ACHS Historical Plaque Program
Official Landmarks in Alameda County
National Register Listings
National Historic Landmarks
California Historic Landmarks
In 1968, three years after ACHS was formed, the Society placed its first historical plaque on the site of the original campus of the University of California, at the corner of Thirteenth and Franklin streets in downtown Oakland. Since then the Society has placed a total of twelve plaques
at historic sites within Alameda County. ACHS plaques are
purely honorary and educational and do not designate
official landmark status.
Site of original University of California campus
Thirteenth and Franklin streets, Oakland. 1968
Site of original Oakland Tribune building
468-9th Street, Oakland. 1976 (relocated to 492-9th Street in 1993)
Site of Oakland's first public school
Fourth and Clay streets, Oakland. 1976
Site of the first spotting of the Golden Gate by Spanish settlers
Mills College campus. 1976
California College of the Arts campus
5212 Broadway, Oakland. 1977
672-11th Street, Oakland. 1985
Site of Oakland's first wharf
Jack London Square, Oakland. 1989
Site of the Oakland Oaks Ball Park
1150 Park Avenue, Emeryville. 1992
Oakland City Hall
Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland. 1995
Memorial for Chinese laborers at Lake Chabot
Lake Chabot Dam, San Leandro. 1997
Peralta Hacienda Historical Park
2465-34th Ave., Oakland. 1998
Ygnacio Peralta House (Alta Mira Club)
561 Lafayette Ave., San Leandro. 1998
Alameda County Courthouse
11th and Oak streets, Oakland. 2003
A series of plaques honoring the county's five past and current courthouses, installed in commemoration of Alameda County's sesquicentennial anniversary.
The ACHS Board of Directors identifies and funds plaque projects with the cooperation of each site's property owner and other appropriate parties. For example, the first plaque, at the site of the original University of California campus, was placed with the cooperation of the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the University of California, and the Metropolitan Oakland Chamber of Commerce. The Oakland Oaks plaque was placed with the cooperation of Parlor 150 of the Native Daughters of the Golden West.
Do you have an idea for a plaque?
ACHS welcomes suggestions for future plaques from its members, other Alameda County historical organizations, and the general public. ACHS encourages ideas for plaque projects from throughout Alameda County, especially ones that might otherwise be overlooked by local officials.
ACHS Plaque Co-Sponsorship
Historical societies, businesses, property owners, and foundations in Alameda County may also apply to have ACHS co-sponsor a plaque. Applicants shall be responsible for demonstrating why their selected site merits commemoration. A co-sponsor's contributions may be cash, in-kind or a combination of both. ACHS will match funds up to a maximum of $500 per plaque.
ACHS Historical Plaque Guidelines
The subject of the plaque must be of historical significance to the development of Alameda County. This could include, but is not limited to, persons, buildings or other physical objects, natural features, organizations, and events.
The history being commemorated must have occurred at least 50 years ago.
The site where the plaque is to be placed must be easily accessible to, and frequented by, the public.
Written permission of the property owner(s) must be obtained.
Plaques must be professionally designed and made of durable, safe, vandal-proof, graffiti-resistant materials.
To submit an idea for a plaque or to explore co-sponsorship of a plaque by ACHS, e-mail the Historical Society.
In addition to the sites commemorated by ACHS through its Plaque Program, Alameda County has hundreds of official landmarks. Landmarks can be designated by federal, state, or local jurisdictions and include the following properties:
As of late 2004, Alameda County had 133 sites listed on the National Register, six National Historic Landmarks, and 36 California Historical Landmarks (with many of these designations overlapping). In Alameda County, as many as 500 buildings or sites also have either official city landmark designation or "study list" status, depending on the locality.
- National Register of Historic Places listings
- National Historic Landmarks
- California State Landmarks
- Local (city) landmarks
The most widely recognized landmark status, for local historians, preservationists, and the general public, is National Register designation, which originated with the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Fifty-five of the 133 National Register sites in our county are located in Berkeley, 48 are in Oakland, nine in Alameda, three each in Livermore and Fremont, and two each in Hayward, Pleasanton, San Leandro, and Sunol. Albany, Emeryville, and Piedmont each have one National Register site.
The National Register listings in Alameda County are diverse. Besides the many buildings, also listed are five historic districts, four boats, two barns, one rock, one saloon, one duck refuge, one room, one powerhouse, and one turbine machine shop!
For a complete listing of National Register sites in Alameda County, as determined by the National Park Service, visit the National Register of Historic Places.
The most prestigious landmark designation, that of National Historic Landmark, is probably the least known to the general public and even to specialists. Established by the Historic Sites Act of 1935, this designation has always been intended to honor only the "treasures" of our nation's historic sites, which are of obvious national importance. (In contrast, National Register sites can be of national, state, or local importance.)
There are eight such treasures in Alameda County, and only three of them are buildings: the First Church of Christ Scientist in Berkeley, the Joaquin Miller Abbey in the Oakland Hills, and the Paramount Theatre in downtown Oakland. Three are vessels: the aircraft carrier Hornet, in Alameda; and the lightship Relief and the presidential yacht Potomac, in Oakland. One is a wildlife refuge - the nation's first - at the Lake Merritt Wild Duck Refuge in Oakland, and one is a room - Room 307 of Gilman Hall at UC Berkeley, where the man-made element of plutonium was first identified, leading to the development of atomic weapons and nuclear power.
Information on these sites can be found in the volume National Landmarks, America's Treasures by S. Allen Chambers, or at the National Park Service website.
The designation of state landmarks in California began in 1931, and today over 1,100 such landmarks through the state are officially recognized by the State Historical Resources Commission. California state landmarks must be of statewide importance, but a site of local importance can be recognized as a California Point of Historical Interest by the Commission. Information on the 36 state landmarks in Alameda County can be found at the State Office of Historic Preservation, which offers a photo of each site if the significant structure still stands, and of each plaque if the property owner has chosen to purchase one.
California Historic Landmarks make up some of Alameda County's most interesting sites and include: wineries in Fremont and Livermore; oyster beds in San Leandro; the site of the departure of the China Clipper in Oakland; the nation's first successful beet sugar factory in Union City; and Blossom Rock navigation trees in Oakland.
The thirteen incorporated cities within Alameda County vary widely in their approaches to protecting historic resources, including naming local landmarks.
ACHS is compiling information for this website about how cities in Alameda County are protecting their local historic resources. In addition to describing each city's landmarking program and landmarked sites, we would like to share information about how communities are educating the public about them through such projects as permanent signage or walking tour brochures. To let us know of your city's efforts, please contact us.