Thursday, October 16, 2014

Chapel of the Chimes


If you know how I've spent some of my days off and how much time I've spent learning about Oakland history in local cemeteries, you can probably guess my reaction when I was asked if I wanted a tour of Chapel of the Chimes. I knew a little about it: legendary Oakland architect Julia Morgan worked on it (but what parts?), some notable Oaklanders are interred there (but who?) and it had the first electric crematorium in the world (wait, what?). So I jumped at a chance to learn more.

It turns out Julia Morgan did a lot of work on the Chapel, even incorporating some items that had been at Hearst Castle. It's difficult to see what she worked on from outside, but if you're familiar with her style, you can quickly spot it while wandering the inside. Her work includes retractable skylights in several areas, though not all of them still function. (Note that the Julia Morgan Chapel within Chapel of the Chimes was not designed by her, but was renamed in her memory in 1995.)

I also learned more about some of the notable Oaklanders who are interred at Chapel of the Chimes:

What struck me this time through Chapel of the Chimes is how beautiful and peaceful it is. It's not so peaceful during some of their events like Jazz at the Chimes, but it's quite remarkable. And various spaces within Chapel of the Chimes are available for events other than funerals, too. Weddings have been held in the main chapel (which has a Wurlitzer organ), and of course you're free to wander around Chapel of the Chimes any time it's open.

All of this information will be more useful some time next year, as I'm planning a "Dead Tour" for Oakland Urban Paths. I'm still figuring out the details, but we'll probably start at the Chapel of Memories (which is owned and operated by Chapel of the Chimes), into part of St. Mary's Cemetery, down through Chapel of the Chimes, through the Home of Eternity, and around part of Mountain View Cemetery. And of course there are several historic and some still extant related businesses.

Lots more pictures from Chapel of the Chimes:

Monday, October 13, 2014

Oakland Urban Paths: Butters Canyon


We had a good turnout and perfect weather for Saturday's walk in Butters Canyon with local historian Dennis Evanosky. We started our walk in front of fire station 25 on Butters Drive shortly after the morning fog burned off.

As we wound around the hills, Dennis told us some about the history and geology of the area. Of particular interest is the California state rock, serpentine, which is common in this area of the hills. Soil formed from serpentine tends to be poor in calcium and rich in things toxic to plants, so plants and trees grow sparsely. When poet Joaquin Miller first came to the area, the hillsides of what are now Joaquin Miller Park were largely bare. Miller planted thousands of trees, including oaks, redwoods, and the less popular eucalyptus and acacia. A number of streets in the area are named for Oaklanders who died in WWI, including Butters, Brunell, and Burdeck.

We stopped by the Naturfreunde, an Oakland German-American group. It started back in the 1920s as a strictly German speaking club, but now is open to all who support nature and Austrian-German-Swiss culture. Nearby we got our first glorious view, looking over Oakland from above Holy Dames University.

Further up Butters, we heard from Dolores, who is both a frequent OUP walk participant and a member of the Butters Canyon Conservancy that has been working since 2001 to preserve Butters Canyon and the local Peralta Creek watershed. With the exception of a couple of "pumpkin teeth" still sticking out, most of the canyon has now been preserved either through acquisition or conservation easements. The group is now working to remove invasive plants and help mitigate fire danger.

Then it was up the hill and across Joaquin Miller Rd. into Joaquin Miller Park. After Joaquin Miller died, part of the land became a city park, The Heights (Miller had called his 75-acre estate 'The Hights'), and part became Sequoia Park, which was home to the Oakland Zoo for a few years. We saw some of the monuments that Miller erected, got another spectacular view, and finished the walk at The Abbey, Miller's former home across from the end of Butters Drive.

Our walk took us briefly near the Woodminster Cascade. Usually the water isn't running in it but it was Saturday, so after the walk I went back and took some pictures. I found out from some OPR workers that there was a wedding scheduled for later that afternoon.

Lots more pictures from the walk and of the Woodminster Cascade:

Saturday, October 11, 2014

photo of the week: rust


I'm not sure why this picture from today's Oakland Urban Paths walk grabs me the way it does, but, well, it does. Why are things in various states of decay so interesting?

Friday, October 10, 2014

upcoming #Oakland events


Summer may be over, but there's no let up in the fun things to do in Oakland.

Friday - tonight

Bites off Broadway - the season finale of my favorite food truck gathering

Deep East #Oakland Mayoral Summit - ask some of the mayoral candidates about their plans for Oakland

Art Walk Reception at Gray Loft Gallery - 2nd Friday Art Walk in Jingletown

East Bay Bike Party - a fun party on two wheels. This month's theme: zombies!

Saturday

Oakland Urban Paths - Butters Canyon - join Oakland Urban Paths and local historian Dennis Evanosky in exploring Butters Canyon near Joaquin Miller Park

Life is Living Festival - a celebration of urban life

Urban Cycling 101 - a FREE bicycling safety class from Bike East Bay

F*R*E*E - A Documentary - a documentary following 5 of the youth dancers at the Destinary Arts Center in north Oakland. It will be premiering at the Mill Valley Film Festival

Flourish Oakland - art party and auction, the annual fundraiser for the Oakland Art Murmur, at Classic Cars West

Sunday

Rockridge Out and About - the annual fun-filled street festival in Rockridge

Further Ahead

Paws on the Square - fun for four-legged friends and their people in Jack London Square, including some specials from dog-friendly restaurants (Wednesdays in October)

Harvest at the Hacienda - special reception for teachers, principals and administrators to learn about the educational opportunities at historic Peralta Hacienda (October 16)

Third Fridays at Blackball Universe - celebrating emerging artists

Autumn Lights at the Gardens at Lake Merritt - a festival of lights, fire, fun and food in the beautiful Gardens at Lake Merritt (October 17 and 18)

Ghost Investigation at Pardee Home Museum - Just in time for Halloween! (October 18)

Hella-Ween Fun Run - 5K fun run and costume contest in Old Oakland (October 25)

Farley's-to-Farley's Bike Parade and Custom Contest! - bike parade and costume contest starting at Farley's East and ending at Farley's on 65th (October 26)

'Class' fashion show - Fashion show from Underground Runway, at Transmission Gallery (November 1)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Oaktoberfest


Saturday was the annual Oaktoberfest celebration in the Dimond. I don't make it every year, but I made a point of going this year because one of the music performers was the legendary Pete Escovedo. The weather was hot, but tons of people came out to drink beer, eat food, listen to music, and generally have a good time.

A video of the Bavarian dancing:


A video of some young people playing with Pete Escovedo's band:


Lots more pictures from Oaktoberfest: