Oakland Street names and from whence they came
If you look at older maps of Oakland, the street names have changed a lot over the years. This was done partly to resolve street name conflicts as Oakland grew and annexed other towns.
Kellersberger's 1853 map shows numbered streets north from the waterfront along with the familiar named streets in downtown. After the annexation of Brooklyn in 1872 which had many conflicting street names, they settled on a system of pre-pending "east" to the numbered streets if they go east of the lake, and numbered avenues east/south from the lake. So the numbered streets go from 1st Street (Embarcadero) at Jack London Square to 67th Street at the Berkeley border. The numbered avenues go from 1st Avenue near Lake Merritt to 109th Avenue near the San Leandro border.
For some inspiration, look at this cool map of San Francisco street names.
Also note that addresses have also been changed over the years, some multiple times.
The old downtown
The historical core of Oakland was defined by the three scoundrel founders and the street plan they had surveyed by Julius Kellersberger in 1852. The names of the streets, which must have chosen in consultation with the founders, imply an attempt to strike a delicate political balance in the uneasy times before the Civil War. The first pair of streets flanking Broadway was named for George Washington, a Southerner, on the west and Benjamin Franklin, a Northerner, on the east. Next came a pair named for Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, the senators from South and North respectively who brought California into the Union as part of the Compromise of 1850. Third came streets named for Thomas Jefferson and William Henry “Tippecanoe” Harrison. The names of successive outlying streets declined in prestige to West Street on the one side and Oak Street on the other.
Even before the annexation of 1897 created duplicate names throughout the city, the Council changed nearly 50 street names in January of 1897. 7
Great Renaming of 1907
One batch of approximately 50 name changes occurred with ordinance #2616 approved on August 24, 1907 by mayor Frank K. Mott. For example, an existing 2nd Avenue was renamed Shafter Avenue to avoid conflicting with 2nd Avenue east of the lake which was part of the 1897 annexation. According to Peter T. Conmy, this was to honor General William Rufus Shafter from the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. But there was also the Shafter family who lived in Oakland; Oscar L. Shafter served on City Council. See the April 10, 1907 article below for more information.
With the annexation of Fruitvale, et al, in 1909, another round of renaming became necessary to avoid confusion between duplicate street names. (Q: In what year(s) did this take place?) The most significant example of this was the changing of Peralta Avenue to Coolidge Avenue, which suggests that at least some of the changes were delayed for years seeing that President Coolidge didn't leave office until 1929. Or perhaps the street was named after a different famous Coolidge. Also, an existing Ohio Street was renamed to Dakota Street due to the prior existence of a one-block Ohio Street that runs parallel to Lakeshore Avenue connecting Mandana and Prince Street. Curiously, this street was renamed Lakeshore Avenue at some later date, creating the unusual situation where there are actually two parallel Lakeshore Avenues for a one-block stretch by Mandana Plaza Park. The Oakland History Room has a little booklet of street name changes for those people who obsess about these sorts of things.
Another batch of streets was renamed in 1913. Some renamings seemed to cause a ripple effect: Maple St. in Temescal was renamed Clarke St.; Clarke Ave. near Park Blvd. was renamed to Greenwood Ave. so there wouldn't be a conflict. 6
Yet more were changed in 1914. 8 [need to add some color]
In 1923, the city council changed the names of a few short streets, including changing Cottage St. to Mandana to match Mandana on the other side of Lakeshore. Other streets in that renaming were: Kanning St. to Masterson St., Storer Ave. to Redding St., Storer Place to Redding Place, Fremont Way to Burbeck Ave., Hill Lane to Burke St., Jones St. to 21st St., Indian Road to Sunnyhill Road. 2
Oddly, Oakland still has two Walnut Streets: One is a two-segment street in Allendale/Maxwell Park a block west of Allendale Avenue, and the other runs between 90th and 104th Avenues east of International Boulevard.
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Acacia Ave. ? Alder St. ? Apple St. ? Apricot St. ? Beech St. ? Blenheim St. ? Birch St. ? Chestnut St. (could be named after a school director Chestnut in the 1890s? Given proximity to other tree streets, I’d guess the tree) ? Daisy St . ? Elmwood Ave. ? Graffian St. ? Gravenstein St. ? Holly St. ? Ivy Dr. ? Laurel. ? Linden St. ? Locust St. ? Magnolia St. ? Manzanita Dr. ? Maple Ave. ? Oak St. ? Olive St. ? Palm Ave. ? Palmetto St. ? Pearmain St. ? Pine St. ? Pippin St. ? Poplar St. ? Prune St. ? Redwood Rd. ? Royal Ann St. ? Russet St. ? Sequoyah Rd. ? Spruce St. ? Sycamore St. ? Tartarian St. ? Willow St. ? Wood St.
