History of Piedmont California, 1853-1953

“Queen of the Hills” is a historical account that explores the rich and detailed history of Piedmont, a picturesque city located in Alameda County, California. Authored by Evelyn Craig Pattiani, this book delves into the city’s development from its early days through various significant periods, providing a chronicle of its growth and transformation.

The origins of Piedmont can be traced back to the 1850s when pioneers, following the trails left by Spaniards and Mexicans, sought fertile farmland in the area. The city is named after the Piedmont region in northern Italy, renowned for its scenic landscapes and mild climate. This California locale, with its lush hills and serene environment, became an attractive settlement for those seeking a new life in the West.

Throughout the book, Pattiani highlights the contributions of key figures who played crucial roles in shaping Piedmont. From the Peralta family’s large land grants to the pioneering efforts of Walter Blair and others, the narrative details how these early settlers established farms, dairy businesses, and other enterprises that laid the foundation for the community.

One notable chapter in Piedmont’s history is the discovery and development of the Piedmont Sulphur Springs, which attracted visitors and investors alike, leading to the construction of the Piedmont Springs Hotel. This development marked the beginning of Piedmont’s transformation into a residential community known for its beautiful homes and gardens.

The book also covers the establishment of essential infrastructure, such as the creation of a reliable water supply system by Anthony Chabot, and the introduction of transportation networks, including the horse-car line by Walter Blair and Samuel Howe. These advancements facilitated the city’s growth and integration with the broader San Francisco Bay Area.

Pattiani’s narrative is enriched with personal anecdotes and observations, providing a vivid portrayal of life in Piedmont during its formative years. Her meticulous research and dedication to preserving the city’s history make “Queen of the Hills” an invaluable resource for anyone interested in understanding the heritage of this unique community.

Table of Contents

Forward, p. I
Introduction, p. II
Early Spanish Period, 1820-1850, Extension of land grants and their subdivisions, p. 11
Second Period, 1850-1870, Dairy farms and grain ranches, p. 14
Third Period, 1870-1890, Reflection of the wealth of San Francisco’s boom, p. 27
Fourth Period, 1890-1907, Oakland families move up, p. 70
Fifth Period, 1907-1914, The new city, p. 102
Sixth Period, 1914-1945, The modern regime, p. 117
Piedmont Community Organizations and Clubs, p. 130
Home of Yester-year, p. 139
Strolling, p. 145
Appendix, p. 177

Books Used as References:

  • Adams, Edson F.: History of Early Oakland.
  • Bailey, Millard: History of San Francisco Bay Region.
  • Baker, James E.: History of Alameda County, (1914).
  • Past and Present in Alameda County.
  • Cleland, Robert Glass: Wilderness to Empire: an Economic History of California in Our Time.
  • Elliott, W. W.: Oakland and Surroundings (Oakland, California: 1884).
  • Halley, William: History of Alameda County (1876).
  • Hittel, John S.: History of San Francisco (1878).
  • Hittel, Theodore: History of California.
  • Ives, S. N.: Altadena (1938).
  • Kahn, Edward M.: Cable Car Days.
  • Merritt, F. C.: History of Alameda County.
  • O’Sullivan, Mrs. Denis: Harry Butters, RFA, An American Citizen.
  • Shutes, Dr. Milton: Abraham Lincoln.
  • From the Key System Transit Company Library: Economic History of Transportation in the East Bay: Vol. I, by Dallas W. Smythe.


Pattiani, Evelyn Craig, Queen of the Hills: The Story of Piedmont, A California City, Fresno, Calif. : Academy Library Guild, 1953.



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