Oakland's Birth on the
The oak groves and marshes that once covered the site of Oakland and
Alameda provided a rich hunting ground for the original inhabitants.
Ohlone Indians had settlements in Indian Gulch--now called Trestle
Glen--as well as near Holy Names College and in the Temescal
neighborhood. With the founding of Mission de San Jose in 1797, most
Indians in Alameda County were moved from their homes and concentrated
in settlements around the mission. By 1820, when all of what is now
Oakland was granted by the Spanish government to Don Luis Maria Peralta,
few Indians remained in this area.
Luis called this land Rancho San Antonio, and it extended from
present-day El Cerrito through San Leandro. The Peralta family built the
first boat landing on their waterfront at the foot of what is now 13th
Avenue. It was called Embarcadero de San Antonio and was first used to
ship hides and tallow produced on Rancho San Antonio. When commercial
logging began in the redwoods up on the hills in the 1840s, this landing
was one of the places along the waterfront where lumber was loaded for
shipment to San Francisco.
In 1850, Horace Carpentier arrived at Rancho San Antonio and, along with
others, settled on land along what is now Broadway. Although the land
belonged to the Peraltas, Carpentier began selling lots and laying out a
It seemed Carpentier sensed the lucrative potential in a town, its
waterfront and transportation. On May 4, 1852, he persuaded the new
California state legislature to incorporate Oakland as a town. And on
May 17, he persuaded the new town's trustees to pass an ordinance "for
the disposal of the waterfront belonging to the town of Oakland, and to
provide for the construction of wharves." Thus, the waterfront from West
Oakland to the Lake Merritt channel was deeded to Carpentier along with
the exclusive right to construct wharves, piers and docks. He was now in
position to levy a toll on nearly every person, animal or item of cargo
entering or leaving Oakland.
It was not long before the people of Oakland realized the importance of
the treasure they had given away. Throughout Oakland's history, whoever
has controlled the waterfront has had a major impact on the political
and economic development of the city. But despite political petitions,
legal suits and even riots, Carpentier held onto the waterfront.
From Beth Bagwell, Oakland, The Story of a City
"Walk Along the Water"
© Oakland Museum of California, used with permission.