118 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 • 383 Ratings

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

    "A crazy gamble": Celebrating 75 years of KPFA radio

    "A crazy gamble": Celebrating 75 years of KPFA radio

    In 1949, a group of pacifists launched America’s first listener-supported radio station. Despite government repression, infighting, and countless financial crises, KPFA has managed to survive 75 years. This episode explores the stories of some of the people who helped the station achieve this remarkable milestone.

    Featuring interviews with former and current staff members and volunteers: Larry Bensky*, Emiliano Echeveria, Adi Gevins, Bari Scott, Robynn Takayama, and Kris Welch.

    Don’t forget to follow the East Bay Yesterday Substack for updates on events, tours, exhibits, and other local history news: https://substack.com/@eastbayyesterday

    *This was the last recorded interview with longtime KPFA broadcaster Larry Bensky, who passed away on May 19, 2024. To learn more about Benksy’s legendary career, visit: https://kpfa.org/featured-episode/larry-bensky-may-1st-1937-may-19th-2024/

    Special thanks to the sponsor of this episode: UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals Oakland. I encourage you to read the story of how UCSF research and UCSF Benioff Oakland clinicians transformed treatment for children who are deaf or hard of hearing and became a model for other hospitals: https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2024/05/427576/race-save-one-infants-chance-hear-cochlear-implant

    • 1 hr 8 min
    “The jewel of Oakland”: Exploring Lake Merritt and Children’s Fairyland

    “The jewel of Oakland”: Exploring Lake Merritt and Children’s Fairyland

    With the weather warming up, now is the perfect time for a deep dive into Lake Merritt (not literally!). First, this episode explores the wild side of this body of water (which is technically a tidal estuary) with Constance Taylor, a naturalist with California Center for Natural History. Next, I interview C.J. Hirschfield, former director of Children’s Fairyland, about the enchanting amusement park that’s been entertaining families on the shores of Lake Merritt since 1950. Listen now to hear about the origin of the lake’s geodesic dome, the real story behind Walt Disney’s “inspiration,” and much more. Don’t forget to check out the trailer for the upcoming documentary Reflections on Lake Merritt: https://www.gofundme.com/f/CreativeDiasporas

    Follow East Bay Yesterday on Substack to receive news about upcoming events, tours, and other local history news: https://substack.com/@eastbayyesterday

    Special thanks to the sponsors of this episode: UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals Oakland and the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. To get tickets to Children’s Hospital Oakland’s upcoming event at the historic Fox Theater, visit: https://www.notesandwords.org/

    To learn more about BAMPFA's summer program, which features the films of Les Blank and much more, visit: https://bampfa.org/film

    • 1 hr 2 min
    “The neighborhood time forgot”: A strange sliver of waterfront

    “The neighborhood time forgot”: A strange sliver of waterfront

    There’s a small stretch of Oakland’s shoreline unlike any place else. Nestled between the restaurants of Jack London Square and the modern apartment blocks of Brooklyn Basin sits 5th Avenue Marina. This collection of rusty warehouses, eclectic studios, and surreal art installations recalls a bygone era, when crafty Bohemians dwelled amongst decaying shipyards. Schultz, a man who bought a chunk of this area in 1979, calls it “the neighborhood time forgot.”

    Although developers have attempted numerous times to dislodge the scrappy community at 5th Avenue Marina, these efforts have been stubbornly blocked, most notably in 2017 when residents formed a nonprofit called SHADE (Shadetree Historical Artisan Development Engine) and purchased the property formerly owned by Schultz.

    This episode traces the long history of the 5th Avenue Marina, from its days as a World War I shipbuilding facility up through its transformation into an unusual compound sometimes referred to as “Oakland’s Riviera.” Our tour guide for this voyage is the legendary Schultz, who is still a feisty storyteller at 88 years old and, like Rihanna or Cher, prefers to go by a mononym. To see images related to this story, visit: https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/the-neighborhood-time-forgot/

    Follow East Bay Yesterday's Substack for news & upcoming events: https://substack.com/@eastbayyesterday

    Special thanks to the sponsors of this episode: UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals Oakland and the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. To learn more about UCSF Benioff Oakland’s new program BLOOM: the Black Baby Equity Clinic, visit: https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2023/07/425846/new-black-baby-equity-clinic-helps-infants-and-moms-flourish

    To learn more about BAMPFA's upcoming exhibit, “A Movement in Every Direction: Legacies of the Great Migration,” visit: https://bampfa.org/program/movement-every-direction-legacies-great-migration

    East Bay Yesterday can’t survive without your donations. Please make a pledge to keep this show alive: https://www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday

    • 55 min
    “Climbing was all I had”: A history of bouldering in the Berkeley Hills

    “Climbing was all I had”: A history of bouldering in the Berkeley Hills

    It would be easy to overlook the significance of Indian Rock and Mortar Rock, two relatively modest outcroppings located in the Berkeley Hills. Unlike the towering cliffs of Yosemite, which dominate the landscape, these boulders are partially obscured by the homes and trees that surround them. But for nearly a century, some of America’s most influential climbers have used these rocks as a training ground to test new techniques and technologies. The guidebook “Golden State Bouldering” calls these rocks “the heart and soul of Bay Area climbing.”

