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Berkeley 1900, Daily Life at
the Turn of the Century
The San Francisco
Chronicle selected Berkeley 1900 as a Holiday Gift Book of The
Year choice in 2000, "Fascinating," Regan McMahon, Chronicle
"Buy this book. It's a winner." Mary-Ellen Jones, Conference
Historical Societies, newletter California Historian, Spring
2010 (see review below)
A SPECIAL 10TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION OF BERKELEY 1900 WITH
HUNDREDS OF NEW ADDITIONAL PHOTOS, MANY OF WHICH HAVE NEVER
BEEN PUBLISHED BEFORE, IS NOW RELEASED AND IS AVAILABLE ON THE
WEB AND IN BOOKSTORES
Since its initial publication a decade ago, Berkeley 1900: Daily Life
at the Turn of the Century
has captivated readers with its unprecedented blend
of serious history, fascinating images and heartfelt
storytelling. Its eyewitness accounts and unique views
of Berkeley a hundred years past show how profoundly
the landscape, culture, economy and social values of
modern Berkeley have been shaped by what came
before. In this special tenth anniversary edition,
readers will discover a wealth of new source quotes and
nearly 200 additional photos, making Berkeley 1900
more than ever the definitive account of a pivotal time
in the life of one of America’s most beloved cities.
Berkeley 1900: Daily Life at
the Turn of the Century, 2nd Edition,
By Richard Schwartz
8.5 x 11 inches; 330 pages; 320 images,
10th anniversary edition ISBN: 978-0967820446; $24.95, Published
Distributed by Ingram, Partners West, Baker and Taylor, and
American West Books.
Dr. Gray Brechin,
Geographer and author of Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power,
" This splendidly rich composition should serve as a model for
other communities seeking to understand how they have developed
and who they are."
Chronicle selected Berkeley
1900 as a Holiday Gift Book choice in 2000,
"Fascinating," Regan McMahon, Chronicle staff
Ex-Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean, "Mr. Schwartz has put
together a must-read book"
Dr. Charles Wollenberg, Professor of History, Vista College,
"A vivid picture...a fascinating bottom-up view of Berkeley during
the most important decade of its history.
Architectural Heritage Society's Stephanie Manning
"Berkeley 1900 is the first book to approach a true history of
day-to-day life in the neighborhoods at the turn of the
1. Origins of Berkeley 1
2. Gypsies 5
3. Our Dear John Muir 9
4. Environment 11
5. Animals 19
6. Life on the Bay 33
7. Crime 41
8. Children 63
9. Injuries and Fatalities 85
10. The Italian Immigrant and the Fountain 99
11. African American Focus 103
12. Asian American Focus 109
13. Focus on Women 119
14. Human Interest 131
15. Love and Marriage 143
16. The Bay Area and the Poor 151
17. Neighborhoods Are Developed 155
18. Saloons and the Temperance Movement 185
19. Milk, the Problem 197
20. Medicine 207
21. Powder Mills 217
22. Fire 227
23. Commerce 235
24. Leisure 265
25. Sports 277
26. International 285
27. Trivia 293
28. Looking Forward in 1900 299
29. Looking Back in 1900 305
BERKELEY 1900, 10th Anniversary
Edition is available at the following locations in
Berkeley Ace Hardware
Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association
Claremont Hotel and Resort Gift Store
Copy Central, 1553 Solano Ave.
Nature Center, Tilden Park, East Bay Regional Park
Pegasus Books on Shattuck Ave.
Pegasus Books on Solano Ave.
Pendragon Books on College Ave.
Walgreens 2801 Adeline St.
West Berkeley Ace Hardware
William Stout Books
BERKELEY 1900, 10th Anniversary
Edition is available ONLINE at Amazon.com
BERKELEY 1900, 10th Anniversary Edition
Historian, Published by the Conference of California
Historical Societies, Vol. 56, Number 2, Spring 2010, page
Mary-Ellen Jones, Archivist, UC
Berkeley Bancroft Library, retired
"In recent years, a complete interpretation of our
past has come to be defined less in terms of famous people
and momentous happenings and more through an examination
of the lives of ordinary people and everyday events.
his 10th anniversary edition of Berkeley 1900, Richard Schwartz displays
once again a pure gift for taking this interpretation to
new heights. From a stack of moldy and discarded Berkeley Daily Gazette
newspapers, he has discovered unmined snippets of history
to tell his story. He has rediscovered people and events
long lost in the cracks of time.
