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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Friday! Book Talk and Signing: Destiny’s Children with Dr. Roger Herst @ CHS 1/28/11

Friday January 28, 2011 - 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Book Talk and Signing: Destiny’s Children with Dr. Roger Herst
Free Event @ California Historical Society

Destiny's Children is a carefully crafted and well researched saga of post-Civil War California. These were the decisive years when the transcontinental railroad was being built, one of the most colorful and inspiring periods in our history. The novel plays out over a large canvas and is based on the actual pioneers whose super human struggles forged the modern west. Destiny’s Children artfully presents California in the 1870’s and the extraordinary challenges of building the western half of the transcontinental railroad on a very personal level. The vital contributions of Chinese immigrants at this key moment in California’s history are a central theme of the book. Dr. Herst is a fourth generation San Franciscan, graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and a doctorate in history. The book will be available for sale at the event.

California Historical Society
678 Mission Street
San Francisco

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Book Talk: The Color of America Has Changed with Mark Brilliant @ CHS 1/20/11

Thursday January 20, 2011 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Book Talk: The Color of America Has Changed with Mark Brilliant

Free Event @ The California Historical Society

From the moment that the attack on the "problem of the color line" began to gather momentum nationally during World War II, California demonstrated that the problem was one of color lines. This talk presents an overview of The Color of America Has Changed: How Racial Diversity Shaped Civil Rights Reform in California, 1941-1978. The book taps California’s civil rights history to reveal how the Civil Rights Era was truly a nationwide and multiracial phenomenon. Brilliant examines California’s multiple “race problems” shaped and complicated the multifaceted efforts of civil rights reformers. While civil rights historians have long set their sights on the South and, more recently, turned their attention to the North, advancing a “long civil rights movement” interpretation, The Color of America Has Changed calls for a new understanding of civil rights history that more fully reflects the racial diversity and accompanying civil rights complexity of America - a civil rights history that is as "wide" as it is "long." The book will be available for sale at the event.

Mark Brilliant is Assistant Professor of History at U.C. Berkeley.

California Historical Society
678 Mission Street
San Francisco

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Happy 135th Birthday Jack London!

Jack London  (1876 - 1916)

Jack London by Arnold Genthe
Collection of
The Bancroft Library. University of California, Berkeley.

Christened John Griffith Chaney on January 12, 1876, Jack London was born near 3rd and Brannan Streets in San Francisco California. Sadly his birthplace burned in the Great Earthquake and Firestorm of May 1906.  Click Here to read London's account of the disaster, first published by Collier's on May 5th 1906. In 1953 the California Historical Society placed a plaque at the site of his childhood home, honoring London's memory and many contributions to the literary world.   London was a prolific American writer, photographer, activist and journalist.  His fiction, novels and essays  gained him world-wide fame and fortune.   He was one of a group of writers who pioneered the nascent genre of commercial magazine fiction.  White Fang and Call of the Wild endure as his most memorable novels, yet he penned many popular essays, exposés, articles and short stories. 

Jack London's flask, 1907
Sterling Silver, Snake Skin, Glass
Collection of the California Historical Society
Gift of Albert Bender

London's flask is currently on view in the galleries of the California Historical Society.  After London died his wife Charmian gave the flask to his friend George Sterling, most likely the one who originally presented London with the flask. Sterling then gave the flask to Albert Bender, a great philanthropist of the Bay Area arts and cultural scene in the early 20th century. The flask is one of Bender’s many gifts to CHS and it is one of the earliest acquisitions of the permanent collection.

Jack London Resources on the Web:

Jack London Online Collection

Jack London State Historic Park

The World of Jack London

Jack London on Wikipedia

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Free Event at West End Library: New Deal Structures in Alameda 1/13/11

Image from
New Deal Structures in Alameda

Guest Speaker: Harvey Smith
Board President of the National New Deal Preservation Association
Thursday, January 13, 2011

This program will include a talk and Power Point presentation by Mr. Smith on New Deal structures in Alameda built through the federal Public Works Administration (PWA) and Works Progress Administration (WPA). Alameda's West End Library was one of many projects funded nationwide by the Public Works Administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. Designed by architect Carl Werner and
completed in 1936, the recently renovated library reopened on October 26, 2010.

Free event co-sponsored by the West End Library and Alameda Multicultural Community Center.
Everyone welcome. Wheelchair accessible.

West End Library
788 Santa Clara Ave.
Alameda, CA 94501

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Explore San José Parks: Open to the Public Since 1850

History San José presents: Open to the Public Since 1850.

Gateway to Alum Rock Park near the Tunnel
Photograph by Alice Hare, c. 1902
Collection of History San Jose
San José has a long and unique history of providing open space for the public. When California gained statehood in 1850, San José had already set aside several public squares including St. James, Washington, and Market Plaza. Designating land for public use was unusual at that time for a city of San José’s size. Older, more established cities like New York City and Chicago began establishing parks in the 1850s and ’60s to provide residents with an escape from crowded urban areas. However, in 1850, San José had a population of just 4,000 and was surrounded by vast open land used for cattle grazing and agriculture. There is no definite record of the town council’s motivations for preserving these public areas. They may have wanted to protect land to sell in the future; or they may have had a desire to move toward an American aesthetic and distance themselves from the city’s Mexican past; or perhaps they were way ahead of their time and had the forethought to preserve open space for the public.

Today, San José boasts more than 180 parks with 3,448 acres of land. The first public space, the Plaza at present-day Market Street between San Carlos and San Fernando Streets was established during the Pueblo Era and renamed Plaza de César Chavez in 1993. Originally used as a market space and recreation area for bear and bull fights, today it hosts tamer events like Christmas in the Park and the Jazz Festival. As San José grew from an agricultural base to become the center of Silicon Valley, new parks continue to be a part of the city’s vision. In 2009, the former IBM/Hitachi Campus in South San José was developed into three parks: RAMAC Park, Charlotte Commons, and Raleigh Linear Green.

Creating public parks is a complex process, involving community members, land owners, developers, city staff and public officials. But, more often than not, the effort begins with community volunteers passionately engaged in a shared vision. The San José Municipal Rose Garden is a fine example where Mrs. Frémont Older and Mrs. Charles C. Derby proposed the project, which was supported by the Rotary Club of San José in 1927.

View of History Park, c. 1975 Explore San José Parks begins with History San José’s home, Kelley Park. Originally Judge Lawrence Archer’s park-like estate, Lone Oak, the 156-acre park is now home to History Park, the Japanese Friendship Garden, the Leininger Center, and Happy Hollow Park & Zoo. Next the exhibit examines San José’s First Parks: the Plaza, St. James Park, and Alum Rock Park. In Neighborhood Parks a selection from the more than 150 suburban parks is featured with a look at Public Art. The exhibit ends with plans for The Guadalupe River Park and Gardens, originally a flood control project, and Park Conservation. San José’s parks and open spaces continue to provide opportunities for social interaction, recreation, and contact with nature, and as such are essential to the well being of our community.

History Park is located at the south end of Kelley Park at the corner of Senter Road and Phelan Avenue in San José.  With 27 original and reproduction homes, businesses and landmarks History Park highlights Santa Clara Valley's past. Complete with paved streets, running trolleys and a cafe, this 14-acre site has the charm and ambiance of times gone by.

Pacific Hotel Gallery, History Park

Open through January 23, 2011
Tuesday - Sunday
11 am - 5 pm

For more info please visit