top of page

James Gamble

James Gamble was born on April 26, 1826, in Ellicott City, Howard County, Maryland, USA, he lived until the age of 79, passing away on June 18, 1905, in Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County, California, USA. He was laid to rest at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, Alameda County, California, USA.

Overland monthly, 1901-12- Vol 38 Iss 6:

A portion of the Piedmont Park property originally belonged to Mr. Walter Blair, but he sold it to the "Piedmont Land Company," and it now is included in the Park.

"The Piedmont Land Company" was incorporated April 4, 1853, with Mr. Jas. Gamble as its President, and five directors. Its object set forth in the original certificate, was to "engage in and carry on the business of buying and selling real estate in Alameda County," and to make such improvements as should be necessary.

Mr. James Gamble suggested the pretty name of PIedmont, derived from the Piedmontese hills of Italy, meaning "at the foot of the mountain." No more appropriate name could be found.  

History of Alameda County, California : including its geology, topography, soil, and productions : together with a full and particular record of the Spanish grants, 1883, p809:

The Piedmont Land Company have laid out several hundred acres with such artistic regard to the topography of the ground that when all the improvements are effected it will be one of the most delightful resorts in the neighborhood of Oakland.

From the City of Piedmont:

In 1877 James Gamble, the president of Western Union Telegraph, bought 350 acres of land from Walter Blair. He built a big house for himself on Hillside Avenue and planned to sell the rest of the land so that other people could also build homes. He called his business the "Piedmont Land Company".


Piedmont means "foot of the mountain" in Italian and he thought it was a good name for the new community. In the 1880's there were only seven houses where the City of Piedmont is now. Mr. Gamble's house and gardens filled up the whole block where the Recreation Center, pool and tennis courts are now.

Piedmont - People - James Gamble home - Piedmont - Parks - Blair - Oakland and surrounding

From an old Piedmont Calendar:

James Gamble, the superintendent of Western Union Telegraph Company, was one of Piedmont's first residents. He purchased land adjacent to Isaac Requa's property and built a Victorian mansion with extensive gardens from which he could see the Napa and Solano hills and the Santa Cruz Range. Although the etching above locates his house on Piedmont and Bonita Avenue, a map from 1883 shows that the house was actually located on property now occupied by the city Recreation Center.

 Oakland Tribune - Sat - Oct. 16, 1897

bottom of page