My name is AJ Cohen with the Bleier Team of Alain Pinel in Danville and I would be more than happy to give you a history of Alameda. I lived in Alameda for almost 20 years, my parents still live there, my sister lives there, grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc. I also own a preschool with my family on Encinal Avenue (fuzzycaterpillarpreschool.com). I have the history so lets talk shop. First off Alameda wonderful town from top to bottom, 94501 consists of the mainland and 94502 is Bayfarm Island. Lets start on Bayfarm, which if it had a heart would be Island Drive. As you come over the Bayfarm bridge you follow Island Drive all the way past the golf course, past Amelia Earhart Elementary School, past the Safeway shopping center and straight through to homes and townhomes. The HOAs on Bayfarm are rather high but the homes range from small older single family near Beach Rd for about 500K to big 3500 sq ft single family homes built in the late 90s priced around 1.3 million. You really can not go wrong on Bayfarm which is very relaxed and beautiful set alongside tte golf course. It does get a little hectic leaving for work in the morning but many people take Doolittle Drive or the ferry in to the city. The main land is so vast and difficult to truly cover in this email, and honestly there is so much more to Bayfarm itself. In short the mainland's heart is Park Street to it's south you get Broadway and High St. than across Bay Farm bridge to Bayfarm Island. To the north of Park St you head towards Grand and on to Webster and the Webster tube into Oakland. The strongest economy and highest home values trend from Grand towards High street. As you get into Webster it suffers. There is a wonderful shopping center that has undergone a major transformation along the beach http://www.alamedatownecentre.com/ I am also going to including a link that can go into very specific demographic data for 94501 and 94502 http://www.city-data.com/zips/94501.html Other than that I am partial to Alameda High over Encinal (I need to stay true to my own school). I would enjoy discussing with you in much further detail and giving more specifics on what Alameda has to offer, we can even take a day to tour the city, have some coffee and talk shop if it interests you. If you would like to continue the discussion you can reach me by email at email@example.com or directly at 925.819.2747.
Have a great evening,
We do have coffee shops (at least 5 Starbucks shops or outlets, one Peet's), bookstores, antique shops and dry-cleaners, esp. on the main island, so it's not a desert :) As far as "standard" stores, there's a new Borders opening soon, a Trader Joe's, 2 Safeways, a Bed Bath & Beyond, a Robeks, a Mervyns, an Old Navy, lots of restaurants (some chains, like Applebee's, lots of locally-owned joints), Office Max, 7/11, a ton of liquor stores in the old navy West side, and misc. other conveniences. And if you must shop more, Emeryville and Berkeley are 20 mins away, and San Francisco about 35 minutes away.
The only minus I can think of is that you need to go to Oakland if you want to ride BART: there's no station in Alameda, so getting to and from a station adds some time to your commute. It's also not the most diverse community, at least not in my experience having lived in and around Los Angeles. There's definitely a good deal of cultural, ethnic and income diversity, but the makeup of the population feels different from, say, LA, SJ or NYC. (I sincerely hope this last remark wasn't insensitive or illegal).
The weather is better on the main island. Bay Farm is colder and windy. When I lived in Bay Farm I knew people who moved because of that.
Bay Farm is excellent for the athletic. It has beautiful walking paths, water views all around, and is a great place to run or bike.
Bay Farm has a safe, removed from all the problems of the world feel. Is is very upper middle class and has a well cared for atmosphere.
Bay Farm has a club/ fitness center that a lot of people love. It has a large pool, tennis courts and fitness equipment. It is a great place to meet people.
Bay Farm has a delightful shopping area with a nice grocery store, friendly coffee shops and restaurants. It is not large, but it is nice. You can walk there from just about everywhere.
I lived in Alameda all my life (now live in the Sacramento area and I hate it - I will always miss my home on the main island). Every since I was a kid (now 48 years old) there always has been that rivalry between the two islands (Bay Farm, by the way is not an island - it is not totally surrounded by water). Anyway, honestly, I would suggest Alameda to you. Do you have young kids? They have the best schools! Also, something the adults would ramble on and on about when I was a kid . . . "If you are going to buy a home and live in Alameda, buy a piece of the rock." What now is Otis Drive which takes you to the big shopping center, was once the old seawall. Bay Farm is mostly fill, the area known as South Shore is all fill - so you may want to check into that. The second home we purchased there (when I was 10) was owned by one of the decendents of the Peralta family, on San Jose Avenue.
Anyway, hope this helps, good luck to you - if you have any more questions my email is: firstname.lastname@example.org