of Berkeley 1900
is filled with charming, amusing, factual, poignant and
always revealing articles showing how life was, how it has
changed and how it remains the same. An example of how
life was: When was the last time you drank a glass of
Baldwin's Celery Soda, guarenteed to cure sick and nervous
headaches seasickness and mental fatigue.
choice example of how some things never change: An article
under the catchy headline "Dandy Dresser Decamps" tells
about one James Graham who dissappeared from Berkeley last
week, leaving a 17-year old wife and a long list of
My all-time favorite article that Schwartz has rescued
from obscurity is the following:
Dog Arrested for stealing Doughnuts
Policeman Barff today arrested a foxhound on a charge of
petit larceny. The dog was a hound pup which was caught
stealing doughnuts from the Capital lunch counter on
University near Shattuck and was taken by the officer to
the police station. Later it was learned that the dog
belonged to Gladstone Morris, residing at 2229 vine
Street, and when notified of the trouble into which the
dog had gotten himself, Morris agreed to pay for the
doughnuts if the dog were turned loose. The dog was
permitted to go home.
this expanded 10th anniversary edition of Berkeley 1900, Richard
Schwartz has succeeded once again in producing both
accurate history and a good read.
Buy the book.
It's a winner."
Reviewed by Mary-Ellen Jones
The Bancroft Libray, Retired
Voice and all Bay Area News Group papers,
Martin Snapp: The news is history for building contractor
SOME OF THE best histories have been written by amateurs,
including Thucydides, Edward Gibbon and, in our own time,
Barbara Tuchman, Shelby Foote and David McCullough.
Richard Schwartz is another one. He isn't a history professor;
he's a building contractor. But one day in 1996 he happened to
be visiting the Berkeley Historical Society when he spotted a
two-foot stack of old Berkeley Daily Gazette newspapers from
1900 to 1909 that somebody had donated.
The Historical Society was about to throw them out because they
were moldy, and nobody wanted to run the risk of the mold
spreading to other collections.
"Hey, I'll take them," he said. And the rest — if you'll pardon
the expression — is history.
These newspapers became the genesis of his first book, "Berkeley
1900: Daily Life at the Turn of the Century," published in 2000.
Befitting his daytime job as a contractor, he sold it not only
in local bookstores, but also in hardware stores.
It was an immediate hit, and no wonder. Who could resist crime
stories like this one?
"Too much indulgence in whiskey last night proved to be the
undoing of one of the must successful juvenile robber bands that
has infested Berkeley for some time. As a result, the gang is
broken up and five small boys — Willie Small, aged 8, James
Small, aged 9; Fred McNamara, aged 10; John McNamara; aged 13;
and Gustav Palache, aged 13; have been made to feel the stern
rebuke of the law."
Or this one?
"Perhaps because she feared to undergo the dreaded tuberculin
test, or perhaps because her bovine lover no longer smiled at
her, a cow of this city committed suicide a few days ago by
eating a can of green paint."
Within three weeks, the entire first printing of 2,000 copies
sold out. So he printed 8,000 more. And they quickly sold out,
People kept bugging him to print more, but he couldn't because
there was no room for them in his garage, where he was also
storing copies of his second and third books, "Earthquake Exodus
1906: Berkeley Responds to the San Francisco Refugees" (2005)
and "Eccentrics, Heroes and Cutthroats of Old Berkeley" (2007).
But in the 10 years since "Berkeley 1900" was published, people
have been coming out of the woodwork with their old family
photos, diaries, letters and other artifacts. Schwartz has
incorporated them into an expanded 10th anniversary edition,
with hundreds of new pictures and stories.
Not all the stories are warm-and-fuzzy nostalgia. In many ways
it was a terrible time, with rampant racism ("The fact that two
Chinese restaurants are to be opened here is arousing much
public indignation") and the constant presence of death.
Consider the sad story of the Mushet family:
"Mr. and Mrs. W.T. Mushet of 1831 Derby Street left Berkeley two
weeks ago with their four children for a trip to Santa Cruz. On
the way down on the train there was a child suffering from
diphtheria and, by the time the family arrived in Santa Cruz,
the four children had taken ill. Two of them have recovered, but
two have passed away. Muriel was six years old and Douglas
This isn't stuff you'll find in history textbooks, but it's
history just the same — and a lot more fun. "Berkeley 1900" is
available in a bookstore — or hardware store — near you.
