Resident of Oakland since 1994 (Berkeley from 1984 – 1994). My dad grew up here and in Berkeley, and my grandfather worked for the Sacramento Northern Railway and my great grandfather on the Southern Pacific ferryboats between Oakland and San Francisco.

Author of Legendary Locals of Oakland about some of the historic and contemporary people who have shaped Oakland. I relied heavily on the Oakland Wiki to organize my research:

"I had another resource that wasn't available to these authors, the Oakland Wiki (www.oaklandwiki.org). This ever-growing online encyclopedia about Oakland allowed me to organize, research and connect people in new ways. More than once, the Oakland Wiki also provided a way to connect with family of legendary locals and get photographs and facts that weren't available before. Thanks to Mike Detwiler, Lauren Briskin, Neal Parish, and the rest of the crew who have contributed to the Oakland Wiki."
-- Acknowledgements from Legendary Locals of Oakland

Creator of Our Oakland blog and maps. I'm interested in all things about Oakland, but particularly Oakland history. Also into beer, bicycles, and especially anything that combines the previous interests. Some of the pages I've worked on can be found here.

Odd bit of trivia: from at least 1924–1941, my grandparents lived at 679 - 60th Street, next door to where tennis legend Don Budge grew up.

My uncle's father-in-law was Dr. Edward M. Lundegaard, who was Alameda County coroner c.1944.

My great grandparents lived at 1937 Myrtle Street in 1900 (now 2913 Myrtle Street after a c.1902-1905 renumbering) ; my great grandfather was working as a deck hand on one of the Southern Pacific ferry Piedmont c.1893-c.1910+. In 1910, the family was living at 2138 Adeline, and my grandfather (age 17) was an apprentice machinist at the iron works (not sure if Oakland, UnionPhoenix Iron Works or some other).


"Diligence, doubt, and dumb luck—the great triumvirate of historical research—finally led me to an answer."
- Lois Leveen, The Atlantic, June 27, 2013

Please see my entry on Doing Research for Oakland Wiki,


For outstanding editing, careful attention to detail, and a demonstrated appreciation of all things Oakland, the Oakland Wiki community has presented you with the Gene Anderson Oakland Wiki Excellence Award!

I particularly enjoy historic rabbit trails, like Brooklyn -> Hiram Tubbs -> Tubbs Hotel, or Mountain View Cemetery -> Elizabeth Flood -> Lydia Flood and Isaac Flood. My latest is ??? -> Captain Thomas Badger -> Badger's Park -> Ulysses S. Grant -> "Freedom of Oakland" -> Don Budge. I had a long sidetrack from Captain Badger to the sinking of the SS Central America. Now I'm on to Jack London -> Cole Grammar School -> J.P. Garlick  ; -> Hickmott Cannery -> Robert Hickmott. Apparently I never went back to this trail, because Captain Badger's page is still missing.

My latest rabbit trail started with viewing the grave of Rev. Laurentine Hamilton at Mountain View Cemetery. Mt. Hamilton near San Jose was named for him, but much more interesting were the charges of heresy(!) from the Presbyterian church when he was pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, then founding the First Unitarian Church of Oakland. That led me somehow to the Humboldt Park Hotel, then Solomon E. Alden, the Pacific Female College and then Oakland Seminary for Young Ladies. Plus a brief side-trip to write an entry about Sara Plummer Lemmon, who worked to have the California poppy made the state flower. She also has a mountain (Mt. Lemmon in Arizona) named for her, and is buried not too far from Hamilton. I'm still not done with this rabbit trail...

The rabbit trail for July, 2013 has been Dietz Opera House, University of California, Brayton Hall, Isaac H. Brayton, Albert P. Brayton to Lester A. Pelton, with some side trails to Mountain View Cemetery and the Reliance Athletic Club.


