The early Oaklanders in this area were ranchers needing access to railroaders: cattlemen and ranchers who needed to ship their goods at the cattle loading stop at 47th Avenue. The first large landowner was C.L. Fitch, who purchased the land from Peralta and made a town called "Fitchburg." (Note: This does not appear to correspond with the neighborhood called "Fitchburg.")
Borax Smith took over the existing gold and silver smelting plant in order to smelt pyrite ore from the mines on the Oakland Hills some time in the late 1890s.
After the 1906 earthquake, displaced San Franciscans moved to the area.
The Realty Syndicate was involved in selling the "Melrose Acres" in the 1920s.
Between the 1890s and 1910s (maybe longer?) Melrose had an active ostrich farming industry. The ostrich feathers were used for women's hats. The Bentley Ostrich Farm (later renamed the Golden State Ostrich Farm) was located at International and High Street. A newspaper, The Souza Brothers Store News was published by the owners of grocers in the area from 1912 to 1923.
After the urban renewal of West Oakland in the 1950s and 1960s, many African American and Mexican and Latino families began moving to the Melrose area. Latino businesses were popular, like El Chechen, a Mexican restaurant on International at 50th Avenue and Taqueria Morelia next to Talk of the Town. There was a Mexican grocery called El Progresso in the 1970s and 1980s and also Los Mexicanos Market on High St and International, which opened up in the early 1980s. A popular Mexican artisan store called Corazon del Pueblo is on International Blvd near 49th Avenue. (Is there a better set of neighborhood anchor stores to add to this list?) Today African Americans and Latinos still make up the majority of the population but since the 1980s many Asian families have moved in as well, adding to the diversity of the neighborhood.
Links & References
- Mailman, Erika. Oakland's Neighborhoods. Oakland: Mailman Press, 2005.