Montclair

Montclair (also known as the Montclair District) is a neighborhood of Oakland, California. Montclair is located in the hills east of Piedmont in a valley formed by the Hayward Fault. Although there is no formal definition of the neighborhood, the general boundaries are Highway 24 to the north, Highway 13 to the west, Skyline Boulevard to the east, and Joaquin Miller Road to the south. The center of the neighborhood is a compact shopping district known as Montclair Village, which is located next to Highway 13 in the bottom of the valley.

The hills of Montclair are heavily forested, and generally characterized by winding streets and large single-family houses. The neighborhood includes several of the highest-ranked public schools in Oakland - Montclair Elementary, Thornhill Elementary, Joaquin Miller Elementary, and Montera Middle School.

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About Montclair Village

Montclair Village is located at the bottom of the hills next to Highway 13. The mountain atmosphere is refreshing and laid back. The friendly people who live and work in Montclair enhance the small-town appeal of the Village. This inviting atmosphere makes it comfortable for visitors to spend the day shopping and sight-seeing.

Montclair Village Farmer’s Market

The same families have run many of the shops and restaurants for generations. These independent shops offer unique, hand-picked products that cannot be found in a typical mall. The owners take pride in offering traditional customer service, often knowing their customers by name.

A special attraction is the Montclair Village Farmer’s Market, held every Sunday from 9 am to 1 pm, all year round.

Montclair Village is clean and family-oriented, yet exciting enough for the active crowd that enjoys biking and hiking through the hills. Close to many East Bay Regional Parks it is easy to plan a day trip exploring and enjoying the beautiful mountain scenery. Chabot Space & Science Center is another great attraction that is close by.

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Village Park

View of Montclair Village

Located next to the Village is Montclair Village Park. Run by the City of Oakland’s Parks & Recreation Department, it is a favorite for children and picnickers, as well as baseball and basketball players. There are even lighted tennis courts. Dogs are not permitted in any Oakland park, even if on leash.

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History

Prior to the Spanish Mission era, native Huchiun and Jalquin tribes of Ohlone Indians populated the general area.

View of Montclair Village

In 1820, Montclair and Dimond Canyon were part of the land from El Cerrito to San Leandro, which was granted to Luis Maria Peralta. In 1842, Peralta divided his land among his sons and the San Antonio section including Montclair and Dimond Canyon went to his son Antonio Maria Peralta.

Prior to modern development, Montclair was geographically demarcated by two creek valleys, one on the northwest, and one on the southeast end of the Hayward Fault rift. The upper reaches of Temescal Creek ran through the northwest valley, and remain visible above ground today in the upper sections along Thornhill and Pinehaven Roads.

The creek has two branches that join at the intersection of Thornhill and Pinehaven. From there, the creek flows down then south side Thornhill Drive until Thornhill Elementary School were it then undergrounds. It then flows underground down the remainder of Thornhilll and down along Mountain Boulevard to Broadway Terrace, before draining into Lake Temescal.

In the northern creek valley, Thornhill Road dates back to some of the earliest development history of Montclair. This was an old 19th century logging road built by and named after Hiram Thorn. Thorn's road brought redwood logs to Oakland out of the vast forest known as the Moraga Redwoods, where he ran a lumber mill at Pinehurst Road near Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve, west of the community of Canyon. Thornhill later became a toll road to Contra Costa County.

On the southeast end of Montclair, the north fork of Sausal Creek (also called Shephard Creek) runs down Shepherd Canyon. At the freeway, near the parking lot of the Montclair Golf Course, the north fork of Sausal Creek has its confluence with the south fork (also called Palo Seco Creek) running from the eastern hills (encompassing Joaquin Miller Park). The creek then runs down through Dimond Canyon and across the flatlands (mostly in culverts) to San Francisco Bay.

From Shepherd Canyon extending toward the southeast, the Bayside hills were covered in a vast redwood forest known as the San Antonio Redwoods. Around 1847, Europeans started logging the San Antonio redwood forest.

In 1850, the area's first steam sawmill was built on the edge of Montclair, at Palo Seco Creek in the head of Dimond Canyon. A logging road to the mill was built high up along the side of Dimond Canyon, and later became Park Boulevard. This logging road connected to a wharf at the foot of 13th Avenue and was used to transport the logs down Dimond Canyon to the Bay. By 1860, the San Antonio forest was logged completely.

After the logging period, Caspar Hopkins, an early settler of the Fruitvale District, formed the Sausal Creek Water Company and built a dam and reservoir at the upper end of Dimond Canyon near the current Highway 13 at Montclair. The reservoir later became part of the East Bay Water Company and remained until the early 1920s.

Early maps show a road passing the reservoir along the current Waterhouse Road, and extending up toward the dam in the direction of Bridgeview Drive along what is currently the Upper Dimond Canyon Trail. In 1867, Hugh Dimond purchased the canyon.

In the first half of the 20th century, the main line of the Sacramento Northern Railroad ran through Montclair. The tracks ran southward from Lake Temescal and crossed into Montclair over a trestle at Moraga Avenue and Thornhill Drive. There is now a "pocket park" located at this location in remembrance of this crossing. Then the route ran along a high berm between Montclair Recreation Center and Montclair Elementary School, before crossing Mountain Blvd. and Snake Road via trestle, and continuing up Shepherd Canyon to a tunnel, the west portal of which was located immediately below Saroni Drive.

Today, much of the old right-of-way above the village and in Shepherd Canyon is a pedestrian and bicycle path. Although the old railroad trestles throughout Montclair were all removed decades ago, in recent years a pedestrian bridge was built in the same location of one of them, across Snake Road, to connect the two major sections of the pedestrian pathway. The trail was paved as well at the same time.

One of the first schools located in Montclair was at the current site of the now-closed Moraga Avenue firehouse, and was named in honor of John Coffee Hays, one of the founders of the city of Oakland. The Hays school was closed in 1913.

Though already sparsely populated since the logging days, major residential subdivision of the village and hills began in the 1920s.

The 1927 Montclair firehouse was designed in the Hansel and Gretel style by famed regional architect Julia Morgan. Following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the Oakland Fire Department built a new station house on Shepherd Canyon Road, and upon completion, vacated the 1927 structure.

In March 1930, the Montclair branch of the Oakland Public Library was opened on Mountain Boulevard near Thornhill Drive to serve the growing village. The small building was built in the English cottage-style, and remains in use today. After 1965, additions were completed for the children's room and patio at the rear of the original building.

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