The Merchants' Exchange of Oakland was established in 1895 as an association whose primary objective was to bring together the merchants of Oakland as an organized body that could better protect their individual and collective interests. The secondary objective was organized efforts to promote the best commercial interests of Oakland through encouraging immigration and new manufacturing facilities, increasing transportation facilities, and providing moral support to the various departments for the City of Oakland, as well as Alameda County. Improvements in sanitation, morality and charity were important goals of the group for the mutual benefit of the citizens.
From 1900 to 1903 the Merchants' Exchange assisted in the relocation of factories to Oakland, most notably the California Flax Mills and Boole's Ship Yard.
In partnership with other local organizations, the Merchants' Exchange aided the Santa Fe Railroad in coming to Oakland, and assisted with the Transcontinental Railroad securing terminal facilities at the foot of Magnolia Street.
The various Merchants' Exchange committees raised over $40,000, with the money going for the improvement of the Oakland streets, and roads leading into Oakland. They worked to stimulate home trading, and published "descriptive" articles about Alameda County of magazines and pamphlets.
Legislative enactments were secured, most notably the Garnishment Law, the Pure Food Law, the Contra Costa Tunnel Law and the Mutual Insurance Bill, which although the Bill passed in the Legislature, the Governor refused to sign into law.
The annual Alameda County Exhibit at the California State Fair was the responsibility of the Merchants' Exchange, and in 1903 the association planned to be of "material assistance in securing a creditable exhibit of Alameda County products at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition at St. Louis, Missouri, in May, 1904." 1
Its Officers and Directors in 1903 consisted of the following:1
Theo. Gier: President
A. Jonas: Vice President
W. H. Weilbye: Treasurer
Wilber Walker: Secretary
Directors: Geo. W. Arper, R. M. Briare, D. C. Brown, H. C. Capwell, J. L. Champlin, H. C. Coward, F. G. Eiben, F. M. Farwell, Herman Gard, J. A. Hill, N. A. Koser, F. J. Lea, E. F. Muller, H. M. Sanborn, A. H. Schlueter, Fred Sinclair, J. F. W. Sohst. H. G. Williams
The Merchants' Exchange organized and put on the annual Oakland 4th of July celebrations for at least the years 1895, 1897, 1901, 1902 and 1903.
The association was instrumental in the construction of the Inter-County Wagon Road Tunnel (aka Kennedy Tunnel) connecting Oakland with Contra Costa County.
- The Merchants' Exchange of Oakland, California, Overland Monthly, October 1903
Members of the Merchants' Exchange on Oakland Wiki