What's in a name? New street names on the agenda tonight

What's in a name? New street names on the agenda tonight

Michele Ellson
Alameda street signs

What do the co-founder of Alameda’s Scandinavian Club, the Island’s first African American school board member and the late actress Phyllis Diller all have in common?

All three are on a 15-page list of people, places and things whose contributions to Island life could be memorialized on a street sign near you. The Historical Advisory Board will consider approving the list tonight.

A wave of new development has rekindled interest in names for the streets that will support them. In February, the board added names of bays, lakes and seas a resident submitted for the city’s existing list; two months later, Planning Board member John Knox White reached out to readers of his Stop, Drop and Roll blog to seek out “people of consequence” whose names would “better represent the rich, diverse history of Alameda.”

“There are going to be a lot of new street names in the coming years, so let’s generate a great list for more than just these streets, but for Alameda Point as well,” wrote Knox White, whose blog post preceded a Planning Board decision on names for the Alameda Landing development.

The Planning Board has signed off on names for the Alameda Landing and Marina Cove II developments; in addition to the Point, names could also be needed for development of the Encinal Terminal property on Buena Vista Avenue.

The city’s seven-year-old naming policy seeks to honor the people, places and historical events that populate the Island’s history by naming city facilities after them. Names can be proposed by community members or groups; the Historical Advisory Board maintains the list of names.

Names of people, places or events with a place in Alameda’s history are a top priority in naming streets, the policy says; historic names should also be considered “where feasible and appropriate.”

The proposed list offers a tour of Alameda’s history, loaded with lists of political and entertainment luminaries, developers, inventors, educators and cultural institutions.

It includes Al DeWitt, Alameda’s first African American City Council member, along with Berresford Bingham, its first black school board member. Other political leaders on the list include Terry LaCroix, Alameda’s first elected mayor and Lois Hanna, a school board member who is credited with making sure Amelia Earhart Elementary School was named after a woman.

The late actress Phyllis Diller – who got her start entertaining the ladies of the Edison Elementary PTA – is on the list, along with the Doors’ Jim Morrison, trumpeter Bob Enos and Louis A. McCall Sr., co-founder of the 1970s funk band Con Funk Shun.

The Scandinavian Club’s founder, John N. Aschow, was also a violin maker with a shop on Park Street. He’s joined by Bohol Circle, a nonprofit that offered social, cultural and economic support to local Filipino Americans.

The proposed list also includes Popsicle inventor Frank Epperson; F.M. “Borax” Smith, whose product was refined here on the Island before the military came; and the Strehlow family, developers of Neptune Beach.

Alameda’s Navy past is heavily featured on the proposed list, which includes the names of dozens of ships, aircraft and squadrons. Skippy, peanut butter, Popsicle, SnoCone and Red Line – the commuter train system that once traversed Alameda – are also on the list, as are the names of dozens of birds and fish.

Names approved by the Historical Advisory Board will join the city’s existing 18-page list, which includes names that have already been used.

The board meeting begins at 7 p.m. today in City Hall, and the meeting will be televised and webcast live on the city website.


Here are some of the local luminaries on a proposed list of names that could be used to name streets and city facilities.

Felipe Esteban: Owner and operator of the Alameda-based Esteban Flying Service and founder of the Filipino Aviators Club, whose members performed in air shows as wing walkers and flyers before joining the military to help fight World War II.

Don Grant: Beloved Encinal High School teacher and track coach.

Huchiun Tribe: Alameda’s earliest known inhabitants.

Fred Krauth: Alameda’s first fire chief, who served from 1876 to 1912.

Elector Littlejohn: A civil rights activist and leader of Alameda’s African American community. The former Buena Vista Park was renamed in her honor.

Frank Weedon: Credited with an instrumental role in getting Alameda’s pools established and also, its Kinderswim program.

Source: City of Alameda


Submitted by Joseph (not verified) on Thu, Jun 5, 2014

I think it would be awesome to ride my bike down Popsicle Avenue to Sakadas Park. Thanks for attaching the name files. I would add one more notable Alamedan to the list who just passed: James Russi.