Evarts I. Blake.

Greater Oakland, 1911, a volume dealing with the big metropolis on the shores of San Francisco Bay .. online

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great work was begun and an almost un-
believable transformation has been wrought.
Where, less than ten years ago, the mea-
dow lark sang to the poppy and wheat
fields rippled in the sun, now along curv-
ing avenue after curving avenue are rows

many thousands of shade trees, and has as-
sisted in the establishing of parks and beau-
tified certain entrances with stately pillars
so that from boundary to boundary of
"Beautiful Piedmont" it can properly be
said that there is not one unsightly feature.
In this wonderful home park there is
not a single shop of any sort, no saloons,
not even any residence that violates the
pervasive spirit of beauty. For while in
the Piedmont hills a graduated system of
Vuilding restrictions has made possible the
cottage of the artisan as well as the man-
sion of the millionaire, the thing has been

WicKHAM Havens, Inc.


^ o

H 5


Greater Oakland, 1911

so well arranged that these are by no
means in juxtaposition. One part of the
hills is reserved for very costly dwellings,
while another part no less singularly beauti-
ful, gives place to charming and tasteful

So vast a scheme, so well carried out, has
naturally given a wonderful inspiration to
the architects of the west. Houses built
on flat land present no new problems to the
architect, but a house for an irregularly
shaped site on a greater or less slope, with
vistas of hill or vale or mountain which
it is desired to make the most of, give him
new and absorbing problems and make
room for fresh and delightful effects.

It is for this reason that more original
and artistic results have been achieved in
the Piedmont Hills in residential archi-
tecture than perhaps anywhere else in this
country. The influence of the mission
architecture of Spanish days is strongly ap-
parent, and the Italian influence is seen in
the very liberal use of the pergola, a fea-
ture that is in this climate soon lost to
sight in a wealth of roses and climbing

Is it any wonder then that each year
there is a greater number of people seeking

homes in the Piedmont Hills? There the
air is clear and free from dust and smoke.
The noise of traffic, the clangor of bells
and whistles comes faint and mellowed by
distance from the city below. The call of
the meadow lark is blown with the fragrance
of the flowers from the hill-slopes above.
About the houses roses bloom all year
long, the clipped lawn preserves its fresh-
ness, the long leaves of the palms rustle
in the breeze, the tall eucalyptus gives a
pleasant shade, and stretched out like a very
panorama is the blue bay with its white
sails. Lake Merritt with its pleasure craft,
rugged Tamalpais across the waters to the
north, the Golden Gate with its steamers
bound to all the corners of the earth, the
city of San Francisco lost in her smudge
of smoke, and in serried array the blue
mountains stretching along the peninsula to-
the south until they are lost in the dis-

Here is no fog, no bitter wind, no snow
nor hail. Perhaps in all the world there is
no place so wonderfully endowed by na-
ture and adorned by art as are the Pied-
mont Hills, as a site for the perfect resi-
dence, the ideal home.

B. L. Spence


B. L. Spence

Whose Slogan is, "Why Pay Rent?'



HE man with ambition, but
with moderate means, is no
longer compelled to live in
crowded conditions so well
known in the old city life.
Moderate means of transportation has won-
derfully increased the dimensions and pos-
sibilities in all American cities, but in no
place has this been more exemplified than
in the region contiguous to San Francisco

The development of the Oakland Traction
Company lines, the Key Route lines, the
Southern Pacific suburban electrics, have
all tended to make every point on the Ala-
meda County side of the bay especially ac-

cessible, not only to the business and manU'
facturing centers of Oakland and vicinity,
but to the business center of San Francisco,

The biggest result, and one that stands out
strongest in .the admiration of every lover
of progressive growth of cities, is the mil-
lions of dollars' worth of new homes that
have been added to Oakland and Berkeley
during the past five years, the large tracts
of lands that have been wrested from the:
farmer and truck grower, the wooded hill-
side slopes, all have been subdivided and
dotted with new homes from the modest
bungalow to palatial residences.

