(So I haven’t been doing too good a job of writing about the places and events on my list of essential Oakland experiences, but I’m back on track now and will hopefully write some more soon. Also, I went back through old posts and linked to some of them on the essential Oakland experiences page, so head over there if you want to check those out.)
On the advice of V Smoothe, my girlfriend and I drove out to Middle Harbor Park on Saturday. Part of the reason I was so easily allured to the park was the promise of nice views of the crane, and as we drove down 7th, we started to catch glimpses:
After we passed the West Oakland BART station, we could still see the cranes, but there wasn’t much more to see. If we hadn’t looked up directions before going, I would have thought we were lost by how empty it was:
After enjoying the view along the way, we arrived at the park, which was full of people eating lunch, riding bikes, hanging out in tents, playing volleyball, and playing the guitar. The park was also full of geese:
We sat down at a picnic table to eat the Vietnamese sandwiches we had picked up at Cam Huong on our way, and were intrigued by the shade structures and the seemingly random polls that filled the park:
But we soon found out that the structures and polls weren’t random at all. As one of the informational signs told us, these structures were part of Building 122, which was part of the old Naval Supply Depot. It apparently was used by the Navy up until 1998, when it was turned over to the Port of Oakland.
There’s other bits of history scattered around the park, like the mast of the USS Oakland:
And of course, there’s plenty of evidence of Oakland’s continuing use of the port in the dozens of cranes that can be seen from the park:
There were some surprises for me at the park, like the fact that there’s a sandy beach in Oakland. It may be small and certainly not fit for swimming, but it was nice to walk along the sand and look across the bay:
There were also free binoculars that offered stunning up close views of the Bay Bridge, San Francisco, and, of course, the cranes:
We had a wonderful afternoon at Middle Harbor Park. We couldn’t believe that we hadn’t heard about this incredible Oakland park sooner, and I intend to tell everyone I know that they need to go there.
My only complaint it’s almost completely inaccessible by public transit. On weekdays, there’s no bus that goes there! It’s not walkable from West Oakland BART and it would be a long bike ride. Fortunately, the 13 line goes there on weekends, but it runs only once an hour and stops service in the late afternoon. There’s no reason this Oakland gem shouldn’t be accessible by the carless 7 days a week!
There’s also a depressing historical fact about Middle Harbor Park, that I found out last night while reading The Country in the City: The Greening of the San Francisco Bay Area. During World War II, “the Army and the Navy expanded their Oakland and Alameda bases, moving the East Bay’s shoreline a mile closer to San Francisco.” So where Middle Harbor Park is today, used to be the Bay and was home to sea creatures and birds. Luckily, there is an ongoing effort to restore this habitat, some of which I witnessed by the scores of birds that could be seen in and around the park.
So if you have a car or are willing to wait around for the bus on the weekend, check out Middle Harbor Park soon:
Middle Harbor Road
8 a.m.-10 p.m.
Take AC Transit #13, hourly from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekends, from Park/14th Street along Broadway and 7th Street in Oakland.