It was a cool morning last Wednesday, but the early fog burnt off quickly to provide sunny skies for the Piedmont Recreation Department’s Walking on Wednesdays group. The good weather helped bring out a near record for a regular/no-special event walk of 37 walkers.
The group has an objective of walking every safe Piedmont street during the calendar year. It was still only January, but they were off to a great start toward this goal after the year’s first three walks. A suggested route for the day to the southwest section of the city and the Oakland border offered the opportunity visit lots more streets, many of them not yet walked in 2022. When the group was asked how many different streets they thought they could walk on this route, Noemi Alvarado correctly said only one because Piedmont has only one roadway that is a “street,” that being Latham Street. Regular walkers knew all the rest of Piedmont’s roadways are “avenues”, “courts”, “ways”, etc. That correction accepted, the group was told that a route to the lower portion of Sea View Avenue and the return to the Piedmont city center could provide the enticing opportunity of walking 16 streets.
Off the walkers went down Highland to Wildwood Avenues, and the entrance to Wildwood Gardens. This was the estate of early Piedmont developer Frank C. Havens over a hundred years ago. At the entrance to the neighborhood is a huge redwood. It was suggested that an underground creek might be constantly watering this tree and have nurtured its dramatic growth over the last century. The group took a quick right up the Wildwood Gardens’ upper loop, but held off walking the longer, lower loop for another day.
The walkers continued on in Wildwood Gardens, past lovely homes and came to a house on the left with a long swing attached to the branch of a large tree and another large tree that is growing through a hole in the home’s front deck. Across from it is another tree house. This one is a very professional children’s version built on stilts last year. At the top of the street, just before it turns into Woodland Way, there was another loop to be visited. This is the very secluded Wistaria Way. The walkers noted a forest of emerald green moss on a shaded wall, and a house built on a steep lot with a vacant, also very steep lot next to it. It was reported that the lot was bequeathed to a local church by a parishioner, and ready for a resourceful buyer and builder.
As the group walked up Woodland Way they saw an unusual sight. A very large evergreen tree had been uprooted by strong winds on Friday night/Saturday morning and was unfortunately resting on the side and roof of the house next door. This was not the type of tree house anyone wanted. The walkers turned right and went down La Salle Avenue and up it to Muir Avenue, where they saw that another tree had been downed by the winds. A tree removal crew was working on it, and the group took the attached photo in front of the crew’s truck and equipment. F
The group walked up the one-block Muir Avenue to another new street for them, Lafayette Avenue, and up it to Crocker Avenue. They went down Crocker, passing a down-to-the-studs remodel of a beautiful, old home and a wonderful Julia Morgan-designed home across the street. At Ashmount Avenue, on the Oakland border where Crocker becomes Mandana Avenue, Priscilla Wanerus told the group the farmers market that operated out of a family garage that the walkers had visited in the past was no longer selling produce. The young proprietor, Noah, had gone to Mexico, developed some health issues, and decided to close the business.
The walkers went up Ashmount and reentered Piedmont where the street becomes Sea View. They continued up it across La Salle to the corner at Farragut Avenue where architect Jim Kellogg told the group about two more, beautiful Julia Morgan-designed homes across from each other there.
At Hampton Avenue it was time to get back to the center of town to arrive at the group’s close-to-noon return target. This meant not going all the way up Crocker to Lincoln Avenue, but instead going through the Hall Fenway, where they were surprised and happy to see their first daffodils of the season. They finished their walk going down Wildwood to Sheridan and then Highland. Lincoln would have to wait for another Wednesday. So, the walkers did not get to all the morning’s planned streets. However, they know there will be more opportunities to get to Lincoln, more streets to walk, and more Wednesdays together.