Modest fortunes have been accumulated
by the shrewd home-buyer that has been


Greater Oakland, 1911

B. L. Spence


willing to sell and move into new and in-
creasing territories, each time taking a
profit and each time locating in more desir-
able neighborhood, either as to esthetic sur-
roundings or absolute certainty of easy sale
at an advanced price.

The old idea that only a regular specula-
tor has a chance to make money in the real
estate market has been completely over-
ruled and it has remained for the home-
buyer to show that with judgment and
shrewdness he, too, can add to his worldly
possessions without any interference with
his usual vocations.

While it is true that homes have been
sold on more or less easy terms, yet it re-
mained for one of Oakland's energetic
younger real estate men, B. L. Spence, to
systematically bring the selling of homes
for all classes of purchasers into prominence
with the rent payers.

Mr. Spence, having spent seven years as
manager of the sales department for A. J.
Snj'der, resigned his position in May, 1909,
with the ultimate aim of embarking in the
business of real estate broker for himself,
but while he was perfectly familiar with all
conditions and developments in real estate
circles in Alameda County, having been a
close student during his association with
Mr. Snyder, yet he felt that desire to know
more of the other cities of the State and
their ways of conducting the same lines of
business. Taking his family, he made a two
months' sojourn in Southern California, vis-
iting Los Angeles and its numerous sub-
urbs, Riverside, San Bernardino, and the
other attractive valley towns. Returning to
the northern part of the State, he spent
some time visiting all the larger places in
every one, assimilating ideas for homes and
home-building, that when he embarked in
the real estate business on January 1, 1910,
he was as thoroughly versed in what he was
going to do and how he was going to do it
as was possible to outline beforehand. His
success in handling the business was in a
short time the talk of Real Estate Row.
Within three months from the time he com-
menced he had so increased his business
that he was compelled to enlarge his of-
fices, having increased his sales force to five
men, and even now is on the eve of moving

to larger and more commodious quarters at
the northwest corner of Twelfth and Broad-
way in the building being remodeled on that

Mr. Spence has kindly furnished a synopsis
of his year's experience and successes. He
says: "Believing as I do that the home is
the foundation on which American citizen-
ship rests, and believing, as I do, that Oak-
land is the most ideal homesite for a large
portion of that good citizenship, it seemed
to me that I ought to be able to interest a
good many people to own their own homes
that were not doing so.

"I started in on the 'Why Pay Rent?'
idea because I was a firm believer in the
great possibilities that it gave one for get-
ting on in the world. I suppose I might
say it was an idea born of experience, and
while I am somewhat averse to personal
experiences for the general public, I don't
mind telling you that I have right here in
my desk the original contract where I
bought my first piece of property in Oak-
land less than ten years ago and paid only
$100 down and $25 a month. I made about
$1,200 out of that piece of property, but the
ink was hardly dry on the check of that
sale before I had it in another home. This
had been a great lesson to me, and I told
the home-seeker the same story in another
form, by showing the results possible by
paying monthly installments and securing a
home. When I could show a possible buyer
that paying $25 a month rent amounted to
$3,950 in ten years, it didn't take long to
convince him that he better be paying part
of that, monthly, to himself. There were
several points necessary to take into con-
sideration in the carrying out of my pro-
posed plan. First, I knew I must have the
right kind of properties at the right kind
of prices. The prevailing opinion that the
installment buyer must pay an exorbitantly
higher price than the cash buyer must be
reduced to a plain mistake. It wasn't espe-
cially easy to convince these builders that
installments and interest were as good or
better than cash, but I succeeded with a few
•and had a choice list to begin with. At the
end of January, with nineteen sales of
homes to my credit, it was no trouble to


Greater Oakland, 1911

secure all the best homes at the best prices.
February outdid January and March was
the best of the three, and after that it was
simply a question of getting the right prop-
erties, and my buyers were sending their
friends, and the chain was increasing.

"A number of these home-buyers have
sold during the year at an advance and
these have become in turn buyers of other
homes. While home-selling has been the
main business conducted in my office dur-
ing the year, it has been by no means all.
I have found a fairly good market for lots.

I have been unusually successful in dispos-
ing of small bunches of lots to builders.

