The Piedmont Recreation Department's new program, short walks for adults on Wednesday mornings will continue weekly. Everyone is invited. Meet at the Exedra (at the corner of High
land and Magnolia Avenue) at 10:30 a.m. each Wednesday. No signups are required, so come
for a casual walk in town. Senior members of the community are especially encouraged to participate.
A total of 17 people went on last week's walk to Crocker Park in the middle of town. It was easy
and breezy, according to Andrew Wendel. The group spent some time at the park admiring the city's prized public art, the granite statue of a mother bear and cubs by sculptor Beniamino
Bufano of San Francisco While there, Patty White read some historical information provided by Gail Lombardi of the Piedmont Historical Society.
The Wednesday Walkers then continued two blocks to Sea View Avenue to take a nice stroll
past some of Piedmont's largest and most historic homes before returning to the Exedra.
Crocker Park is a manicured jewel on just an acre of land, which features a shaded lawn area and beds of rhododendrons, camellias and ferns. Crocker Park is located Hampton Road and King Avenue. Gail Lombardi, president of the Piedmont Historical Society, provided the following information on the park.
From 1912 to 1956, there was a Key System electric streetcar right of way that ran in a diagonal path through Crocker Park. Its path lines up as a straight line from the Hall Fenway to the corner of King and Hampton. Two rows of Canary Island Pines were planted along this right of way, and what is left of the original trees actually line up in a pair of lines through the park.
Contrary to what is sometimes claimed, Crocker Park is not the site of the Wallace Alexander home. His home was at Sea View and Hampton. The land that became Crocker Park was purchased by a group of neighbors headed by Wallace Alexander for use as a park. By 1917, the City was making improvements to make it into a city park. When the Key System extended their # 10 line to the Fenway and Crocker Park, they acquired a right of way for the electric streetcars. The electric streetcars stopped operating in 1956, and AC Transit used the right of way briefly to park busses.
When AC Transit stopped parking their busses on the right of way, Herbert Hall bought the right of way. Several years later, Hall built the Japanesque house at 90 Crocker in 1961. At that time he gave the deed for the right of way to the City. In his deal with the City, Hall managed to negotiate the right to keep their pool equipment garage on a small portion of the city’s land. Their 1961 garage shares the same Japanesque design as the house.
From 1972 on, the Piedmont Beautification Foundation has contributed to the landscaping, planting and maintaining the historic iron benches in Crocker Park.
A granite sculpture of a bear and her two cubs by noted sculptor Beniamino “Benny” Bufano sits in the park’s center. The Bufano Bear was installed by the Piedmont Beautification Foundation in 1978, and the cobblestone base is a memorial to Marie Veitch who lived nearby on Sea View.
Numerous species of rhododendrons, azaleas and sauce magnolias have been donated to the park throughout the years. The park is intended for informal use and dogs must be kept on leashes. It is a lovely, quiet spot to read a book on a warm day.
Gail hopes this adds to our walkers’ appreciation of Crocker Park. Its history goes back over one hundred years.
The story of the garage at Crocker Park
PIEDMONT April 6, 2016 — The garage at Crocker Park is getting a face-lift, but the outcome was somewhat complicated and time-consuming.
The City Council on Monday approved spending $14,733 with Fidelity Roof Co. of Emeryville to replace the roof and repair dry rot on the vintage building.
City Administrator Paul Benoit explained that that portion of Crocker Park was part of the old Key System right of way. When the trains were decommissioned, the garage became private property owned by the then-owners of 90 Crocker Ave. In the 1950s, the parcel bearing the garage was deeded to the city, but the owners were allowed to keep their pool equipment in the garage.
Over the years, the city looked at several options: relocating the pool equipment; building a new enclosure, keeping architectural integrity; and moving utility lines to do so. All those options were costly, estimated at $148,176, Public Works Director Chester Nakahara said. The garage is in sound condition and for now, the private swimming pool equipment will remain, Benoit said.