Tuesday, July 12, 2011

walking tour of the Laurel

Dennis Evanosky

Sunday morning was a special walking tour of the Laurel. It was organized by district 4 council member Libby Schaaf, and led by local historian and OHA member Dennis Evanosky. There ended up being a large group, including Libby Schaaf, BART board member Robert Raburn, a few folks from AC Transit, and 40-50 other people interested in Oakland history. (Plus a couple of dogs, who were indifferent about the history but enjoyed the people.)

Donut Time

One of the first stops on the tour was a familiar building, home to Donut Corner, with its awesome Donut Time clock. The building is notable because that's where much of the planning for the native American occupation of Alcatraz (1969-1971) was done. That became a major precedent for native American activism.

As we walked, we heard about different time periods in the Laurel's history, from hauling redwood logs down what is now 35th Avenue, to the heyday of the theaters (including a movie premiere delivered by the Goodyear blimp), to the major impact the building of the MacArthur freeway (I-580) had. We walked past the amazing gas station (c.1939) that I photographed back in May.

plot map

One question people had and the tour promised to answer: how did the Laurel get its name? It goes back to an early real estate development. The land had been part of the Peralta Grant, and then given to one of Peralta's sons. The land was then sold to developers, and the new development named for a grove of laurels near Peralta Creek: Laurel Grove Park. It took a while for the development to actually take off, but with the help of a streetcar line up 38th to the sales office, it eventually did.

Unfortunately, there were enough people on the tour that as a group we moved slowly. Which meant we didn't cover everything planned, so Dennis is hoping to do the second half of the tour in September. Stay tuned!

More photos here:
Laurel walking tour


Libby Schaaf said...

Thanks for this great recap and beautiful photos! See you in September for Part 2! - Libby

Unknown said...

Thanks for organizing it! I'm looking forward to part 2. And to the OHA and downtown walking tours, too.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the nice blog and pictures Gene. It was a great tour to share.