Last Thursday I finished a long project in which I walked every block of every street in Oakland, both sides. I did this largely using public transit — our stalwart AC Transit buses and our intrepid BART cars. Both of these systems offer good vantage points to appreciate Oakland geology.
The buses give riders nice views of the hills and the bay, if you keep your eyes open and make the most of glimpses. A day pass is five bucks, and if you have a Clipper card it’s less, and if you’re of senior age it’s even less. Usually the windows are clean, and the landmarks visible en route will keep you with a sense of where you are.
The backbone routes, good for sightseeing, are the 1, the 51A/B and the 57/NL/58L. From them you can get up to the hills via several rib routes — the 11, 18, 39/339, 54, 45 and 46/46L. And that’s the real beauty of public transit, the fact that it can take you out to the land, not just in to town, work or school. And with various amounts of walking or cycling, you can then wander your fill among our rocks and scenic neighborhoods.
Then there’s BART. The windows aren’t clean often enough, but when they are the trains offer extended views of the hills with the rare advantage of continuous motion, which helps in sorting out the hills. I never tire of that.
The BART stations, conveniently, connect with the bus lines. But if you’re early for the bus, or early for the train, they’re also the best places to photograph the hills, or study them with binoculars. And here I want to give the Fruitvale station parking structure, where this shot was taken, an honorable mention.
The BART stations are the best public places to capture picture-postcard photos of the Oakland hills. The Rockridge, MacArthur, West Oakland, Fruitvale, Coliseum and San Leandro stations each have their own charms.
This winter ought to offer views that are truly more picturesque. A sky with clouds, if you get the light right, is lovelier than a big blank blue sky. And misty days can bring out the true depth of our hills, ridge upon ridge.
Urban geology, just like geology out in the country, depends on deep knowledge of the land. That comes from extended visualization, seeing the land from all angles; and from what I might call extended visceralization, walking on the land in all directions and feeling it in your bones.