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2017 marks the 100th year since incorporation of El Cerrito as a city. What came before? What has happened since? For what is El Cerrito noteworthy? Who were the "movers & shakers" and what are some of the interesting stories to tell? Click Here for the complete list of the El Cerrito Historical Society's 2017 Centennials Talks and Tours.


If your local organization would like a speaker on these or related topics, the El Cerrito Historical Society has a speakers panel available. Contact Rich Bartke 235-1315 richbartke@aol.com, or David Weinstein 524-1737 davidweinstein@yahoo.com.
Click Here for more details.


January 25th, 7:00 PM
At the El Cerrito Community Center

The Historical Society will kick off the city’s Centennial Year at its annual meeting Wednesday, January 25 at the Community Center.

After a short business meeting that starts at 7 p.m., society vice president Dave Weinstein will talk about how El Cerrito moved from “City of Sin to City of Homes.”

While focusing on the gambling and prostitution that once made the city a regional attraction, and on the changes that ensued as reformers and even a few lawmakers stepped in to close up the gambling joints, Dave’s talk will serve as a general introduction to the city’s history. We’ll hear about the first major industry in town to attract out-of-towners. Hint: it had something to do with death. We’ll also learn about why one city just to our south looked to El Cerrito to provide some of the services people in that town wanted to have – only they didn’t want them to be in their town.


Stege Sanitary District
Story by Mervin Belfils

The Stege Sanitary District was incorporated in 1913 and in 1923 was reorganized under the 1923 Act. The area of the district consisted of 2,320 acres in El Cerrito, which was incorporated in 1917, Richmond Annex with 320 acres and a portion of Albany with 330 acres, Kensington Park, Berkeley Woods, and No Man's Land, which was the unincorporated area consisting of 1,460 acres.

The population in 1913 of the Stege District was 1,800 and in 1920 it had 3,500. In 1930 the population was 8,000, in 1940 it had grown to 20,000, and in 1950 it was 40,000. The assessed valuation grew from $2,359,760 in 1923 to $8,732,325 in 1940, and to $20,292,675 in 1950.

The first sewer permit issued on July 22, 1915, was to Mr. A. Renkwitz in the Schmidt Village Tract. The sixth permit issued was to the Seven Mile House on San Pablo and Fairmount in 1915 and the owner was William F. Huber, who purchased the business from John H. Davis.

Permit #140 was issued in 1919 to the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad for sewer extension to serve the section house at the north end of San Pablo at Ohio Street for the Mexican railroad workers. These buildings have long since been demolished.

The permit #171 was issued to the premises of V.E. Belfils on March 12, 1920. Mr. Belfils later started to work for the Sanitary District as maintenance man and held that position until shortly before he passed away in 1945. (story continues)


Hambone Kelly's Narrative
by Jon Bashor

Editor’s note: Despite living in El Cerrito since 1989, I had never heard of Hambone Kelley’s nor Lu Watters and his Yerba Buena Jazz Band until I came across some LPs at the Albany Goodwill store on Jan. 4, 2017. Intrigued by the covers, I picked out the albums and was surprised to see the references to the nightclub in El Cerrito. That discovery led me down a rabbit hole of internet searches which yielded many bits and pieces. I combined this information with the sleeve notes on the albums to produce this narrative. (story continues)

“Where the Sewage Meets the Sea”
Stege Sanitary District and the Growth of the East Bay
By David Weinstein

The Stege Sanitary District is located in the San Francisco Bay Area. The District was originally formed in 1913 to provide public health services to a then lightly populated area of southwest Contra Costa County. The District provides sanitary sewer services to Kensington, El Cerrito and a portion of Richmond known as the Richmond Annex . Click here, Where the Sewage Meets the Sea to download a complete copy.


El Cerrito Noteable Lehman Brightman (b. 1930) - a professor of American Indian studies at Contra Costa College.
International President at United Native Americans,Inc

The El Cerrito Historical Society believes that a remarkable number of noteworthy people have come from El Cerrito or have lived here at some time in their lives. A few were world famous, others were well-known in the area or were particularly noteworthy in their own field. This list is an attempt to compile those names now known to the Society. In the future the Society hopes to compile a list of those who were significant in the development and growth of El Cerrito. This is a work in progress, and your suggestions for additions, editing, or deletions are welcome. (Click Here to visit our extensive list.

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