Hayward, CA (HAY)
Protected from the area's gusty winds by a line of hills to the east, Hayward is famous for its Zucchini Festival where visitors can enjoy the vegetable in just about any culinary creation.
22555 Meekland Avenue
Hayward, CA 94541
Annual Station Ridership (2016): 47,351
- Facility Ownership: City of Hayward
- Parking Lot Ownership: City of Hayward
- Platform Ownership: Union Pacific Railroad
- Track Ownership: Union Pacific Railroad
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
Located on the east side of San Francisco Bay, Hayward is within easy commuting distance of Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose, therefore making it a sought-after residential community. In the late 1980s, the state of California decided to make significant investments in intercity passenger rail. With a service area that spans eight northern counties, the Capitol Corridor was inaugurated in 1991 and envisioned as an alternative to congested Interstate 880.
Hayward was added to the Capitol Corridor route on May 28, 1997. Caltrans and the city cooperated in the construction of a new shelter for passengers where B Street dead-ends on the east side of the tracks. Local busses stop at the station and there is also a bike rack for cyclists. Although not an enclosed building, the structure has a substantial gabled roof punctuated by large semi-circular windows on each side. Wood shingles on the roof and the use of stout, strong wood columns with brackets gives the shelter an Arts and Crafts inspired look. Popular at the turn of the 20th century, the Arts and Crafts movement encouraged the use of natural materials and emphasized fine craftsmanship. It was especially popular in the Bay Area and was employed in the construction of many elegant bungalows.
When the Spanish first explored the area along the southeast end of San Francisco Bay, it was inhabited by the Ohlone American Indians who moved between the uplands and the shore where they hunted amid the wetlands. In the latter half of the 18th century, the Spanish Empire based in Mexico began to make greater efforts to secure the California coast. Franciscan missionaries worked toward the conversion of the region’s American Indians to Christianity, a stated goal of Spanish colonization. In 1797, Mission San Jose was established in present day Fremont, and the friars set out to work among the Ohlone, teaching not just religion, but also practical skills such as woodworking and tanning. While some Ohlone willingly participated in the mission system, others were forced into compliance. Due to their lack of immunity against European diseases, many American Indians died during the mission era.
After Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821, most of the mission properties were secularized and broken-up into “ranchos” or ranches that were subsequently granted to the friends and family members of important Mexican officials. Much of the land upon which Hayward sits was divided among two ranchos owned by Guillermo Castro and his sister Barbara Soto. Castro had served in the Mexican Army and was the surveyor of government lands in San Jose. In 1841, he received approximately 27,000 acres—known as Rancho San Lorenzo Alta—that stretched over what are today eastern Hayward, San Lorenzo, and the Castro Valley. Castro’s sister received about 7,000 acres between his land and the shore of the bay—encompassing much of current western Hayward. Her property was referred to as San Lorenzo Baja or San Lorenzito, with both names indicating the smaller size of the grant and its relation to Castro’s rancho.
Watered by abundant springs, Castro’s grasslands supported herds of cows, sheep, and horses. He constructed an adobe near the intersection of Mission Boulevard and D Street in downtown Hayward, but it was later destroyed in an 1868 earthquake. When crews were preparing the foundation for the old City Hall in the 1920s, they came across the ruins of the adobe. Unfortunately, what the municipality and the Castros did not realize was that the buildings literally sat on top of the Hayward fault, whose movement wreaked havoc on both structures to the point that the City Hall eventually had to be abandoned.
At mid-century, life in California changed quickly and in a dramatic fashion. Following a three year war with Mexico, the United States gained control over the region in 1848. Within a few months, the word that gold had been discovered at Sutter’s Mill in the Sierra Nevada Mountains spread like wildfire, setting off what is considered the greatest voluntary mass migration of people in human history. Hundreds of thousands of Americans and foreigners set their sights on the perceived riches of California and quickly swelled the territory’s population. While only a lucky few actually found gold, many discouraged miners determined that the region’s fertile lands were themselves a valuable prize.
Many of the Mexican land grants survived into the American period and their titles were upheld. Although rancheros such as Guillermo Castro retained the legal right to their property, they had to go through an expensive process with the American courts to confirm the title. In 1851, William Hayward settled on Castro’s property in the Palomares Canyon, unaware that it was privately owned. Hayward had come westward from New England in search of gold but was unsuccessful. Instead of kicking him out, Castro simply asked Hayward to relocate closer to his adobe where he sold the newcomer a 40 acre parcel.
Hayward opened a small store near Mission Boulevard and A Street, and it quickly prospered since it was along the main road running between Oakland and San Jose. In addition to this north-south route, travelers could also access paths near Castro’s property that led through the hills to the east and into the Livermore Valley. Where San Lorenzo Creek emptied into the bay, a couple of wharves were constructed to facilitate waterborne trade. There was sufficient traffic through the area that Hayward eventually opened a hotel that became a prominent local landmark. Supporting businesses such as stables and blacksmith shops opened in close proximity.
Facing legal and gambling debts, and hoping to benefit from the influx of gold seekers, Castro platted out a small town near his home in 1852. He named the settlement San Lorenzo after the rancho, but the name never stuck. Mounting financial troubles eventually forced Castro to sell the remainder of the land in 1864, after which he and his family set sail for Chile to begin anew. Investor Faxon Atherton purchased a large part of the rancho with proceeds from a successful career in shipping that had taken him to South America. He in turn subdivided and sold off the rancho in parcels. Atherton continued to do business in the East Bay district and was instrumental in the development of local railroads. When a post office was established in Hayward’s Hotel, residents suggested that the community take his name. Because it was against regulations to name a post office after a living person, the town was incorporated as “Haywards” in 1876; the “s” was later dropped.
