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Davies (Closed) Stadium

The weather was sunny and mild for our Piedmont Recreation Department's Walking on Wednesdays walk this week. There was a good late summer turnout of 37 walkers and two K-9 best friends at the Exedra to enjoy it. We hadn't been to Piedmont's south side for a few weeks, and it had been over a year since we visited the Davie Tennis Stadium. We had held off going to Davie and the nearby streets because the stadium was "temporarily closed" in February by the City of Oakland after winter storms knocked down a eucalyptus tree near the courts. It was reported the City of Oakland didn't remove the tree because it was a low priority as it didn't affect anyone's health and safety. No reopening has been announced, but it was time for us to go south. We could take a look and visit the surrounding streets. One of those streets is Annerley Road where former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's childhood home was, which is a less known bit of local history. We decided to go to the stadium via Requa Road. We went past the Community Hall, made our way up the short hill to Guilford Road, and took the almost hidden path down to Hazel Lane and Requa Road, enjoying its beautiful views of San Francisco along the way. We emerged on Wildwood Avenue, walked over to a bench that overlooks Witter Field, and viewed its resurfacing project. We couldn't decide if it looked more like Death Valley or the Gobi Desert, but there seems to be lots more work to be done. We continued on and took the lower portion of Wildwood to a path at the end of the street down to Ranleigh Way and Annerley Road. On Annerley we stopped in front of the house that was Robert McNamara's childhood home. Robert Strange McNamara was born in San Francisco in 1916 and died in 2009. He served as the eighth United States secretary of defense from 1961 to 1968 under presidents Kennedy and Johnson. McNamara played a major role in promoting our country's involvement in the Vietnam War. His mother's maiden name was Clara Strange. It was noted that Stanley Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove" title for his 1964 satire movie might not have been a coincident. McNamara graduated from Piedmont High School in 1933 and UC Berkeley in 1937. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in his sophomore year and earned a varsity letter in crew. He and Clint Eastwood may be Piedmont's most famous former residents. We were right at Portsmouth Road and Martin Levy wanted us to go down Portsmouth Walk to his Lakeshore Avenue home. We passed his side gate with a "Death's Door" sign and many surrounding cacti. Martin had a couple of bags of cuttings for us. We passed his front garage door with a mural of a carriage house and his young son that his wife had printed by a local artist long ago. We continued up Lakeshore to Park Lane and Oak Road to the entrance of the Davie Tennis Stadium. Its gate was locked, but the stadium's history was shared. Stone quarries were an important part of Oakland's growth and development. Since much of Oakland's period of most rapid growth occurred prior to the adoption of asphalt in the 1920s, macadam was used extensively in road building. This led to more than a few quarries throughout the area as the city grew. A quarry was opened here in 1878 by the Alameda Macadamizing Company, and reopened as the Piedmont Paving Company in about 1892. Its site is now the Davie Tennis Stadium. The land was given to the City of Oakland in 1931 by former Oakland mayor John L. Davie and his family. Mayor Davie announced this stadium project idea in 1921, but the property was not given to Oakland until 10 years later. The facility was finally built in 1936 and 1937 as a Depression WPA project. The land is primarily in Piedmont, but Davie giving it to the City of Oakland may explain why the stadium is managed by the City of Oakland. It was time for us to start our return. We went up Oak Road, Oakmont Avenue, and Prospect Road to Wildwood Avenue. It was warming up and walking back through Piedmont Park was welcomed for its cooler temperature. There was a good deal of variety on this walk to the closed Davie Stadium with interesting sights and history, adding to our enjoyment.


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