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One question ten times; four multiple choices. Answers are located at the bottom of the page.

1. Unlike Berkeley, which has many buildings from the 19th century, El Cerrito barely has any. Development came later to our town because:
a. Most of the land was marsh
b. Dynamite manufacturing alongside Albany Hill scared people off
c. Disputes over land titles made it difficult to sell real estate
d. The location was remote and unappetizing

2. Like many towns throughout the U.S.A., El Cerrito developed originally as a series of small enclaves. Which of the following are not names of early 20th century El Cerrito settlements?
a. Stege Junction
b. Schmidtville
c. Tepco Town
d. Baxter

3. Cerrito Vista Park, where we are celebrating the nation’s independence today, was used at one time as:
a. A prizefighting arena
b. A dairy
c. A train loading yard for quarried rock
d. A dog racing track

4. El Cerrito’s Recycling Center, dating to 1972, is historically important because: (More than one answer may be correct)
a. It was the first city-owned recycling center in the United States
b. It was the first recycling center in Northern California
c. It was the first recycling center in El Cerrito
d. It’s among the longest lived publicly owned recycling centers in the USA and has served as a model for many others.

5. In the 1910s and 1920s, El Cerrito had at least two men who designed and built airplanes, Pierre Allinio and Samuel H. Capelis of the Capelis Safety Aeroplane Corporation. Our fair city also had at least one landing field, which could be found:
a. Where El Cerrito Plaza currently stands
b. On filled marshland near the site of today’s Pacific East Mall
c. On Ashbury Avenue near Fairmount, the general site of Harding Elementary School
d. On the site of the old OSH store, on Eastshore Boulevard near I-80

6. For 50 years El Cerrito was famous throughout Northern California as a gambling Mecca. Several sites still remain marking, albeit quietly at times, this colorful if disreputable era. These include: (More than one answer may be correct)
a. (The temporarily closed) Nong Thon restaurant at the southwest corner of San Pablo Avenue and Central.
b. The dental office at the northwest corner San Pablo Avenue and Central.
c. The Bayview Eagles hall on Carlson Boulevard near Central Avenue.
d. The historic Bead Biz building on San Pablo Avenue across from the Plaza

7. Japanese flower growers based in El Cerrito and Richmond once made up an important business sector in West Contra Costa County. Throughout the area, many Japanese families lost their properties when they were interned during World War II and unable to pay property taxes or other obligations. But the Mabuchi family, who operated their business in the stone-faced, three-gabled building next to City hall, did return, because:
a. They were prosperous and owned the property free and clear
b. Their neighbor, Fred Conwill, owner of Tradeway Furniture, maintained the building and paid taxes on it.
c. The Mabuchi family sued the county tax collector and, in a precedent setting judgment, won.
d. They bought the building back from a local church, which had bought it from the county and hoped to hold services there, but preferred to make the Mabuchi family whole.

8. The most famous rock band to come out of El Cerrito, in fact the most famous anything, got its start within blocks of the park where our July 4 festival is happening. Creedence Clearwater Revival got its start at (More than one answer may be correct):
a. The band room at (now demolished) Portola Junior High
b. The Contra Costa Civic Theatre
c. 226 Ramona Avenue
d. 224 Pomona Avenue

9. In its heyday, before being re-nicknamed the “City of Homes,” El Cerrito was known for its spicy entertainment. Among the performers who graced its stages were (More than one answer may be correct):
a. “Bubble dancer” Sally Rand
b. “Miss Calypso” Maya Angelou
c. Adele and Larry Rogers
d. Isadora Duncan

10. The first dwelling built by people of European descent in El Cerrito, the Castro Adobe, from the 1840s, is no longer with us. Why not?
a. It deteriorated after years of use as a gambling hall and was condemned by the building department in 1947.
b. It was torn down after World War II to make way for the Motor Movies, a drive-in that occupied the site that’s now El Cerrito Plaza.
c. It burned down in 1956, shortly before the Plaza was built, in a suspected arson.
d. It was demolished by a firm that used its original bricks to reconstruct the Alvarado Adobe in San Pablo, where portions of the Castro Adobe can be admired today.


El Cerrito History Quiz

1. C

Notes: D is a contributing cause. There was a dynamite factory near Albany Hill but it closed in the early 1900s and doesn’t appear to have been a major factor in influencing development. Some land was marsh in low-lying areas but again this doesn’t seem to have been a major factor.

2. Tepco Town and Baxter.
Notes: Stege Junction was in the northern part of town centered around today’s san Pablo Avenue and Potrero Avenue. Schmidtville was around today’s Schmidt Lane. Tepco was a ceramics manufacturer where the DMV is today but there was no Tepco Town. ‘Baxter’ is a known name in town today because of Baxter Creek but it’s not known who Baxter Creek is named after.

4. Loading yard

Notes: The dog track was on the site of EC plaza; dairies were all over but not here. Not that we know at least. There were several prizefight arenas in town but not here.

5. D.

Notes: many recycling centers predated El Cerrito’s by a few years, including centers in Palo Alto, Davis, and Modesto. It wasn’t even the first in EC; there was one at the old El Cerrito Co-op store!)

6. C

7. All are correct except Bead biz; Bead Biz is the Nawata family’s former Japanese Laundry, an important remnant of the early Japanese in EC. Eagles hall is the former Wagon Wheel gambling establishment; Nong Thon was once used for prize fights; the dental office was once the It Club, a nightclub and gambling hall
8. B

9. A and C – the Fogerty home

10. All but b. and e. Isadora Duncan was a dancer of worldwide fame from Oakland; Maya Angelou, the author, was once a famous calypso singer and dancer in nightclubs; but though she lived for a while in El Cerrito, she probably never danced here, as dancing occupied an earlier phase of her career.