A line of hills east of Hayward blocks the gusty winds that can whip through the bay area. In time, the town gained a reputation for its mild climate and quiet and relaxing atmosphere. Hayward’s Hotel began to cater to vacationers with an annex that included amenities such as a bowling alley and billiards hall. The nearby Oakes Hotel on Castro Street (now Mission Boulevard) was often occupied by traveling circuses during the winter.
The attractiveness of Hayward as a pleasure spot increased with the arrival of the railroad in 1865. Two years earlier, the San Francisco and Alameda Railroad was incorporated to provide service from San Francisco to East Bay cities. Ferries transported passengers to Alameda where a line was laid southward to San Leandro by March 1865. Five months later, the extension to Hayward was celebrated with a free excursion ride and the railroad was reincorporated as the San Francisco, Alameda, and Haywards Railroad (SFA&H).
The railroad erected a station near the intersection of Watkins and D Streets south of the main plaza. Like many of the early buildings in town, it too was destroyed in the 1868 earthquake. Unable to recover from this disaster, the owners of the SFA&H sold the line to the Central Pacific (CP) in 1869, the same year that the CP and the Union Pacific completed North America’s first transcontinental railroad. Hayward businesses and farmers also benefitted from the construction of the Southern Pacific Coast Railroad and the Western Pacific Railroad through town in 1875 and 1910, respectively.
In 1885, the Southern Pacific (SP) leased the CP and constructed a new station in the approximate location of the current Amtrak facility. The wood frame structure had a two-story central section with a gabled roof and deep eaves all around. Clapboard on the walls was oriented in different directions to create visual interest, and the gables featured decorative woodwork. The station resembled many others built by the SP, which was known for employing standardized designs that cut down on architects’ fees while also creating a consistent visual identity along the line. A wing to the south along the tracks was intended for the processing and storage of freight. The loading docks were as high as the floor of a box car, thereby facilitating the easy movement of crates and parcels. Wagons could be wheeled out through the freight house’s wide double doors, loaded up with goods from the train, and then taken into the building to be sorted. The station stood until 1982 when it was torn down after suffering fire damage.
During the late 19th century, settlers were attracted to the bay area for its fine farm lands and climate conducive to the cultivation of fruits and vegetables. Hayward later earned the title “Apricot City,” but the region was also known for its harvests of peaches, cherries, and tomatoes. The latter fruit provided the basis of success for one of the city’s best known companies: Hunt’s Cannery. In 1895, the business, founded by brothers William and Joseph Hunt, had moved to Hayward from Santa Rosa in order to construct a larger facility and be closer to the region’s productive farm fields. Although the company focused on packing a variety of local fruits, tomatoes soon became its signature item.
To facilitate the shipment of their products, the company’s first cannery was erected along B Street near the train tracks and the SP depot. Over many decades, the complex grew to encompass more than 90 acres and included additional canneries, a can-making operation, a pickling factory, and a glass manufacturing plant. Hunt’s became the city’s major employer; throughout the year, approximately 1,000 people worked in the cannery, but during the height of the harvest season, that number would quintuple. By the 1960s, the Hayward cannery was one of the largest in the world and could daily process up to 12 million pounds of tomatoes. As the area around Hayward was developed into suburbs starting in the mid-20th century, agricultural production retreated further afield. In 1981, Hunt’s closed the Hayward cannery and relocated to the Sacramento Valley. Most of the Hunt’s complex has been torn down to make way for a new mixed-use neighborhood around the Amtrak station. Remnants of the past, such as the cannery’s former water tower, have been incorporated into the new development and are now community landmarks.
Another major industry that left its mark on the landscape was the production of salt, which began in full force towards the end of the 20th century. Due to the salinity of the bay’s water and the shallowness of the coast, entrepreneurs developed salt ponds to naturally harvest the crystals. The success of the venture led to the establishment of 17 salt companies on the flats south of Hayward, and at one time, on average, they harvested 17,000 tons of salt per year. Production stopped in the 1990s, and since then, local organizations have worked towards the restoration of the salt ponds into natural wetlands that will attract a wide variety of migratory birds, fish, and other animals.
Hayward’s Hotel remained a popular getaway long after its founder’s death, but the building succumbed to fire in 1923 and was demolished. In a way, its destruction symbolized the end of the resort era for Hayward. During and after World War II, federal research dollars nurtured new hi-tech industries centered on the southern end of San Francisco Bay. The population exploded, and small towns such as Hayward were increasingly drawn into the orbit of greater San Francisco.
Today, Hayward is famous for its numerous events and festivals, including the “street parties” that take place downtown during the summer. Held once a month, they feature live music, food vendors, and numerous kid-friendly activities aimed at the entire family. In late August, the city holds the popular Zucchini Festival where visitors can see and eat the delicious vegetable in just about anything, including breads and cakes, ice cream, soup, stews, and pastas. In addition to the unusual culinary treats, crowds enjoy arts and crafts booths, a children’s play area, and a wide variety of live musical performances. All proceeds go to support local charities and non-profit groups working in the community.
Amtrak does not provide ticketing or baggage services at this station. The Capitol Corridor route is primarily financed and operated in partnership with the State of California. It is managed by the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA), which partners with Amtrak, the Union Pacific Railroad, Caltrans and the communities comprising the CCJPA to continue development of a cost-effective, viable and safe intercity passenger rail service.
- 25 Short Term Parking Spaces
- 25 Long Term Parking Spaces
- Accessible Payphones
- Accessible Platform
- Accessible Water Fountain
- Dedicated Parking
- Pay Phones