Laurel Park Grove, now known as the Laurel District, was laid out in 1900 by a man named George E. Fogg. The boundaries of the area were School Street, Quarry Street (Maple Street), Kansas Street and Midvale Street. Fogg laid out the streets running from School Street toward the hills in the order Maine, Vermont, Jersey, Montana, Texas, Ohio (now Dakota), Delaware, Georgia, Idaho and Kansas. [This list and its order don't match the current map] California, Kansas and Wisconsin Streets continue past 35th Avenue in Redwood Heights. Some of these streets were lost with the construction of the MacArthur Freeway (580) in the 1960s.
In Sequoyah Hills which located in the Oakland Hills above 580, off of Keller Avenue, directly below Skyline Blvd. Hansom Drive, Coach Drive, Chariot Lane, Phaeton Drive, Shay Drive and Surrey Lane are named after a variety of horse-drawn carriages. There is a wheel-like arrangement of Shay Drive, Phaeton Drive and Coach Drive radiating from Hansom Drive. (Sequoyah Hill Homeowners Association site it clearly states all the streets were named for horse-drawn carriages)
Not named for a carriage, but possibly a horse:
- Santa Ray Ave. - possibly named for a racehorse
See also Gold Star Streets.
- Adams St. - Edson Adams (src)
- Aitken Dr. – George E Aitken?
- Alice St. – Alice Carpentier, sister of Horace Carpentier (src — sort of)
- Alida St. - Mother of Charles Young who was a surveyor and Oakland City councilman. See Linnet Ave
- Alida Ct. - See Alida St and Linnet Ave.
- Auseon St. - Mrs. Jessie Auseon, daughter of Charles Moss, property owner (src)
- Ayala Ave. - Manual Ayala, 2nd husband of María Encarnacion Galindo (1st husband was Jose Vicente Peralta)
- Barbara Road - Named after the wife of Henry Gordon a manager at the Oakland Tribune (src)
- Bates Road - Charles D. Bates, president of Bates and Borland road contractors (src)
- Beattie St. - Earl S. Beattie, sales manager of company that subdivided area (src)
- Bemis St. - Ken Bemis, developer of Chabot Park and founder of White Log Tavern restaurants
- Boden Way - C.W. Boden, who subdivided Lake Knoll tract (src)
- Boyd Ave. - Percy "Bill" Boyd (src)
- Brockhurst St. - Named for Henry Brockhurst who came to Oakland in 1858 (src, src)
- Butters Dr. – WWI fatality Henry A. Butters, Jr. son of Henry A. Butters
- Campbell St. - Frederick Campbell, assistant principal of College of California, city council, superintendent of schools (src)
- Capell Street - J. R. Capell, Progressive Party candidate in 1896 (src)
- Chabot Road – Anthony Chabot
- Chauncey Bailey Way - journalist Chauncey Bailey
- Cole Street - Rector E. Cole
Colton Blvd. – developer Frank Colton Havens
Curtis St. - Michael Curtis, land owner (src)
Dam daughters - Ettie, Hannah, Helen and Louise Dam, daughters of George Washington Dam (src)
Derby Ave. - E.M. Derby, lumber merchant (src)
- Dimond Ave. – Hugh Dimond
- Dowling St. - Richard Dowling, property owner (src)
- Fallon St. - Malachi Fallon, first police chief of SF; lived at 7th and Fallon. His home became the Chabot Woman's Home. (src)
- Flagg Ave. - Anthony and Fred (or Jonathan?) Flagg, developers in the Fruitvale District (src)
- Galindo St. - Francisco Galindo, father of María Encarnacion Galindo, wife of Jose Vicente Peralta (src)
- Hampel St. - John Hampel, who owned an adjacent tract of land north and west of Park Blvd.
- Harwood Ave. – William Harwood?
- Havenscourt Blvd. – Frank Havens
- Hawley St. - George Hawley subdivided the Buenaventura Tract
- Hillegass Ave. – William Hillegass
- Hillen Dr. - Robert C. Hillen, who developed area (src)
- Hiller Dr. - Stanley Hiller, Sr. who developed area
- Holman Rd. - Alfred Holman (src)
- Hopkins Place - Caspar Hopkins (probably)
- Howe St. - Montgomery Howe, who with Walter Blair started the first horsecar line into Piedmont (src)
- Hubert Rd. - Walter Hubert Leimert (Hubert was his mother's brother) (src)
- Humphrey Place - William Francis Humphrey (src)
- Isabella St. - daughter of Michael Curtis, property owner (src)
- Jayne Ave. – Hannah Jayne, wife of Edson Adams
- John B. Williams Freeway (I-980) – John B. Williams
- Julia St. (c.1850; now Madison) – Julia Adams, sister of Edson Adams (src)
- Kirkham St. – Ralph Kirkham
- Leighton St. - Leighton MacGregor, son of Charles "One Nail" MacGregor (src)
- Leimert Blvd & Place – Walter Leimert and Harry Leimert
- Lincoln Ave. – Lincoln Rhoda, son of Frederick Rhoda
- Linnet St. - Named for the Linnets that landed on Charles C Young's instruments while surveying the area.
