Activity Guide Cover

The cover of the Winter/Spring 2017 Recreation Activity Guide celebrates the El Cerrito’s 100 years of cityhood.

The City’s Centennial Celebration Planning Task Force is planning a year-long celebration including talks, tours and more. Details will be posted on this website in January, so check back in the new year!

Below is information about the photos that were included in the Recreation Activity Guide.
Special thanks to the El Cerrito Historical Society for sharing many of these photos!

Cover First Row photos 1 through 5

1. The original 2-room Fairmont School (pictured) preceded El Cerrito's incorporation, and was enlarged several times to accommodate the community's growing population. The first meeting of the El Cerrito City Council (then called "Trustees") was held in the school's auditorium. The school was destroyed by fire in 1924 and a new school was built in its place. Photo from the El Cerrito Historical Society Collection.

2. Emery Weed was a much loved swim instructor, lifeguard, swim coach during his 25 year tenure at the El Cerrito Swim Center. He retired in 2013. After passing away in 2015, the City renamed the El Cerrito Swim Center's Competition Pool in Emery's honor.

3. In the late 1800s German immigrant William F. Rust established a blacksmith shop on San Pablo Ave and made farm implements. He later opened a store. In 1909, a post office was established in his store and was named after him. Pre-incorporation, the area on San Pablo Ave. between Central Ave. and the county line was called Rust. This photo circa 1915 shows a sign for the Rust post office. Photo from the El Cerrito Historical Society Collection, courtesy of the Umbraco family.

4. This photo, circa 2009, shows seniors strolling along the Ohlone Greenway admiring the colorful patch of wildflowers tended by volunteer Gil Patchett. The wildflower section begins at Key Blvd and Conlon Street then extends southward for about 1/2 block.

5. San Pablo Avenue (formerly called El Camino Real, and later Contra Costa Road), has been the main highway in the East Bay to Oakland since the mid 19th century. This photo, circa 1950 shows the view looking north from Stockton and San Pablo Avenues. This part of San Pablo Avenue became part of the first under grounding and street lighting district in El Cerrito. Photo from the El Cerrito Historical Society Collection.

Cover row 2 photos 6 through 9

6. El Cerrito has many active civic organizations. The City updated its service organization signs in 2011 to the modern, metal structure seen here in front of Macaroni Grille. There is a twin sign at the north end of town, in the median of San Pablo Avenue near Home Depot.

7. This photo from the 1920s shows young resident Tom Jones on a raft in the creek that ran east of Gladys Street. Photo from the
El Cerrito Historical Society Collection, courtesy of the Johnson family.

8. The original Cerrito Theatre operated as movie theater from 1937 to 1966. In 2001, a grass-roots group, the Friends of the Cerrito Theater, encouraged the City restore the theater, which re-opened in 2006. The City contracts with Rialto Cinemas to operate the theater.

9.This photo from 2010 shows El Cerrito Police Department's first canine, King, with his handler, Officer Leone on their first day on patrol. King, a German Sheppard, was an excellent police dog. Sadly, King died in 2012. The ECPD currently has two K-9s, Koda and Denzel.

Cover Row 3, photos 10 through 14

10. The first Spanish explorers to the area called today's Albany Hill "El Cerrito", which means "little hill" and this moniker is the City's namesake. Prior to incorporation as a City in 1917, there was not a community named "El Cerrito". Incorporation combined Rust, Stege Junction and a number of other small communities. This photo (circa 1907) shows sheep grazing in pastures with Albany Hill in the background. Photo from the El Cerrito Historical Society Collection.

11. Today's El Cerrito City Hall, located at 10890 San Pablo Avenue, was built in 2008. The former City Hall building at the same location was in use from 1940 until 1987 when it was demolished due to earthquake vulnerabilities. The 16,735 sq. foot facility is a LEED-certified, energy-efficient building with a large glass wall in the lobby representing transparent government. The building is seismically reinforced.

12. The waterslide at the Swim Center is popular with kids and teens. This photo is circa 2010.

13. Everyone can enjoy El Cerrito's beautiful parks and open spaces. This photo is from a Halloween event in 2009 at Cerrito Vista Park.

14. Sundar Shadi’s summer flower display at his home on Arlington Avenue celebrated America's bicentennial in 1976. While his summer displays were well known around town, his elaborate, hand-made Christmas display drew crowds every year.
Photo from the El Cerrito Historical Society Collection.

bottom row photos 15 through 17

15. The City's Recreation Department offers child care, after-school programs, youth sports and summer camps for children. Enrichment classes are offered for both children and adults. Photo circa 1990.

16. Victor Ramon Castro settled the area in 1836. The Castro Adobe burned to the ground April 20, 1956. Two years later, the El Cerrito Plaza opened on the site. Photo of the Plaza re-opening in 2001 after renovation. Photo from the El Cerrito Historical Society Collection, courtesy of the Odlin family.

