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Following the Former C Line

The Piedmont Recreation Department's Walking on Wednesdays group had a special guest last week, August 7. Sargent Catherine Carr of the Piedmont Police Department provided the group with a report on recent activities. She also suggested ways in which the walkers can help the police.

She described the purpose and benefits of National Night Out, which took place the previous night. This annual event on the first Tuesday of August encourages neighborhoods to have block parties or potlucks outside and get to know one another - and to meet members of the police and fire departments.

Sgt. Carr even offered to come and visit with the walkers on the first Wednesday of every month. Sgt. Nicole Bolden had visited the walkers a few weeks earlier.

A strong turnout of 19 walkers showed up last week for the last walk before school starts. The group welcomed two first-time walkers, Celia Barnes and Penny Harris. Dick Carter thanked Charlene, Noemi, and Priscilla for leading the walks for two weeks while he was on vacation. Additionally, Charlene wrote reports that appeared in the Piedmont Post.

The group had walked the upper and lower portions of the old No. 10 streetcar route that served Piedmont during the first half of the 20th century. The C Train branched off at Arroyo Avenue and ended at what is now Latham Street and Oakland Avenue. The group thought it would be interesting to walk along the old C Train route and see the homes that were built on the Key System right-of-way land, so it was decided that this would be the plan for the day.

The group went across Hillside and down Oakland Avenue to Latham Street. The house there

was the end of what had been the C Train route. This residence was built in the late 1950s on Key System land, so the walkers stopped for a photo.

Charlene had done some research and showed the group a copy of "The Key System; a

book by Walter Rice and Emiliano Echererria. She explained that the Key System was part of the land development of early local residents, Charles "Borax" Smith and Frank C. Havens. Their Piedmont development project was named "Piedmont Manor," and the name

of Piedmont's Manor Drive is a result of it.

The Key System ended in 1958, and the land on which its trains ran became available for purchase for homes. The long and narrow footprint of some of the homes is a telltale sign that they were built on the Key Route land.

The group continued up Latham, across Cambridge Way and on to York Drive.

The backyards of many of the homes along York and Ricardo Avenues were once C Train route land.

As they went up York, the walkers admired a unique front yard, where the owner had planted a substantial vegetable garden with string beans and tomatoes.

The group posed for another group photo in front of the Piedmont Manor column at the corner of Grand and Lower Grand Avenue. It marked the entrance to Borax Smith and Frank C. Havens' project. The group walked up Holly Place to Manor Drive, then to Arroyo, back down Ricardo Avenue before climbing the hill of El Cerrito Avenue next to Lower Dracena Park.

While coming back to the mid- die of town, they admired the beautiful, new Corey Reich Tennis Center with the newly painted purple and green surface, before returning to the Exedra two blocks away. It had been about a three-mile walk over about 90 minutes, with the opportunity of seeing a lot of Piedmont history.


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