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There Goes the Neighborhood

Improvements to transportation affected Marcuse & Remmel homes

Marcuse & Remmel built homes on the 1200 blocks of Eagle and Pacific avenues in the 1890s. Folks who lived in these homes in the late 19th and early 20th century enjoyed the peace and quiet of their rural neighborhood. Then a series of “improvements” north of their homes changed everything.

Alameda Post - an early aeroplane flies over a crowd at Sunset Field
Spectators follow the path of a Curtiss Pusher at Alameda’s Sunset Field in 1912. This type of plane and the noise that it made changed the neighborhood for the worse. Photo

Sometime in 1909, machines called “aeroplanes” began using an abandoned horse racing track along Brooklyn Basin, that part of the Oakland Estuary just to the north of their homes. In 1911, just before Christmas, an airport appeared called “Sunset Field.” Those noisy contraptions flew overhead. Pilots and instructors aggravated the situation. They tested engines and parts and trained their students by simply driving their aeroplanes around the airfield, using an ear-splitting practice called “grass cutting.”

Alameda Post - a yellow Queen Anne-style cottage home
City Clerk A. F. St. Sure purchased this Queen Anne-style cottage from Marcuse & Remmel in 1895. This is one of eight Marcuse & Remmel homes on this block of Pacific Avenue. Bay and recessed windows and the decorative gable are features of this style. Photo Adam Gillitt.

Join Alameda Post‘s Historian, Dennis Evanosky, and Publisher, Adam Gillitt, at 10 a.m. on Saturday, September 23, for an exploration of homes along the 1200 blocks of Eagle and Pacific avenues built by the famed architectural firm Marcuse & Remmel. If you can’t make it on Saturday, plan on joining us on Sunday, October 1, at 10 a.m. Meet us at the Bay Eagle Community Garden at the intersection of Bay Street and Eagle Avenue. Dennis will point out the changes neighbors endured in the early 20th century and we’ll see what’s there today. We’ll also have a look at the transitions in transportation that were taking place not far away. Tickets are $20.

The Army Corps of Engineers dredged Brooklyn Basin in 1913. Dredges deposited sediment and debris onto the land. The Corps used most of this sludge to create Government Island. Meanwhile, the muck the dredges dumped on the land destroyed Sunset’s runways.

Alameda Post - an early airplane flying near Sunset Field
Adolf Gilbert Sutro, grandson of the Mayor of San Francisco, flew this plane over the neighborhoods surrounding Sunset Field, an 1911 airport that stood near the shoreline at the Wind River complex. Photo

In 1918, neighbors learned that the City had created a belt line railroad. The trains ran along a “belt” created by Clement Avenue, but only as far as Grand Street.

In 1924, the City learned that California Packaging, known as Calpak, planned to extend its operations and possibly build a warehouse to package salmon. The City made two important decisions that year. First it decided to extend the belt line as far as Sherman Street. Then, on December 15, 1924, the City sold that railroad to the Western Pacific Railroad and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway for $30,000. Just a month later, the new owners incorporated its new railroad as the Alameda Belt Line.

Alameda Post - the long brick Del Monte building before it was turned into apartments
Once owned by Calpak, this building was known for many years as the Del Monte. This is what it looked like in 2017, before it was transformed into Alta Star Harbor, a residential and commercial development. Photo Adam Gillitt.

In 1927 and 1928, the industrialization of a once quiet neighborhood took three final but decisive steps.

  1. Calpak opened Warehouse 48. The company later renamed the 240,000-square-foot facility “Del Monte” for its premium brand.
  2. Calpak then scooped out enough land to the west of the Alaska Packer docks to create Encinal Terminals. The terminals came complete with a railroad loading dock at the site of the Wind River properties.
  3. In 1928, the Alameda Belt Line created a railroad yard that is now Jean Sweeney Open Space Park.

With all the “improvements” complete, the serene and tranquil surroundings homeowners remembered from the late 1890s had vanished.

Dennis Evanosky is the award-winning Historian of the Alameda Post. Reach him at [email protected]. His writing is collected at

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