Archive for November, 2007

Views: Jean Street

22 November 2007

jeanstview04.jpgFrom the Oakland flats we see the Oakland hills, and from the hills we see the world—at least the Bay area, and on a good day the Sierra—but Oakland’s foothills offer a wealth of everyday, internal views. The foothills are dissected by stream valleys, each one defining its own set of divides, mini-ranges and rises. The rocky eminence underlying Piedmont is drained by a set of lesser creeks that enter Lake Merritt’s east end in the Grand Lake district. They have carved at least five small ridges between them. The streambeds hold major artery streets: Grand Avenue, Lakeshore Avenue, Mandana Boulevard, Trestle Glen Road. If you traverse this land across the grain, without the help of motors, the small ridges turn into challenges, each one with a well-earned set of views.

Jean Street rises 150 feet above the Rose Garden, at the northern edge of the Grand Lake basin. From here we see across Pleasant Valley Creek to the next ridge, which is almost 50 feet higher. Because Warfield Avenue runs up its spine, I’ll call it Warfield Ridge. On the left is the higher ground of Piedmont that overlooks Dimond Canyon, and on the skyline is the Oakland Hills. When atmospheric conditions are right, each separate ridge is crisply outlined by its own shade of haze, and what might seem an undifferentiated scene takes on charming depth.


Dunsmuir Creek (Upper Elmhurst Creek)

10 November 2007


Up behind Dunsmuir House, near Oakland’s eastern end past the zoo and just before Sheffield Village, is a little wooded valley with this stream in it. It’s surely the reason that Dunsmuir House was built where it was, since the old places had to rely on surface water or their own wells. The Hayward fault runs very near this spot, through the swale that Dunsmuir House sits in. I don’t know where it leads. It may be an independent stream, between Arroyo Viejo and San Leandro Creek. It may connect with Elmhurst Creek, the ditch running past the south side of the Coliseum—that’s the way the contours seem to lead. Oakland has about twenty named streams, nearly all of them culverted today.

The bedrock is supposed to be either gabbro of the Coast Range Ophiolite or quartz keratophyre at the base of the Great Valley Sequence, but I wasn’t paying close attention to it. I remember it as nondescript, like a lot of Oakland bedrock.

I took this picture in March 2005.