This is really just an excuse to upload some of my photos…
Indian Rock, near the traffic circle at the bottom of Marin (a very steep street that was originally designed for a cable car), is one of the oldest and least-changed parks I visited. Given the general public nervousness about dangerous play equipment in parks, it astonishes me that this rock remains open to public climbing. There are some chiseled-in steps, but no hand rails. If you fall off, you fall. I used to terrify my father running up and down this rock, as I saw a young man do when I visited today.
The Berkeley hills are full of little parks. This is one example at the corner of Arlington and Coventry.
The tree featured here is very climbable – I should know!
One of the biggest “parks” in the Berkeley hills is one I never visited – Sunset Cemetery. I took a lot of photos there, as the huge mausoleum (building where remains are interred in crypts instead of buried) rather fascinated me. But one thing I thought I would never see in Berkeley in a cemetery was a deer!
From the Berkeley Hills I moved on to Richmond to find Nicholl Park.
On my way I ran into this small park and playground in a recently-built neighborhood of townhouses. Its centerpiece was a large willow tree.
Nicholl Park was created in 1926 by the WPA (Works Progress Administration – a “New Deal” project to give the unemployed something to do). When my parents took me there in the early 1960s, the park included an aviary (famous for its peacocks), a full steam locomotive that children could climb into, and huge swing sets in a sand lot.
Someone hurt themselves playing on the locomotive, and a fence was put around it.
Sometime later, the aviary was taken out, then the locomotive and the high swings. Today the geese love this park, but on a hot Sunday afternoon, I didn’t see many people in it.
Under these lovely big trees, near where the aviary was located, is a skateboard area – the most popular part of the park now.
The platform where the locomotive once stood now serves as a planter and seems to be favored by the resident (or visiting?) geese.
The tall swing sets have been replaced by much safer (but at this visit, unused) play equipment.
Things do change. But somehow a very well-to-do neighborhood in the Berkeley Hills has managed to retain one of the most dangerous pieces of “play equipment” I have ever seen in any urban park, while the economically disadvantaged city of Richmond has all but lost what was once a thrilling and interesting downtown park.