Posts Tagged ‘tri-valley history’

Exciting news to report! The Tri-Valley History Council – a network of local history centers, historic sites, libraries, museums and genealogical societies whose fields of interest include the entire Tri-Valley region – is working on a new event to celebrate our local history & culture to residents and visitors alike!

The Tri-Valley Heritage Happening is a month long celebration of Tri-Valley heritage and culture.  The inaugural event will be held in October 2011 and will feature a flurry of guided tours, events and exhibits at museums and historic sites throughout the Tri-Valley, a five-city region in San Francisco’s East Bay.  A cultural experience for all ages, the Tri-Valley Heritage Happening celebrates the beauty of fall and the rich history and traditions woven into the fabric of each of the towns.

Stay tuned to our blog for more information about this event, including some fun contests to design the official poster!


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Altamont Photographer Bill Owens (Copyright 1969)

Altamont Photographer Bill Owens (Copyright 1969)

These days in Tri-Valley, when you mention Altamont, people think you are talking about the traffic traveling from Livermore into the Central Valley.  Many young residents and visitors are not aware that it was in fact the site of infamous Altamont Speedway Free Festival in 1969.   The much maligned concert is in some circles widely known as the end of the hippie era.  It has been 40 years since Woodstock, and the festival is celebrating with a new film, and hundreds of press articles.  But here in Tri-Valley, we are remembering the end of the 60’s differently with an exhibit of never before seen photos from Altamont by photographer Bill Owens at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore.  The exhibit will be on display during Guitar Player Live! September 11-13, 2009 at the Bankhead Theater.

The Altamont Speedway Free Festival was an infamous rock concert held on Saturday, December 6, 1969, at the Altamont Speedway in northern California, between Tracy and Livermore. Headlined and organized by The Rolling Stones, it also featured, in order of appearance: Santana, Jefferson Airplane, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and Crosby, Stills & Nash, with the Rolling Stones taking the stage as the final act.  The Grateful Dead were also scheduled to perform, but declined to play shortly before their scheduled appearance due to the increasing violence at the venue.  “That’s the way things went at Altamont—so badly that the Grateful Dead, prime organizers and movers of the festival, didn’t even get to play.”  Nevertheless, the erroneous notion is still in circulation.

Altamont Photographer Bill Owens (Copyright 1969)

Altamont Photographer Bill Owens (Copyright 1969)

Approximately 300,000 people attended the concert, and some anticipated that it would be a “Woodstock West.” Filmmakers Albert and David Maysles shot footage of the event and incorporated it into a documentary film entitled Gimme Shelter (1970). The event is best known for having been marred by considerable violence, including one homicide and three accidental deaths: two caused by a hit-and-run car accident and one by drowning in an irrigation canal. Four births were reported during the event as well.

The Altamont concert is often contrasted with the Woodstock festival that took place less than four months earlier. While Woodstock represented “peace and love”, Altamont came to be viewed as the end of the hippie era and the de facto conclusion of late-1960s American youth culture: “Altamont became, whether fairly or not, a symbol for the death of the Woodstock Nation.”Rock music critic Robert Christgau wrote in 1972 that “Writers focus on Altamont not because it brought on the end of an era but because it provided such a complex metaphor for the way an era ended”.

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Eugene ONeill and Wife Carlotta

Eugene O'Neill and Wife Carlotta

Starting June 6 through August 29, 2009, the Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site will be offering NO RESERVATION SATURDAYS to the site.

A park van will be waiting at the Museum of the San Ramon Valley (205 Railroad Ave., Danville, CA) at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to bring visitors up and down from the O’Neill home. No reservations are needed on these Saturdays this summer. However, If you are planning to bring a large group, please contact the park at (925) 838-0249.

A Bit About this National Historic Site:

O’Neill in California: America’s only Nobel Prize winning playwright, Eugene O’Neill, chose to live in the Tri-Valley, specifically in Danville, CA at the climax of his writing career. Isolated from the world and within the walls of his home, O’Neill wrote his final and most memorable plays; The Iceman Cometh, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, and A Moon for the Misbegotten.

Visitors arrive by park shuttle from the Town of Danville, receive a guided tour through O’Neill’s Tao House, and have time to explore the grounds before returning to Danville on the shuttle. Plays are presented in the old barn twice a year by The Eugene O’Neill Foundation in the spring and fall.

About Eugene O’Neill’s time in Danville:

In 1937 the playwright Eugene O’Neill and his wife Carlotta discovered 158 acres in the Las Trampas Hills above Danville, California and decided to build there. They loved the site not only because of the beauty of the countryside Eugene described as “corduroy hills,” but also because of its isolation. For the O’Neills it was an advantage to be away from the world, escaping from the publicity and notoriety the successful playwright had attracted after receiving the Nobel Prize for literature in the previous year. They lived in the home they named Tao House (from the Taoist philosophy meaning “the right way of life”) from 1937 to 1944. The house Eugene called his “final harbor” was at once a home, a working place and a fortress, built high on the hill, where few visitors were welcomed. Carlotta protected Eugene from the outside world, and he was able to write his most famous plays isolated behind three doors that closed off his study from the rest of the house.

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