Dimond Improvement Association
As a non-profit public benefit corporation, the Dimond Improvement Association (DIA) strives to represent everyone in Oakland’s Dimond District including residents, merchants and visitors. We work together on issues and projects ranging from street-scape improvements, business development and crime reduction to beautification and community celebrations. Through the DIA, the community has a unified voice to advocate for improvements with the City of Oakland.
History of DIA
The DIA was established in 1953 as a non-profit community association in response to a neighborhood crisis, the slide of McKillop Hill, which resulted in the destruction of several homes. The DIA was successful in lobbying the City of Oakland to stabilize the McKillop landslide area near Sheffield Avenue and build William Wood Park. Early DIA projects included securing funds for the Dimond Branch Library, and establishing free parking under I-580, and at Dimond Avenue and Bienati Way. The continuing mission of the DIA has been to make Oakland’s Dimond District a vital, safe, and attractive place for everyone.
History of the Dimond
The Dimond District is named after Hugh Dimond, a young 20-year old with three children, who made his money in the Gold Rush. In 1867, he purchased the acreage that included the area now called Dimond Park. However, he was not the first European to own the land.
Our very own 12-acre Dimond Park, was part of the Peralta family’s ranch, back in the days of the Spanish land grants. The family’s 1821 adobe, described in a book called “Oakland Park and Playgrounds” as the “first substantial house built in Oakland,” stood for many years until it burned in the 1950s. When visiting the park , search for a small, difficult-to-read plaque that sets forth a bit of local history. According to the plaque, the utility building across from the restrooms has incorporated adobe bricks from the 1897 Dimond cottage, described as a “playhouse” for the Dimond children, although a brief history on an Oakland Parks Department map references the adobe bricks as being from the Peralta home. Visit the old bricks that encircle the door, set aside from the rest of the blank wall of the building. Adjacent to the plaque is an 1896 bell, which originally hung in a streetcar barn, which later became the volunteer headquarters for the Dimond Volunteer Fire Department.
In 1917, the city purchased 12 acres at Fruitvale and Lyman streets from the Dimond estate for $24,000–today’s present park. Exploring the Dimond district can be filled with surprises. Finding out where the German Beer Gardens once stood, will bring out the true adventurer in you.
There’s a lot more history to explore in the Dimond. Visit six sites on our Self-Guided Historical “Mini-Tour” of the Dimond District.
And see our Dimond Street Name History, a work in progress to capture the backstory on the roads we walk, bike, and drive on every day.