"The prospects for the coming year are
far brighter than for the past, and I am as
fully prepared for it as I was last year. I
am busily engaged now in the detail of
starting about fifty new homes that are be-
ing built especially to meet the require-
ments of my office, and I have no hesita-
tion in saying that I can satisfy nine out of
every ten who want a home, whether at
$3,000 or $20,000, and whether they want to
pay $100 or $1,000 cash."

Laymance Real Estate Company


What the Development of the Foothills Has
Meant to Oakland's Growth

^i; Fred E. Reed, of the Laymance Company

X the foothill districts of Oak-
land has been established the
Mecca toward which the suc-
cessful Californian turns his
eyes and stops in his search
for a permanent home. The attraction
which these low-er hills have ofifered for the
making of homes has played no small part
in the marvelous growth of Oakland which
IS apparent on every hand.

The story of the great development of
ihis section of splendid residences known
;is the Oakland foothills is largely told in
1 he history of the last four years. The rec-
ords show that more than $27,000,000 went
into buildings in Oakland during this
jieriod. The same records show that a
Ihird as much went into modern street
%vork and other permanent public improve-
ments in the same area during these same
lour years, and, while the growth of all
jections of the city contributed to this
spendid showing, the rapid upbuilding ot
ihe foothill residence districts has been
lesponsible for the greatest share of the
large total.

Visitors Find Them Out.

The advantages of the lower foothills
<i Oakland as sites for homes became fully
appreciated when the people from the other
«ide of the bay came to Oakland in April,
1906. Piedmont, Claremont and the adja-
■ ent Broadway Hill sections, now Rock
Ridge, had long been known to a few. The
Spring and Summer of 1906 made them
know-n to thousands of others. These new-
comers found that they could leave fhe
center of business activity at Fourteenth
Street and Broadway and within a few min-
utes go by the best street car transporta-

tion service in the country to the midst of
the residence districts of Piedmont and
Claremont. There, on those hills, they
saw home sites, from which they could
look down on the cities about the bay with
over a third of the population of California
in those cities at their feet. They found
themselves there as far removed from the
dirt and turmoil of the work-a-day world
as though they had traveled fifty miles into
the mountains.

Villa Homes Multiply.

Instead of having to go miles away for
the quiet restfulness of a sheltered home,
they could be within a few minutes' ride
of their business places, and in that short
ride they had glided over the smooth
streets of Oakland, through the quiet lanes
of the Claremont Country Club or pass the
suburban homes of the nearby hill districts.
They saw stretched out at their feet on one
hand great cities and on the other the
rugged natural beauty of wooded canyons
and the towering heights of the Contra
Costa range. It was the ideal location for
the homes of men who sought rest from
the day's business, but who must be near
enough to take up the work of the day

Then the villa homes, with all the con-
veniences and luxuries of modern life, be-
gan to appear along the Claremont, Pied-
mont and Broadway hills. Each year has
seen them added to until now they cannot
be counted in terms short of thousands.
On these hills are to be seen today from the
sidewalks in the heart of Oakland's busi-
ness section hundreds of residences that
will successfully stand the test of compari-
son with the best architectural beauty to
be found in America.


Greater Oakland, 1911

The work of the l,ayniance Real Estate Company in this beautiful section adjoining the home of the
Claremont Country Club has meant much to Rock Ridge— much to the City of Oakland

Laymance Real Estate Company


The public records tell that there has
been in the whole stretch of foothill lands
reaching from Piedmont to North Berke-
ley one of the most consistent and rapid
increases in land valuations to be found in
any city in the United States for the same

Five years ago the assessed valuation of
the land in the Claremont Hill district was
$250 an acre. Today that same property is
assessed for $3500 an acre. Five years
ago the assessed valuation of the Pied-
mont Hill section was $500 an acre. To-
day it also is assessed at $3,500 an acre.
Five years ago the land in Rock Ridge,
which occupies all of the lower hill terri-
tory between Claremont and Piedmont, was
assessed at $250 an acre. This latest sub-
division in the Broadwa}' hills was only
placed on the market in October, 1909, but
the same increase is expected there. The
assessor has but kept pace with the actual
selling values, but his figures have shown
an increase of nearh- twelve-fold in these
foothill sections within the last five years.

