The California Hotel is an historic Oakland, California, hotel which opened in the early days of the Great Depression and became an important cultural center for the African-American community of San Francisco's East Bay during the 1940s, 50s and 60s. On June 30, 1988 the hotel was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.HistoryThe California Hotel opened its doors on May 18, 1930. A 5-story structure with mezzanine and penthouse, it was the tallest building in the area. It cost $265,000 to build the 150-room hotel with commercial space on the ground floor. Though situated 1 miles from Oakland's city center, the new hotel was within walking distance of the passenger stations for both the Santa Fe Railroad and the regional Key System streetcars.The hotel was located at 3501 San Pablo Avenue, near major highways, and passing traffic was increased in 1937 by the opening of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge. In 1962 construction of the elevated MacArthur Freeway blocked the street view of the hotel but made it visible to hundreds of thousands of bridge commuters.The hotel opened in difficult economic times. The hotel's first manager, Axel Bern, an experienced hotelier, was also an investor. Just four months after the grand opening, Bern was arrested and charged with disturbing the peace after a quarrel in the hotel's lobby. According to a story in the Oakland Tribune, Bern had reneged on his commitment to invest $35,000 into the hotel and had been relieved of his duties as general manager. However, Bern returned to work at the front desk on the day of his arrest.