The four communities that make up the Castro Valley/Eden Area each have its own unique history and character. Whether you’re visiting, relocating, or are a current resident, the brief histories below will give you information about the beginnings of our Ashland, Castro Valley, Cherryland, and San Lorenzo communities.
Ashland, California gets its name from the Oregon Ash Trees, which were once native to the area. Early farmers grew peas and fruit trees in the area. Ashland’s small business district first emerged along E. 14th Street. The first grammar school opened in 1923, leaving the older students to travel to Hayward for secondary school. Ashland was also home to an automobile race track, located where Bayfair Mall stands. In the early 1930s, Japanese families owned nurseries and poultry farms in the area. However, after World War II, these gave way to make room for an increased demand for housing. Today, this small community is part of unincorporated Alameda County. Tucked between Castro Valley, San Leandro, and San Lorenzo, commuters have easy access to other points in the Bay Area, from the Bayfair Bart Station. Shopping, restaurants, and a movie theatre are close by at Bayfair Mall.
Castro Valley was named after Don Guillermo Castro, who was a soldier in the Mexican army and a rancher. Castro Valley was part of the original 28,000 acre land grant given to Castro, called Rancho San Lorenzo. This land grant included Hayward, San Lorenzo, and Castro Valley, including Crow Canyon, Cull Canyon, and Palomares Canyon. Castro had a gambling habit and had to sell of portions of his land to pay gambling debts. The last of his holding was sold in a sheriff’s sale in 1864 to Faxon Dean Atherton for $400,000. Atherton in turn began selling off his portion in smaller parcels. Two gentlemen cnamed Cull (the namesake of Cull Canyon) and Luce bought some 2,400 acres and began running a steam- operated saw mill in Redwood Canyon. The Jensen brothers also bought land from Atherton in 1867. During the 1940s and 1950s, Castro Valley was known for its chicken ranches. Later it developed into a bedroom community, where workers live and commute to their jobs in the surrounding communities.
Cherryland, originally covered in Cherry Trees, developed and revolved around the estate of William Meek. His palatial mansion is still standing and is the home to many current events. Mr. Meek owned the area from A Street to Lewelling Boulevard and from Mission Boulevard to Meekland Avenue. His massive landholdings, close to 3,000 acres, made Mr. Meek one of the most influential farmers in the county. Between 1910 and the 1930s the division of property made it possible for single family homes to replace the small orchards and chicken farms that occupied the area. Cherryland is located in the unincorporated Alameda County. The general population still surrounds the estate of Pioneer William Meek.
San Lorenzo was part of a large Spanish land grant prior to the United States’ takeover of California in 1848. San Lorenzo was mostly farmland from the mid- 19th century to the mid-20th century. Many of the original inhabitants have been laid to rest in Pioneer Cemetery, including Moses Wicks, who brought oysters to San Leandro Bay (by boat around the cape) from Patchogue, Long Island. The San Lorenzo Library was the first organized library in the county, established in November, 1925. In 1944 David Bohannon’s Greenwood Company began construction of San Lorenzo Village, a tract of two- and three- bedroom homes for workers in the East Bay’s war industries, complete with a shopping center. Home construction continued in the 1950s, to satisfy the region’s booming need for suburban housing. San Lorenzo was one of the nation’s first entirely planned communities and David Bohannon’s pioneering of pre-cutting techniques, referred to as the “California Method” allowed for use in later developments, such as the more famous Levittown, Pennsylvania. San Lorenzo is located in unincorporated Alameda County, in the Bay Area of California.