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Hi, Gene. I noticed that you updated some pages about various apartment buildings in Adams Point. Do you have any references or info about the Van Buren Tower, or tips to find any?  I heard a rumor that it was some kind of zoning loophole to get a building that tall built in the neighborhood, but I haven't been able to track that down.  Thanks! -- isaacs

There might be something in the old Tribunes.  Both newspaperarchive.com and newspapers.com have Tribune archives, but both have some gaps, and both cost money. But you can access newspaperarchive.com for free on library computers (at least in the Oakland History Room). It looks like newspaperarchive.com has most of the late 1960s, but not quite all.  And Dorothy and the others at the History Room may have ideas, too. The other places to check are the City of Oakland permits department, and with Betty Marvin at the Oakland Cultural Heritage Survey. -- gene

I did a quick search at newspaperarchive.com (my subscription hasn't expired yet), and I only found a couple of ads from the 1970s. Do you know if it had an earlier name? Something to find out from the above sources. --gene


Hey Gene...

Question for you, first, please read this blog post:

http://idratherbewriting.com/2015/07/30/when-are-wikis-ever-successful/

And the three comments attached to it.

My Question is: Having edited OaklandWiki almost from the get-go, what page content do you now feel or consider as the Opposite of ROT (Redundant, Outdated, Trivial) and instead is NCI (Necessary, Current, Important) ?

-- HiMY

Hey HiMY! Hope you're doing well.

Given the heavy emphasis on history on the Oakland Wiki, almost nothing becomes outdated. As new pages appear, we do our best to merge redundant pages, and just delete truly trivial additions. Though for history at least, a lot of things may seem trivial, but as more content gets added, those 'trivial' pages frequently connect with other pages about people, places or events in history. (But even the 'trivial' pages need to keep in mind "Every Page is Page One" and link to and from existing content that's relevant from the start and be tagged appropriately, otherwise they're likely to become orphaned. And there are still a lot of stub pages out there that should either be worked on or deleted.)

Individually, very few pages are necessary, current and important. Some can be temporarily all those things (e.g, Domain Awareness Center), but will never be that way for long. But some of the power of the Oakland Wiki is that the aggregate of all the pages (assuming they're properly linked and tagged) becomes more than the sum of the parts, because it includes the connections and relationships of the individual pages. A simple example is the Pacific Building. By itself, it's just a building. But with links to some of the organizations that met there, it becomes more interesting. Those organizations (e.g., Woodmen of the World) aren't that interesting by themselves, but when you start including the Oakland people who were members, they become more interesting. And so on.

-- my 2¢ (CDN), Gene

Many, Many Thanks Gene.

Been reflecting on your answer for better part of a day now. Your thoughts are both a different Point Of View and a Reminder for me that a city wiki can be different things to different people, yet is actually residing on the same platform.

Deleting pages is akin to pruning. Which in turn may help delay if not prevent a parallel "Content Junk Yard" of orphaned or stub pages from residing on the same wiki platform.

I had as a To-Do-List item, to go through every Oakland, California related/mention wiki page on Deletionpedia and see what was salvageable for page creation here on OaklandWiki. Your answer gave me a different perspective on investing time in doing that.

I still have a few unfinished reflections on your answer, so I might re-answer this comment at some point if I can articulate them.

Thanks Again.  -- HiMY


Howdy, Gene.

I randomly clicked on one link of the Oakland Wiki front page, and then for some time thought the link was broken, but as it turned out, it isn’t.

this one:

http://oaklandwiki.org/tags/#tags_cloud

This looks impressive, but is it something people use, because the loading time of the page (very long!) would scare me away?

Constantia

Hi Constantia,

Thanks for the note. I hadn't clicked on that in a long time, and indeed, it is very slow the first time. It didn't used to be, but then we didn't so many pages and tags :-)

Gene


Howdy again, Gene.

You have just proven my point, towards Philip Neustrom too. To exaggerate it a bit: nobody  is clicking on Front Page links, except for the really exiting ones, like the New! Recommendation, unless they have too much time. Even you don’t. 

Philip says he finds the links important, because of their meaning to search engines. I don’t think this is the case anymore, since Google has become a lot smarter and knows how to find things and update on new things so much faster than they used too. Google won’t push the Davis Wiki or its content away, when the front page becomes more like an upgraded search engine itself. 

Everything I and subjects and people et cetera of interest do, be it on social media, be it on web sites, it’s picked up within one day by Google, and I know this, because I have Google alerts on things of interest to me.