- London Rd. - Named for Jack London. (src; see comments)
- Lusk St. - J. Lusk and Lusk Cannery (src)
- Lydia St. (now part of 22nd St.) - daughter of Michael Curtis, property owner (src)
- Lynde St. - George L. Lynde (src)
- Mandana Blvd. - named for the mother of Frank Havens' 2nd wife, Lila Mandana Rand Colton, Elizabeth Mandana Abbott, who married C. D. Rand, then OPD police chief (src, src)
- Masterson St. - Sgt. Barton W. Masterson (src)
- Maxwell Ave. - John Maxwell (src)
- McClure St.- Rev. David McClure, founder of the California Military Academy (src, src)
- McDonell Ave. - Duncan Angus McDonell, president of the Leona Chemical Company (src + tweet from great-grandson)
- McMillan St. - Anthony McMillan, mining engineer and businessman who lived nearby (src)
- Medau Place - Medau family, which had ranch and dairy that included much of what is now Montclair
- Merritt Ave. – Samuel Merritt
- Montgomery St. - See Howe St.
- Moss Ave. – like Mosswood, J. Mora Moss and Julia Wood (src)
- Mott Place – Frank K Mott (probably)
- Newton Ave - Charles Newton
- Pardee Dr. - George Pardee?
- Peralta – the Peralta family
- Perkins St. – George C. Perkins (src)
- Poirier St. – John Baptiste Poirier, early landowner
- Rand Ave - Named after Lila Rand, 2nd wife of Frank Havens (src)
- Reinhardt Dr. - Dr. Aurelia Reinhardt, president of Mills (src)
- Rettig St. - Cpl. Arthur W. Rettig, former city firefighter (src)
- Rhoda Ave. – Frederick Rhoda family
- Rishell Dr. – council member and mayor Clifford E. Rishell
- Roderick Rd. - Harry L. Roderick - he built the first model plane in 1909
- Ross St. - J. Ross Browne onetime ambassador to China and a writer. His home called Pagoda Hill was on the northern side of Chabot Road. (src)
- Rumford Freeway – William Byron Rumford
- Sanborn Dr. - Edgar Madison Sanborn, Park Board president and manager of Woodminster Amphitheater (src)
- Saroni Dr. - developer Louis Saroni (src)
- Shattuck Ave. – Francis K Shattuck
- Shorey St. – William Shorey (probably)
- Simson Ave.- Robert Simson (src, src; NB: his son Leslie Simson was the lion hunter)
- Snell St – (probably) one of the Snells – Richard, Mary or Snell Seminary
- Stanford – Josiah Stanford?
- Sylhowe Rd. - Named after two female doctors - Dr. Florence Sylvester and Dr. Frances Howe (src)
- Thomas L. Berkley Way - Thomas L. Berkley
- Thornhill Drive - was Thorn Road until 1932 - Hiram Thorne
- Valdez St. - Jose Valdez who owned land from 20th & 28th between Broadway and Harrison. 1866 he sold 6.5 acres to St. Marys for the site of the College of Holy Name. Kaiser Center is now on part of the property (src, src)
- Van Dyke Ave - W. Van Dyke, who owned land (probably)
- Vicente Way - José Vicente Peralta (src)
- Virden Avenue - Charles E. Virden, president of the Virden Packing Company, who purchased the area
- Waterhouse Rd. – named for Haschall Waterhouse, a WWI veteran (Lt. Hascall F. Waterhouse, src)
- Watson (now part of Athol) - Watson, early landowner (probably)
- Whitmore St. - H.M. Whitmore, operator of the quarry at 51st and Broadway (src)
- William St. - named after Frederick William Delger - He had 3 streets named after him 19th St was Frederick and 20th St was Delger
- Ygnacio Ave. - Ignacio Peralta, son Luis Maria Peralta (src)
- York St. - Bertrand "Bert" York, manager of Idora Park (src). York Trail in Leona Heights Park is also named for him.
