Hayward, California is an undistinguished city in Alameda County on the east shore of San Francisco Bay. Its boosters, somewhat optimistically, call Hayward "The Heart of the Bay". By car, Hayward is around 30 miles from both San Francisco and San José; it is around 10 miles from Oakland. (These distances vary according to which parts of each city you are talking about.)

The local newspaper, the Hayward Daily Review, is a member of the ANG newspaper chain, and is not very good. I read it for the local news. The nearest major newspapers are the San Francisco Chronicle and the San José Mercury News. These are of course published in San Francisco and San José respectively. They do not have local editions.


Hayward is named after William Hayward, who squatted in 1851 on part of El Rancho San Lorenzo. He built a general store, the first of many enterprises he established in the area, and later legally bought 40 acres from Don Guillermo Castro, the owner of the rancho. Hayward was incorporated in 1876 as the "Town of Haywood's"; this was later corrected.


The area of Hayward is about 61 square miles. It stretches from the San Francisco Bay across the coastal plain into the local part of the California Coastal Range, which is called the Hayward Hills. The Hayward fault, which runs under Hayward, produced a damaging earthquake in 1868. As is typical of coastal California, the weather is mostly pleasant; when there is a high pressure zone to the east in the summer, a hot dry wind can blow from the interior, producing desert-like weather. This typically happens for a few days each summer. A few miles inland, in the cities of Dublin and Pleasanton, such weather is much more common in the summer.

Hayward is contiguous with Fremont and Union City. The unincorporated areas of Ashland, Cherryland, San Lorenzo lie between it and the city of San Leandro. Hayward is also adjacent to the unincorporated area of Castro Valley and Fairview.

People and Economy

Much of Hayward is suburban and residential. In 2000, the U.S. census recorded a population of 140,030. Median annual household income was $51,777. Fifty one percent spoke English at home, 27% spoke Spanish at home, and numerous languages accounted for the remainder. In 2005, the estimated population was 146,027; there had been a slowdown in population increase due to the dot com collapse. In the 2000 census, the population categorized itself as 43.0% White, 19.0% Asian, 11.0% Black, 1.9% Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, 0.8% American Indian and Alaskan Native, 16.8% other, and 7.5% two or more races. Hayward is said to be a center for Fijians of Indian descent. Haywardites are not segregated by ethnicity. It would probably be fair to call Hayward ethnically diverse. On average, the Hayward Hills is the most affluent part of Hayward. Hayward has an industrial park and some high tech companies; however it is better known for its truck yards.

The general area is well supplied with places to shop. In Hayward itself, there is Southland Mall, some big-box stores, including Target, K-Mart and Costco, and numerous smaller stores.

Hayward is not a particularly violent city by U.S. standards (it had 8 murders in 2003), but street drug dealing does occur in several places. Thee is also gang activity in some areas, including violence between the Norteño and Sureño gangs. The Nortenos are the more numerous in Hayward. There are a few homeless people in Hayward; possibly their numbers are kept down by the fact that San Francisco, just a BART ride away, pays people $400 a month to be homeless in San Francisco. It will be interesting to see what effect San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom's proposed "care not cash" program, if enacted, has on the numbers of homeless in Hayward.

As in all parts of the Bay Area, property values and rents are high in Hayward. However, they are lower in Hayward than in most coastal parts of the Bay area; you can find cheaper housing than in Hayward by moving inland, or to high crime areas.


Hayward contains a campus of the California State University System; Cal State East Bay, formerly Cal State Hayward. The campus is located atop the part of the Hayward Hills closest to the bay, and lacks a direct connection to the freeway system. Hayward also contains Chabot College, a campus of the California Community College system. Due to money problems, Hayward’s school system is currently (2005) at risk of being taken over by the state of California.


Although Hayward is on the San Francisco Bay, its shore is largely wetlands, and water transportation is not currently a factor. Hayward is connected by the San Mateo bridge to San Mateo, across the bay on the San Francisco Peninsula. Interstate 880 cuts through Hayward roughly parallel to both the bay and the coast range. The BART makes two stops within Hayward. There is an Amtrak station, and a Greyhound station. For the rich and powerful there is also a small airport (Hayward Executive Airport).


Here are a couple of books about the history of Hayward:

  1. “Hayward, The Heart of the Bay”, by Banning Fenton (Heritage Media Corp., Carlsbad, California, 2002)
  2. “Hayward, The First 100 Years”, by the Hayward Centennials Committee (Color Art Press, Oakland, California, 1975)

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