Sweet Home, Alameda

It’s seven o’clock on a summer Sunday morning.  The sun is showing through the trees, but hasn’t hit its zenith yet, so the air is crisp and cool.  The breeze rustles through the canopy of trees on Central Avenue as I ride my bike down the mostly-deserted street.  Aside from the occasional car and a handful of morning joggers, the island is quiet.

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This is one of the things I love about living on Alameda.  While most people are still abed catching an extra 40 winks or so, I get to travel this island I now call home, virtually alone.  There’s a wonderful sense of calm this early in the morning, and I get to let my mind wander through the past week’s events, or the coming week’s to dos.

When Craig first introduced me to the island back in 2006, I hadn’t consciously envisioned this wonderful perk of living here, but even then I definitely felt something grip me inside and exclaim I HAVE to live here!  That feeling never left me, and I was thrilled when I was able to finally move all my belongings from Chicago out here in April 2008.

For those of you who’ve never had the privilege of stepping foot on this island, let me fill you in.

Alameda was originally a peninsula, sitting along the eastern side of the San Francisco Bay, near Oakland.  It was a major train stop for several years (both passenger and commercial), and you can still see remnants of the many tracks in various parts of the land.

In 1902, they dredged the canal and made Alameda into an island.  Nearly two decades later, Neptune Beach (often compared to New York’s Coney Island) dominated a large portion of the island’s coast, and families from all around California traveled here for their summer holidays.  There also used to be a large bit of land that was used for the Navy.  The Point, as that area is now known, still has many of the old military buildings, and looks very run down, but very recently, the city of Alameda won that section of the island back and will soon be renovating it, I’ve no doubt.

entrance_to_alameda_point

These are all salient points that you can read on Wikipedia, or in some other guidebook.  But what those factoids can’t describe is the sense of peace you get when you cross over one of the three bridges that connect the island to Oakland.  Even though we’re less than 10 miles from San Francisco, and less than 5 from Oakland (depending on where you are on the island), the minute you cross the estuary’s threshold, you truly do feel like you’re in a completely different place.  It’s almost as if you’ve driven into Brigadoon.

Mind you, we do have crime here on the island–which gives me a lot of fodder for my mystery stories–but we also have all those things that you find in Smalltown, USA.  Kids play ball in the streets, and yell “Car!” when a vehicle approaches, and “Game On!” when the coast is clear again.  Neighbors lend a helping hand for whatever reason, and often even close off an entire street to have a block party or block yard/garage sale.  Scary witches and ghosts wander up and down their neighborhood for Trick or Treat on Halloween.

One of the other great things about this island is the variety here.  And it’s not just the residents who are diverse–though, yes, they are, very much so–but the houses also reflect the individuality of those who have lived here, past and present.  You’ve got lots of lovely Victorian homes on the island (my personal fave), but just a couple houses down from one of those grand dames, you might see a Cape Cod, A-Frame, Ranch or any of a number of different styles.  The larger homes have been turned into multiple unit dwellings, but some are owned by one family.  And there are even some true apartment complexes here, as well as subdivisions for those who enjoy the cohesiveness of all the dwellings looking alike.

And we’ve got everything we could possibly need here on the island.  When I first moved here, I met a few people who lived and worked on the island and rarely left it (except for the occasional trip across the bay to visit the symphony or something), and thought this was an odd lifestyle, but now, I am one of these people, and I have to confess that I truly enjoy it.  We’ll be getting a Target on the island soon, which gives us one less reason to step foot across the estuary.

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As much as I used to think I didn’t belong in a small town, there’s something about this island that truly appeals to me.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief glimpse into Alameda.   Thanks for stopping by for a “visit” today.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bette Golden Lamb
    Jul 12, 2013 @ 08:42:22

    Nice tour, Alyx. J. J. and I have felt a kind of magic every time we’ve gone to Alameda. We’ve spent time wandering up and down the different streets. It’s the home of a clock repairman who is the only one in the Bay Area, we could find, to fix our cuckoo clock:)

    Reply

  2. HSS
    Jul 13, 2013 @ 13:38:18

    Nice overview of Alameda. Growing up in Oakland, we always used to go there for the beach, shopping and the bowling alley (it was really huge and I don’t know if it’s there any more). Many friends as I was growing up moved there and really enjoyed themselves.

    We go over now for my child’s tutoring and we’re starting to branch out and check out restaurants.

    Thanks for the tour of your home town!!

    Reply

    • Alyx Morgan
      Jul 13, 2013 @ 13:46:30

      There is a bowling alley here, though I don’t know if it’s the same one you remember. As for restaurants, you might want to check out Troy across from the theater. Best Greek food in town. And Spice I Am is the best Thai on the island (in my opinion).

      Glad you enjoyed the tour. 🙂

      Reply

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