East Bay Yesterday

East Bay Yesterday

East Bay history podcast that gathers, shares & c…

  • 56 minutes 37 seconds
    “Everybody wants it preserved”: Time is running out to save this Oakland landmark
    The 16th Street Station was built in 1912 to serve as the western depot for Southern Pacific’s transcontinental railroad. For millions of people migrating to California, their first up-close glimpse of the Golden State was getting off the train in West Oakland and entering the station’s 13,000-square-foot main hall. The room’s massive, arched windows allowed light to fill the soaring space. For weary travelers, especially Black families fleeing the Jim Crow south, this building was a beacon of hope. Ron Dellums, Oakland’s former mayor and congressman, called the station “Ellis Island for the African American community.” Flash forward to 2024. The 16th Street Station is empty and slowly crumbling – a monument to broken promises and shattered dreams. Why has one of the most architecturally and historically significant buildings in the Bay Area been neglected and mostly vacant for so long? This episode explores the history and potential future of a unique Beaux Arts transit temple. Listen now to hear: Daniel Levy and Feleciai Favroth of the Oakland Heritage Alliance discuss their campaign to save the 16th Street Station; Tom Vinson share memories of his boyhood adventures at the station; and Marcus Johnson discussing his 13-year tenure as the station’s property manager. Don’t forget to follow the East Bay Yesterday Substack for updates on events, tours, exhibits, and other local history news: https://substack.com/@eastbayyesterday Special thanks to the sponsor of this episode: UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals Oakland, home of the East Bay’s only level one pediatric trauma center. I encourage you to read the incredible story of how UCSF Benioff’ trauma team saved a teen surfer from paralysis: https://www.ucsfbenioffchildrens.org/patient-stories/broken-neck-recovery See photos and links related to this episode at: https://eastbayyesterday.com/
    11 July 2024, 8:14 pm
  • 1 hour 8 minutes
    "A crazy gamble": Celebrating 75 years of KPFA radio
    In 1949, a group of pacifists launched America’s first listener-supported radio station. Despite government repression, infighting, and countless financial crises, KPFA has managed to survive 75 years. This episode explores the stories of some of the people who helped the station achieve this remarkable milestone. Featuring interviews with former and current staff members and volunteers: Larry Bensky*, Emiliano Echeveria, Adi Gevins, Bari Scott, Robynn Takayama, and Kris Welch. Don’t forget to follow the East Bay Yesterday Substack for updates on events, tours, exhibits, and other local history news: https://substack.com/@eastbayyesterday *This was the last recorded interview with longtime KPFA broadcaster Larry Bensky, who passed away on May 19, 2024. To learn more about Benksy’s legendary career, visit: https://kpfa.org/featured-episode/larry-bensky-may-1st-1937-may-19th-2024/ Special thanks to the sponsor of this episode: UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals Oakland. I encourage you to read the story of how UCSF research and UCSF Benioff Oakland clinicians transformed treatment for children who are deaf or hard of hearing and became a model for other hospitals: https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2024/05/427576/race-save-one-infants-chance-hear-cochlear-implant
    11 June 2024, 7:54 pm
  • 1 hour 2 minutes
    “The jewel of Oakland”: Exploring Lake Merritt and Children’s Fairyland
    With the weather warming up, now is the perfect time for a deep dive into Lake Merritt (not literally!). First, this episode explores the wild side of this body of water (which is technically a tidal estuary) with Constance Taylor, a naturalist with California Center for Natural History. Next, I interview C.J. Hirschfield, former director of Children’s Fairyland, about the enchanting amusement park that’s been entertaining families on the shores of Lake Merritt since 1950. Listen now to hear about the origin of the lake’s geodesic dome, the real story behind Walt Disney’s “inspiration,” and much more. Don’t forget to check out the trailer for the upcoming documentary Reflections on Lake Merritt: https://www.gofundme.com/f/CreativeDiasporas Follow East Bay Yesterday on Substack to receive news about upcoming events, tours, and other local history news: https://substack.com/@eastbayyesterday Special thanks to the sponsors of this episode: UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals Oakland and the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. To get tickets to Children’s Hospital Oakland’s upcoming event at the historic Fox Theater, visit: https://www.notesandwords.org/ To learn more about BAMPFA's summer program, which features the films of Les Blank and much more, visit: https://bampfa.org/film
    8 May 2024, 3:36 pm
  • 55 minutes 38 seconds
    “The neighborhood time forgot”: A strange sliver of waterfront
