Originally a northern suburb of Oakland, Emeryville became a city in its own right largely through the efforts of businessman Joseph S. Emery.
Emery came to the Bay Area in 1850 looking for gold, but eventually started a stonework contracting business in San Francisco. In 1859, Emery purchased a 185-acre tract of land north of Oakland and began to develop projects in the area.
In 1871 Emery financed the construction of the San Pablo Avenue Horse Cart Railroad, which connected Oakland to Emeryville. He was also one of the primary builders of the California-Nevada Railroad, which began in Oakland, crossed the burgeoning Emery Tract, and terminated in Orinda.
A community began to develop around the Emery Tract, and the town of Emeryville was officially incorporated in 1896, taking the name of its founder. The Emeryville town hall was completed in 1903, and still stands today. Emeryville’s City Council and staff moved back into the original town hall, located at 1333 Park Avenue, in June 2001. With the addition of 17,500 square feet, the new administrative building provides a large and convenient facility for city employees and the public.
To learn more about the history of Emeryville, contact the Emeryville Historical Society at (510) 652-8276 or (510) 658-1083.