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Honoring Alameda’s Lost Japantown

Map of Japanese American businesses in Downtown Alameda circa 1940

Alameda once had a thriving Japantown, but few Alamedans know of its history and the story of its residents. 

At the turn of the 20th century, the Issei, first generation Japanese immigrants, came to Alameda as “sojourners”, seeking a better life, with a dream of making their fortunes. The new immigrants settled in a Japantown community roughly bounded by Park Street, Santa Clara Avenue, Walnut Street and the Oakland Estuary. 

In response to the growing number of Japanese immigrants and local restrictions on where they could eat, shop, or get a haircut, Japanese-run businesses began to open on Park Street, mostly between Santa Clara Ave and Pacific Ave. By 1912, Alameda Japantown consisted of barbers, bathhouses, hotels, restaurants, grocers, tofu shops, laundries, bicycle shops, a doctor, a tailor, and shoe repair shops. Local businesses increased in the mid-1920s with nurseries and floral shops to support the Japanese in gardening and landscape work. By the 1930s Alameda’s Japantown was flourishing.

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Back 2 School Giveaway – Support Local Retailers

Sample Alameda tote bag with school supplies

Don’t miss out on the chance to pick up some great Alameda swag while supporting our local retailers as we safely return to school and work. 

Starting Saturday, August 21, when you make a purchase at one of 30 participating Alameda retailers you can receive a free draw-string bag filled with Back to School & Work goodies.

The Alameda bag includes a notepad, pencil box and pencils, pencil sharpener, pen, and eraser.

Join the City of Alameda in celebrating our local retailers and take home a free tote bag, while supplies last!

Participating Downtown Alameda Retailers:

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New Businesses in Downtown Alameda (Aug 2021)

Ramen Hiroshi bowl

Welcome the newest Downtown Alameda businesses to Open With Care… find what you need in the way that works for you, whether it’s in-store visits, ordering out, shopping by appointment, or virtual experiences.

As of August 3, all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, must wear face coverings when indoors in public settings. Thank you in advance for remaining kind, supportive, and respective when shopping and dining in the district.

New Downtown Businesses:

Atelier de Jarit, 1419 Broadway
A creative and artistic hair designer and stylist with true passion for the craft. DJ is legendary for creating natural-looking blonde highlights — the freehand painting, Balayage, and color melt are his hero services.

Coffee Cultures, 1926 Park Street
Serving locally sourced products including world-famous Counter Culture Coffee, Straus Soft Serve, Five Mountains Tea, and Starter Bakery.

Ramen Hiroshi, 1241 Park Street
Ramen Hiroshi serves up a menu of comforting bowls of ramen that are as delicious as they are beautiful, with fresh, local ingredients that make you feel good.

Tahina, 1650 Park Street
Enjoy fresh Mediterranean favorites… pitas, wraps, and more. Located inside Alameda Marketplace.

More Businesses in the Works:

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Story Walk on Park Street

Story Walk on Park Street window display at Rocket Reuse

Who is ready for a story walk!? We invite you to read “Plant the Tiny Seed” by Christie Matheson as you walk along Park Street with your family. There are 20 pages to this book, with each page displayed in 20 different store windows, starting off at Bead Inspirations. Can you find them all?

To help you and the kids, the Story Walk map with list of locations is available here:

Or find your first page on Park Street and scan the card to pull up the map on your phone.

This outdoor activity is in partnership with the Alameda Free Library and is part of their Summer Reading Program, which officially launched on June 1 and will run until July 30.

Celebrate Independence Day… the Alameda Way

Alameda Porch of July decorating contest

There’s no parade this year, but businesses and residents citywide are still getting creative and showing their community spirit! 

Many of the businesses in Downtown Alameda will be open on July 4, although some will have limited hours. If you’re yearning for a cool refreshment, you’ll be delighted with the number of ice cream, frozen yogurt, and bubble tea shops to choose from. There’s also a number of downtown restaurants offering special Fourth of July menus with BBQ favorites.

Join us in celebrating Independence Day… the Alameda Way!

Porch of July 2021

Storefronts, homes, and even cars are being decorated throughout the city and prizes are being awarded in several categories: Most Star-Spangled Spirit, Postcards from Alameda, Fun in the Sun, Boogie on the Bay, and People’s Choice Award. (ABM Computers , The Katz Meow Antiques, and Magpie & Thorn are official entries in Downtown Alameda.)

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