When the City of Oakland was originally laid out, Kellersberger's map showed Washington Square occupying the block bounded by Broadway and 5th, Washington and 4th Streets, immediately across from Franklin Square. When Oakland became the county seat for Alameda County in 1874 at the urging of then-mayor Nathaniel Spaulding, Washington Square was given to the County as the site for the Alameda County courthouse. Legal cases in 1904 2 and 1933 3 confirmed that the City was entitled to consider itself the owner of the land in 1874, even though the property had never been deeded to the City, based on the fact that the square was laid out on Kellersberger's map.
The site is currently used for County offices, although the courthouse is now located near Lake Merritt. The County offered the property up for development in January 2020 as part of an RFP covering both this property and Franklin Square, and EBALDC and a joint venture developer intend to develop approximately 600 affordable housing units on these two parcels. 4,5
Brooklyn's Washington Square
Numerous references from the 1870s-1890s note that there was also a Washington Square in the former town of Brooklyn, located between East 13th Street (originally Washington St.), East 14th Street (Adams St.) between Sixth Avenue (Jones St.) and Seventh Avenue (Benton St.) The square was the site of a tennis club and flagpole. It's unknown when the square was renamed Clinton Square.
[ Question: Later in East Oakland and Fruit Vale: A Land of Health and Homes, it says the Washington Square shown is the one in East Oakland. Is the first photo also the one in East Oakland? It appears to be similar, with diagonal paths and a gazebo in the middle. It is from Picturesque Oakland published in 1889. ]
Links and References
- Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Center
- County Wins Land Case Oakland Tribune, April 29, 1904
- County Wins Clear Deed to Property Oakland Tribune, November 4, 1933
- County Broadway Properties, Alameda County website
- JV Plans Oakland project with upwards of 600 affordable homes, Matthew Niksa, The Real Deal, January 11, 2022
- East Oakland and Fruit Vale: A Land of Health and Homes 1888