Thursday, May 12, 2011

walking tour of the Waterfront

Unlike the awesome weather for the walking tour of Old Oakland, yesterday was windy and overcast. As a result, the attendance for the walking tour of the Waterfront was low -- the guide, Pearl; a woman from Singapore who was visiting her sister in Alameda; a fellow Oaklander who read about the tours here on Our Oakland; and, of course, me.

From Oakland Waterfront walking tour
The Waterfront walking tour takes you around Jack London Square and the Produce/Warehouse district. The square is named for author Jack London, who spent long hours at Heinhold's First and Last Chance Saloon. He studied at the tables as a child, and John Heinhold even loaned London money to attend UC Berkeley to learn to become a writer. He only lasted a year there, but was inspired by stories at Heinhold's and went on to a distinguished writing career.

From Oakland Waterfront walking tour
The tour also highlights Oakland's history as a shipping port. Alameda wasn't always an island; the estuary was dredged to allow ships further in. The current container ships are too large to go any further than the port, but the dredging allowed smaller ships to go all the way to San Leandro Bay. The area of JLS is where the ferry to Alameda and San Francisco docks, and is home to the Oakland police and fire rescue boats as well as the USS Potomac, Franklin Roosevelt's presidential yacht. (The Oakland Fire Department also has a fire boat (called the Sea Wolf, for the Jack London book), featured in this KTVU video. It wasn't there, and I'm not sure of its current status.)

From Oakland Waterfront walking tour
The district is referred to on some maps as 'Produce and Waterfront', and that's because a large number of wholesale produce sellers sell their goods there. But signs in the area also refer to the Oakland Waterfront Warehouse District. I don't know how many active warehouses there are in the area (these days there are a lot of condos and offices), but there are some amazing historical buildings that were once warehouses and factories.

I didn't learn as much on this tour as the one of Old Oakland, but I think that's mostly a reflection on having learned so much on the first tour -- it's tough to top top a tour led by Annalee. In any event, I highly recommend checking out one or more of the Oakland walking tours of any of the areas of Oakland that interest you.

See more photos in my Oakland Waterfront walking tour album:

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