Mar 10 2016

Piedmont History Walking Tour March 25 and April 2

Then and Now Walking Tour of Piedmont and the Mountain View Cemetery

The Piedmont Historical Society and the Piedmont League of Women Voters are sponsoring free walking tours of Piedmont’s “rich and colorful history.” The three mile walks on March 25 and April 2 will focus on Piedmont pioneer Walter Blair.

Piedmont “Then and Now” Walking Tour Details
On Friday, March 25, the Piedmont League of Women Voters, in collaboration with the Piedmont Historical Society, will launch the first in a series of free, guided walks featuring Piedmont’s rich and colorful history. The first walk will be repeated on Saturday, April 2.

In addition to offering brisk, outdoor exercise, the series of “Then and Now Walks” will cover Piedmont’s growth from a few scattered ranches in the mid-1800’s to an incorporated city, providing fascinating background on early residents, as well as on water and transportation infrastructure, parks, architecture and more.

Both the March 25 and April 2 walks will begin at 10 a.m. at the corner of Highland and Blair Avenues and end at the starting place by noon. The approximately 3-mile walk will cover the northwest portion of pioneer Walter Blair’s 650-acre ranchland, which stretched from what is now Scenic Avenue down to Grand Avenue, encompassing much of today’s Piedmont.

On the walk, guides Chris Read and Marj Blackwell, will point out the site of Blair ‘s one-room cabin, his dairy farm, his rock quarry in Dracena Park, and — after traversing Piedmont neighborhoods that once were ranchland — head into Mountain View Cemetery to see where Blair is buried.

The return walk will head back uphill on streets adjacent to Moraga Avenue, where Blair’s streetcar line ran from downtown Oakland to the entrance to his park at Highland Avenue. The walk will end on Waldo Avenue, the site of Blair’s spacious ranch house and formal gardens.

On a scale of 1 (easy) to 5 (more difficult), this walk is rated a 3 in difficulty.

The League’s “Then and Now Walks” are open to all but are limited to the first 30 who sign up. To RSVP, email by March 23 for the Friday, March 25 walk, and by March 31 for Saturday, April 2 walk.

If heavy rain cancels the walks, participants will be notified by or before the morning of the walks. Piedmont maps and historic information will be available for sale at the walks.

In late April, a second walk will focus on development of central Piedmont, including the popular Piedmont Springs Hotel, which burned down in 1898, the Sulphur Springs in Piedmont Park, historic houses built by prominent residents Jesse Wetmore and Hugh Craig, and classic Victorian houses on Rose and Kingston Avenues. Dates and details will be forthcoming.

Future walks may feature Piedmont’s underground springs — the only source of early residents’ water; transportation, from horse-drawn wagons to streetcar lines, and Piedmont homes designed by prominent architects, then and now. For more information, email .

PCA Piedmont Photo 316

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