Thursday, September 29, 2016
The other night while waiting for K, I walked down by Lake Merritt. It was a balmy evening, and very pleasant to just sit and people watch and enjoy the lights.
This is the second permanent necklace of lights; the first was installed in 1925, then shut off during WWII because of blackout restrictions. But the original necklace wasn't lit every night, only for special occasions. The current necklace dates from 1985, and we have The Lake Merritt Breakfast Club and numerous donors to thank for it.
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Sunday I took pictures at the 5th annual Delilah Beasley Tea. About 100 years ago, Delilah Beasley was the first black woman to published regularly in a major U.S. newspaper, and was the author of a ground-breaking book on the contributions of blacks in the early settling of California. Each year, P.O.W.E.R. (Progressive Oakland Women Empowering Reform) honors a remarkable woman while remembering the accomplishments of those in the past. This year's honoree was Kimberly Ellis (on the left), the executive director of Emerge California.
Lots more pictures of the 2016 Delilah Beasley Tea.
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Last week Annalee Allen and I did a presentation about Oakland history at the Lake Park Retirement Community, focused on some of the landmarks in Oakland and the people behind them. It went well, though I didn't sell any copies of Legendary Locals of Oakland, but what I was really excited about was a chance to check out the view from the roof. The building is on Alice Street near Snow Park, and has views of Lake Merritt, downtown, and beyond. Maybe someday I'll be able to afford a drone camera, but for now, tall buildings will have to do.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
It's been a busy month. But (mostly) busy in a good way:
- learning about Your Local Cousin
- leading a walking tour of Chinatown
- meeting up with other local history fans
- learning about local mapping tool Streetwyze
- leading an Oakland Urban Paths + WOBO + Streetwyze walking tour
- celebrating the repainting of the zebra murals on Broadway
- helping with a WOBO + OMCA black history bicycle tour
- hooking up with Oakland small businesses
- co-leading a walk about Jack London for the Oakland Heritage Alliance
- talking to people about Oakland and selling Legendary Locals of Oakland
That's only the highlights, and there's almost 1/4 of the month to go! Which is all to say, I may not get around to posting about all these events anytime soon... Especially since I have regular, paying work to do, too.
Thursday, July 14, 2016
On Saturday, there was a nice turnout for the Oakland Urban Paths walk exploring Montclair and the history of the Sacramento Northern Railway. About 50 people and 3 dogs joined us for a hilly walk with several sets of stairs.
- East Bay Hills Project - photos showing the Sacramento Northern Railway
- Western Railway Museum - museum in Suisun City with working Sacramento Northern equipment
- Old Oakland maps - maps from 1877, 1912, etc. through current times, overlaid
- Oakland Wiki - like Wikipedia, but just about Oakland
We started in Montclair Park near the duck pond, which dates back to the days of the J. H. Medau Dairy. A short distance away was our first stop, the 1927 storybook Montclair Firehouse. It was not designed by noted architect Julia Morgan, but Eldred E. Edwards of the Oakland Public Works Department. Because of seismic issues (the Hayward Fault is nearby), accessibility, and other problems, it has stood empty since 1989.
At the corner of Thornhill and Moraga, we talked about the Sacramento Northern Railway. It started as two railroads, the Oakland, Antioch and Eastern which ran from Oakland to Sacramento, and the Northern Electric Railway that ran from Sacramento to Chico. The railroad connected with the Key System and used their tracks beyond 40th and Shafter, and for a time, even crossed the Bay Bridge.
Around the block onto Fernwood, we came to the former location of the Fernwood estate. It was first the country estate of Legendary Local of Oakland, Jack Coffee Hays. The area was referred to as Hays Canyon or Jack Hays Canyon for many years. After he died, his wife sold the property to William Dingee, of Oakland Water Company fame. Dingee built an opulent 19-room Queen-Anne style mansion, and had additional landscaping done with gardens, terraces and waterfalls. He also added such features as a deer park and an elk paddock. Unfortunately the home (and lots of artwork inside it) were destroyed in an 1899 fire. The land was then sold to the Realty Syndicate.
Montclair Women's Club and the storybook Montclair Library (also not designed by Julia Morgan), we headed up our first set of stairs to Cabot Dr. Down Cabot and up Mountain Blvd. took us to another set of stairs up to Magellan Drive. The stairs continue up to Gaspar Drive near Snake Road, but we headed down to the Montclair Railroad Trail.
There we talked more about the Sacramento Northern, and about Highway 77, a highway that was planned but fortunately not built. It would have gone up Shepherd Canyon and through to Moraga; on the other side of Highway 13, it would have followed Park Blvd. and 14th Avenue over to I-880 (then Highway 17). People fought against the freeway plan, and with work by California assembly member Ken Meade, the plans were changed.
A walk through the parking garage(!) to see some murals, then past more murals on the drugstore and the yogurt store we came back to Moraga Avenue. Given the warm day, some people opted to head back to the start, but some intrepid souls joined me for one last hill and stairway. Across Highway 13 and then down Bruns Court took us to a pedestrian bridge which crosses both the highway and Moraga Avenue, to return us to our starting point.
Thanks to everyone who came out for the walk, thanks to our volunteer speaker carrier, and special thanks to Charlie for once again bringing up the rear to make sure we didn't lose anyone. Hope to see you on the paths!