The Oakland Wiki frontpage looks much more tidy to me than the Davis Wiki. But it tends to get plagued by the same issue: too many links nobody is clicking on anymore. Furthermore, the Davis Wiki could be in a much, much lesser shape than the Oakland Wiki, as it is older. I very much suspect this is the case. The front page holds too many links, that, as you click on them, make the 1, 2 million cracks in the ice obvious. I only did a checkup of a couple of front page links to big pages hiding behind them, to find they lead to heavily outdated (think 2010 stuff) and incredibly broken stuff. This is not the way a valid website should work.

I think the front page issue is of general, Wiki wide, concern.

One other question. Why is the Oakland front page locked to me. I pressed the edit button, because I wanted to look at the source code, but it said that action wasn’t allowed. So it’s a not editable front page, unlike the Davis Wiki.

Constantia

> I noticed you removed the link to the gigantic link cloud. 😊

Hey Constantia,

Not sure why you can't edit the Oakland Wiki front page.

I don't know what Oakland Wiki's traffic patterns are like, but I agree about trying to keep the front page reasonably fresh. Your reminder caused me to do some cleanup.

One thing I made a while back and want to incorporate into the Oakland Wiki is the "Today in Oakland Hhistory..." I made and have on my blog. I don't have listings for every day of the year, but enough that it keeps the page updating.

I think it's important to have some pointers to popular if not current content on the front page, because the base URL, oaklandwiki.org, is how I tell a lot of people about the wiki when I lead walking tours. So it's the first thing a lot of people see, and should look like more than just a search-the-wiki box. The "Some interesting pages" section helps a little with that.

gene

P.S. Much of the front page content comes from sub-pages.


Hi Gene,

thanks, yes, what I have in mind for all the Wikis, but of course, with Davis in mind, is a limited link! content Front page.

A non-, or not all too static front page, like you suggest, could sure do some good. Your idea of the "Today in..." is real cool!!

I don't care very much about some text (in a positive way!), be it short or even a bit hefty. I think Google might like some serious text bite too, but without a Trillion links, like the Davis Wiki front page.

It wouldn't even surprise me if Google is not at all pleased with the Davis Wiki, so quite contrary what Philip thinks (?). .Google has a dead link tracker, and so many more tools, I am using a "Google Search Console", it's a webmaster tool that immediately finds even the smallest "offenses" your website is displaying, like the display of too small pics (think 150-250 pixels). They already are considered "mistakes" and lower your popularity with Google! Then you get a Google warning (via this console thing). Imagine what Google is most certainly finding on the Davis Wiki, and no way they are liking it: a million dead links, very small pics, outdated content and so fort. Believe me, Google spies this. I have reason to believe the Davis Wiki certainly is better off without all these failures, for the ranking too. I think we have to consider the search giant is getting more clever everyday, maybe even professionals like Philip don't realize this to the fullest.

Nothing against say 10 links, including inviting stuff like: New! Featured! Adopt A Page! And a couple more. But as nobody is clicking endless link lists, starker: these scare away. People want quick content, and certainly not: dead or unattractive content, when clicked upon. And Google knows what people want, so Google would be in line with the "common people". 

I was surprised at the lock down of the Oakland front page, here, I recorded this for you: https://youtu.be/mYiR7ITAV3k

Constantia

Addition: when I Google, I am only backed up by the same in what I say, see this helpful list too, and use Google Console:

10 Google Hacks to Improve Your Search Rank for Free, Websolutions.com
 

Gene, I think this "position zero" is something for you. Think you would like it very much! 

Constantia


Omg, I really miss the functioning Comment box on a lot of pages. 

Gene, about the Oakland Wiki, you are working on it like crazy, your work is amazing and you want people to get involved. So now I see you are making updates today on the front page as well, hurray!!!, but noticed that this was the first edit made in a couple of years (!):

And I think I know the reason too. Nobody is able to make updates on the front pages except for... uhm?... admins? Uhm?

I have delivered you the proof, too:. Haha, so, you see, it's a bit hard to get (front page) involved when permission is denied. :p

Constantia