No small part in this development has
been the work of the Laymance Real Es-
tate Company, one of the earliest estab-
lished and best known real estate firms of
Oakland. This firm early saw the future
that must come to these beautiful foot-
hill properties and positive of this fu-
ture secured the exclusive agency for the
last remaining portion between Oakland
and Berkeley, known as Rock Ridge.
Spread out over 176 of the choicest acres
in the Broadway hills, Rock Ridge had
been given its name over forty years before
by Horatio P. Livermore and his brother
Charles, its former owners, because of a
single rock of immense size standing on
the hillside overlooking the city. For years
that portion of the property not occupied
by the Livermore brothers was used by the
cities of Oakland and Berkeley as a picnic
ground, and as such is known to all the
older residents of the East Bay section. It
is a property peculiarly fortunate in its
location with a wide frontage directly on
Broadway, the main street of Oakland,
close in to the heart of the business sec-
tion. And fortunate, too, in that at the
time the Laymance Company became in-
terested in it the hills of Claremont and
Piedmont immediately adjoining to the

north and south had already been im-
proved and were admittedly the finest res-
idence properties in Alameda County.

Realizing how important it was to the
city of Oakland that Rock Ridge — this
last of its foothill properties — be made as
beautiful as possible, three years were spent
in planning by the Laymance Company be-
fore a lot was offered for sale. They did
not rest content with their experience
gained with twenty-two years of a success-
ful general real estate business. On the
contrary, ideas were gathered from all the
largest cities of California and the East,
with the aim of building Rock Ridge to
an ideal residence place that would be
a pride to the builders; one that, together
with Claremont and Piedmont, would make
Oakland known far and wide as a mag-
nificent example of modern city-building.

With this aim constantly in mind — to
make Rock Ridge the finest residence prop-
erty in all California — the Laymance Com-
pany began to work out their plans. They
determined first of all that the building
sites should all be large; that lots should
be cut into properties ranging from sixty
to three hundred and fifty feet in width,
and that further subdivision should not be
permitted. They determined that homes
must set well back from street lines; and
the minimum cost was made the highest in
Northern California, varying from $3,500 to
$:30,000, depending on the location in the
property. They further provided that once
an owner had built on his property he
must keep up his garden in conformity with
the majority of the gardens in the block
in which his property was located. That
no tree should be cut without permission.
Nor should there lie a board fence in the
entire Rock Ridge district to a height
greater than three feet. Board fences were
to be replaced by open wire fences cov-
ered with vines or by lattice and green
hedge effects. Rock Ridge was to be set
apart for all time for the man who cared
to maintain a beautiful home surrounded
by others of like character, and all having
the protection that only such restrictions
could give.

The plan followed in improving this
splendid subdivision was one that could not
fail to bring out the full natural beauty
of Rock Ridge. Winding roads were


Greater Oakland, 1911

Picturesque Rock Ridge whose native charm has been increased by the careful, thoughtful
planning of the I^aymance Real Estate Company

Laymance Real Estate Company


With the charm of Rock Ridge all around, one forgets that the heart of the city is but 12 minutes away


Greater Oakland, 1911

brought from Broadway up along the hill-
sides, following the contour of the ground
in every instance; heavy cement curbs re-
placed the wooden curbs usual to most
properties; wide parkways planted with
beautiful flowers and shrubbery were made
to border beautiful streets laid with as-
phalt macadam; while wide-spreading, date
palms were planted along the boulevard
leading from Broadway to the heart of
the property. Public parks were provided
for in the scheme of subdivision, all to be
beautifully improved by the first owners
and accepted by the city on their comple-
tion. A beautiful Italian Renaissance en-
trance — one of the most magnificent that
ever fronted a private park residence tract
in the history of city-building — was erect-
ed on Rock Ridge Boulevard at the Broad-
way entrance to the properties. A plan as
a whole altogether elaborate; yet so suc-
cessfully has it been carried out that one
wonders at the simplicity of it all.

