67 episodes

East Bay history podcast that gathers, shares & celebrate stories from Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond and other towns throughout Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

East Bay Yesterday East Bay Yesterday

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.9 • 259 Ratings

East Bay history podcast that gathers, shares & celebrate stories from Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond and other towns throughout Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

    “A home burned every 11 seconds”: A deadly tragedy that could happen again

    “A home burned every 11 seconds”: A deadly tragedy that could happen again

    On the morning of October 20, 1991, towering clouds of black smoke blocked out the sun as “diablo winds” whipped flames hot enough to melt gold throughout the hills above Oakland and Berkeley. By the end of that day, 25 people were dead and more than 3000 homes lay in ashes and charred rubble, little remaining but chimneys and the blackened skeletons of trees. Nearly 30 years later, as California suffers its most widespread wildfire season in living memory, this episode looks back at the inferno that gave us a terrifying glimpse of the future we’re now living through.

    Retired East Bay Regional Parks Department firefighter Bill Nichols provides a first-hand account of battling the blaze and the lessons he learned that day that shaped the rest of his career. Risa Nye, author of the memoir “There Was a Fire Here,” discusses how she coped with watching her entire neighborhood burn down, including her home and all her family’s possessions, and explains how she navigated the lengthy recovery process.

    See images for this story here: https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/a-home-burned-every-11-seconds/

    East Bay Yesterday can’t survive without your support. Please donate to keep this show alive: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday

    • 1 hr 30 min
    “They insist on being here”: Oakland’s official bird refuses to be moved

    “They insist on being here”: Oakland’s official bird refuses to be moved

    A few years ago developers destroyed downtown Oakland’s largest rookery of black-crowned night herons. Workers removed dozens of nests before chopping down the curbside ficus trees where the birds had lived for years. The plan was to relocate them to a grove near Lake Merritt, but the night herons never agreed to this arrangement – and they weren’t tricked by the decoys meant to entice them away from their preferred territory. They simply found other trees in the downtown vicinity where they remain to this day.

    When Oakland declared the black-crowned night heron the city’s official bird in 2019, the resolution described the species as “a resilient bird with remarkable adaptability in urban areas while remaining wild and retaining their natural behaviors.” This defiant attitude, along with the bird’s unconventional beauty and deep local roots, is why I’ve chosen to feature the night heron on East Bay Yesterday’s first t-shirt, a collaboration with Oaklandish illustrated by T.L Simons.

    This project is a celebration of those who refused to be displaced.

    But, of course, the story is never that simple. That’s why today’s episode digs into the local history of night herons and explores the relationship between development and Oakland’s natural ecosystems – featuring interviews with Golden Gate Audubon Society’s youth programs manager Clayton Anderson and journalist Sam Lefebvre, who recently asked “Is Oakland failing its official bird?” in The Oaklandside.

    Get the t-shirt here: https://oaklandish.com/collections/east-bay-yesterday
    See images for this story here: https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/they-insist-on-being-here/
    See more work from T.L.Simons here: https://www.tlsimons.com/

    East Bay Yesterday can’t survive without your support. Please donate to keep this show alive: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday

    • 48 min
    Why Dorothea Lange still matters: Q&A with Oakland Museum's Drew Johnson

    Why Dorothea Lange still matters: Q&A with Oakland Museum's Drew Johnson

    The first part of this episode originally aired three years ago, when the Oakland Museum opened an exhibit of Dorothea Lange photos called Politics of Seeing. Now, the Oakland Museum is launching a huge digital archive of Lange’s work, so I’ve decided to re-run the original episode plus a new interview with Drew Johnson, OMCA’s Curator of Photography and Visual Culture, about why these photos are worth a new look in 2020.

    Here’s the description for the original episode:

    Dorothea Lange is one of the most famous photographers of all time, but the local work she did during her many decades as an East Bay resident is often overlooked. This episode explores how she went from taking portraits of the Bay Area’s wealthiest families to documenting the poor and working class. Dorothea’s goddaughter, Elizabeth Partridge, and Drew Johnson, curator of the Oakland Museum’s new Dorothea Lange exhibition, share insights on what makes her photographs so iconic—and why they’re still so relevant.

    To see the Dorothea Lange Digital Archive, visit: https://dorothealange.museumca.org/

    To see images and links to related to this story, visit: https://eastbayyesterday.com/

    East Bay Yesterday can’t survive without your support. Please donate to keep this show alive: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday

    • 1 hr 2 min
    “How you organize that rage”: Challenging the police before Black Lives Matter

    “How you organize that rage”: Challenging the police before Black Lives Matter

    Massive protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death have brought unprecedented attention to the intertwined issues of police violence and structural racism, but the legacy of challenging police abuse in the East Bay goes back many decades. This episode explores several pivotal confrontations in the long struggle to hold police accountable for brutality against people of color. To read more about this story and see additional images, visit The Oaklandside: https://oaklandside.org/2020/07/24/oaklandside-east-bay-yesterday-police-violence-oakland/

    This episode features interviews with:
    Xavier Buck, Deputy Director of the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation
    Andrea Benavidez and Veronica Salazar, sisters of Barlow Benavidez
    Tony Valladolid, attorney
    Brenda Payton, retired journalist
    John Burris, civil rights attorney

    • 1 hr 17 min
    EBY Q&A Live: Opening up about oysters

    EBY Q&A Live: Opening up about oysters

    Oysters may seem like a simple creature at first glance – they can’t even move on their own – but their presence can determine the health of an entire ecosystem. Just like tree rings hold clues to Earth’s history, oyster shells can reveal much about past millennia. In the San Francisco Bay, studying the rise and fall of oysters illuminates Ohlone culture, the Gold Rush era, industrialization, public health, and much more.