Reach Martin Snapp at email@example.com.
Berkeley Daily Planet
Arts & Entertainment:
Schwartz’s ‘Berkeley 1900’
Celebrates 10th Birthday
By Ken Bullock, Special to
Thursday October 22, 2009
Schwartz, who is originally from Philadelphia and moved to
Berkeley after he got out of college in 1973, recalled the
“happenstance” way in which the book came about. Author of a
single previous book, The Circle of Stones, about a mysterious
stone circle in Stampede Valley in the Sierra Nevada, Schwartz
began visiting the Berkeley Historical Society, “riveted” by the
film of a turn-of-the-century streetcar.
“Later, as I perused the society’s collection of photographs of
old Berkeley, I saw fields where there were entire neighborhoods,”
he said. “The university was rolling grassland crossed by the
willows of Strawberry Creek. Through these pictures, I experienced
the past of my adopted home.”
On an early visit to the Society, Schwartz heard that a
“foot-and-a-half worth of century-old newspapers that had been
donated” were in poor condition from mold and were to be “put in
the dumpster.” Schwartz reacted. “I jumped up! I couldn’t imagine
them thrown away.” Taking them home, where he thought he’d store
them, “instead I put them on my dining room table. They were in
bound volumes. I opened one up—and was lost in it for three days,
Putting yellow Post-Its on pages that struck his eye, Schwartz
then started photocopying stories to share with friends, ending up
with “30 piles on the living room floor, stories about kids, about
animals, crime, medicine, about what they did for fun ... I came
in one day and it hit me how I’d share this: 30 piles on the
floor, 30 chapters in a book. I couldn’t imagine the town not
knowing these stories ... about people just like you and I, living
a hundred years ago ... they show you what everyday life was—and
their unconscious value system, just as newspapers do today.
Though it’s hard for us ‘modern people’ to believe that stuff was
written the way it was, with tongue-in-cheek jokes in news stories
... in one article about a bank being robbed, the reporter notes
that the bank president ‘held a meeting with himself’! On one
hand, it’s a totally different world; on the other, exactly the
same. There’s no resolving that; I don’t try.”
When Berkeley 1900 was first published, Schwartz said, “the
response was totally unexpected. The whole first print run of
2,000 books sold out in three weeks. One night a friend and I
stood outside Pegasus Bookstore on Solano Avenue, watching one
person after another buying it, just laughing in disbelief. It was
fun placing it in pet stores, movie theaters, hardware stores,
places you don’t usually see books. It was 10 months on the local
bestseller list; the Chronicle picked it as Holiday Book of the
Schwartz ruminated on the themes that spring from the old stories
“You can see the battle of a rural place with farms and animals
becoming urban, urban needs budding drop by drop in these
articles, about a cow drinking paint, or a horse hit by a train,”
he said. “You realize how death was right over their shoulders
back then: a young couple takes the train to Santa Cruz for the
weekend; by the time they’re back, two of their children have died
of diphtheria. People were more on their own back then, except for
neighbors. Everybody seemed to belong to fraternal organizations.
After the Earthquake, they didn’t wait for government money; they
banded together, did it on their own—and when the relief effort
worked, disbanded it.”
Schwartz spoke of recurring details he found poignant: “many
people, especially immigrants, carried notes around with them, in
their back pockets, so if they died, they wouldn’t be buried in
the wrong place ... and you realize this place was loaded with
animals. An article tells how a bear was spotted in 1905 near the
reservoir up by Spruce Street—and in a pioneer family album, I
found a picture of a bear on a chain, on Spruce Street. The same
“Because of the book, pioneer families have contacted me and
offered to share albums. And I’ve been collecting on my own since
the first edition came out. I have a kind of radar, when I see a
new image: this image goes with that article. Or whoever calls me
with an image, I’ll find an article to match.”
