History of Temescal

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Temescal today is a vibrant neighborhood, famous for the restaurants centered around Telegraph Avenue and 51st Street, and a burgeoning art scene. But back in 1890, Temescal was a small town still independent from Oakland, and the foundation was just being set for the vibrant area to come.

“Temescal,” said the Oakland Daily Evening Tribune on Saturday, January 25, 1890, “is a pleasant northern suburb of Oakland, is so easily reached from this city that many neglect on that account to explore it, choosing rather, when bent on a day’s recreation, to penetrate some distant quarter or accomplish a journey attended with greater difficulty.

“Sheltered by the Coast Range and bordered by the foothills of Berkeley, the district extends from Thirty sixth street, Oakland, to the shore of the bay, inclosing sundry smaller locations such as Lorin, Klinknerville, Newbury and Claremont. A creek of the same name, rising in the hills, empties itself into the bay.”

Oakland North is taking a look back at Temescal’s history with a few snapshots of what the area used to be like and look like, and who lived here, with stories on the Columbo Club by Megan Molteni, Temescal as a transportation hub by Amna Hassan, and Temescal Creek by Ryan Phillips.

We also have a video on Idora Park, once one of the top amusement parks on the West Coast, a timeline of key dates in Temescal’s early days, photos of what the area looked like then and now, and a look at what Temescal was like in 1873.

Anything we missed, or have a story about Temescal’s history you’d like to share? Write in the comments section or on Facebook, or e-mail Ryan Phillips at .


In the days of the streetcar, Temescal was a busy, commercial hub

As Temescal grew in 1870s, the small town became an important transportation hub for rail travelers passing between Oakland and Berkeley.



I’ll see you down at the club

For nearly 100 years, the Colombo Club has been the heart and soul of Temescal’s historic Italian community. With almost 1,000 members today, the Columbo Club is the largest private Italian social club west of the Mississippi River. Oakland North reporter Megan Molteni goes down to the club to learn about its long and storied history.



A Creek Ran Through It

Early settlers were drawn to Temescal Creek, and it became the City of Oakland’s first source of fresh water. But as Temescal’s population grew, many saw the creek as a nuisance and a hazard, and most of it became covered up. Today, many don’t know that a creek flows beneath the intersection of 51st Street and Telegraph, carrying water from the hills to the bay, just as it always has.


Temescal’s Historical Sites

Take a tour of some of Temescal’s former destinations from the late 1800s and turn of the century. Click on the points for a description of the site. Full size map.


Temescal in 1873

A glance at what Temescal looked like, and what was happening, in 1873, through the lens of local newspapers.


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[The multimedia elements of this page no longer work, but you can read the original stories by clicking the links below.]

In the days of the streetcar, Temescal was a busy commercial hub

A creek ran through it

The story of Temescal’s own amusement park

Temescal in 1873

I’ll see you down at the club: The history of the Columbo Club and Italians in Temescal

“Then and now” side-by-side photos of Temescal