Alameda didn’t always used to be an island. In fact, it was a peninsula that was attached to Oakland via a marshy low land. Today, we’re going to talk about that and more in my video about the 10 fun facts about Alameda that you should know about, especially if you’re planning to move to the island. Watch it below!
1. Alameda wasn’t originally an Island
First and foremost, I know what you’re thinking. “How can that be? Alameda is an island and has been for over 100 years!” Well, it has actually been an island for just a little longer than that. In 1902, the dredging project that turned Alameda into an island has just been started. It then took nearly 30 years to complete and only when it was completed that the island city officially became an island. Pretty cool, right?
2. Alameda has increased its land size by 2 1/2 times
Aside from not being an island originally, Alameda has also increased its land size by two and a half times since 1852. A big portion of that was from the dredging of the estuary. Also, there were a lot of landfill projects too like South Shore, Bay Farm, and The Naval Base to name some. So where you live and where you’re standing right now on the island? It’s possible that that area didn’t always used to be there.
3. The city was founded when 3 separate communities combined
There used to be three separate communities and they were called “Old Alameda,” “The Encinal on Lands Adjacent” and “Woodstock.” However, when the US acquired California after the Mexican-American war, the three that used to be separate combined under one name and became the Alameda that we know today.
4. Alameda used to be populated by Natives who eat a ton of shellfish
Prior to its founding as a city, Alameda was populated by Native Americans who ate a lot of shellfish. In fact, the Native Americans have a tradition to take the shells of the shellfish and put them into giant mounds. The largest of these mounds has even been estimated to have reached 400 feet long, 150 feet wide, and 14 feet tall!
Moreover, as a tribute to that history, if you go down to Lincoln Park on the High Street, you’ll see a monument right at the very front that exactly describes the shell mound and the old tradition it pays tribute to. Planning to go to the park soon? You might want to check the monument out!
5. The bay side of the island used to be lined with amusement parks, baths, and swimming pools.
The shoreline, now the area around Crab Cove, used to be lined with a number of amusement parks, ferris wheels, baths, and swimming pools. The most exciting and the most well-known at that time is the one that is now known as Neptune beach. Back then, it was even considered as the Coney Island of the West Coast and it also attracted tons of movie stars, celebrities, and a lot of others that belong to the rich and famous. If you were already around at that time, you’ll also probably know it as a place that a lot of people go to when they want “to be seen.”
6. Nell Schmidt started swimming from here
If you haven’t heard her name before, Nell Schmidt was the first woman to swim across the San Francisco Bay. She launched her swim here and then swam for a total of three hours before she got to the other side!
7. We used to have an International Airport!
Interestingly enough, there used to be an international airport located on what is now the west end of the island. As recent as the 1930s, Pan American Airways was still doing international flights in and out of the island from the West End.
8. 100 acres of land was deeded to the US Army to build a base at the West End.
When the airport stopped being operational, that land was then deeded to the US government. Much of which was actually deeded for just $1 and the government then turned it into a Naval Airbase. Although it has not been active since 1997, this Naval Airbase is actually still here until today. At present, it is already being redeveloped for housing, commercial use, mixed use, and all that fun stuff.
9. The Dolittle Raids. If you’re a history buff, you should know this one!
Are you a history buff or have you seen the movie Pearl Harbor? If yes then you’ve probably already heard about the Dolittle raids mission. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Doolittle raids was the US’ response in retaliation to the bombings. That mission was started here in Alameda too. Specifically, at the Naval Airbase.
10. Lastly, a number of big screen movies have either been shot entirely or in part here in Alameda.
Have you seen the Matrix Reloaded and Revolution? Remember those car chase scenes?
These are actually two of my favorite movies. However, what makes them more interesting is that those car chase scenes were actually filmed here! If you’re going to watch the movie again, you’ll probably recognize the tunnel as the part that’s through the Posey tube, down between Alameda and Oakland, over on Webster Street.
In addition, those of you who are Mythbusters fans will also probably remember them firing cannons and blowing stuff up out on The Naval Airbase. I definitely remember that and it was pretty awesome, especially for their fans who live here.
I hope my blog and video about the 10 fun facts about Alameda has been of value to you.
If you’re considering moving to Alameda, you can check out my other blogs about the different neighborhoods HERE. Also, if I can give you more context on the process of buying or selling your home, please do not hesitate to reach out. My information is below.
Here’s to all your success!