    There’s a small stretch of Oakland’s shoreline unlike any place else. Nestled between the restaurants of Jack London Square and the modern apartment blocks of Brooklyn Basin sits 5th Avenue Marina. This collection of rusty warehouses, eclectic studios, and surreal art installations recalls a bygone era, when crafty Bohemians dwelled amongst decaying shipyards. Schultz, a man who bought a chunk of this area in 1979, calls it “the neighborhood time forgot.” Although developers have attempted numerous times to dislodge the scrappy community at 5th Avenue Marina, these efforts have been stubbornly blocked, most notably in 2017 when residents formed a nonprofit called SHADE (Shadetree Historical Artisan Development Engine) and purchased the property formerly owned by Schultz. This episode traces the long history of the 5th Avenue Marina, from its days as a World War I shipbuilding facility up through its transformation into an unusual compound sometimes referred to as “Oakland’s Riviera.” Our tour guide for this voyage is the legendary Schultz, who is still a feisty storyteller at 88 years old and, like Rihanna or Cher, prefers to go by a mononym. To see images related to this story, visit: https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/the-neighborhood-time-forgot/ Follow East Bay Yesterday's Substack for news & upcoming events: https://substack.com/@eastbayyesterday Special thanks to the sponsors of this episode: UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals Oakland and the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. To learn more about UCSF Benioff Oakland’s new program BLOOM: the Black Baby Equity Clinic, visit: https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2023/07/425846/new-black-baby-equity-clinic-helps-infants-and-moms-flourish To learn more about BAMPFA's upcoming exhibit, “A Movement in Every Direction: Legacies of the Great Migration,” visit: https://bampfa.org/program/movement-every-direction-legacies-great-migration East Bay Yesterday can’t survive without your donations. Please make a pledge to keep this show alive: https://www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday
    4 April 2024, 10:23 pm
  • 43 minutes 51 seconds
    “Climbing was all I had”: A history of bouldering in the Berkeley Hills
    It would be easy to overlook the significance of Indian Rock and Mortar Rock, two relatively modest outcroppings located in the Berkeley Hills. Unlike the towering cliffs of Yosemite, which dominate the landscape, these boulders are partially obscured by the homes and trees that surround them. But for nearly a century, some of America’s most influential climbers have used these rocks as a training ground to test new techniques and technologies. The guidebook “Golden State Bouldering” calls these rocks “the heart and soul of Bay Area climbing.” In a recent Berkeleyside article titled “How Berkeley’s famous boulders took rock climbing to new heights,” reporter Ally Markovich explored the history of these influential outcroppings and the loyal community of climbers who have spent decades scrambling around on them. Her article uses these Berkeley boulders as a lens for tracing the emergence of modern climbing, the rise of “dirtbag” culture, the relationship between outdoor climbing and the current proliferation of indoor gyms, and sport’s growing diversity. To hear our conversation about all these topics and more, listen to the new episode. https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/climbing-was-all-i-had/ East Bay Yesterday can’t survive without your donations. Please make a pledge to keep this show alive: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday. Subscribe to my newsletter at: https://substack.com/@eastbayyesterday Special thanks to the sponsors of this episode: UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals Oakland and the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. To learn more about UCSF Benioff Oakland’s new program BLOOM: the Black Baby Equity Clinic, visit: https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2023/07/425846/new-black-baby-equity-clinic-helps-infants-and-moms-flourish To learn more about BAMPFA’s current exhibit “What Has Been and What Could Be,” visit: https://bampfa.org/program/what-has-been-and-what-could-be-bampfa-collection
    6 March 2024, 10:21 pm
  • 43 minutes 26 seconds
    “The streets have changed”: “Drug Lords of Oakland” author on the rise and fall of local kingpins
    After spending more than three decades working in the underground economy, Titus Lee Barnes compiled his stunning stories of “the street life” into a self-published book titled “Drug Lords of Oakland: The untold stories of California’s most notorious kingpins of the 1970s, 80s and 90s.” Starting with the rise of infamous heroin kingpin Felix Mitchell, Barnes traces the trajectory of bloody turf battles and shifting allegiances throughout the emergence and implosion of the crack era. His personal connections with many of the young kingpins he profiles provides a uniquely nuanced view into a world of notorious figures that most people are only familiar with through mugshots. Although “Drug Lords” details the flashy cars and lavish parties that accompanied booming profits, Barnes doesn’t shy away from the heartbreaking consequences that inevitably followed. In this interview, he shares his own experiences of being shot and incarcerated as “a cautionary tale” and offers some surprising insights into the Bay Area’s ongoing crime woes. Listen now to hear Barnes’ memories of growing up in Ghost Town, the improbable romance between a small-time East Oakland hustler and Colombian “cocaine godmother” Griselda Blanco, drug dealer investment strategies, and much more. See images related to this episode at: https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/the-streets-have-changed-drastically/ East Bay Yesterday can’t survive without your donations. Please make a pledge to keep this show alive: https://www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday Don’t forget to follow East Bay Yesterday’s Substack newsletter to stay updated on upcoming tours, events, and other local history news: https://substack.com/@eastbayyesterday
    9 February 2024, 8:07 pm
  • 1 hour 9 minutes
    "Rotten City" no more: The history of a tiny town's transformation
