Archive for April, 2012

Haddon Hill from Ivy Hill

29 April 2012

Ivy Hill is a small but distinct lobe of the big Pleistocene alluvial fan of central Oakland, a wedge between Park Boulevard and 8th Avenue bounded on the west by East 18th Street. This view is from nearly at its high point, at East 21st Street and 7th Avenue, looking at and over Haddon Hill.


haddon hill

Click the photo for a 1150-pixel version. The tall trees beyond the telephone pole are in Smith Park, on Park Boulevard, at the foot of Haddon Hill. Beyond the hill are a whole bunch of buildings on the other side of Lake Merritt. Left of the light pole are the Elihu Harris building and City Hall; to their right is the heart of downtown with Mount Tam behind and the blue glass face of One Lakeside in front. Right of the telephone pole is the Kaiser Center buildings and St. Paul’s Tower behind the street trees. The dark tower on the right is the ugly place by the lake. Clustered at the right are the Bellevue-Staten Building, on the lake, and two buildings all the way over on Pill Hill.

Haddon Hill

22 April 2012

Lately I’ve been walking on the part of Oakland underlain by the large Pleistocene alluvial fan (see the city geologic map). As I go, I mentally map it into separate entities, and one of them is Haddon Hill, bounded by the lake, 580 and Park Boulevard. In the past I only saw the hill from the lake, as in this shot from New Year’s Day 2007.

haddon hill

The west face of the hill, seen here, is quite steep. The opposite side of the hill slopes more gently down to the valley of Park Boulevard, and then the opposite side of Park is also quite steep. That doesn’t seem to be a general pattern, but it is curious. The photo below is taken from across Park, at 7th Avenue and Ivy Drive, and looks up Spruce Street to the highest point on the hill, where the St. Vartan Armenian Church sits.

haddon hill

The elevation there is about 180 feet. That doesn’t sound like much, but the ground around it is low and it can feel like a trek on foot. The hilltop area has views much grander than you would think, but they’re hard to photograph.

haddon hill view

The topo map shows that the hill extends across 580 a little bit, where Alma Place is. The real edge of the hill, then, would be Indian Gulch (Trestle Glen).

A real old-timer

15 April 2012

Mountain View Cemetery is a fun place for geology. Not only are there the untouched hillsides and the knockers of local bedrock, but the monuments themselves are displays of fine stone from around the world. On my last visit, though, this one caught my eye.

morton gneiss

It’s an example of the oldest stone in the United States, the Morton Gneiss from southwestern Minnesota. I mentioned it a few weeks ago in a KQED Quest Science Blogs post before finding this specimen. Touching it will put you in contact with something 3,524 million years old, more than three-fourths of the planet’s age.

Let me take this opportunity to plug Michael Colbruno’s blog about the people in the cemetery. He calls it “Lives of the Dead: Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland,” but I still think of it by its original (non-SEO-friendly) name “Mountain View People.”

Knocker 1 revisited

10 April 2012

In my latest serious walk through Mountain View Cemetery, I passed the first bedrock knocker I documented here as “my secret chert.” It’s no longer secret.

knocker one

Click the photo for the big version. The cemetery managers have been removing eucalyptus for some time, which I thoroughly approve. Eucalyptus isn’t a good cemetery tree: it’s messy, lanky, disruptive and incompatible with turf. But Franciscan chert is a good cemetery rock: it’s strong, silent, dignified and unfazed by anything. Anyway, now knocker 1 gets to bask in the sun again, and maybe its new visibility will gain it new friends.


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