17. This photo from the 1940s shows neighborhood kids near today's Cameron School. Photo from the El Cerrito Historical Society Collection, courtesy of the Johnson family.

Page left, left photos 18 through 21

18. Photo of the Baera family circa 1920. Photo from the El Cerrito Historical Society Collection.

19. The view from the Richmond Annex in 1910, looking up Schmidt Lane to the Hutchinson quarry site at the top of Schmidt Lane in 1910. To the left above the Hutchinson quarry is the Bates & Borland quarry. At the turn of the century, the Schmidt family laid out the area's first subdivision, Schmidtville in the area east of San Pablo Avenue and north of Schmidt Lane. Schmidtville was one of a number of small communities that became part of El Cerrito after incorporation in 1917. Photo from the El Cerrito Historical Society Collection.

20. The El Cerrito Swim Center provides lap swim, water aerobics, masters swim team (adults) club swim teams (5 to 18 years), swim lessons, pool rentals, water polo, the Splash Park for recreational water play, and aquatic facility rentals including regional meets. Photo of RSL Swim Meet in 2007.

21. This photo from 1939 shows El Cerrito Fire Department’s Station #1 , located on San Pablo Avenue at Manila Avenue. Today, the station in this location is Station #71. Photo from the El Cerrito Historical Society Collection.


Page 6, right photos 22 through 24

22. This photo from the 1910s, shows resident Evelyn Keller on a goat cart. This picture was taken at the present-day site of Arlington Park. Photo from the El Cerrito Historical Society Collection.

23. This photos shows a winning entry in the El Cerrito Art Association's Annual Show in 2007, which highlighted recycled art. This dress is on display at the City's Recycling Center office.

24. This photo from 2007 shows a number of bikes parked on the Ohlone Greenway at Baxter Creek. This segment of the creek was restored by the City in 2005 after a community group advocated for the land's purchase and restoration.

Back cover, top row photos 25 through 28

25. The 1950 El Cerrito Elementary Championship Basketball team from Castro School with three members of the Portola Junior High championship team. Photo from the El Cerrito Historical Society Collection

26. In this 2009 photo, the El Cerrito High School marching band leads the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade.

27. Thousands of local children have learned to swim at the El Cerrito Swim Center. Photo circa 2010.

28. This photo circa 1950 shows the City's library which opened on Stockton Street, east of Fairmont School in 1949. It was the first post-WWII library building in the Bay Area. Photo from the El Cerrito Historical Society Collection.

Back Cover, bottom row, photos 29 through 32

29. This 1926 photo shows the Neighborhood Store and Central Meat Market at 1527 San Pablo Avenue, run by Rose and Louis Poloni ran the store. Pictured are Francis Gasparini and Louis Poloni. Photo from the El Cerrito Historical Society Collection.

30. Huber Park is one on El Cerrito's many neighborhood parks. This photo was taken during the 2007 Earth Day clean-up.

31. The vote to incorporate was 158 in favor to 131 opposed. This 1917 photo shows El Cerrito’s first City Council, along with the City’s first Treasurer, Attorney, and Clerk. In the early days, a part-time City Clerk and part-time Treasurer were elected positions. First row (from the left): George F. Scott, treasurer; Henry Wildgrube, attorney; Grace Castner, clerk; and Peter Larsen; (Top row) Phillip A. Lee; John Sandvick; Kirk E. Gray, mayor; and George W. Adams. Photo from the El Cerrito Historical Society Collection.

32. West Contra Costa Unified School District's KECG (88.1 FM & 97.7FM) Public Radio Station Manager Corey Mason & his wife, Debra Sue Kelvin, have partnered with the City since 1999 to produce the worldOne Festival as part of the City's July 4th celebration. The celebration, held in Cerrito Vista Park, is the City's most popular annual event. Photo circa 2007 by Richard Brackett.


Back cover left side photos 33 through 35

33. Fire house #3 (1507 Arlington Blvd.) CA 1960. El Cerrito Historical Society Collection, Courtesy of the City of El Cerrito

34. El Cerrito High School football team player.

35. El Cerrito City Hall pictured in 1974. This building was used as City Hall from 1940 until 1987 when it was demolished then due to earthquake survivability issues. The current City Hall building, at the same location, opened in 2008. Photo from the El Cerrito Historical Society Collection.

Back cover, right side photos 36 through 38

36. As part of the bicentennial celebration in 1976, a parade was held in El Cerrito. Mayor Ernest Del Simone is seen in costume standing in front of the horses. Photo from the El Cerrito Historical Society Collection.

37. This photo, circa 1925 shows young resident Maria Mayeda, standing in a field near her house on Wall Avenue. Photo from the
El Cerrito Historical Society Collection, courtesy of the Maida family.

38. This photo from the 1940s shows Santa Fe’s “California Limited” (train #4), pulled by two Alco PA locomotives, just past crossed Knott Avenue. The train voyage to Chicago would take a little less than three days. EC Historical Society Collection, John Ilman photo.