In September 1869, the transcontinental railroad was set to arrive at San Francisco Bay. But there was one problem: the San Francisco & Oakland Railroad’s wharf at Gibbons Point was not yet ready to accommodate the trains. A. A. Cohen was happy to learn that the history-making train would travel arrive not in Oakland, but in Alameda on “his” tracks — the Cohen line.

Cohen was a transportation man. He built the San Francisco & Alameda Railroad (SF&A) in 1864. By 1868, Cohen had also acquired interest in the Oakland Railroad and Ferry Company. He sold both to the Central Pacific Railroad’s Big Four: Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker, Collis Huntingdon and Mark Hopkins.

The sale made Cohen a wealthy man who could afford the best. In 1872, He and his wife, Emilie, hired the architectural firm of Wright and Sanders to help them express their affluence.

The following year John Wright and George H. Sanders (variably spelled Saunders) completed the 70-plus-room mansion that anchored the Cohens' palatial estate. In social registers such as the San Francisco Blue Book, the Cohens listed their residence as “Fernside, Buena Vista & Versailles Ave., Alameda.”


Many individuals and groups have recently expressed their opinions regarding the proposed extension to the city's public safety contracts. Information has been shared in bits and pieces, which can make it hard to understand how these proposed contracts contribute to long-term financial health of the city.

Alameda’s City Council appears set to sign off on a new ordinance requiring companies purchasing large grocery stores to retain workers for at least 90 days if the stores’ ownership changes.

Council members said goodbye to two top officials, got a detailed update on plans for Alameda Point's Site A - and wrapped up before midnight with a few items left on the table. Here's what happened, in tweets.

“The comedy of #Alameda elected officials downplaying great economic news because it undercuts austerity plans is very evident (at the April 16 special City Council meeting on the budget). - Steve Tavares, Twitter

The 88th annual Alameda Commuters golf tournament teed off last weekend at the Chuck Corica Golf Complex with a field of 208 of the best amateur golfers from the west coast of California.

Have you noticed the book exchanges popping up around Alameda? The Little Free Library movement is scarcely five years old, and new libraries are popping up all over the world.

Last week’s conversation piece on development at Alameda Point was such a success that this week, I decided to tackle another big topic around town: Street safety for cyclists and pedestrians.

The Social Service Human Relations Board meets at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 23 in council chambers on the third floor of City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue.

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Broad Brush, your weekly, two-sentence local news review. Here’s what happened on the Island this week.

Spring is here, and even with the drought, flowers are blooming, and trees are putting on their frills. Over at Megan Small Photography, Megan Small is getting ready to celebrate her first year of business in Alameda (her sixth year overall) – and keeping busy with the demand that spring and the quickly approaching Mother’s and Father’s Day holidays create.