No There There: Race, Class, and Political Community in Oakland

No There There: Race, Class, and Political Community in Oakland

No There There: Race, Class, and Political Community in Oakland

No There There: Race, Class, and Political Community in Oakland


"This sophisticated account of a remarkable city's coalitions and conflicts over half a century is an outstanding contribution to urban history and political analysis. Clearly written and amply supplied with good stories, the book will interest students of urban history, social movements, and American political change."--Charles Tilly, author of "Durable Inequality

"An altogether exemplary book. Rhomberg uses a combination of traditional class analysis, an institutional perspective on urban politics, and social movement theory to fashion a rich and persuasive account of the history of urban political conflict in Oakland between 1920-1975. In combining these strands of theory and research, he has also given us a model for the kind of dynamic, historically grounded political sociology that has been sadly missing in recent years."--Doug McAdam, author of "Freedom Summer

"Race, class, and local politics are key components of America's social fabric. On the basis of his outstanding scholarly research, Rhomberg examines the complex web of their interaction by focusing on one of the most conflicted urban scenes: Oakland, California; and taking a historical perspective on the evolving pattern of power struggles. This book will become required reading for students of urban politics."--Manuel Castells, author of "The Rise of the Network Society


Overlooking the eastern side of San Francisco Bay, the Contra Costa hills of the California Coastal Range rise gently more than fifteen hundred feet above sea level and the city of Oakland. On their western slope, the landscape descends from the top of the ridge into gravelly, brush-covered hillsides, interspersed with wooded canyons and arroyos, before giving way to a narrow coastal plain of grassy foothills, flats, and wetland marshes near the shore. Several mountain creeks carve their way down through the hills; one of them, San Antonio Creek, turns into a broad estuary that flows into the bay, marking the city's southern boundary. Midway along its northern side, an arm of the estuary reaches inland to form a wide, shallow tidal slough, attracting ducks, geese, pelicans, and other waterfowl. To the south lies a thumblike protrusion of land, upon which sits the town of Alameda. Beyond the mouth of the estuary, the shoreline curves northward along a western waterfront facing the bay.

Today, much of this environment bears the mark of human intervention. At the crest of the hills once stood a magnificent grove of redwood trees, visible to ships' captains for miles, and almost entirely felled for timber by the middle of the nineteenth century. Rows of houses now perch across the higher elevations, while the lower hills and flats are carpeted with residential tracts, paved streets, and industrial and commercial land uses. in 1869, the inlet to the slough was dammed to create a 155-acre saltwater lake, now known as Lake Merritt, in the center of the city. Thirty-five years later, U. S. Army engineers opened a canal between the estuary and San Leandro Bay, clearing the channel and turning Alameda into an island. More than a century of improvements have transformed the estuary into the Oakland Inner Harbor, while the western marshes are now mostly filled, given over to . . .

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