    In a recent Berkeleyside article titled “How Berkeley’s famous boulders took rock climbing to new heights,” reporter Ally Markovich explored the history of these influential outcroppings and the loyal community of climbers who have spent decades scrambling around on them. Her article uses these Berkeley boulders as a lens for tracing the emergence of modern climbing, the rise of “dirtbag” culture, the relationship between outdoor climbing and the current proliferation of indoor gyms, and sport’s growing diversity. To hear our conversation about all these topics and more, listen to the new episode. https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/climbing-was-all-i-had/

    East Bay Yesterday can’t survive without your donations. Please make a pledge to keep this show alive: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday. Subscribe to my newsletter at: https://substack.com/@eastbayyesterday

    Special thanks to the sponsors of this episode: UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals Oakland and the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. To learn more about UCSF Benioff Oakland’s new program BLOOM: the Black Baby Equity Clinic, visit: https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2023/07/425846/new-black-baby-equity-clinic-helps-infants-and-moms-flourish
    To learn more about BAMPFA’s current exhibit “What Has Been and What Could Be,” visit:
    https://bampfa.org/program/what-has-been-and-what-could-be-bampfa-collection

    • 43 min
    “The streets have changed”: “Drug Lords of Oakland” author on the rise and fall of local kingpins

    “The streets have changed”: “Drug Lords of Oakland” author on the rise and fall of local kingpins

    After spending more than three decades working in the underground economy, Titus Lee Barnes compiled his stunning stories of “the street life” into a self-published book titled “Drug Lords of Oakland: The untold stories of California’s most notorious kingpins of the 1970s, 80s and 90s.” Starting with the rise of infamous heroin kingpin Felix Mitchell, Barnes traces the trajectory of bloody turf battles and shifting allegiances throughout the emergence and implosion of the crack era. His personal connections with many of the young kingpins he profiles provides a uniquely nuanced view into a world of notorious figures that most people are only familiar with through mugshots.

    Although “Drug Lords” details the flashy cars and lavish parties that accompanied booming profits, Barnes doesn’t shy away from the heartbreaking consequences that inevitably followed.

    In this interview, he shares his own experiences of being shot and incarcerated as “a cautionary tale” and offers some surprising insights into the Bay Area’s ongoing crime woes. Listen now to hear Barnes’ memories of growing up in Ghost Town, the improbable romance between a small-time East Oakland hustler and Colombian “cocaine godmother” Griselda Blanco, drug dealer investment strategies, and much more. See images related to this episode at: https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/the-streets-have-changed-drastically/

    East Bay Yesterday can’t survive without your donations. Please make a pledge to keep this show alive: https://www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday Don’t forget to follow East Bay Yesterday’s Substack newsletter to stay updated on upcoming tours, events, and other local history news: https://substack.com/@eastbayyesterday

    • 43 min
    "Rotten City" no more: The history of a tiny town's transformation

    "Rotten City" no more: The history of a tiny town's transformation

    Emeryville is a tiny town – less than 2 square miles. It’s nestled between Oakland and Berkeley, right at the foot of the Bay Bridge, and most people probably think of it as a place to go shopping. Two major freeways cut through Eville and from your car, while you’re inevitably sitting in traffic, you can see giant signs for Ikea, Target, and Bay Street mall. If you’re not from the Bay Area, you might know it as the home of Pixar.

    This era of Emeryville as a mecca of cartoons and commerce is relatively new. A generation ago, the landscape looked drastically different. Media often described it as an “industrial wasteland” due to the toxic pollution left behind by factories that fled in the 1970s and 80s. It was also known as a place where corruption festered during the reign of an allegedly corrupt police chief who “ruled the town with an iron fist,” according to former city manager Joe Tanner.

    Flash forward to 2024 and Emeryville’s brand new mayor Courtney Welch, the first Black woman to hold that position, can legitimately claim that the town is “having a bit of a renaissance.” Brand new parks, apartments, and shops now occupy land that was littered with junked cars, rusty warehouses, and crumbling buildings. Taking notice of this transformation, I wrote about some of my favorite things to do in Emeryville recently for SF Gate and the article got a huge response. So, since a lot of people seem to be checking out Emeryville for the first time, I though it would be a good opportunity to look back at Emeryville’s history and ask some important questions…

    Like: How did it become such a hell hole in the 80s? How did it transform so radically since then? Why does this extremely unique tiny little town even exist? Spoiler alert: The answers to all these questions are pretty crazy. There’s a good reason why former Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren famously called Emeryville “the rottenest city on the Pacific Coast.”

    Today’s episode features interviews with Rob Arias, publisher of The Eville Eye community news site, and creator of the Emeryville Historical Society’s new Park Avenue District walking tour; and also Joe Tanner, who served as Emeryville’s city manager in the 1980s. https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/rotten-city-no-more/

    Note: Note: To hear my previous episode about the history the “Emeryville shellmound” and battles over Ohlone sacred sites, click here: https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/where-are-those-ancestors-now/

    This episode is sponsored by UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals. For over a century, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland has upheld a long legacy of providing essential healthcare for kids and families across the East Bay. Today, UCSF is continuing the tradition of care by making a major investment which includes a new hospital building that will expand critical treatment options for those that need it most. To learn more about the future of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, click here: https://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/news/2023/12/01/ucsf-benioff-childrens-hospital-expansion.html?b=1701377706^22331569

    East Bay Yesterday can’t survive without your donations. Please make a pledge to keep this show alive: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday. You can also support East Bay Yesterday by purchasing the official t-shirt or hat from Oaklandish.

    • 1 hr 9 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
383 Ratings

383 Ratings

tboggia ,

I learn so much!

What I love about East Bay Yesterday is Liam’s curiosity about the subcultures that have shaped the Bay Area’s culture across time (and his love of public libraries).

Wesleytwright ,

Great History

I grew up in Berkeley and have lived in Oakland and San Jose. This podcast really has some enlightening and entertaining stories about the East Bay, where it’s been and what made it what it is. Liam is not only a historian but an activist, always trying to highlight voices that have been marginalized and wanting to contribute to a better Bay Area. That knows it’s past and learns from it.

ThreeTres3 ,

Great Content!!!

But the vocal fry makes it hard to listen.

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