Alameda is a city in Alameda County, California, United States. It is located on Alameda Island and Bay Farm Island, and is adjacent to and west of Oakland and in eastern San Francisco Bay across from San Francisco and South San Francisco, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Bay Farm Island, a portion of which is also known as "Harbor Bay Isle", is not actually an island, and is part of the mainland adjacent to the Oakland International Airport. The city's estimated 2014 population was 75,988. Alameda is a charter city, rather than a general law city, allowing the city to provide for any form of government. Alameda became a charter city and adopted a council-manager government in 1916, which it retains to the present.
|City of Alameda|
The island Alameda occupies what was originally a peninsula connected to Oakland. Much of it was low-lying and marshy, but on higher ground the peninsula and adjacent parts of what is now downtown Oakland were home to one of the largest coastal oak forests in the world. The area was therefore called Encinal, Spanish for "forest of evergreen oak". Alameda is Spanish for "grove of poplar trees" or "tree-lined avenue", and was chosen in 1853 by popular vote.
The city was founded on June 6, 1853, and the town originally contained three small settlements. "Alameda" referred to the village at Encinal and High Streets, Hibbardsville was at the North Shore ferry and shipping terminal, and Woodstock was on the west near the ferry piers of the South Pacific Coast Railroad and the Central Pacific. Eventually, the Central Pacific's ferry pier became the Alameda Mole, featuring transit connections between San Francisco ferries, local trollies and Southern Pacific (formerly Central Pacific) commuter lines.
Neptune Beach's two huge outdoor pools hosted swimming races and exhibitions by such famous swimmers as Olympian Johnny Weismuller, who later starred as the original Tarzan, and Jack LaLanne, who started a chain of health clubs. The park closed down in 1939 because of the Great Depression, the completion of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge, people circumventing paying the admission price, and the rise of car culture. Once the Bay Bridge was complete, the rail lines, which ran right past the entrance to Neptune Beach on the way to the Alameda Mole and the Ferry, lost riders in droves. People began using their cars to escape the city and the immediate suburbs like Alameda and traveling further afield in California. Alameda lost its resort status as more distant locations became more attractive to cash-rich San Francisco tourists. Youngsters in town became aware of ways to avoid paying the dime for admission to the park. Strong swimmers or even waders could sneak in on the bay side just by swimming around the fence.
In addition to the regular trains running to the Alameda Mole, Alameda was also served by local steam commuter lines of the Southern Pacific (initially, the Central Pacific) which were later transformed into the East Bay Electric Lines. Southern Pacific's electrified trains were not streetcars, but full-sized railroad cars which connected to the mainland by bridges at Webster Street and Fruitvale (only the latter bridge survives today). The trains ran to both the Oakland Mole and the Alameda Mole. In fact, one line which ran between the two moles was dubbed the "Horseshoe Line" for the shape of the route on a map. Soon after the completion of the Bay Bridge, Alameda trains ran directly to San Francisco on the lower deck of the bridge, the ferries having been rendered unnecessary. Alameda was the site of the Southern Pacific's West Alameda Shops where all the electric trains were maintained and repaired.
Due to its proximity to the Bay, wind surfers and kite surfers can often be seen at Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach. From the beach there are also views of the San Francisco skyline and the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge.
One of the recent attractions is the aircraft carrier USS Hornet, a museum ship now moored at the former Naval Air Station as the USS Hornet Museum. This ship was originally named the USS Kearsarge, but was renamed in honor of the previous Hornet CV-8 (famous for the Doolittle raid), which was lost in October 1942.
Alameda is known for its Victorian houses; 9% of all single-family houses (1500) in Alameda are Victorian, and many more have been divided into two to four-unit dwellings. It is said that Alameda has more pre-1906 earthquake era homes in the Gold Coast section than any other city in the Bay Area.
Alameda is home to the official offices and training facility of the Oakland Raiders American football team, which is located on Bay Farm Island. The facility is also home to The Raider Image, the merchandise arm of the franchise, which the public can visit.
At the turn of the 19th century, the city of Alameda took a large chunk of Charles Froling's land away to build a street. Froling had planned to build his dream house on the plot of land he received through inheritance. To spite the city and an unsympathetic neighbor, Froling built a house 10 feet (3.0 m) wide, 54 feet (16 m) long and 20 feet (6.1 m) high on the tiny strip of land left to him. The Froling spite house is still standing and occupied.
Alameda is also known for its Fourth of July parade, which is advertised as the second oldest and second longest Fourth of July parade in the United States. It features homemade floats, classic cars, motorized living room furniture, fire-breathing dragons, marching bands, and large crowds. The parade route is about 3 miles (5 km) long.
The Historic Park Street Business District is known for its many buildings that date back to the 1800s and is a designated National Historic Landmark. This main thoroughfare of downtown Alameda Is filled with local shops, restaurants, drinking establishments, and services. The renovated 1932 Alameda Theatre & Cineplex is the cultural centerpiece of the commercial district. In addition, popular attractions include High Scores Arcade Museum (a retro video game arcade) and Subpar Miniature Golf (an indoor miniature golf complex that features Bay Area landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Coit Tower at each hole).
Public primary and secondary education in Alameda is the responsibility of the Alameda Unified School District, which is legally separate from the City government (as is common throughout California). The College of Alameda, a two-year community college in the West End is part of the Peralta Community College District. The city has numerous private primary schools, and one private high school, St. Joseph Notre Dame High School, a Catholic school.