The results of this planning have been
all that the Laymance Company had hoped.
Rock Ridge was an instant success; sales
within the first twenty months exceeded
$550,000. Homes costing up into the tens
of thousands began to be built on the hill-
sides of Rock Ridge — homes that mean
much for the future of Rock Ridge. And
much for Oakland. As the months have
gone by hundreds of buyers came from all
parts of California; they came from the
Hawaiian Islands, from the mining country
of Nevada and from Arizona; from the

Rocky Mountain region and from States
further east, until now there can be found
represented among the property owners of
Rock Ridge (this latest and last of the
hill districts to be opened) men of every
section of the country. Piedmont has
grown into a well-ordered community of
magnificent homes almost in a season.
Claremont became dotted with villas and
mansions almost as rapidly. Rock Ridge
has shown an initial growth which prom-
ises a future even more beautiful than the
other two.

Practically all of Rock Ridge has a won-
derfully beautiful marine view; that magnifi-
cent panorama of San Francisco Bay which
can be obtained only from Oakland, and
then only when one is directly opposite the
Golden Gate. Through the trees are sylvan
landscapes, beautiful views of Claremont
and the Contra Costa hills, while the en-
tire bay region spreads out on the plain

The time spent in making a visit to Rock
Ridge will be used most profitably. The
view from its hillsides is one of surpass-
ing beauty. As you stand on its highest
places and look out over the picture be-
low, as you take in the view of hills and
sea with the virile cities of Oakland and
Berkeley spread between, you'll find new
conceptions, new inspirations for the city
in which you live.

Such is Rock Ridge, a part of the city
below and yet removed from it. A quiet,
restful place for beautiful homes.

Laymance Real Estate Com



In Rock Ridge where meadow larks and quail announce the

coming: of day, and the air has a woodsy odor


Greater Oakland, 1911

In Beautiful Rock Kidge where the Architect works hand in hand with Bountiful Nature

The Realty Syndicate


Realty Syndicate

which will take an active
part in the developments
of Oakland during the next
H ten years, is one of the
wealthiest and largest corporations of the
kind in the world. They are the owners
of more than $10,000,000 worth of real
estate in and adjacent to Alameda County
and hold over $8,000,000 worth of stock
and bonds of the Oakland Traction Co.,
the Key Route System and the United
Properties Co.

The tremendous developments in store
for Oakland during the next ten years
will see great activities on the part of the
Realty Syndicate. This corporation is in
the building and real estate business on
a gigantic scale. They purchase virgin
ground in the best environment on the
most advantageous acreage basis, hold the
property until the city has built up to it,
then put in streets, sidewalks, sewers, etc.,
and turn acreage into city lots at a big
profit. The Realty Syndicate has been
given credit for the upbuilding of Oakland
and they have probably done more for this
community than any other one organiza-
tion located in Oakland. At the present
time they are devoting a large proportion
of their energies to the building of homes
for individuals, which they sell on favor-
able terms, providing the same are located
upon lots purchased from the corporation.
They loan the home-builder money with
which to buy the property and allow him
to repay the same in fixed monthly in-
stallments, the deferred payments bearing
current rates of interest.

The Syndicate is not compelled to wait,
as is the individual, upon the completion
of corporation or municipal facilities. They
bring together the complete home and the
home buyer, develop neighborhoods of a
high class nature in absolutely new dis-
tricts, build carlines and furnish transpor-

tation and have been instrumental, to a
very great extent, in making Oakland one
of the most beautiful home building cities
in the country. This corporation also re-
ceives the surplus of several thousand in-
vestors throughout California, who are
secured by an issuance of Realty Syndi-
cate Investment Certificates paying them
6 per cent. The corporation finds that
they can well afford to pay this amount
of interest to investors for the reason that
they gain a permanency of investment;
that is to say, by placing their securities
over a wide territory in the hands of thou-
sands of investors, they avoid the risk
taken with bank loans, where six or eight
banks might, in a financial panic, call for
payments at an inopportune time.

Banking precedent requires that a bank
shall not loan money in large quantities
for long periods. If the Realty Syndicate
were to depend upon the banks for money
to develop their vast resources, they would
at all times be subject to the possibility

Online LibraryEvarts I. BlakeGreater Oakland, 1911, a volume dealing with the big metropolis on the shores of San Francisco Bay .. → online text (page 15 of 30)