Monday, July 15, 2013

Oakland Urban Paths: Jingletown and the estuary

Saturday we had the biggest turnout ever for an Oakland Urban Paths walk, about 85 people and at least four dogs. We met at the north end of Union Point Park to explore Jingletown and along the estuary for one of the most 'urban' walks that we've done.

First we heard from OUP walk leader Chris Kidd about the creation of Union Point Park as part of Measure DD. In a clever cost-cutting move, instead of trucking contaminated soil off-site, they encapsulated it in a mound in the park. One of the sources of the industrial contamination was Cryer & Sons Boatyard, a historic business that now sits vacant, awaiting cleanup for public use. Probably the most famous boat built there was a 130-foot yacht for Cliff Durant of Durant Motors which built cars in East Oakland in the 1920s.

We walked through the park, with a brief stop at the "Sigame" sculpture, which remembers 20 women from Oakland's history. Although we were following the Bay Trail, we came to our first departure from the waterfront. A grain mill currently owned by ConAgra still has access to the waterfront, plus there's a concrete plant, and there are no crosswalks across 29th Avenue and the maze of streets near the Park Street Bridge.

We rejoined the Bay Trail by going through the Waterfront Lofts. Part of the agreement to build housing and develop the Bay Trail was to allow public access to the trail. So there's a gate at each end of the lofts that allows people access between Glasock Street and the waterfront. Another part of the complex development was a land swap, which gave the Cal Crew a larger lot and moved part of the historic Ky Ebright boathouse.

We walked almost to the Fruitvale Bridge when we hit another obstacle. Although it has gates that are supposed to be open, a building near the bridge had locked gates that meant another detour. We walked up past the warehouse for the Oakland Museum of California's White Elephant Sale, down a railroad right-of-way, and back down to the waterfront.

There we walked through the tiny Fruitvale Bridge Park, where Sausal Creek flows into the estuary. Across the street is the massive Owens-Illinois glass factory, one of the few heavy industries still in the area.

We continued along the estuary to High Street and stopped next to the High Street Bridge. At this point the Bay Trail goes away from the water again, through a heavily industrialized area. From there we backtracked, then went to explore Jingletown.

The Jingletown neighborhood is full of artists and art studios. But it's also full of public art, with numerous mosaics gracing the walls of area buildings, and quirky sculptures and paintings awaiting the curious. We stopped by the Rue de Merde art wall, and some people headed over to Kefa Coffee for coffee or a snack, while the rest of us hung out in the shade in front of the Gray Loft Gallery or continued exploring the art wall.

After that, we headed back to our starting point in Union Point Park to finish our walk.

If you're interested in the future of the Bay Trail, Waterfront Action is working to continue to improve the continuity and access for the Bay Trail as part of Measure DD. One big project remaining is the construction of paths around each of the three bridges.

Also of note, the folks at the historic Cotton Mill Studios in Jingletown will be having an open studio event called F3 on Friday, July 19th. It's a chance to check out the work local artists and fashion designers, plus get a peek at the historic building.

Another great walk. Thanks to Chris Kidd for leading us, and to everyone and everywoof that came out for the walk. The next walk will be the usual second Saturday, on Saturday, August 10th at 10am. The location is yet to be determined, but you can check the website or sign up for the email list to get all the details.

Lots more pictures from the walk:

Additional links

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