A 4, unit housing project was completed in Richmond during The Ohlone were the first inhabitants of the Richmond area, settling an estimated 5, years ago. Edmund Randolph, originally from Richmond, Virginia , represented the city of San Francisco when California's first legislature met in San Jose in December , and he became state assemblyman from San Francisco.
His loyalty to the town of his birth caused him to persuade a federal surveying party mapping the San Francisco Bay to place the names "Point Richmond" and "Richmond" on an geodetic coast map, which was the geodetic map at the terminal selected by the San Francisco and San Joaquin Valley Railroad ; and by maps made by the railroad carried the name "Point Richmond Avenue", designating a county road that later became Barrett Avenue, a central street in Richmond.
Until the enactment of prohibition in , the city had the largest winery in the world;  the small abandoned village of Winehaven remains fenced off along Western Drive in the Point Molate Area. Starting in , and continuing through the s, the Ku Klux Klan was active in the city. The old Ford plant has been a National Historic Place since , and in was purchased by developer Eddie Orton  and has been converted into an events center Ford Point Building — The Craneway.
Standard Oil set up operations here in , including a what is now the Chevron Richmond Refinery and tank farm , which are still operated by Chevron. Greely built in Richmond At the outset of World War II, the four Richmond Shipyards were built along the Richmond waterfront, employing thousands of workers, many recruited from all over the United States, including many African-Americans and women entering the workforce for the first time.
Many of these workers lived in specially constructed houses scattered throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, including Richmond, Berkeley and Albany. A specially built rail line, the Shipyard Railway , transported workers to the shipyards.
Kaiser's Richmond shipyards built Victory and Liberty ships for the war effort, more than any other site in the U. On average the yards could build a ship in thirty days. Point Richmond was originally the commercial hub of the city, but a new downtown arose in the center of the city. It was populated by many department stores such as Kress , J. Penney , Sears , Macy's , and Woolworth's. During the war the population increased dramatically and peaked at around , by the end of the war.
Once the war ended the shipyard workers were no longer needed, beginning a decades-long population decline. The Census listed 99, residents in By much of the temporary housing built for the shipyard workers was torn down, and the population dropped to about 71, Many of the people who moved to Richmond were black and came from the Midwest and South. Most of the white men were overseas at war, and this opened up new opportunities for ethnic minorities and women.
This era also brought with it the innovation of daycare for children, as a few women could care for several dozen women's children, while most of the mothers went off to work in the factories and shipyards.
In the s the Hilltop area including a large shopping mall was developed in the northern suburbs of the city; this further depressed the downtown area as it drew away retail clients and tenants. In the late s and early s the Richmond Parkway was built along the western industrial and northwestern parkland of the city connecting Interstates 80 and In the early s, the Santa Fe railroad established a major rail yard adjacent to Point Richmond.
The railroad constructed a tunnel through the Potrero San Pablo ridge to run a track from their yard to a ferry landing from which freight cars could be transshipped to San Francisco. Where this track crosses the main street in Point Richmond, there remain two of the last operational wigwag grade crossing signals in the United States, and the only surviving examples of the "upside-down" type.
The wigwag is an antiquated type of railroad crossing signal which was phased out in the s and 80s across the country. There was controversy in when the State Transportation Authority ordered the BNSF railroad company to upgrade the railroad crossing signals. A compromise was achieved that included installing new modern crossing gates, red lights and bells while not removing, but simply shutting off the historic ones and preserving their functionality for special events.
The Pullman Company was a large employer of African American men, who worked mainly as porters on the Pullman cars. Martin Luther King, Jr. This coincided with the repaving and streetscaping project of Macdonald Avenue.
The city's old rundown commercial district along Macdonald has been designated the city's "Main Street District" by the state of California. This has led to funding of improvements in the form of state grants.