    Emeryville is a tiny town – less than 2 square miles. It’s nestled between Oakland and Berkeley, right at the foot of the Bay Bridge, and most people probably think of it as a place to go shopping. Two major freeways cut through Eville and from your car, while you’re inevitably sitting in traffic, you can see giant signs for Ikea, Target, and Bay Street mall. If you’re not from the Bay Area, you might know it as the home of Pixar. This era of Emeryville as a mecca of cartoons and commerce is relatively new. A generation ago, the landscape looked drastically different. Media often described it as an “industrial wasteland” due to the toxic pollution left behind by factories that fled in the 1970s and 80s. It was also known as a place where corruption festered during the reign of an allegedly corrupt police chief who “ruled the town with an iron fist,” according to former city manager Joe Tanner. Flash forward to 2024 and Emeryville’s brand new mayor Courtney Welch, the first Black woman to hold that position, can legitimately claim that the town is “having a bit of a renaissance.” Brand new parks, apartments, and shops now occupy land that was littered with junked cars, rusty warehouses, and crumbling buildings. Taking notice of this transformation, I wrote about some of my favorite things to do in Emeryville recently for SF Gate and the article got a huge response. So, since a lot of people seem to be checking out Emeryville for the first time, I though it would be a good opportunity to look back at Emeryville’s history and ask some important questions… Like: How did it become such a hell hole in the 80s? How did it transform so radically since then? Why does this extremely unique tiny little town even exist? Spoiler alert: The answers to all these questions are pretty crazy. There’s a good reason why former Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren famously called Emeryville “the rottenest city on the Pacific Coast.” Today’s episode features interviews with Rob Arias, publisher of The Eville Eye community news site, and creator of the Emeryville Historical Society’s new Park Avenue District walking tour; and also Joe Tanner, who served as Emeryville’s city manager in the 1980s. https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/rotten-city-no-more/ Note: Note: To hear my previous episode about the history the “Emeryville shellmound” and battles over Ohlone sacred sites, click here: https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/where-are-those-ancestors-now/ This episode is sponsored by UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals. For over a century, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland has upheld a long legacy of providing essential healthcare for kids and families across the East Bay. Today, UCSF is continuing the tradition of care by making a major investment which includes a new hospital building that will expand critical treatment options for those that need it most. To learn more about the future of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, click here: https://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/news/2023/12/01/ucsf-benioff-childrens-hospital-expansion.html?b=1701377706^22331569 East Bay Yesterday can’t survive without your donations. Please make a pledge to keep this show alive: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday. You can also support East Bay Yesterday by purchasing the official t-shirt or hat from Oaklandish.
    9 January 2024, 11:39 pm
  • 1 hour 10 minutes
    “He was bringing people together”: Why was Dr. Marcus Foster murdered?
    In 1970, Dr. Marcus Foster was hired as the first Black superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District. Widely recognized as one of the greatest educators of his generation, he was brought here to help rescue a deeply troubled system. Within three years of his arrival, exactly 50 years ago this month, Foster was assassinated by a shady militant group that called itself the Symbionese Liberation Army. Even though many of the details of Foster’s death are known, it remains one of the most mysterious murders of a notoriously turbulent era. Although the SLA supposedly emerged from Berkeley’s revolutionary underground, there are some startling connections that point to a far more complicated story. On the anniversary of this tragic killing, this episode celebrates the legacy of Foster’s impact on Oakland school and also delves into the murky origins of the group responsible for this death. The first segment features Patanisha Williams, the curator “The Audacity to Believe,” an exhibit about Dr. Marcus Foster currently on display at the African American Museum and Library at Oakland. The second half of the show includes bestselling author and investigative journalist David Talbot, who wrote about the SLA in his book “Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love.” Music for this episode was generously provided by Jason Stinnett and Justin Lee. To see images & more, visit: https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/he-was-bringing-people-together/ Note: As I was finalizing production on this episode, KQED Arts published an article about alleged financial mismanagement by the Marcus Foster Education Institute. You can read about the allegations here: https://www.kqed.org/arts/13937772/artist-as-first-responder-marcus-foster-education-institute This episode is supported by UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals. I highly recommend checking out their new podcast, “Revolutionary Care: An Oakland Story,” a series about the history of treating sickle cell anemia: www.ucsfbenioffchildrens.org/sickle-cell East Bay Yesterday can’t survive without your donations. Please make a pledge to keep this show alive: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday.
