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The City of Alameda is a pretty and ethnically diverse coastal community, with several commercial shopping districts that have a decidedly "Main Street, U.S.A." vibe. Hard to describe, Alameda is both quaint and hip; a bit traditional, but with a beachy, sometimes nautical, laid back element. People who buy houses in Alameda are mostly white-collar professional couples and families. Various neighborhoods offer a wide range of real estate prices, with tiny bungalows and condos for sale at the lower end of the east bay market, to massive million dollar homes on the Gold Coast with private backyard lagoon docks, or stunning beachfront properties with bay views of San Francisco.
Alameda is known for its Victorian houses, many of which have remained single-family dwellings, while many more have been divided into two to four-unit properties. Alameda's Gold Coast has more pre-1906 earthquake era homes than any other city in the bay area. Neighborhoods have distinct characteristics and flavors. The Gold Coast is Alameda's most expensive, with large, beautifully detailed Victorians surrounded by lush lawns and gardens, on extremely large lots. This area stands out for its pretty streets, lined by a huge canopy of mature, beautiful trees.
Fernside is also desirable, offering families not only Alameda's best schools—Edison Elementary, Lincoln Middle school, and Alameda High—but rated highest in the bay area. Fernside architecture is diverse and almost whimsical, with single-family houses that are smaller than in the Gold Coast, but charmingly unique: barrel-tile haciendas, elfin, brick-accented Tudors, Craftsman cottages, even a few Art Deco and New England Cape Cods, along with a stray Victorian or two.
Other neighborhoods have their appeals, too. Shoreline offers apartments and condos right on the strand, where kite-surfers dance in the sky over the beach and the sunsets are often spectacular. Bay Farm Island has safe, quiet streets with lots of cul-de-sacs for kids to play in, and a neighborly feel. The Bronze Coast has lower home prices in a quiet neighborhood near the Park Street bridge for easy commuter access, and walkability to the pubs and diverse restaurants at the south end of Park Street.
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Where is Alameda?
Although Alameda is nicknamed "The Island City" (or simply "the island"), it actually occupies two islands, as well as a small section of the mainland.
The city of Alameda consists of Alameda Island, with the former Naval Air Station at the west end, Southshore along the southern side of Alameda Island, and Bay Farm Island. The area of the former NAS is now known as "Alameda Point." Southshore is separated from the main part of Alameda Island by a lagoon. Bay Farm Island—a portion of which is also known as "Harbor Bay Isle"—isn't actually an island but rather a part of the mainland adjacent to the Oakland International Airport.
For frequent flyers, OAK airport is a convenient car ride of under 10 minutes along Doolittle Drive, with an entire terminal devoted to Southwest Airlines for hops to SoCal and beyond. Automobile access to Alameda Island is via three bridges from Oakland—Park Street, Fruitvale Avenue, and High Street Bridges—as well as the two one-way Posey and Webster Street Tubes leading into Oakland's Chinatown. Commuting from Alameda by car to San Francisco or the south bay isn't optimal in weekday traffic, but the Island offers plentiful alternatives.
A ferry terminal at the end of Main Street offers daily one-way transport to the SF Ferry terminal in only 20 minutes, with fares using Clipper Card that are less than $6 each way. Alameda also has excellent AC Transit service, several nearby BART stations in Oakland (Lake Merritt and 12th Street near the Posey Tube, and Fruitvale near the Fruitvale Bridge), and Uber and Lyft service providers usually not more than 10 minutes away. Residents will find this little city is also very pedestrian-friendly. The geography is flat, and many neighborhoods are arranged so that amenities are close enough together that people find it feasible to get around on foot.
The Alameda shoreline area is an especially attractive location to walk, bicycle and rollerblade for fun, fresh air and exercise, even when getting from point A to point B is not in one's plans.
Things to Do in Alameda
Alameda has far too many distinctive attractions to mention. Some of the highlights: Windsurfers and kite-surfers can be watched—or joined—at Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach. The beach also affords great views of the San Francisco skyline and the Bay Bridge. The aircraft carrier U.S.S. Hornet has been moored at the former Naval Air Station as the U.S.S. Hornet Museum since 1998, providing an interesting history lesson, as well as a prime location for Halloween and New Years Eve bashes.
The official offices and training facility of the Oakland Raiders American football team, along with the merchandise arm of the franchise, The Raider Image, is on Bay Farm Island, the latter being accessible to the public. Alameda's Fourth of July parade is the second oldest and second longest Fourth of July parade in the United States, featuring homemade floats, classic cars, motorized living room furniture, fire-breathing dragons, and marching bands. The Historic Park Street Business District is known for its many buildings that date back to the 1800s, and is a main thoroughfare filled with shops, restaurants, and bars. The renovated 1932 Alameda Theatre & Cineplex is the cultural centerpiece of the commercial district.
On Webster Street, popular attractions include High Scores Arcade Museum (a pinball museum and retro video game arcade), as well as bars like 1400 (in the old Croll's Building), and morning favorites with outdoor seating like Cafe Jolie and Wescafe. Rock Wall Winery, Hangar 1, and St. George Spirits are located at Alameda Point and offer wine and spirits tours to the public, as well as hosting events. Alameda also hosts the Altarena Playhouse, which since 1957 has been home to the Bay Area's oldest continuously operating community theater organization.
Public primary and secondary education in Alameda is the responsibility of the Alameda Unified School District (AUSD), which operates ten elementary schools, two middle schools, and four high schools.
The district also operates an Adult School and a Child Development Center. Alameda has numerous private K-8 schools, and one private high school, St. Joseph Notre Dame, a Catholic school. The College of Alameda, a two-year community college in the West End is part of the Peralta Community College District.
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Listing information last updated on October 27th, 2020 at 5:31pm PDT.