A geologist’s reconnoiter of Piedmont

The city of Piedmont sits surrounded by Oakland, like an organelle in a cell. I’m undecided on which organelle it might be — a mitochondrion (powerhouse)? a nucleus (brain)? Maybe just a vacuole of well-controlled living. Whatever the case, it’s a good walking town if you happen to be fit. And geologically it’s fully part of Oakland, occupying the best part of the Franciscan block. Lately I’ve been checking out the geology Piedmont has to offer. It varies.

The terrain is a rocky hillside dissected by small streams. Streets and homes tame this into an attractive rolling landscape.

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Once it was grassland, but today the land is heavily planted, and vistas are few.

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Although homeowners enjoy good views from their second floors, it is as if the public rights-of-way are deliberately shrouded, not at all like Oakland.

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But the hardscapes are robust and the plantings are gracious. Piedmont Park is the largest of the city’s public spaces and well worth exploring (here and here); so is Dracena Park. Don’t miss smaller features like the Hall Fernway.

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A little farther east is Crocker Park, where Oaklanders will find a familiar face.

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It’s a dark version of the statue “Bear and Cubs” by Beniamino Bufano that sits by the 10th Street entrance to the Oakland Museum of California.

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Whereas that one is cast in a concrete resembling granite, this is something else, an artificial stone of great character. The large polished clasts are a greenish black, probably serpentine (“black marble”), in a black cement matrix. It’s an understated tour de force.

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The official bike route through eastern Piedmont runs along St. James Drive, and there you’ll come upon bedrock at the head of Indian Gulch.

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The sandstone here is pretty sound, although no rock is immune to erosion. Occasional rockfalls expose the sandstone’s true golden color.

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The best exposure is around the powerline tower.

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Apparently someone there is who doesn’t love bare rock, who wants it green.

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2 Responses to “A geologist’s reconnoiter of Piedmont”

  1. dansolitzdan Solitz Says:

    Thanks for the visual romp.

  2. MaryAnn Coy Says:

    Interesting talk, I think the original settlers were probably Eastern they most likely missed the Eastern tree shrouded landscape, so they planted trees, nice big water hogs. Then lawns more big WaterHogs. Why make a dark statue out of dyed concrete, with all that native gorgeous Basalt. Trying to believe it was NH granite? Silly! I like to read these,articles, armchair geology for those of us that cannot venture there. Thank you. I like your statue, but I think we are stuck with way more black bears. They like our dumpsters.

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