Arts and Culture

 
Last month we met Charles Minturn and A. A. Cohen and leaned the roles their ferry boats played in our history. In this month’s story, we’ll ride the South Pacific Coast Railroad’s ferry boats — Newark, Garden City, Bay City and Encinal. We’ll also learn the interesting fates of two of these ferries.

With classic charm and skill, the talented members of Period Events & Entertainment Re-creation Society (PEERS) have been spreading their special kind of magic throughout the Bay Area for decades. Dedicated to education through historical re-creation, PEERS is a nonprofit organization that firmly believes art is something you do, not just watch.

From their headquarters right here in Alameda, PEERS organizes and hosts balls (Age of Innocence, Victorian 12th Night), local picnics (Alice In Wonderland) and weekly dance lessons where they artfully weave the culture, romance, and grandeur of 18th and 19th century arts in to the fabric of our modern-day lives.

Photo by Eric Braun.

A cast of nearly 70 local youths will offer a production of Seussical The Musical this weekend.

The show, based on the books and characters of children's author Theodor Geisel - a.k.a. Dr. Seuss - is presented by the popular local children's theater group Tomorrow Youth Repertory and directed by Amy Marie Haven.

In 1866, the Western Pacific ran out of money after completing the first 20 miles of track. This forced the railroad to halt construction east of Vallejo Mills in the middle of the desolate canyon along Alameda Creek. The following year, the Central Pacific decided that the route from Sacramento though San Jose to San Francisco was too long. The railroad found it more expeditious to instead run trains to Oakland and then use ferry boats to carry passengers to San Francisco.

This 1867 decision enhanced the role ferries would play in shuttling commuters around the Bay Area.

Alameda loves to party. And the biggest event of the year is only days away.

Floats, horseback riding teams, a color guard and all the other entries needed for a patriotic display will march through the town when the 39th annual Alameda Mayor’s Fourth of July Parade begins at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Billed as the second-longest Independence Day parade in the nation, the event is a tradition that the Island shares with the entire Bay Area. An estimated 50,000 spectators are expected to line the streets, either standing or sitting in chairs set up in advance along the parade route.

Alameda’s West End served the railroads well in the 19th century. But the East End also played an important role in their history.

When my family and I moved to Alameda, in 2005, the Island was a veritable burger desert. Fast-forward a decade, and it seems that the Island’s burger SOS has been answered by a bevy of patty-slinging outlets ranging from local startups to national chains.

I don’t eat burgers very often, but have to admit I was curious who had the best burger. So I set out on a nine-day burger odyssey.

Local author Eric Johnson just released his debut novel, Summer School Zombocalypse. A former chef turned stay-at-home-dad, Johnson claims he was inspired to pursue his long-forgotten dream to write after opening a fortune cookie that read, "You have a charming way with words and should write a book."

Published by Second Wind Publishing, the book is available at local bookstores and online through Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com. In the meantime, Johnson offered up this Q&A to introduce readers to his work.

Today’s Island city began life as a peninsula where Native Americans — members of the Ohlone tribe — first lived, more than 3,000 years ago.

With our proximity to the University at California, Berkeley, the Oakland Zoo, state wildlife parks, seminars and citizen science groups throughout the East Bay, Alameda adults and kids who love science have an incredible number of nearby options to fill their brains every month.