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Bellevue and the Streets Not Taken

It was another lovely morning last Wednesday as our Piedmont Recreation Department's Walking on Wednesdays group assembled at the Exedra for our weekly walk. There was a strong turnout of 49 walkers and two K-9 best friends. We also had a special guest. Piedmont Police Department Officer Tyler P was there to tell us about PPD's "Coffee, Cars and Cops" on September 23rd from 9 AM to noon. This is an annual, community engagement event in the center of town. It features about 120 vehicles, free coffee provided by Mulberry's, and breakfast burritos available for purchase. There is also a high school student fundraising component. It was also announced that the coming Wednesday walk would be led by Piedmont architect, urban designer, planner, and Piedmont Post columnist Will Adams. Will has taken us on past architecturally interesting walking tours and they are always enjoyed. Our group tries to walk every safe street in Piedmont each year. We have already gone to many of them, but there are still some streets off or near main thoroughfares that we haven't walked. These are often streets "not taken" unless you live on them. One is the aptly named Bellevue Avenue, and there are other lovely streets near it. At the end of the walk, the group was promised a public Piedmont roadway that according to Google Maps has no name. This "roads not taken" theme prompted a request that Dave D with his baritone voice read Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken." This poem ends, "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." We started off for Bellevue, but instead of going straight to it via the often-walked Mountain Avenue, we walked through the upper portion of the Piedmont Park, past the Community Hall, and the Tea House. We emerged on Highland Avenue, but instead of taking it, we crossed the street and went up the less-traveled Sierra Avenue. On it, we noted two Julia Morgan designed homes that Will Adams had pointed out on a past tour.

We came out again on Highland, but only took a few steps on it and Caperton Avenue before going up the little-traveled Richardson Way and Lakeview Avenue, and then the little-known Poplar Way. Poplar doesn't seem to be a true Piedmont street, but rather a backside, garage access for Lakeview and Mountain homes. However, it is lovely with redwoods and other trees, but no poplars. We emerged on Mountain Avenue and noted the large redwood tree in the middle of the street where Bellevue starts. The story is that this tree was planted long ago by the Chinese cook who worked at a nearby home. We went up Bellevue and came to the front gate of a beautiful, large home that is down a long driveway. From the street and front yard there is a majestic view of San Francisco. Piedmont High alum Sherry Jacobs recalled that at a PHS Bird Callers reunion years ago she broke her high heel shoe when the heel got stuck in the driveway pavers. Will Adams pointed out the house was placed on the lot specifically so that the driveway entrance would provide this view. Longtime walkers also wanted to check out a Bellevue home that was just starting to be rebuilt when they walked the street in 2019. It is beautiful and work continues on. We continued on too. We went up the steep Pacific and Hagar Avenues, enjoying fabulous views of San Francisco along the way. On Bell Avenue there were more great views. We descended down Scenic Avenue to Alta Avenue, and then back to Scenic via a 163 foot set of steep stairs, thankfully with a railing, to the lower portion of Scenic. It was then an easy return to town center via Blair, Scenic, Pacific, Mountain, and Highland Avenues. However, we noted that Blair breaks up Scenic, and Scenic disappears for a block before it returns. When the group got to Mountain and Highland it was also noted that Google Maps doesn't have a name for the short roadway behind the island there. A street sign says "Highland Avenue," but Highland runs in front of it. It was another Piedmont street enigma to be enjoyed on a walk along some of Piedmont's not-often-taken roads.


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