was fatally shot Feb. 11 at his home in Vallejo. The announcement for the fundraiser is below.
OFFICER GUS VEGAS MEMORIAL FUNDRAISER
On February 11th, 2016, Augustine “Gus” Vegas, a City of Richmond Police Officer was murdered at his home. Officer Vegas was the sole provider for his family, which included 10 children and 20 grandchildren. He served the City of Richmond and its citizens for over 15 years. He was a diligent and kind police officer.
Salute’s Restaurant owner, Menbere Akilulu, Mechanics Bank and the Richmond Police Officers Association have collaborated to provide a fundraiser for Augustine’s family. Please stop by and enjoy wine and appetizers provided by our own Richmond businesswoman, Menbere Akilulu. The event is on Friday, April 27th, between 4-7 PM. 100 Percent of all other sales during this time will be donated to the Vegas family. Hope to see you there!
There was no ribbon-cutting when the enterprise that grew to become Adachi Florist and Nursery, straddling the border of a new city called Richmond and an unincorporated portion of West Contra Costa that would become El Cerrito, was established in 1905. But by the time it closed and was torn down to build The Home Depot in 1992, the venture was among the oldest businesses in the West County region, dating to just three years after the opening of the Standard Oil refinery in Richmond in 1902.
The business was founded by brothers Isaburo and Sadajiro Adachi with a single greenhouse a year before the great San Francisco earthquake. It grew to 12 greenhouses and survived challenges such as state exclusion laws directed at Asians and the Japanese internment during World War II. Extension of the Eastshore Freeway and construction of the new BART line claimed portions of the Adachi property.
Some of the family greenhouses were razed during a mid-1960s remodeling that modernized the business as it is now remembered by most who saw it in its commercial heyday.
The remainder was finally torn down in 1992 for a joint retail project by El Cerrito and Richmond.
A suspect pursuit through Richmond and El Cerrito on Saturday concluded in Albany when the subject vehicle became disabled on San Pablo Avenue. El Cerrito police issued the following statement regarding the pursuit, attempted carjackings and hit-and-run collisions they say took place:
The El Cerrito Police Department assisted the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office after a traffic pursuit of a subject wanted for a dangerous felony. Sheriff’s deputies trailed the suspect using a helicopter. The pursuit ended on San Pablo Avenue near Brighton Avenue in Albany. During the pursuit, the subject attempted to carjack two victims in El Cerrito, but was unsuccessful in both attempts. The subject also was involved in several hit and run collisions. The El Cerrito Police Department is grateful that no citizens were injured during this incident. The suspect was taken into custody and is no longer a threat to public safety. If you were the victim of a hit and run collision and have not yet reported the collision, please contact the El Cerrito Police Department at (510) 237-3233.<a
Check back at http://www.eastbaytimes.com/ for updates.
Winner, winner, chicken dinner —
Here is the ID of the once-familiar building in El Cerrito and its background, which we asked about last week. The building is best known (see photo above) from its decades attached to El Cerrito Mill & Lumber, with the lettering growing more faded as the years passed.
The building originated around 1929-30 as Mammy’s Place, a plantation-themed attraction for travelers on the newly rerouted Lincoln Highway (San Pablo Avenue), just south of Cutting Boulevard, “near the large Carquinez Bridge sign,” according to the menus given out to customers as a souvenir. The proprietor was Harry Bottger, who may have also operated the food concession on the Richmond-San Rafael ferry.
Mammy’s Place boasted a “fine hardwood dance floor and music,” though the establishment once ran afoul of the authorities over the use of its jukebox, according to news accounts of the day.
Bottger later opened another restaurant on the southern end of San Pablo in El Cerrito and Mammy’s closed.
With demand for housing at a peak during World War II, contractor Elmer Freethy purchased what was then El Cerrito Lumber at 1206 San Pablo Ave. (now 10812 San Pablo Ave.) from John Carrick to secure a supply of building materials. At some undetermined point, he also purchased the abandoned Mammy’s Place building and had it moved and attached to El Cerrito Lumber. There was a sentimental attachment. Freethy, in a 1990 interview about the “chicken dinner” building, referred to it as “the chicken shack,” and said he had purchased and moved the building because he used to take his future wife dancing there.
Elmer and Marjorie Freethy were married in 1930 and he started his contracting business the next year, according to an El Cerrito Wall of Fame profile in the city newsletter. One of his early big contracts was construction of El Cerrito High School from 1939-41.
The old chicken dinner building was torn down when El Cerrito Mill & Lumber underwent a major remodel by Elmer’s son, Jack Freethy, in 1996 as noted in this earlier post. The business, which had grown over time to include major portions of several blocks, closed in 2000 and the remodeled original El Cerrito Lumber building, redesigned in Victorian style, was moved across San Pablo and is now the Vitale Building.
Mammy’s Place is long gone and even though original owner Bottger was of European extraction, those free menus once given out to travelers are now rare and prized pieces of black Americana. A menu listed on eBay about in 2011 sold for more than $120.
Elmer Freethy died in 1998. Marjorie Freethy, a native of Point Richmond, died in 2013 at age 105.