About the Book

Read a review of the book from the Oakland Tribune.

From the book:

Oakland has been shaped by the transcontinental railroad, freeways, earthquakes, and its location on the shores of San Francisco Bay. But what makes Oakland such an amazing city are the people who have called Oakland home over the years, like Mayor Samuel Merritt, who helped make Oakland the terminus of the transcontinental railroad; Elizabeth Flood, who worked to desegregate Oakland schools in the 1870s; and F. M. “Borax” Smith, who created the Key System. Oakland has been home to game-changing athletes like Don Budge, the “father of modern tennis;” and Curt Flood, who helped bring free agency to sports; artists like writer Jack London, dancer Isadora Duncan, poet Joaquin Miller, and cartoonist Morrie Turner; and culture-shaping movements like the Black Panther Party. The impact of Oaklanders isn’t just historical. From Oscar Grant to Favianna Rodriguez to Marshawn Lynch to Jerry Brown, people in Oakland continue to shape not just “The Town,” but the entire country.

Author and blogger Gene Anderson lives in Oakland, where he can regularly be found exploring different parts of the city. His great-grandfather worked on one of the Southern Pacific ferryboats that plied San Francisco Bay in the 1890s, and his grandfather worked for the Sacramento Northern Railway in Oakland.

The chapters are:

  1. Footsteps in the Past – Ohlone peoples, Spanish explorers, “Californios” and other early settlers
  2. The Sunny Side of the Bay – early Oakland, its place as a port and the terminus of first transcontinental railroad
  3. The City Beautiful – Oakland in the 1900s to WWII, with numerous civic improvements, growing businesses
  4. New Eras, New Politics – Oakland changing from the 1950s through 1980s; Black Panthers and Brown Berets; increase in freeways
  5. Home Field – sports and athletes (both historical and contemporary)
  6. Artists, Builders and Makers – historical and contemporary artists, architects and creators
  7. Oakland Today – focus on small businesses, the diversity and complexity of present-day Oakland; influx of outsiders