© 2024 KALW 91.7 FM Bay Area
KALW Public Media / 91.7 FM Bay Area
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Who Was The Person Behind The Name Of The Castro District?

Manolo Morales
Rainbow flags hang above Castro District street signs.

Hey Area is where we find answers to questions you ask. One listener wanted to know, what is the back story of Jose Castro, the individual that the Castro District is named after?

Jose Antonio Castro was a politician and military leader in Alta California during the 1800s when the state was Mexican territory.

“He’s a really fascinating character,” says Dr. Justin Castro.

Dr. Justin Castro is a history professor from Arkansas State University. His family believes they may be related to Jose Castro.

“I think it would be more accurate to say he’d be like my great, great, great, great grand uncle or cousin,” says Dr. Justin Castro.

Dr. Justin Castro is currently writing a book about his possibly distant relative. He says Jose Castro is often remembered for his role in the Mexican American War.

During the mid-1800s, Castro was a commanding general for Alta California. He was vocal about California’s independence from Mexico. But he never succeeded - and eventually settles to Baja California.  There, he rose to power again and was appointed governor. But things didn’t turn out so well for him there either.

Jose Castro was assassinated in 1860 by a bandit. He never gave up his Mexican citizenship. But he left a part of him in today's California by owning land in what’s now today’s Castro District.  

This story originally aired in September of 2019.