History of Alameda

A collection of articles on Alameda History by Dennis Evanosky and Eric J. Kos


Alameda Chamber of Commerce postcard of Neptune Beach

Today’s Island City began life as a peninsula where Native Americans, members of the Ohlone tribe, first lived more than 3,000 years ago. These first settlers took advantage of the climate and the readily available staples — acorns, game, fresh water and oysters. The Ohlone found today’s Alameda an attractive place to live. Willow trees grew along Sausal (“Willow”) Creek to the north. The Ohlone used the branches from these trees to build their homes. 

In order to best appreciate the Sather Mound, strap on your walking shoes and walk its perimeter. As you start, try to imagine a landscape full of oak trees. 

Listen for what the Ohlone may have heard: the music of water flowing from a nearby spring, racing down the creek bed just to the north and lapping the shores of the bay to the south and east. 

Start at Central Avenue and Court Street and walk north to Johnson Avenue. When you cross Santa Clara Avenue, look up and down the street. Santa Clara was cut through the remnants of the mound in 1908. 

The Cohen family estate Fernside burned in a spectacular fire that started in the attic on Tuesday morning, March 23, 1897. A man driving a milk wagon noticed smoke coming from the roof of the mansion just after 6 a.m., and sounded the alarm.

“There were plenty of (fire) engines, but no water,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported the next day. “The nearest hydrant was some distance from the house and there was but little pressure.”