From the late 1800s to the mid 1910s, European immigrants settled by the thousands in West Oakland, California. The west quadrant of this city lies at the eastern end of the San Francisco Bay. It offers temperate climate, protected from the coastal fog by the large expanse of water between San Francisco and its eastern sister cities.
These immigrants created an ethnic-rich ghetto. Families opened businesses in store front buildings and lived on the second floor, above. Bakeries, restaurants and small shops lined the streets that were shaded by groves of oak trees. There was a small movie theatre in the center. Street traffic consisted of ice wagons, bakery wagons, milk wagons. Children played in the streets or in vacant lots. Two public grammar schools diligently provided education in the three R’s in English to those children who did not work in their father’s business. The children spoke their immigrant parents’ language at home and English everywhere else. By the time WWII began, most of these immigrant families would move out of West Oakland as their businesses expanded and their families grew.
A young, newly-married couple from Kythera, Greece, settled in West Oakland in 1903. They began the history of the Alfieris family in America. They are survived by six generations, most of whom still live in the San Francisco Bay Area.