Oakland History

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 Each year the Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate holds a memorable Christmas holiday celebration at this handsome 37 room mansion in the Oakland hills.  In keeping with the history of this home, an Edwardian holiday theme has been created so you can experience the Christmas of the period.  Each room will be decorated with holiday trees, festive decorations, garlands and antiques to truly put you into the mood of the season.  It will be held on December 13th and 14th from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  

After your tour, there are a number of places to visit and browse.  You can have a lunch at the Winter Cafe, and, if you reserve a space ahead of time, you and your family can share a Morning Brunch With Santa, which also includes planned activities for

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Oakland's Jack London Square has become an amazing venue for both local and international visitors.  Sitting right on the Oakland Estuary, it is a collection of handsome restaurants, shops, and it's famous Sunday Farmer's Market.  It is also the starting off point for the San Francisco Ferry which will take passengers to the City or Marin county.  However, if you want to spend some leisure time on San Francisco Bay, the USS Potomac is the place for you.  There are no high speed trips across the water, just leisurely tours packed with lots of information.

Originally built for the U.S. Coast Guard in 1934, this 165 ft. vessel was renamed the USS Potomac, in 1936, and became Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Presidential Yacht until his death in 1945.  It

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 If you have not set a time aside to visit Oakland's "home town" museum, tomorrow would be an excellent time to do so.  In a regular effort to attract and new families and friends, the museum is holding a "Free First Sunday" event, tomorrow, February 2nd, from 11:00 am-5 pm..There is so much to see beyond the normal museum presentations.  Featured are special exhibitions.  Here is the current list focused around the Year of the Bay:

a. Above and Below: Stories from our Changing Bay

b. Bay Motion: Capturing San Francisco Bay on Film

c. A Cinematic Study of of Fog in San Francisco

If you want to join a docent tour to learn even more about the museum, save 1:00 p.m. for the Architecture Tour,  2:00 p.m. for the Gallery of California Art Tour,

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While many Montclair homeowners travel to San Francisco by car and BART today, they had another option just under a century ago--The Sacramento Northern Railway (SNR).  Beginning in 1928, the SNR provided service for both passengers and freight, going from San Francisco through Emeryville and Oakland, and then through Montclair, and on into Contra Costa County. Montclair residents can conduct their own mystery tour throughout the area to locate the actual path of the train through the village.  Clues are still visible in some areas.  The first clue is what is called "Shore Line Pocket Part" at Thornhill and Moraga.  To get there, the line passed by Lake Temescal, came along what is now Highway 13, and crossed the impressive trestle built at that

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When Piedmont homeowners drive by Piedmont City Hall during their daily family activities, they may not realize the source of this very unique, and handsome building with its lovely fountain, and appealing and gracious Spanish Mission style influence. Designed by famous architect Albert Farr, it's original design was a combined city hall and fire department with a bell tower (which cleverly doubled as a hose drying tower). Built in 1908, it was the beginning of the circle of creativity in the area.  One of the most famous downtown landmarks, the Exedra Arch, was designed by Farr in 1916, and has become an iconic symbol of the city. 

Just across from the Arch, at 400 Highland Avenue, is the Piedmont Community Church.  This was part of the original

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While long term Montclair homeowners know about this unique structure, and are used to seeing it daily as they drive around the Village, newcomers are often truly surprised by this very unique structure on Moraga Road, adjacent to Montclair Park.  It is in fact, the old Montclair Firehouse, and when built, fit very nicely into the unique "Storybook" or "Hansel and Gretel" style of architecture that was developing in the area.  Built in 1927, by the city of Oakland, it was designed to replicate the German forest of the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale.  In fact, the style was so popular, the city developed the same basic look for the Montclair Public Library just around the corner on Mountain Boulevard which still operates today, and is especially

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High in the hills above Oakland, CA is the quiet and beautiful Joaquin Miller Park.  Many of the park's 500 acres have sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay and adjacent cities.  Located just above one of the largest cities in Northern California, it is home to the only urban second-growth redwood groves in existence, and it offers many picnic areas and trails for families to enjoy.  Adjacent to both the Montclair and Redwood Heights neighborhoods, it is a pleasant respite for bike riding, hiking, or just a quiet time viewing the Bay.  As a result, Oakland homes for sale in this area are always in demand.    

The park is named after eccentric writer and poet Joaquin Miller, who once owned the land.  His home, called "The Abbey" is a California

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Many new visitors arrive in Oakland daily, and many long term Oakland homeowners have never toured their city, nor discovered it's history.  If you are new to Oakland, or are considering purchasing a home here, the Oakland Walking Tours are a perfect opportunity to get to know the city's past and present downtown area. 

From May to October, these tours offer a free 90 minute walking tour through some of the historic and scenic areas of the Oakland downtown district from Jack London Square out to Lake Merritt.  History is everywhere, as are new and vital businesses awaiting your attention.

An example of the variety of the experience is the "Uptown to the Lake" tour. With the stress on classic Art Deco designs, it encompasses area

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Of interest to local architecture and history buffs is the recent listing of 6401 Castle Dr. in the Piedmont Pines area of Oakland. Built in 1937, for a model home tour that was a part of the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island, it is on the market for the first time since the mid 1960's. (The Exposition Model Home Tour encompassed twelve homes in Contra Costa and Alameda counties.) With original Art Deco and Art Moderne features still intact, one gets that rare opportunity to seemingly slip into another time and place in history, if only for a moment.  One of the most interesting aspects of the house is the metal Art Deco inspired stairway, with posts of lighted glass blocks, framed by a large vertical leaded glass window, and

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Oakland's Trestle Glen area was built around transportation.  Before it was as you see it today, it was the heart of  railroad line which ran along Trestle Glen Creek (mostly underground, now), and was originally named Indian Gulch after the Huchiun Indians who lived in the area. That railroad ran through nearby Montclair, and back through the Oakland hills, carrying freight, passengers and tourists from 1893 to 1906 when it was rerouted and torn down. The next transportation influence to encourage growth and development was the expansion of streetcar lines which allowed homeowners in the neighborhood to travel the short distance from their newly built homes above Lakeshore Avenue to their jobs in downtown Oakland, or across the bay to San Francisco. 

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