1869 map from UC Berkeley Library collections

The town and township of Brooklyn were situated in what is now part of Oakland, just east of Lake Merritt.  The township of Brooklyn was formed in 1856 by the joining of two earlier settlements, Clinton and San Antonio, by an action taken by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. 1,7 The town was named for the ship Brooklyn that brought Mormon settlers to California in 1846. Although it was informally identified as a "town" for many years, it was not officially incorporated as a Town recognized by the State until April 4, 1870, when the Legislature approved and the Governor signed Assembly Bill 568 incorporating the Town of Brooklyn within the limits of the "Villages" of Clinton, Lynn, and Brooklyn. 5,6 In 1872, voters approved its annexation by Oakland.

Note that the township of Brooklyn, which was formed and administered by Alameda County, was much larger than the Town of Brooklyn as established by the State. The township extended from Indian Gulch (Trestle Glen) to San Leandro Creek (then the border with Eden township).

The area was home to several large breweries, including the Brooklyn Brewery:

”Brooklyn Steam Beer was a local product. Even after Brooklyn became part of Oakland, people liked to use the name to distinguish their neighborhood. The Brooklyn Brewery began 1872 under A. Miller at Eighteenth Avenue and East Fourteenth Street.”

At its peak during summer months, Brooklyn Brewery produced 35 barrels of Brooklyn Steam Beer a day.

Brooklyn was also the site of the palatial Tubbs Hotel which opened in 1871. Hiram Tubbs, its owner, wanted to lure an affluent crowd for vacations and temporary residences. Gertrude Steinʼs family lived in the Hotel for about a year before moving into their own home in East Oakland. 2

The town had a number of churches. The First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn (1861) was originally at 15th Avenue and East 14th Street but in 1887 the congregation moved to a building which still stands at 12th Avenue and East 15th Street. The First Baptist Church of Brooklyn (1860), later Tenth Avenue Baptist Church (1877), was at 10th Avenue and East 14th Street. That building has been replaced by a more modern building on the same site. 2

Although Oakland annexed Brooklyn in 1872, the Brooklyn Township Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) remained separate from the Oakland Fire Department until 1877. 3 One notable fireman was Joe Sullivan, who at over 7 feet tall was known as “the East Oakland Giant” and served as a driver for the VFD. When he died unexpectedly in his sleep, they were forced to lower his body out the second-story window of the firehouse. 4

Even after its annexation by Oakland, the area was still referred to as Brooklyn, as in this blurb from the Daily Alta California in 1875:

The steamer Capitol arrived in the bay early yesterday morning, and was moored at the wharf at Long Bridge. We learn that she is to be transformed into a double-ender and to have new engines, and will when completed be put into service as a freight boat between this city and Brooklyn, via the Creek route.

The Brooklyn name lives on in Oakland via a street called Brooklyn Avenue, and business names such as Old Brooklyn Bagels & Deli.

See also the discussion of Brooklyn as the original East Oakland.

Pages tagged “brooklyn”

Links and References

  1. Brooklyn Sacramento Daily Union March 26, 1856
  2. Bagwell, Beth (1982): Oakland: The Story of a City
  3. Hunter, Captain Geoffrey, Images of America: Oakland Fire Department Arcadia Publishing 2005
  4. Giant No More The Morning Call, San Francisco, Monday, May 7, 1894
  5. California State Assembly Journal, 1869-1870, page 940 1869_70_jnl pages 939-940.pdf
  6. California Statutes 1869-1870, Chapter 470 1869_70 pages 744-757.pdf
  7. History of Alameda County, California, including its geology, topography, soil, and productions M.W. Wood, publisher, 1883, page 207