    17 November 2023, 4:00 pm
  • 1 hour 13 minutes
    Unearthing “lives of the dead”: A tour of Oakland’s Mountain View Cemetery
    When Oakland’s most prominent graveyard celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2015, SF Gate honored the occasion with this description: “There are 177,000 people at historic Mountain View Cemetery, many of them famous and all of them dead.” The permanent residents of this picturesque site may indeed be deceased, but their stories live on through Michael Colbruno’s blog “Lives of the Dead.” Since 2007, Colbruno has chronicled the politicians, athletes, inventors, and civil rights icons whose names are carved into imposing mausoleums, but he’s also unearthed many fascinating stories behind far less prominent tombstones.  Check out this episode to hear our conversation, which covers the origins of Mountain View, its famous designer Frederick Law Olmstead, the symbolism attached to many iconic monuments, and much more. Listen now via Apple, SoundCloud, Spotify, or wherever you get podcasts. Music for this episode was generously provided by Jason Stinnett and Om Aranda Stinnett. To see photos and links related to this episode, visit: https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/unearthing-lives-of-the-dead/ Special thank you to Shaping San Francisco and the Oakland History Center for co-hosting my live presentation on Mountain View Cemetery history on October 24, 2023. This episode is supported by UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals. I highly recommend checking out their new podcast, “Revolutionary Care: An Oakland Story,” a series about the history of treating sickle cell anemia: www.ucsfbenioffchildrens.org/sickle-cell East Bay Yesterday can’t survive without your donations. Please make a pledge to keep this show alive: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday.
    26 October 2023, 8:10 pm
  • 1 hour 23 seconds
    Abortion, poetry, and stink-bombs: A different kind of “self-help” movement
    19-year-old Laura Brown started the Oakland Feminist Women’s Health Center in 1972. In the early days, Laura would answer the clinic’s phone using different voices so it sounded like there were multiple people working there. From its humble beginnings in a tiny Temescal house, this DIY project would eventually grow into an institution that would serve countless patients, help many people from poor and marginalized backgrounds become healthcare professionals, and make a historic impact on the trajectory of reproductive justice in this country. Angela Hume uncovers the history of this clinic, which was later renamed West Coast Feminist Health Project / Women’s Choice, in the new book “Deep Care: The radical activists who provided abortions, defied the law, and fought to keep clinics open.” As the title suggests, this story covers topics that range from underground gynecological “self-help” groups to terrifying battles with swarms of anti-choice militants attempting to violently shut down abortion providers. Amidst an ongoing rollback of reproductive rights, where women are being jailed for accessing abortion pills once again, the lessons that dozens of activists share with Hume in this book are crucially relevant, sometimes heartbreaking, and occasionally even hilarious. To see photos related to this episode: https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/abortion-poetry-and-stink-bombs/ This episode is supported by UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals. I highly recommend checking out their new podcast, “Revolutionary Care: An Oakland Story,” a series about the history of treating sickle cell anemia: www.ucsfbenioffchildrens.org/sickle-cell East Bay Yesterday can’t survive without your donations. Please make a pledge to keep this show alive: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday
    11 October 2023, 9:58 pm
  • 1 hour 18 seconds
    Tales from the pit: Lessons from Berkeley’s landfill
    These days the East Bay’s waterfront is lined with parks, restored wetlands, marinas, and beaches, but for most of the twentieth century this shoreline was a dirty, dangerous wasteland. Factories stretching from Emeryville to Richmond treated the San Francisco Bay as a garbage bin. The habit of using the Bay as a dump was so common in Berkeley that the city legitimized the practice by creating a massive landfill on its western border in 1923. Beneath the idyllic grassy hills of Cesar Chavez Park and the bird-filled marshes of McLaughlin Eastshore State Seashore lay hidden mountains of trash. The transformation of this area from a leaky dump into a beautiful site for recreation and nature, a controversial process that unfolded over several decades, has been well-documented. Less has been said about the day-to-day activities of the landfill before its closure in 1983. Although the dump was a loud, smelly, wind-blasted environmental hazard, some of the people who worked there still carry fond memories of the place, and several significant Berkeley institutions emerged from friendships that were nurtured in that toxic soil. This episode explores the interconnected stories of folks who remember “the pit” long before it was turned into a park. First, you’ll hear from Margie Ellis and her daughter Ruby Quintana, whose family were the unofficial managers of the landfill from the mid-1960s until the early 1980s. Then Martin Borque, executive director of The Ecology Center, and Dan Knapp, co-founder of Urban Ore, will discuss the dump’s connection to Berkeley’s pioneering recycling movement, as well as a consequential battle over a proposed incinerator. Finally, Katherine Davis and Steve Smith of the recently closed Ohmega Salvage, will explain how lessons learned at the dump informed a lifelong dedication to combatting the wastefulness of contemporary culture. Listen now via Apple, SoundCloud, Spotify, or wherever you get podcasts. Music for this episode was generously provided by Pacific Bells: https://pacificbells.bandcamp.com/album/7-days East Bay Yesterday relies on listener donation to survive. To support this program, visit: https://www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday
    7 September 2023, 5:21 pm
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