The county was formed on March 25, 1853, from a large portion of Contra Costa County and a smaller portion of Santa Clara County.
The Spanish word alameda means “a place where poplar trees grow,” a name originally given to the Arroyo de la Alameda (Poplar Grove Creek). The willow and sycamore trees along the banks of the river reminded the early explorers of a road lined with trees, also known as an alameda.
Much of what is now considered an intensively urban region, with major cities, was developed as a trolley car suburb of San Francisco in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The historical progression from native American tribal lands to Spanish, then Mexican ranches, then to farms, ranches, and orchards, then multiple city centers and suburbs, is shared with the adjacent and closely associated Contra Costa County.
The Alameda County Office of Education oversees seventeen K-12 school districts and one K-8 district in Alameda County. In all, there are approximately 10,000 teachers serving 225,000 students. The ACOE also services three community college districts with a total enrollment of approximately 55,000 students.
The Alameda County Library operates libraries in the cities of Albany, Dublin, Fremont, Newark and Union City and the unincorporated communities of Castro Valley and San Lorenzo. The cities of Alameda, Berkeley, Hayward, Livermore, Oakland, San Leandro, and Pleasanton have their own library systems.
There are more than 350 parks located within the county. The East Bay Regional Park District operates within Alameda and neighboring Contra Costa County, with numerous parks within the county, including, Tilden Regional Park, Redwood Regional Park, and Anthony Chabot Regional Park. Eastshore State Park is located partially along the bay shore of northern Alameda County. The San Francisco Bay Trail, a project of the Association of Bay Area Governments, will run along the bay shore of the county. The Hayward Area Recreation and Park District is the largest special park district in California.
The county operates hospitals and primary care clinics, through the Alameda County Medical Center. The Alameda County Community Food Bank nonprofit provides food bank resources to residents. The Family Emergency Shelter Coalition coordinates services for homeless families.
Alameda County has eight National Historic Landmarks: The Abbey, Joaquin Miller House, First Church of Christ, Scientist, USS Hornet (CVS-12) (aircraft carrier), Lake Merritt Wild Duck Refuge, Lightship WAL-605, Relief, Paramount Theatre, Potomac (Presidential yacht), Room 307, Gilman Hall, University of California, and the San Francisco Bay Discovery Site. The county has a large number of National Historic Places, as well as a number of California Historical Landmarks.
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