In the Merriewood neighborhood of Montclair, there is a group of streets for the signs of the Zodiac by Lila Havens, wife of Frank Havens (src). The streets are Aquarius Way, Capricorn Ave, Leo Way, Taurus Ave, Uranus Ave and Virgo Rd. There is small cluster of streets named in honor of Robin Hood. They are Nottingham Dr., Robin Hood Way and Sherwood Dr.
Another group of streets in Montclair are named after WW 1 Generals.
- Harbord Dr. - James G Harbord
- Liggett Dr. - Hunter Liggett
- Pershing Dr. - John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing
- Sims Dr. - William Sowden Sims
- Wood Dr. - John Shirley Wood
There's a cluster of streets in Montclair, seemingly all named for early explorers. These origins have not been confirmed.
- Magellan Dr. - Ferdinand Magellan
- Cabrillo Pl. - Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo first European to explore CA coast
- Drake Dr. - Sir Francis Drake
- Balboa Dr. - Vasco Núñez de Balboa
- Mendoza Dr. - Pedro de Mendoza
- Cabot Dr. - John Cabot
- Mazuela Dr. - Juan de Mazuela ?
- Gaspar Dr. - Gaspar de Portolá? the first governor of California
Question: the original Oakland street grid of 1851 included streets named Grove, Castro and Brush. Who were they?
- Byron Ave. – Geo. Gordon?
- Coolidge Ave. - renamed in 1928 for Calvin Coolidge (src)
- Calafia Ave. - Calafia, fictional queen of the island of California
- Cleveland Ave. – Pres. Grover Cleveland (source: Peter T. Conmy)
- Bessie Coleman Dr. - pilot Bessie Coleman
- Dante Ave. – Mr. Alighieri?
- Doolittle Rd. - pilot Jimmy Doolittle
- Earhart Rd. - pilot Amelia Earhart
- Gerry Adams Way — long-time leader of Sinn Fein (ref)
- Harrison St. – probably President William Henry Harrison, the hero of Tippecanoe, noted diplomat and a strong reformer of federal practices
- Hegenberger - Albert F. Hegenberger, who along with Lester Maitland, flew Bird of Paradise in first non-stop flight to Hawai'i
- Jackson St. – Pres. Andrew Jackson
- Jefferson St. – Pres. Thomas Jefferson
- Longfellow Ave. – the poet H.W.?
- MacArthur Boulevard – WWII general Douglas “I Shall Return” MacArthur, part of a border-to-border highway that was never built
- Madison St. – Pres. James Madison
- Mandela Parkway (Cypress St) Nelson Mandela
- Martin Luther King Jr Way - (Grove Way)
- Miles Avenue - Maj. General Nelson A. Miles, Spanish-American War (src)
- McKinley Ave. – Pres. William McKinley (src)
- Nimitz Freeway – WWII admiral Chester Nimitz (he spent time in Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, but has no other Oakland connections I know of)
- Shafter Ave. – General William Rufus Shafter from the Civil War and the Spanish-American War (source: Peter T. Conmy, src)
- Lindbergh Drive - Charles Lindbergh? - changed to Castle Drive in 1931 5
- Ron Cowan Parkway - failed developer (see: Road to Nowhere)
- Voltaire Ave.
- Washington St. – Pres. George Washington
- Attu St
- Bataan Ave
- Boston St
- Brooklyn (the annexed town)
- Burma Rd
- Elmhurst (the annexed town)
- Erie St
- Genoa St (I’m guessing?)
- Manila Ave. - named for Manila Bay (src)
- Midway St
- Monterey Blvd
- Murmansk St
- San Leandro Blvd - another road to San Leandro.
- Scout Rd. - was Boy Scout Road named for proximity to Camp Dimond, Boy Scouts of America
- Tobruk St
- Steinway Ave. - Steinway pianos sold by Sherman and Clay (src)
Pages tagged “street”
And did you know that many Oakland sidewalks have stamps in the concrete with names (and dates) of who poured them?
Links and References
- Naming Our Streets by Albert E Norman - various Oakland Tribune articles from the early 1960s
- Streets Get New Names by Council Oakland Tribune February 9, 1923
- Old Street Names Go With The Years Oakland Tribune May 1, 1952
- Naming Our Streets Oakland Tribune September 11, 1960
- Street Name Plan Held Up Oakland Tribune November 4, 1931
- Names of Many Local Streets Are Changed Oakland Tribune January 31, 1913
- Street Names Changed (part of larger article Council's Big Work) Oakland Tribune January 23, 1897
- 43 Street-Name Changes Proposed Oakland Tribune January 31, 1914
- Names of Streets to Change in Night Oakland Tribune March 23, 1916