Wildfires, high winds, and air quality created some uncertainty on Wednesday, October 30, when the Piedmont Recreation Department's Walking on Wednesdays group met at the Exedra. But the weather was cool. with winds coming from the ocean. For the 18 walkers and two of their K-9 best friends it was a great morning for a walk and a good time to welcome new walker Jim.
The destination chosen was Hampton Park, where they would see the improvements made in 2017 through a $2 million public/private partnership. The group headed up Highland Avenue to Sheridan Avenue via Caperton Avenue, a lovely street that they hadn't walked for some time. At the corner of Sheridan and Caperton the group stopped at the small park there to talk about the history of Key System trains that ran though Piedmont during the first half of the twentieth century. This park was part of the train right of way, and the walkers could see homes that were built on land that was once the train's route.
Returning to the 400 block of Wildwood Avenue between Highland and Crocker Avenue, they observed that the bright red foliage had changed in two weeks to darker shades, and the recent winds had blown large numbers of leaves to the ground.
They continued to Hampton Park via Hall Fenway between Wildwood and Crocker Avenues, and then up Hampton Avenue past homes with Halloween dec- orations that were ready for the next night's fun. Using an article written by the Piedmont Historical Society, the walkers learned that Hampton Park was part of 50 acres purchased in 1911 by Louis Titus, a Berkeley real estate developer. He in- tended to build a mansion there, but in 1912 when the new city of Piedmont raised his property tax- es he dropped his plans and left Piedmont.
.In 1914 James Tyson, lumber and shipping businessman bought -30 acres of the land for his home. Tyson was also a strong supporter of Piedmont Boy Scouts, which began in 1010 In 1921 Tyson made a portion of the land available for the scouts to use as an outdoor camp. In 1938 during the Depression the land where Hampton Park is today. was made available by the Tysons to the Piedmont schools. A WPA project leveled the land and it was be a future "East Piedmont" school that was never built. Some of the walkers remembered the old muddy Hampton Field where little league baseball and youth soccer games were played.
They walked through the new baseball field to the park's tennis and basketball courts, and then around the back of Piedmont Play School. At its playground they were greeted by a swarm or preschoolers, teachers and a few parents.
The group emerged from the park at its LaSalle Avenue entrance, and continued down LaSalle to Indian Road and Crocker Avenue, then back to the Exedra. It was an enjoyable 90-minute walk covering about 2.5 miles and a century of Piedmont historv associated with a Piedmont park treasure.