Sea of Change


Someone said: Trees that bend with the wind often grow to be strong trees, while fixed ridged trees often break in strong winds.

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Between 1940 and 1945 America was in two wars. There was a widespread shortage of white male workers. Women entered the workforce in unprecedented numbers. However their pay was less than half of the men they replaced. While white women filled some the gaps, there were many jobs unfilled

Richmond, California is located in the East San Francisco Bay Area. It is 20 miles north east of San Francisco and 13 miles north of Oakland California. The City was incorporated in 1905 and served as the Western Terminus of the Santa Fe Railroad. Chevron (Formally Standard Oil ) opened in 1901. Today the Chevron Refinery is the third largest in state and is the cities largest employer. Richmond has over 32 miles of waterfront, more than any other city in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Port of Richmond is the third largest ( in terms of tonnage) largest in the State.

Industrialist Henry J Kaiser had shipyards on the West Coast in Washington, Oregon and Richmond, Ca. By federal law the shipyards were closed shops, and could only employ union members. But the Boilermakers union, the largest of the shipyard unions, would not hire African-Americans as full members.

Kaiser, understood that a diverse industrial work force would be essential for defense production as white men went away to war. Initially, he tried to hire workers directly without going through the unions. After many years of resistance by the Union began allowing blacks and other people of color to join.

Many blacks relocated from the south to work in these shipyards. My family moved from East Texas to Richmond in 1944. My parents lived in trailers and in the area called “The Canal” near the port until they could afford a home.

Like many cities, Richmond was segregated. My parents bought their first home in the 50’s in Richmond’s first master planned community called Parchester Village. Unlike other neighborhoods around the city this new subdivision did not have covenants restricting individuals based on race or religion. The Subdivision was served by a small shopping center . The majority of home buyers were black and while my mother loved the home, the subdivision was quite a distance from downtown

Richmond, California 1950 Census Whites 80% Blacks 13% Hispanics 4.3

By the late 50’s blacks were moving into homes near downtown Richmond and whites were rapidly moving out. Covenants were quickly written in many existing neighborhoods and cities around Richmond preventing people of color and non Christians from changing the landscape.

The Great Economic Divide

1960 Census W 78% B 20% H 7%

During segregation, black professionals and blue collar workers lived side by side in the homes surrounding downtown. After the civil rights act was past in the sixties that outlawed discrimination. Black Professionals who could afford to live in the better neighborhoods moved, later followed by blue collar workers. Whites abandon downtown Richmond and shopped outside the city. The shift in population had a negative effect on the once thriving area.

After blue collar whites, followed by Black Professionals and Black Blue Collar workers left a poorer population around Downtown a population who couldn’t financially support the stores downtown. As business closed, crime increased, one by one, Macy’,s Penney’s, and other stores, closed, leaving boarded up buildings, they were followed by Banks and other businesses.

Cities rely on taxes generated by business. If a enough businesses leave a community it will have an adverse effect on the city. The results is cuts in city services including police and fire personnel.

1970 Census W 59% B 36% H 6%

In the mid seventies ,Hilltop Regional Mall opened. The residential areas adjacent to the mall were blue collar whites, professional blacks and blue collar black workers. As blacks an other people of color were relocating up hill near the mall. Whites migrated east to the suburbs in Central Contra Costa County. Meanwhile Hispanics were slowly moving in to some to the neighborhoods abandon by Black professional and blue collar blacks.

1980 Census W 40% B 47% H 10%

By the mid eighties, many professional blacks followed whites to the suburbs of Central Contra Costa County. This shift negativity affected Hilltop Mall and the neighboring businesses. As the area south of the grew poorer the growth around the mall slowed. Supermarkets and Banks closed. By the late eighties all the stores surrounding the mall closed. Home construction in area near Point Richmond’s Brickyard Cove attracted Professional Whites.

1990 Census W 36% B 44% H 14%

By the 1990’s Richmond’s high crime rate had a negative effect on housing and business in most of the city. The nineties saw a slow exit of the Black middle class to Solano county and Southern Alameda County. Hispanics replaced

Replaced by Hispanics However on its north west shore there was demand for luxury and higher end housing near Point Richmond.

What’s old is New Again

2000 Census W 31% B 36% H 26% 2010 Census W 31% B 26% H 39%

Much like Downtown Richmond forty years earlier .Image of the City and the erosion of the middle class in Richmond played a pivotal roll in the decline of Hilltop Mall one of the largest tax generator for the city..

By the 2010 Census, Hispanics replaced blacks as the largest racial group in the city. Hispanics and other groups moved to North Richmond and the areas between 1st street and 25th Streets changing the face of Richmond. The new growth in Richmond took place near the old Richmond Shipyards in a development called Marina Bay. The abandon Montgomery Wards on Macdonald Avenue became a new shopping center anchored by a large Target Store.

The median price for a home in San Francisco is 1.7 million, Oakland 750K, Berkeley 1.2 million in Richmond 524K

Richmond, and its proximity to San Francisco and Oakland has resulted in a housing boom the city hasn’t seen in sixty years.. The city isn’t growing its changing. There is demand in all over the city. Bidding wars are taking in places once considered high crime areas. Much of this new demand is not near Hilltop. It is homes within 4 miles of Downtown Richmond. This demand has had a negative effect on the lower income residences of the city, as professionals, blue collar workers , are returning to Richmond. In 20 years Downtown Richmond, will look much different than it does today.

Change, your can bend or break because Change in inevitable

CityFella

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Published by CityFella

Big city fella, Born and Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lived in New York (a part time New Yorker) for three years . I have lived in the Sacramento area since 1993. When I first moved here, I hated it. Initially found the city too conservative for my tastes. A great place to raise children however too few options for adults . The city has grown up, there is much to do here. The city suffers from low self esteem in my opinion, locals have few positive words to say about their hometown. visitors and transplants are amazed at what they find here. From, the grand old homes in Alkali Flats, and the huge trees in midtown, there are many surprises in Sacramento. Theater is alive is this area . And finally ,there is a nightlife... In.downtown midtown, for the young and not so young. My Criticism is with local government. There is a shortage of visionaries in city hall. Sacramento has long relied on the state, feds and real estate for revenue. Like many cities in America,Downtown Sacramento was the hub of activity in the area. as the population moved to the suburbs and retail followed. The city has spent millions to revive downtown. Today less than ten thousand people live downtown. No one at city hall could connect the dots. Population-Retail. Business says Sacramento is challenging and many corporations have chosen to set up operations outside the cities limits. There is vision in the burbs. Sacramento has bones, there are many good pieces here, leaders seem unable or unwilling to put those pieces together into. Rant aside, I love it here. From the trees to the rivers. But its the people here that move me. Sacramento is one of the most integrated cities in America. I find I'm welcome everywhere. The spices work in this city of nearly 500,000 and for the most part these spices blend well together. From Ukrainians to Hispanics and a sizable gay community, all the spices seem to work well here. I frequently travel and occasionally I will venture into a city with huge racial borders, where its unsafe to visit after certain hours. I haven't found it here. I cant imagine living in a community where there is one hue or one spice. I love the big trees, Temple Coffee House, the Alhambra Safeway, Zelda's Pizza, Bicyclist in Midtown, The Mother Lode Saloon, Crest Theater, and the Rivers. I could go on and I might. Sacramento is home.

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