Vintage images of Richmond’s past as city turns 111 today

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A 1907 aerial illustration of the young city.

Richmond became a city on Aug. 7 1905 and turns 111 today. Here are some images of the city’s early years and an Oakland Tribune account about the death of Richmond pioneer John Nicholl on July 29, 1914.
Here is a quick summation of Richmond’s early years from the city website:

Early Industry (1895-1901)
In 1895, Augustin S. Macdonald visited Point Richmond and conceived the idea of a transcontinental rail terminal and ferry service to provide a direct route from Richmond to San Francisco. Macdonald presented his idea to the Santa Fe Railroad and in 1899 the railroad established its western terminus in Point Richmond. The first overland passenger train arrived in Richmond from Chicago in 1900. In 1901, Santa Fe moved its shops to Richmond and the Standard Oil Company built its refinery.

Industrial Growth 1900-1940
When Richmond incorporated as a city in 1905 it had a population of 2,150 and was already an established industrial town. The city charter was adopted in 1909, and by 1910 the town numbered 7,500. Within a few years the following substantial industries locate to Richmond: Winehaven, Pullman Palace Car Shops, American Radiator, Standard Sanitary Company, Stauffer Chemical Company, and several others less well known. Town sites began to emerge around these industries, as Rancho San Pablo’s vast grain fields were subdivided into uniform city lots.

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Point Richmond 1907.

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Point Richmond 1907.

Warning after the 1906 earthquake.

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Promotional real estate map.

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bank of richmond 1912

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Standard Oil refinery in 1912.

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Early Richmond promotional brochures.

Read a first-hand account of the city’s early years by Henry Colman Cutting, who has a boulevard named in his honor, by clicking here.


Vintage views of El Cerrito Plaza, which opened this month in 1958

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The original El Cerrito Plaza shopping center was dedicated this month 58 years ago.

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The opening came two years after an arson fire destroyed the historic Castro adobe on the site that allowed construction of the shopping center to begin.

Here, through the courtesy of the El Cerrito Chamber of Commerce, are views of the center’s dedication on July 9, 1958, along with photos and promotional material from the center’s early years. Our thanks to the chamber for sharing its archives.

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el cerrito chamber plaza courtyard 1971

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el cerrito plaza fiesta 1961

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‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ is next Cerrito Classic


The Cast of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” includes (from left) Eric Idle, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones and Michael Palin.

The next showing in the Cerrito Classics presented by Friends of the Cerrito Theatre will be the 1975 comedy “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” at 9:30 p.m. July 14 at the Rialto Cinemas Cerrito, 10070 San Pablo Ave. in El Cerrito.

A comedic send-up of the grim circumstances of the Middle Ages as told through the story of King Arthur and framed by a modern-day murder investigation. When the mythical king of the Britons leads his knights on a quest for the Holy Grail, they face a wide array of horrors, including a persistent Black Knight, a three-headed giant, a cadre of shrubbery-challenged knights, the perilous Castle Anthrax, a killer rabbit, a house of virgins, and a handful of rude Frenchmen.

Details and advance tickets are available online.


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:

Thank you,

Sam Pasarow
Berkeley High School


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.


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.


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.


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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Carquinez Bridge 1946


Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders makes a meal stop on Solano Avenue in Albany

A patron took these photos of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at China Village Restaurant on Solano Avenue in Albany.

After a long day of campaigning in the Bay Area on Wednesday, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and his entourage — including Secret Service agents — stopped for a late night meal at China Village on Solano Avenue. The unannounced appearance quickly drew a crowd of onlookers taking in the scene from outside the restaurant.
“It was worth the wait,” said a woman who was there when Sanders came out of the restaurant after he was done feeling the burn of the Szechuan cuisine. “He was great. He shook hands with everyone.”
Small groups were still outside the restaurant, closed by then, after Sanders departed.




Adoring crowd on Solano Avenue chants for @BernieSanders Wednesday


New Bay Trail link for bicycle commuters to be dedicated in Emeryville

City of Emeryville

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.