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old picture of park blvd.

Before it was known as Park Boulevard, the Glenview's main drag was known as Walker Street and an extension of 4th Avenue.

How well do you know your neighborhood? Before Mandela Parkway grew flowers, the Cypress Freeway threw shadows over West Oakland. Pre-dating the Uptown swing in fine downtown dining, dives like the Hof Brau hung signs with blinking lights on Broadway. And who would’ve known that the Fruitvale, a mecca for Hispanic foods and festivals, was lined with cherry orchards?

City history rests just below the concrete surface in our lovely, multi-layered Oakland. This summer, the Oakland Heritage Alliance continues its walking tour series. Inspired by the architecture, landscapes and people that have characterized the Town, a few armchair historians continue to lead the curious on several strolls through time.

image of park blvd. apartment building

Today, Park Boulevard has a mix of single-family and multi-unit homes.

Tomorrow, I invite you to join me on a stroll through the Glenview. Oakland History Room historian Kathleen DiGiovanni and I will traverse a hillside neighborhood and share the stories of a growing Oakland. Before the gourmet restaurants opened, ranchers raised cows and crops along Park Boulevard. A train carried passengers up Trestle Glen and loggers hauled redwood trunks down Park from the hills.

When the “Glenview Heights” subdivision, as it was called in 1925, took shape, settling space ran for $150 a foot. Some scrambled for homogeneity while others welcomed diversity with the Key Route streetcars that rambled up Park to Leimert. As one property owner put it, “Just picture another Oakland built almost entirely around the outside of the present city. That will give you some idea of the coming importance of Park Boulevard. It is going to be Oakland’s great north and south artery, and it cannot be paralleled.”

1925 map of "Glenview Heights"

The Oakland Tribune ran this map of "Glenview Heights" in 1925.

Saturday’s route will start at Glenview Elementary School, wind through Dimond Canyon and head up E. 38th toward Hampel, ending on Park’s business district. The tour lasts from 10 a.m. to noon.

For histories and poems from all corners of our city, check out Erika Mailman’s compilation “Oakland’s Neighborhoods.” You’ll find a complete listing of the Oakland Heritage Alliance tours here.

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Tonight, two Bay Area bands share give out ear candy at the Make-Out Room: Oakland popster band the Hollyhocks and the Orange Peels of Sunnyvale. The show debuts the latest effort in four years from the Orange Peels, an album called “2020” released this month by MintyFresh.

Hollyhocks guitarist Dan Jewett says that the band’s history with the Orange Peels goes back years. Allen Clapp (vocals, guitar, songwriter, producer) and Larry Winter (guitarist and former member of the punk rock gods the Mummies) grew up with Jewett in Foster City. “Our first ever band, The Batmen, started playing in the late 80s and this is where we figured out how to do this music thing.”

This “reunion of the Foster City guard” has another interesting twist: the wives of each leading guitarist play bass in their respective bands—Yuri Jewett and Jill Preis—making tonight’s CD release party truly a family affair. Check out the details below:

peelshockssmall

Today Bobby Seale turns 73 years old. A week before his 30th birthday, he co-founded the Black Panther Party with Huey Newton steps away from their North Oakland community college. Seale spoke to a small crowd some ten years ago at the now closed New College of California; he had the same furrowed brow and mustache pictured in archival photos, but sported a pair of suspenders and silvered hair. He engaged the audience with his boisterous energy as he talked about past political rallies. His memoir, “Seize the Time,” remains the most popular book about the Black Panthers, a revolutionary group that changed the consciousness of a nation.

You can check out a host of BPP literature today and tomorrow at Laney College, from 11–3 p.m. Former Panthers turned authors will present a book fair at the Student Center. It’s just one of several events dedicated to October, aka Black Panther Party History Month:

Pictured: Bobby Seale, Co-Founder of the Black Panther Party

Pictured: Bobby Seale, Co-Founder of the Black Panther Party

Billy “X” Jennings has called Seale’s autobiography the “Bible of the Black Panthers.” A former Panther and party archivist, Jennings is co-hosting the event with The Commemoration Committee of the Black Panther Party, run by Melvin Dickson. Dickson was one of the Panthers to start the Community School—a place where kids could get a free meal, school supplies, access to medical care and bus fare.

With 43 years between now and the moment Seale and Newton laid down the party’s constitution, time has mitigated much of the Panthers’ history. Memories and mainstream media accounts of the Panthers conflict and conflate with one another. It’s a story defined by its diversity and best understood in volume.

Certainly, the books written by and about the Black Panther Party could fill a library. A couple of them can be found here. Stay tuned for a more complete list.