    Today’s episode, which was originally recorded as a virtual event, explores the history of Bay Area bivalves with Casey Harper, deputy director of Wild Oyster Project. Although local oyster populations were nearly wiped out following decades of pollution and habitat destruction, a few survivors were discovered in recent years, leading to a surge in restoration efforts. Despite challenges ranging from invasive predators to ocean acidification, groups like Wild Oyster Project are hopeful that these projects will grow to provide shelter for marine life, filter pollutants out of the water, and eventually mitigate sea level rise more effectively than concrete barriers.

    Listen now to hear all about the past (and potential future) of Bay Area oysters. Thank you to Daniel Wolfe of Creative Mornings Oakland for organizing this virtual event and to Christie Goshe from Tiny Oak Media for recording it.

    East Bay Yesterday can’t survive without your support. Please donate to keep this show alive: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday

    • 49 min
    A town within The Town: Oakland Army Base workers on its rise and fall

    A town within The Town: Oakland Army Base workers on its rise and fall

    From World War II until Desert Storm, the Oakland Army Base was the U.S. military’s largest seaport West of the Mississippi. This site had been a sandy marsh the previous century, and for millennia before that, but at its peak during the Vietnam War, it grew into “the largest military port complex in the world.”

    Situated at an industrial confluence of roads, rails, and shipping lanes, it served as a supply hub for the entire Pacific. Although hundreds of thousands of service members passed through en route to overseas assignments, most of the day-to-day workers at this “town within The Town” were civilians. For decades, burly ILWU members hoisted a nonstop stream of cargo, college girls working as part-time secretaries filed mountains of paperwork, determined clerks climbed the ranks of civil service, and countless others staffed the Base’s grocery store, morgue, bowling alley, night club, and other facilities.

    After the Base was decommissioned in 1999, during a wave of closures that wiped out the Bay Area’s formerly substantial military presence, UC Berkeley’s Oral History Center spoke with dozens of people (military and civilian) about their connections to this site. The interviews, compiled in “The Oakland Army Base: An Oral History,” span topics ranging from an astonishing tale about President Roosevelt’s visit to resentments still lingering over the Base’s unexpected termination and controversial redevelopment process. In these stories, whiskey flows, fists fly, foundations are driven deep into mud, careers flash by, trust is earned, orders are disobeyed, victories are celebrated with songs and parades, roads crumble, and cold, wooden coffins are draped with American flags.

    Instead of contextualizing these memories with narration, per this podcast’s usual format, I’ve decided to present these voices as an audio collage, assembled in roughly chronological order. Hearing these interview tapes felt like time-traveling and my goal was to create an episode that captures the feeling of taking a four-dimensional guided personal tour through the kaleidoscopic history of this sprawling complex. If you want the full, immersive experience of tasting the salty wind while you listen, head down to Middle Harbor Shoreline Park (which is adjacent to the former Base site) or the path that parallels Burma Rd. Social distancing shouldn’t be a problem – truck drivers far outnumber pedestrians in this flat, grey stretch of far West Oakland. I wouldn’t recommend walking along Maritime St, the main drag that cuts through the heart of the Base site, due to the constant flow of noisy semis and gritty construction dust, which tends to get in your eyes during the often gusty days. To see images related to this episode, visit: https://eastbayyesterday.com/

    Special thanks to Oral History Center’s project team: Martin Meeker (director), David Dunham, Vic Geraci, Lisa Rubens, Ann Lage, Robin Li, Jess Rigelhaupt, and Julie Allen. Additional thanks to the interview subject whose voices are heard in this episode: Eleanor Bollinger, Mark Braly, George Bolton, George Cobbs Gordon Coleman, Steve Darrow, Grant Davis, George Gabler, Aliza Gallo, Thomas Galvin, Margaret Gordon, Fred Gowan, Jim Johnson, Robert Lippincott, Janice McDonald, Rose Medina, Mary Meyers, Monsa Nitoto, Bob Nordan, Leo Robinson, Stan Rudney, Lee Sandahl, Sydney Santos, Robert Taylor, Davetta Thibeux, Michael Thomas, Queen Thurston, and Cleophas Williams. Here’s a link to additional biographical information and full interview transcripts: https://bancroft.berkeley.edu/ROHO/projects/oab/transcripts.html

    East Bay Yesterday can’t survive without your support. Please donate to keep this show alive: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday

    • 1 hr 8 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
259 Ratings

259 Ratings

social worker dsve ,

Yay area

East Bay Yesterday has me addicted

Sister Uma ,

EBY is giving me life during SIP

I swear, East Bay Yesterday, is my favorite thing to listen to during the shelter in place. I’m traveling back in time and learning some amazing history. Huge shout out to Liam for a job well done!❤️❤️❤️❤️

rabinabo ,

Great podcast for East Bay locals

I just moved to East Bay recently, and I’ve found this podcast fascinating. It has helped me understand the role that this area has played in the Bay Area and the country in general. It makes driving around much more interesting, as I see landmarks mentioned in some episode. Keep up the great work!

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