A podcast about history

That's not stuck in the past


When Oakland’s most prominent graveyard celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2015, SF Gate honored the occasion with this description: “There are 177,000 people at historic Mountain View Cemetery, many of them famous and all of them dead.” The permanent residents of this picturesque site may indeed be deceased, but their stories live on through Michael Colbruno’s blog “Lives of the Dead.” Since 2007, Colbruno has chronicled the politicians, athletes, inventors, and civil rights icons whose names are carved into imposing mausoleums, but he’s also unearthed many fascinating stories behind far less prominent tombstones. 

Check out this episode to hear our conversation, which covers the origins of Mountain View, its famous designer Frederick Law Olmstead, the symbolism attached to many iconic monuments, and much more. Listen now via Apple, SoundCloud, Spotify, or wherever you get podcasts. Music for this episode was generously provided by Jason Stinnett and Om Aranda Stinnett.

Special thank you to Shaping San Francisco and the Oakland History Center for co-hosting my live presentation on Mountain View Cemetery history on October 24, 2023. For those who missed the event, here’s a link to the video. Sign up for the free newsletters of East Bay Yesterday and Shaping SF to stay updated on upcoming events. To see Mountain View in person, check out one of the cemetery’s guided docent tours.

In addition to posting biographies of Mountain View Cemetery’s residents, Michael Colbruno’s blog also explores the symbolism behind many of the site’s most iconic monuments. Depending on their various gestures, poses, and attire, angels can be meant to communicate different messages.
In addition to his blog, Michael Colbruno also co-authored the book “Lives of the Dead at Oakland’s Mountain View Cemetery” with Dennis Evanosky. [Photo: Liam O’Donoghue]

This episode is supported by UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals. I highly recommend checking out their new podcast, “Revolutionary Care: An Oakland Story,” a series about the history of treating sickle cell anemia: www.ucsfbenioffchildrens.org/sickle-cell

East Bay Yesterday can’t survive without your donations. Please make a pledge to keep this show alive: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday. You can also support East Bay Yesterday by purchasing the official t-shirt or hat from Oaklandish.

Topics: Oakland

Unearthing “lives of the dead”

A tour of Oakland’s Mountain View Cemetery
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