Tuesday, October 22, 2013

walking tour: the Dimond

If you're new to Our Oakland, note that the links below marked with the oak tree logo will take you to the corresponding article on the Oakland Wiki where you can read more about the topic and see more photos.

Sunday there was a waking tour led by local historian Dennis Evanosky. I went on a walking tour of the Dimond with Dennis two years ago, but I've found there's always more to learn.

Dennis had a number of historic photos of notable people and the district laid out on the picnic tables. He told us about some of the colorful characters in Dimond history: the Peralta family, Hugh Dimond, Henderson Luelling, Frederick Rhoda, and others.

We walked a short distance to the Boy Scout Hut, which was made in part with bricks from the Peralta Hacienda adobe. Then we went south past a grove of redwoods where we heard about plans to reroute and unculvert part of Sausal Creek. The current route of Sausal Creek is not where it naturally flowed, and is causing erosion below nearby houses. Near the redwoods is where the home where the Dimond and later Luelling families lived.

swimming hole on Sausal Creek
Towards MacArthur Boulevard, we saw the remains of one thing the early Dimond was known for—beer gardens. Although Tepper's and other beer gardens are long gone, the building where Tepper's was is still there. We crossed MacArthur briefly to take another look at Sausal Creek where it comes above ground again, and heard about the old swimming hole.

Unfortunately we couldn't go into the Altenheim as we did two years ago, but Dennis told us a bit about the history. The first Altenheim was a large wooden structure, and like many wooden structures of the era, it burned down. Adolph Sutro had wanted it built in San Francisco, and even offered land, but it was decided Oakland had better weather.

We walked back towards Dimond Avenue and then under the freeway and up the hill, where Dennis showed us a historic picture of the Dimond circa 1927, and the house on Boston Street that's in the photo. After wondering about the location of the photo for years, Dennis happened across it when there was a fire at the house in the photo. He determined that the photo had been taken from two houses over, but another house and growing trees have made it impossible to recreate the image in the present day.

Back over the freeway took us to Palmetto Street, where there are a number of palm trees. But there's also a building that was the first Presbyterian church in the Dimond. Then it was over to Prospect Hill on MacArthur to see the location where another historic photo was taken. From there we could also see where the original Dimond firehouse stood next to the current (but unused) one. The bell from the first firehouse is on display at Dimond Park next to the Boy Scout Hut.

Closer to Fruitvale Avenue, we heard about the naming of the Dimond. The conservative Presbyterians in the area weren't too pleased at having their district named for liquor salesman Hugh Dimond, but the post office got the name anyway. Despite that, some early signs referred to the area as "upper Fruit Vale". The first Fruit Vale post office was near the Cohen-Bray House.

We heard about lots more in the Dimond and other places in Oakland, including:
and much, much, more.

Dennis will be leading a city of Oakland walking tour on Saturday, October 26, at 10am in Preservation Park. He'll also be leading an Oakland Urban Paths walk in November—check the OUP website for details.

More pictures from the walk:

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