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Webster Street in the Nineteenth Century

Alameda’s Webster Street began as Euclid Street, a name favored by surveyors and civil engineers. They revered this Greek mathematician as their patron. The street originally stretched from Central Avenue to the marsh, property that one map defined as belonging to Oakland.

Alameda Post - an old document that says "Plan and Profile of Euclid Street from Central Avenue to the March. Alameda Cal. July 1872 Alfred Bannister C.E.
In July 1872, the new Town of Alameda hired civil engineer Alfred Bannister to lay out its streets. The cover page for Euclid Street introduces the map, which is too delicate to roll out and photograph. Photo courtesy Alameda Museum.

In the summer of 1869, the Oakland and Encinal Turnpike & Ferry Company began carrying passengers on a small ferry from the foot of Franklin Street in Oakland across the San Antonio Slough (today’s Estuary) to a landing on this marsh. The company built a wooden turnpike through the marsh. This roadway reached terra firma at Euclid Street.

In March 1871, the Webster Street Bridge opened, eliminating the need for the ferry. That same year, civil engineer George Allardt designed maps that defined the tidelands on the shores of the Oakland Estuary. This map designated the marsh in Alameda—a sizable piece of property—as part of Oakland.

Alameda Post - an old map of Oakland and Alameda
In March 1871, civil engineer George Allardt designed maps that defined the tidelands on the shores of the Oakland Estuary. He described most of the marsh in Alameda—a sizable piece of property—as part of Oakland. State of California map.

In March, join Alameda Post Historian Dennis Evanosky and Publisher Adam Gillitt for a Zoom presentation of Webster Street’s colorful history, then follow it up with an in-person walk that will reveal the seldom-told story of the street’s early history and how its name was changed from Euclid to Webster.During both the presentation and walks, we will discover that the street ended in a marsh that at one time was mapped as part of the City of Oakland, and how a bridge that was built across that marsh ended up changing the street’s name from Euclid to Webster—despite the fact that there already was a Webster Street on the east end of town—and how that marsh was determined to be part of Alameda. We’ll also learn about the lively culture along the street, its saloons, shops, and, of course, what became Neptune Beach, nicknamed the “Coney Island of the West.”The one-hour Zoom presentation on Thursday, March 7 at 7 p.m. is an optional introduction to the walking tour and a great standalone class for those who can’t attend the walking tour in person. Everyone who purchases a ticket to either of the walking tours will receive a link to view the Zoom presentation live or afterwards as a recording. The walking tours will take place on Sunday, March 10 and Sunday, March 17. The tours will meet at 10 a.m. at The Alfresco Dining Park / Healing Garden on Webster St.

Tickets are available online for $20 each. Information about other upcoming tours is available on our Tours page.

In July 1872, the new Town of Alameda hired civil engineer Alfred Bannister to create maps of Alameda’s streets. One of these maps represented Bannister’s professional drawings of Euclid Street. The design showed the street stretching from Central Avenue north, crossing Santa Clara and Pacific avenues, and ending at the marsh. The new town had no interest in that crusty, smelly marshland. That belonged to the City of Oakland.

On September 11, 1872, the Oakland & Alameda Railroad stepped in with a horsecar line that carried passengers across the Webster Street Bridge. The horses tugged passenger-laden cars across the marsh, up Euclid Street to Santa Clara Avenue, and out Santa Clara to Louis Fassking’s hotel at Grand Street. This line made Oakland accessible to everyone in Alameda. Soon folks had the Webster Street Bridge on the tips of their tongues and began calling Euclid Street “Webster Street.” The name stuck. In 1875, the Board of Trustees agreed to change the name.

This presented a problem, however. The old Town of Alameda—you know, that smaller one on the east end of the peninsula—already had a Webster Street. No problem, the Board of Trustees said, we’ll change that one and name it for President Fillmore. And just like that, the West End had its very own Webster Street.

You know what else? Webster Street was the only street in town that had both a railroad and a streetcar. The San Francisco & Alameda Railroad crossed Webster and the Oakland & Alameda Railroad’s horsecar line ran up the street to Santa Clara. You could go all the way to San Francisco on the train and ferry, and all the way to Oakland on the horsecar. Soon another railroad would chug along Central Avenue on its way to San Francisco and—are you ready for this?—Santa Cruz.

Alameda Post - a black and white photo of an old hardware store and a horse and carriage outside. and a photo of an old map
Left: Adolf Hecker opened his hardware store in 1879. The 1880 Bishop’s Directory listed the address as Webster near Santa Clara. The shop was later assigned the address of 1535 Webster Street. This building stood at the site of Ozzy’s Music until 1930. Photo courtesy the Hecker family. Right: This detail of the 1887 Alameda Argus map shows how Webster Street appeared that year. Croll’s is readily recognizable (A). The tower at Webster and Railroad Avenue (B) is one of the street lights that Jenny Electric installed in 1886. Map courtesy Alameda Museum.

To be respectable, this new Webster Street needed at least one saloon and some shops. The 1878 Bishop’s Directory shows some of the earliest businesses—the ones that time forgot.

Ernest Mayrisch opened the Long Branch Saloon on the southwest corner of Webster Street and Railroad Avenue (today’s Lincoln Avenue). His brothers Adolph and Gustav also lived in Alameda. They owned a thriving cigar business. Two other businesses appeared on the west side of the street between Pacific Avenue and the Central Pacific Railroad tracks on today’s Lincoln Avenue by 1878.

Warner Earll & Son set up the Encinal Coal Yard and the United States Post Office opened “Encinal Post Office” and appointed Joseph W. Clark to serve as postmaster at its new building next door to the saloon. Bishop’s Directory informs us that working as postmaster wasn’t all Clark was doing. He also served as Justice of the Peace and made himself some money as a real estate agent. He wasn’t alone in selling property. Hart F. Shepardson had hung out his shingle just down the street. Lenerd Schilperoort had an apiary on his property near Santa Clara Avenue, where he sold bees and honey.

In 1879, William Holtz and his son opened a grocery store at Webster and Railroad, across the street from the saloon. By 1880, Adolph Hecker had opened a hardware store near Santa Clara Avenue and a bathing resort was blossoming at “the foot of Webster.” The Long Branch Bathing and Business Association had opened with J. W. Pearson as business manager. William Beretta was managing the Long Branch Restaurant, Saloon, and Pavilion at the same location.

Apparently, James Johnson took issue with the name. His listing claimed his baths on “the south side of Central between Webster and Prospect” (today’s Eighth Street) was “Long Branch Baths (Original).” James Mote was managing Long Branch Livery Stable next door to Johnson’s property.

Long Branch would evolve into Neptune Gardens and eventually become Neptune Beach. James Johnson’s “Long Branch Baths (Original)” would become Palm Beach Resort and, later, a part of Washington Park. Webster Street flourished with the baths, as evidenced by the appearance of Britt’s Hotel, a building we know as Croll’s.

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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