Historic Downtown Alameda – A View of the Old Bank Buildings

Park Street, Alameda, 1909Sometimes, “what’s new” is not as interesting as “what’s old.” That’s certainly the case with the grand old buildings in Downtown Alameda.

Prior to 1864, Alameda was home to a few small farmhouses scattered around the peninsula. However, things began to change in that year when a rail and ferry system was introduced to the city. With the improved transportation, businesses began to crop up near the train stations.

By 1905 over 150 structures lined Park Street and the surrounding roads. Apparently this became an ideal place to build a bank, or two, or three…

Citizens Bank, Alameda 1907We invite you to step back in time and take a stroll through Downtown Alameda. Look for these large ornate bank buildings that are contributors to the Park Street Historic Commercial District (National Register, 1982):

Citizens Bank of Alameda Building
1500-1504 Park Street

The Citizens Bank building was completed in 1907 at a cost of $30,000 and was the second reinforced concrete structure on Park Street,. It was designed by Oliver & Foulkes, and built by Grank B. Gulbreth & Co. A major addition completed in 1924 nearly quadrupled its size to the current dimensions.

What’s there now? This is the easiest bank building to spot and houses the longest serving bank in Alameda. Citizens Bank was acquired in the 1920’s by the Bank of Italy, which was to become the Bank of America in 1930. Read the rest of this entry »

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New Businesses in Downtown Alameda’s Historic Park Street District (Aug/Sept 2015)

My Hidden Lagoon_front door Alameda location

My Hidden Lagoon

Sometimes it’s worth the extra steps to explore the side streets and alley spaces in Downtown Alameda. Just like Park Street, there’s always something new to be found.

If you take the time to walk through Redwood Square (the open space located between Tomatina and Sole Desire Shoes), you’ll find a gorgeous brick building to the left. The building was originally home to the Park Theater (1904-1919) and was the first vaudeville theater in Alameda. Although its heyday was brief as bigger and more modern movie theaters opened, the building was solid enough to stand up against time. Over the years, the large building has housed a warehouse, a showroom, and miscellaneous office spaces.

A branch office of Edward Jones has been visible on the ground floor for a number of years. But most folks don’t realize there is a door next to the office that leads to more office spaces on the second floor. If you climb the stairs, you’ll discover two of Downtown Alameda’s newest businesses… My Hidden Lagoon and Secrets & Winks.

Save the date! Come welcome chef Saboor Zafari back to the Downtown district. A Mayor’s Ribbon Cutting is being planned for Angela’s Restaurant to be held on Monday, November 2, 4:00pm.

Help us welcome all of these new businesses to Alameda’s vibrant and historic downtown district:

New Businesses:

Angela's Restaurant_Chef Saboor

Angela’s Restaurant

Angela’s Restaurant, 1640 Park Street
* Mediterranean cuisine. Chef Saboor Zafari is back!

Cut Hair Studio, 2515 Santa Clara Ave #102
* Hair Salon for men and women.

My Hidden Lagoon, 1336 Park Street #F
* Full body waxing services available for both men and women.

Refinement Salon, 2323 Santa Clara Ave
* Hair salon where every stylist is a true artist.

Secrets & Winks, 1336 Park Street #F
* Waxing and lash services for both men and women.

Taste of Alameda, 1354 Park Street
* American and Vietnamese menu.

The Law Office of Holly Gutkovsky, 1402 Park Street #F
* Dedicated attorney who handles a wide range of family law and divorce issues.

New Location:

Honour Brand, 2447 Santa Clara Ave #204
Heritage graphic t-shirts and hoodies.

In the Works: 
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Historic Downtown Alameda – Respect Your Elders

Park Street, Alameda historic buildingsSometimes, “what’s new” is not as interesting as “what’s old.” That’s the case with our great old buildings in Downtown Alameda.

Prior to 1864, Alameda was home to a few small farmhouses scattered around the peninsula. However, things changed that year when a rail and ferry system was introduced to the city.

With improved transportation, hubs of commerce sprang up along the train routes. The primary local stop for the San Francisco & Alameda Railroad was Alameda Station, located near what is now the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and Park Street. From that point, businesses spread out mostly in a linear fashion along a road that divided two large tracts of land. That road ultimately became “Park Street.”

Between 1877 and 1880, more than thirty large ornate commercial buildings were erected — ones that were grander than their wooden predecessors. In 1896, Alameda’s City Hall building was completed and by 1905 over 150 structures lined Park Street and the surrounding roads.

There were a few building booms following The Great Earthquake (1906) and between the two World Wars. But the old Victorian landmark buildings didn’t seem that cool any more, so they were either torn down or converted into something else. Thankfully, thirty of the historic structures were left standing, including one that still retains its original architecture.

It was in 1981 that a group of merchants in their wisdom applied to have Alameda’s downtown area designated a national historic business district. Since then, from an architectural standpoint, Park Street has pretty much remained as we see it today.

We invite you to stroll through Downtown Alameda and look for the buildings that are contributors to the Park Street Historic Commercial District (National Register, 1982):  Read the rest of this entry »

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