As part of the Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.: A Vision for the American West symposium, I had the opportunity to tour a few of the parks operated and maintained by the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD). This all-day bus and walking tour was both fun and educational, as we visited several East Bay Regional Parks that comprised Olmsted’s 1930 vision of the area. The EBRPD staff did a fantastic job planning and executing this tour. They even gave each participant a goodie bag that included a copy of the original Olmsted plan for open space preservation in the East Bay. Summarized below are the stops on the tour:
- Roberts Regional Recreation Area: This 82-acre park was our first stop on the tour. It is known for its lush setting in a grove of fragrant second growth redwood trees off Skyline Boulevard in Oakland. Roberts Regional Recreation Area opened for public recreation and enjoyment in 1953. The park was named to honor Thomas J. “Tommy” Roberts, who at that time had served as secretary to the East Bay Regional Park District board of directors for 19 years. The highlights for me at this park was seeing “The Grand View” and walking through the amazing redwoods.
- Tilden Regional Park: One of the District’s three oldest parks, Tilden has been called the jewel of the system and has an area of 2,079 acres. Tilden was named for Charles Lee Tilden, first president of the Park District Board of Directors. Even as an adult, I think the best part of being at this park was riding the scaled-down steam train operated by a concessionaire (Redwood Valley Railway)! This was a fun ride that offered a quick tour of a portion of this vast park. We had lunch at the historic Brazil Room which I learned is a popular location for wedding receptions.
- Regional Parks Botanic Garden: While at Tilden, we also had the chance to tour the Botanic Garden which contains the world’s most complete collection of California native plants, including rare and endangered species. Notable among the many specimens that have been brought there from all corners of the state are representatives of nearly all of California’s conifers and oaks, and probably the most complete collections of California manzanitas to be found anywhere. It was relaxing to walk through this garden and learn about the different plant species.
- McLaughlin Eastshore State Park: Unlike the other parks we visited, this 8.5-mile shoreline park is a joint effort with the State and is located in a highly urbanized area. It offers an amazing view of the San Francisco Bay which I could have admired for hours. This park is considered one of the most outstanding achievements in the history of open space protection. It is the result of decades of citizen efforts to protect the Bay as a public open space resource. I was surprised to find out that over 4,000 stakeholders and interested parties reached substantial consensus on the future uses and improvements for the park. This park was named in honor of Save The Bay co-founder Sylvia McLaughlin.
Of course, words alone cannot capture the beauty of the places described above. Thus, provided below are a few photos I took on the tour. Enjoy!
It is obvious that the East Bay has much to offer in terms of parks and open space. I look forward to visiting other EBRPD parks on my next visit to the Bay Area.
Note: All photos by author. Special thanks to Supervising Naturalist David Zuckermann for being a wonderful guide and other EBRPD staff for putting together this amazing tour.