Elmhurst refers to a planning district comprising the neighborhoods next to San Leandro. Elmhurst was originally a separate town, annexed by Oakland in 1909.
Growth of Elmhurst and Recent History
Real estate in Elmhurst was cheaper than in other parts of Oakland and this allowed workers in Oakland’s canneries and factories the ability to enter the middle class and live in a more suburban/country environment. During WWII, Elmhurst expanded as the population of workers who moved to Oakland to work in defense plants and shipyards grew. Brookfield Village (west of the railroad tracks at 98th Ave) was developed in WWII as a planned community for defense workers. It included a shopping center, schools, and a park in addition to housing.
From the 1940s to the 1960s, Elmhurst was home to canneries, glass manufacturing plants, and die-casting businesses. After the war, many of these plants shut down or relocated to cheaper areas, resulting in significant unemployment.
From the 1960s to the 1980s, many residents from West Oakland who were displaced by Urban Renewal Projects (such as the Main Post Office and Grove Shafter Freeway) moved to Elmhurst. This resulted in an increase in the area's African American population. The area is home to a number of neighborhoods with close-knit communities, but continues to suffer from the challenge of persistent unemployment and its side effects.
Since the area first began to suffer from high unemployment, grassroots groups such as Beautiful Elmhurst Development, Urban Housing Institute of Oakland, East Oakland Community Corporation, East Oakland Youth Development Center, Allen Temple, Center of Hope, and others have organized residents to lobby for change from the City and County while offering services for community members.
The Latino population has been growing in Elmhurst. Starting in the late 1980s and continuing into the 2000s, latinos leaving the Fruitvale District or central part of East Oakland began moving to Elmhurst. Recent Immigrants from Mexico and Central America began moving, renting and buying houses in Elmhurst as many African American residents began moving out of Elmhurst and Oakland altogether. Many Latinos have moved into homes left by those who have moved out. Today half of Elmhurst's population is Latino.