Walavista valley, 1916/1925

I have found a new time sink at the Online Archive of California, where this photo of undeveloped Walavista Avenue, from 1916, is posted as part of this collection.


The camera is on top of Warfield ridge, west of Lakeshore, just uphill from Fairbanks Avenue. The wooded gulch at back left is the charming little valley that Portal Avenue runs up, right at the Piedmont line. The Alameda Quarry, where Davies Tennis Stadium now sits, was just to its left, discreetly out of this developer’s portfolio photo.

Here’s roughly the same view in 1925. The view from there is still nice, but much more obstructed today.


The street on the left is Arimo Avenue, running up the smallest of the ridges south of Lakeshore, and the ridge on the right is populated today by Balfour and Calmar avenues. It is fascinating to see this topography in its original form.

3 Responses to “Walavista valley, 1916/1925”

  1. nbschiff Says:

    The Oakland History Room prepared the photos in this collection, and is a rich source of lots more photographs, reference books, old postcards, city directories, and miscellaneous real estate ephemera. Steve LaVoie managed the Oakland library’s project with the Online Archive. (Some other collections within the Online Archive also show views of Oakland.) The librarians staffing the History Room (2nd floor, main library) are knowledgeable and will help find things. Right now there’s an interesting exhibit there about the tidal slough we know as Lake Merritt.

  2. Stephen K Says:

    I moved to Walavista Ave. in 2011 and discovered the Havens pictures in the Online Archive of California shortly after. They are, as you say, fascinating. By the way, the white poles in the 1916 photo are for the electric streetcar that ran up Walavista until 1948.

    Do you know about the landslide on Balfour, or Lerida as it was previously named, in 1926? When I first saw the 1916 picture above I suspected that the slide was caused by loose soil from the grading for Lerida. However, that soil went downhill towards Walavista and the slide was apparently on the uphill side or Lerida. If you walk the section of Balfour between the top of Walavista and Paloma you can see the newer houses that were eventually built on the lots where houses were destroyed in the 1926 landslide. You can also see evidence of instability in the section of the stairway walk between Balfour and Calmar. The pavement in front of 4109 Balfour also appears to have ripples from soil movement.


  3. Andrew Says:

    I learned about that slide from the Oakland History group on Facebook. All of the lower hills are fragile, because they’re made of alluvial sediment with no bedrock. Building on them has always been a gamble.

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