A thriving commercial strip. Open country, with dairy farms, cottages and ranches. A small town created by an eccentric showman remembered for his multi-colored jackasses. A tavern haven. What is now Oakland’s Golden Gate district, the area north of Emeryville, centered around San Pablo Avenue and 59th Street, has had many faces over the years. Oakland North is taking a look at the history of the Golden Gate district.
Take a tour of Golden Gate in the 1950s and earlier, and the neighborhood today. While some buildings have remained intact, most retail stores have been replaced by new businesses. What do you think of the changes in the neighborhood?
Charles Porter, 68, has lived his most of his life in the Golden Gate district of Oakland.
Porter grew up in a two-story Victorian at San Pablo Avenue and 63rd Street that his parents purchased for $7,500 in 1949. He spent much of his youth at the Golden Gate rec center and the public library, playing games and reading books. He remembers San Pablo Avenue during the 1950s and 60s as a a commercial corridor—department stores, grocers, barber shops, car mechanics, five and dime stores, donut shops, even a movie theater. Back then, Porter remembers, it was one of the first Oakland neighborhoods to open up for African Americans.
Over the past 60 years, he has watched the neighborhood go through a number of changes, and seen the community change with it. For Porter, the changes are just part of the natural life cycle of the neighborhood.
The place where the Mai Tai was invented is now a vacant lot. The original Trader Vic’s—where the world famous rum cocktail was invented in 1944—once stood at 6500 San Pablo Avenue, on the corner of 65th Street. But Trader Vic’s closed that location in 1972 and moved to Emeryville. In the first half of the 20th Century, there were “50 bars from the Emeryville line to the Berkeley line” around San Pablo Avenue, according to historian Don Hausler, who…
The Golden Gate Recreation Center could be close to receiving a much-needed upgrade to its facilities after securing a grant from the city, with more money from the state on the way if an application is approved.
Placemaking–using art to create places of meaning and significance–is catching on in the Golden Gate District with a new project created by neighbors that aims to tell the story of the area, both its history and what people would like to see in the future.
James and the Giant Cupcake opened last week, near the corner of San Pablo and Alcatraz. Owner Eurydice Manning had to shut the store down for a two hours the third day the shop was open because they were sold out, and frantically bake more.