Hayward's History

Early Settlers
How Hayward Got Its Name
Early Transportation
From a Town to a City
Hayward Today

Service Contact: Hayward Area Historical Society or 510-581-0223

  • Early Settlers
Before the appearance of the Spanish padres and the founding of Mission San Jose, the Hayward area was occupied by the Costanoan Indians for some 3,000 years. They lived in cone-shaped straw and mud huts, coming down from the hills to the bay to gather shellfish and hunt sea lions for their diet.

In 1843, Mexican Governor Michaeltoreño rewarded Guillermo Castro for his past military and civil service by granting him “El Rancho San Lorenzo” – 27,000 acres of flatlands, hills and canyons now known as Hayward and Castro Valley. Castro erected an adobe house where the historic Hayward City Hall is located. Castro’s corrals were in the area now occupied by the current Library and Post Office, and not far from the location of the Hayward Area Historical Society Museum. By 1852, Don Castro had laid out the town of San Lorenzo, four blocks square, on the area surrounding his rancho adobe and rodeo plaza. He donated land for schools and public places and began to sell off parcels of land.

  • How Hayward Got Its Name
In 1851, during the time of the Gold Rush, William Hayward made his way to “El Rancho San Lorenzo,” squatting on land in Palomares Canyon. In 1852, at the invitation of Don Guillermo Castro, Hayward bought 40 acres of land spanning what is now the downtown Hayward area. He opened a general trading store which soon prospered into a stagecoach stop, a post office, a hostelry and a dairy farm. Later, William Hayward became Post Master, Justice of Peace, County Supervisor and Eden Township Roadmaster. Hayward and his second wife, Rachel, also established the “Hayward’s Hotel,” one of the area’s finest resorts.

Although Don Castro named what is now downtown Hayward “San Lorenzo,” many people referred to the town as “Hayward’s Place” or “Hayward’s” because of the famous Hayward Hotel. When the post office was established in 1860, the town was given the official name of “Haywood,” due to a clerical error. In 1876, “Haywood” was incorporated as the “Town of Haywards,” with a population of 1,100. In 1894, the “s” in “Haywards” was dropped and on September 18, 1928, the status of the community was changed to the “City of Hayward.”

  • Early Transportation
In 1850, Hayward’s convenient ship access to San Francisco Bay and the Pacific beyond brought freighter industry to Hayward. Hayward was also the stagecoach stop between Oakland and San Jose. In 1865, the first railroad reached Hayward from Alameda via San Leandro. The “San Francisco, Alameda and Hayward Railroad” helped draw hundreds of new comers to the area – Mexicans, Danes, Germans, Irish and Portuguese immigrants. In 1868, a strong earthquake leveled the railroad station (located approximately where the Hayward BART station now stands), the Edmunson warehouses, most of the businesses, and the historic Castro Adobe. The earthquake fault, responsible for the springs and abundance of water that once attracted the early settlers to the downtown, would continue to play a major role in Hayward’s history.

The Central Pacific Railroad in 1869, the South Pacific Coast Narrow Gauge in 1875, and the Western Pacific Railroad in 1910, continued to open Hayward’s doors to travelers. The Hayward-San Mateo Bridge, built in 1929, and the rising popularity of the automobile attracted more and more people to Hayward. Hayward had become the crossroads of the Bay Area. Today, two BART stations, an Amtrak station, an extensive network of freeways, public transportation and easy access to San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose airports allow commuters and residents to travel to and from Hayward with ease.

  • From a Town to a City
In the early decades of the 20th Century, the Hayward Area became known as the “Heart of the Garden of Eden” because of its temperate climate and fertile soil. Everything – produce, chickens, cattle, flowers – grew in abundance. By 1950, Hayward, grown to a population of 14,000, had become the “Apricot City” and home to Hunt’s Cannery.

After World War II, more and more newcomers flocked to Hayward as they searched for and found affordable housing, quick access to job markets and a lifestyle conducive to raising young families. The Hayward Post-war Planning Committee, formed in 1944, laid much of the groundwork for a self-sustaining and balanced community. The Committee formulated a comprehensive 12-Point Plan that led to road improvements, industrial development, bus lines, hospitals, an airport, libraries, a water system, parks and institutions of higher education.

On March 7, 1956, the City adopted the City of Hayward Charter.

By 1960, the population had swelled to 72,700. By the mid-1960’s, Hayward’s landscape changed from apricot trees and canneries to subdivisions and shopping centers. Hayward’s growth continued through the 1970’s and 1980’s.

On March 11, 1876, Hayward was chartered into the State and officially recognized as a City.

By 1990, with a population of 121,000, Hayward became one of the top 15 most ethnically-diverse communities in the nation. Here, people from many cultures live and work together to build a community reflective of its residents.

  • Hayward Today
Today, the City of Hayward is known as the “Heart of the Bay,” not only for its central location but also for its accepting and caring environment.

Hayward continues to plan for the future, maintaining a balance between the needs of our diverse residents and a growing business community. Hayward’s Growth Management Strategy, designed with input from citizens, balances the needs of our growing population with the preservation of open space, and the need for economic development.

We are creating a pedestrian-friendly downtown with a balanced mix of housing, retail shops, offices and restaurants. The new Civic Center serves as the focal point for this revitalization. Encouraging new businesses to move to Hayward, expanding our sales tax base and strengthening our diverse economy are priorities.

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