Schwartz cited a few stories that amused him. A building
contractor himself, he was taken by a news story about a
contractor of a century ago, “reporting a bundle of rope stolen
from the back of his wagon—and at the end of the article, it says
two detectives were assigned to the case!” Or acerbic pieces, like
one about “a famous Berkeley quintessential weirdo, with an
overactive imagination, who told everybody he was a government
scout, getting married ... kernels of eccentric Berkeley, even
Commenting on the images, Schwartz said, “The photographs show us
what our imaginations aren’t good enough to realize ... what we
take for granted is really all so new. I’ve become so moved by
these people who found their way into the newspapers, of their
everyday heroism—so proud of them, I’ve felt an obligation to
share this with the community. It’s less a book than a kind of
neighborhood sharing. There’s something grounding about it.”
West County Times
By: New photos revive interest in author's history of early
11/01/2009 01:01:00 AM PDT
RICHARD SCHWARTZ'S day job is
building houses, but his passion is local history, especially
Berkeley history around the turn of the last century. He loves
that particular time period in his adopted home so much that he
has now returned to it again and updated his "Berkeley 1900"
book, adding what he says are hundreds of new photos, many of
which have never been published before.
It was 10 years ago that he
published the first edition of "Berkeley 1900." This second one
follows the format of the first, interspersing photos with
actual news stories out of the Berkeley Daily Gazette from 1900
to 1909, except that this second volume has more photos.
The Gazette story headlined
"Gypsies Quarrel in Camp" now has a picture of Bay Area Gypsy
women and their children near their tents. Not all the photos
are sharp and clear. Some are quite muddled, but they are all
The 1905 account of Gypsies in
West Berkeley is still a great read:
"Bad blood between two hostile
gypsy camps in West Berkeley has sprung up over the retention of
two gypsy maidens, who in addition to their beauty are
successful fortune tellers and, hence, greatly desirable members
of a well-conducted gypsy band."
Both camps, which were on Grayson
Street, wanted the fortunetellers, so the story said. And pistol
shots were heard one night. The town marshal couldn't get any of
the Gypsies to talk about their dispute, so it was
decided that he and his police
force would keep a "close watch "... over the sulky foreigners
to prevent any serious consequence of the quarrel."
A couple of weeks later, the
Gazette published an account that permanent residents of the
area had signed petitions asking for the ouster of the Gypsy
"Marshal Vollmer stated that he
had already attempted to drive the gypsies away, but found that
they held a lease on the property, which does not expire until
September 8. Although they pay but $4 a month for the use of the
property, it would nevertheless be difficult to drive them off
until the lease expires."
The Gypsies apparently did not
leave Sept. 8, because the Gazette printed a story Sept. 22
about "the female contingent of the band." Police arrested a
Gypsy woman for spitting on a ferryboat. She was fined $50.
"A. A. Knox, representing the
company (Key Route), testified that every day about two dozen
women of the tribe come to San Francisco, disperse over every
portion of the boat to which passengers have access, and by
their disgusting conduct and insulting remarks make the lives of
the passengers miserable."
Another very interesting set of
stories in Schwartz's book deals with Berkeley dairies.
The Berkeley of 1900 was indeed a
place where cows could roam and did. The Varsity Creamery Co.
put this advertisement in the Gazette's rival newspaper, The
Berkeley Reporter, in December 1906: "Wouldn't you prefer to get
your milk from a Berkeley dairy that's removed from its herd
every cow found consumptive? The policy of doing just such
things has increased our business over 600 percent during the
Berkeley dairymen banded together
in 1905 to fight a city ordinance regulating the care of dairies
and the testing of cows. W.T. Such, proprietor of the Berkeley
Farm Creamery, who owned one of the biggest dairies in the East
Bay, said he didn't believe in the tuberculin test.
"In the first place this
tuberculin test, as I understand it, was vetoed by Governor
Pardee and in the second place Berkeley is the only town in the
State where the tuberculin test will be made should we be forced
to comply with that section of the dairy regulations."
Such's dairy was located on
Allston Way. Schwartz included this ad in his book that Such ran
in Berkeley newspapers:
"A Berkeley Enterprise Strictly
for Berkeley People Only Absolutely pure country milk and cream
from healthy cows and fed in a well-ventilated and sanitary barn
— fed on only the best food obtainable."
"Berkeley 1900" sells for $24.95
in Berkeley bookstores and online from Amazon.com. Schwartz will
be appearing at Books Inc. at 7 p.m. Nov. 9 at 1760 Fourth St.,
On 11/5/09, SFGate,
the website of the San Francisco Chronicle, posts a
photographic gallery of over forty images from "Berkeley
10th anniversary edition ISBN: 978-0967820446