MacArthur Boulevard is a major west-east (in Oakland-lingo; more accurately Northwest-Southeast) artery that extends from Hollis Street / I-580 (just west of San Pablo Avenue ) all the way to about Joaquin Avenue in San Leandro, roughly following the base of the Lower Hills. The segment of MacArthur between the MacArthur Freeway and Fairmount Avenue is known as West MacArthur Boulevard.
Naming the Boulevard
Although many people assume that MacArthur Blvd. was created after World War II, it was actually created during the height of the War. The idea was first proposed by Oakland sign foreman, George Lynch, in March 1942, at about the same time as General MacArthur's famous "I will return" speech, and was quickly approved by the Oakland City Council at their meetings of March 19 and April 8, 1942. They wasted no time, and by April 11th were changing the street signs. 2
MacArthur and West MacArthur were stitched together as a single roadway named after General Douglas MacArthur during World War II from various shorter streets, with a few newly created connections:
- The westernmost portion from I-580 to Telegraph Avenue was originally 38th Street. Note that the segment west of San Pablo Avenue was created as part of the MacArthur Maze in the mid-1930s.
- The portion from Telegraph Avenue to Fairmount Street was Moss Avenue.
- From Fairmount Street to Grand Avenue used to be Perry Street.
- The street segment between Grand and Lakeshore Ave., which cut the former Eastshore Park in two, was constructed in about 1936 or 1937, presumably in conjunction with the opening of the Bay Bridge, but at this point we cannot tell whether this was called Perry Street, Excelsior Avenue, or something else.
- From Lakeshore to Park Boulevard was Excelsior Avenue.
- From Park Boulevard to the former eastern end of 55th Avenue was Hopkins Street.
- The next short segment was the former eastern end of 55th Avenue along the northern boundary of Mills College.
- From 55th Avenue to Seminary Avenue along the western boundary of Mills College was Camden Street.
- The next segment was formerly a portion of Seminary Avenue along the southern boundary of Mills College.
- From Seminary Avenue to the intersection of Foothill Boulevard and 73rd Avenue was Trenor Street.
- From 73rd Avenue to the current intersection of Byron Avenue, MacArthur Boulevard and Foothill Boulevard was then Foothill Boulevard.
- From Byron southeast to Superior Avenue was Hollywood Boulevard.
- The remaining section southeast to approximately Joaquin Avenue in San Leandro was again Foothill Boulevard.
Until the completion of the MacArthur Freeway in 1966, MacArthur and West MacArthur Boulevards formed part of U.S. Route 50, a major cross-country highway connecting Maryland to California which was a principal route of entry to Oakland and San Francisco from points east. This explains the large number of motels from the 1930s, 40s and 50s that can be found all along MacArthur.
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