Monday, March 12, 2012

Oakland Urban Paths: Oakmore Highlands

Oakmore Highlands

Saturday, Oakland Urban Paths explored the urban stairs and pathways of Oakmore Highlands and how they connect to watershed and regional trail systems. A group of 30 people and one dog met on Leimert Boulevard in front of Rocky's Market for the vigorous walk. We were joined by some members of Friends of Sausal Creek to hear about their work in restoring and protecting the Sausal Creek watershed.

Oakmore Highlands is a development dating back to the 1920s. Developers Walter and Harry Leimert owned the Park Boulevard Company, which built the bridge in 1926 and ran the Key System line across it to develop Oakmore Highlands. It's hard to see from the road, but the bridge features a sweeping arch across Dimond Canyon, and is 357 feet long and 117 feet high. It was designed by engineer George Posey (who also designed the Posey tube). You can still see the steel poles that held the overhead lines for the Key System trains.

After a brief exploration of some of the stairs in Piedmont, we came back across the bridge and started up a series of four stairways. One was built by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1939. We wound around the streets to the upper end of Fruitvale Avenue, then to a hilltop overlooking the Greek Orthodox Cathedral and the Mormon Temple. The Mormon Temple was dedicated in 1964, and according to a NY Times article, averages a $35,000 per month electric bill. As it's completely lit up at night and visible from all over Oakland and beyond, the large electric bill is no surprise.

Dimond Canyon

From there we walked down Monterey Blvd., parallel to highway 13. Our leader, Paul, pointed out the tunnel under highway 13 that connects to trails in the nearby hills and Joaquin Miller park. We left the sidewalk and went into Dimond canyon. That may look familiar to long-time readers—K and I explored it last spring. The folks from Friends of Sausal Creek (FOSC) showed us areas where restoration work has been done and where there are plans for more. If you're interested in volunteering with them, see the FOSC website. Note that the creek runs all the way from near highway 13 down to the estuary in Fruitvale.

We returned to one of the stairways we'd first climbed for a group photo. Special shoutout to Doug Beyerlein of who sent along the stair buttons. And a woofout to Joey, who was a great dog during the walk. Although this was a bit shorter walk (4.53 miles) than last month's Rock and Walk, it more than made up for it with the elevation changes. Next month's walk should be a good workout, too, exploring from the Laurel to Leona Heights. Hope to see you there!

Lots more pictures from the walk:

See our route on Google Maps.


Unknown said...

I used to live in this area and finding hidden staircases and walkways was one of the best parts of the neighborhood. Great write up, keep up the good work.

Gene said...

Let me know of any other hidden staircases and walkways you found. I might already know of them...but I might not!