Sunday, March 15, 2015

Oakland Urban Paths: Highland Terrace

Saturday 40 people joined Oakland Urban Paths for a walk exploring the staircases of Highland Terrace and several parks near Reservoir Hill. We had unusually humid and warm weather, so it was fortunate the sun was partially blocked by clouds.

We started our walk in front of Highland Hospital, which back in the days of the Key System, had its own stop built in the style of the hospital. From there we went up and down several stairways from 14th Avenue to the streets above. A few of the residences can only be accessed via the stairs. Our route took us past numerous beautiful Victorians and a few that are in need of some attention. There were also countless barking dogs, which is why we had the unusual 'no dogs' request for this walk.

Along the walk was the John C. McMullen House. McMullen was a well-to-do lawyer and banker who had the home built in the late 1800s. When we got there, we heard from the current owner, who has lived there since he was two years old and is slowly restoring the home to its former beauty.

From there we wound our away through several Oakland parks, the Central Reservoir Recreation Area and William D. Wood Park. As you might guess, the first is near the Central Reservoir just below I-580. Less well-known is that Wood Park was formed because of leakage from the reservoir. In the 1950s it destabilized the hillside and took out a dozen homes and part of McKillop Street. The area wasn't turned into a park until 1976. And oddly enough, in the 2000s, more seepage took out some more homes.

We looped around the reservoir, crossed I-580 twice, then wound our way back to our starting point, with different views of Highland Hospital, the palm trees of Borax Smith's Arbor Villa estate where we walked in February, and other unexpected sights. The walk for April is yet to be determined, but hope you can join us Saturday, April 11th at 10am wherever in Oakland it is!

View some pictures from Robert Perricone.

Special thanks to Eric Nomburg for the use of some of his photos. More pictures of the walk:

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