When the McGee and Spaulding Tracts were mapped out (the Spaulding Tract in 1876 and the McGee Tract in 1885), the designer continued the streets from the existing Hardy Tract, which was developed earlier and ran from Addison Street north to Delaware Street. The long side of the blocks--600 feet--was set up running north-south, leaving room to add four more north-south streets in the McGee and Spaulding Tracts. These streets, originally named Mary Street (now McKinley Avenue), Catharine Street (now Roosevelt Avenue), St. Joseph Street (now Jefferson Avenue) and Spaulding Avenue, are found only in the Historic McGee-Spaulding District.
None of the north-south streets in the McGee Tract exactly met the streets on the south side of Dwight Way because those streets were laid out at a different time.
It was in 1866 that a committee from the College of California suggested naming the “Ways” in alphabetical order after American literary figures. Only four of the names were used for streets in Berkeley; those streets all continued through the District:
Allston Way, named for Washington Allston (1799-1843), who was Harvard educated and known for his paintings as well as his writings;
Bancroft Way, named for George Bancroft, an eminent historian and Secretary of the Navy at the beginning of the Mexican War;
Channing Way, named for Dr. William Ellery Channing (1803-1842), a noted Unitarian minister; and
Dwight Way, named in honor of Timothy Dwight, teacher, preacher and theologian, who was the president of Yale College (1795-1817), thus laying the foundation for Yale University.
With the addition of Addison Street, which was either named for the British essayist or the early Berkeley pioneer, Joseph Addison, all of these streets run east-west. From the beginning, Allston Way and Channing Way did not run through from California Street to Sacramento Street. By 1911 the Sanborn map indicates that both of these were through streets.
Some of the north-south streets in the District have had various names. Martin Luther King Jr. Way was formerly Grove Street and before that Sherman Street. The naming of streets after former presidents is well represented, as follows: McKinley Avenue until 1904 was Mary Street, named for James McGee’s daughter, Mary Ann, Grant Street, Roosevelt Avenue, which until 1904 was Catharine Street, named after McGee’s wife and/or daughter, and Jefferson Avenue until 1904 was St. Joseph Street, named for St. Joseph Catholic Church.
McGee Avenue was named for James McGee and runs through the McGee Tract. It had previously been called Hamilton Street.
The other streets in the District are California Street, named for the State, Spaulding Avenue, probably named for Nathan Weston Spaulding, an early Berkeley resident, a manufacturer and twice mayor of Oakland, and Sacramento Street, named after the State capital.
House numbers began to be used in the early 1900s. Prior to using house numbers, city directories listed homes as being on a named street near a corner of another street. When the city began using numbers, the even numbers were placed on the south side of east-west streets and the west side of the north-south streets. Odd numbers were on the north side of the east-west streets and the east side of the north-south streets.
In 1903-1904 most of the street grades were established in the District. Grading, curbing and paving (macadamizing) of the streets began around 1903. The records of the contracts for this work can be found in the old city ledgers, available by request at the Berkeley City Clerk’s Office.
Samples of early marks:
2121 Roosevelt Avenue
2127 Roosevelt Avenue
1733/1735 Allston Way
C B Burnham
1734 Addison Street
C J Lindgren
2237 Roosevelt Avenue
D M Lindgren
2240 Roosevelt Avenue
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