The weather person had the Piedmont Recreation Department’s Walking on Wednesdays group a little uncertain last Wednesday. He/she/it had forecast it would be cloudy and cool, but no rain for their Wednesday walk. There was no rain, but the morning sky was clearing and the temperature was very pleasant as the walkers assembled. Extra layers of clothes were soon unnecessary. It was a lovely day for a walk.
The good weather was happily received by a strong turnout of thirty-six walkers and one K-9 best friend.
The Post had reported two weeks before that there was a retaining wall project under construction on San Carlos Avenue. An initial read of the Post article created an impression that its total cost was $611,000, which seemed like an amazing amount. But a more careful review clarified that this amount was for this project and another wall on Oakland Avenue near Sunnyside Avenue that was completed last year. Regardless, the walkers like to see new projects, and hoped the construction was still going on for them to inspect. Additionally, continuing on across Oakland Avenue would allow the group to see many more lovely streets in this north central part of the city. It sounded like a fun destination and route for the day.
The walkers headed off, going down Magnolia Avenue, past the new Piedmont High auditorium. This was the first time for them that the sidewalk in front of the building was completely cleared. All the fences and construction equipment were gone and the beauty of this new piece of Piedmont High was fully on display. The walkers continued on down Magnolia, but decided to take a short side trip. They had not walked the 400 block of El Cerrito Avenue in anyone’s memory and the 400 block of Jerome Avenue either. There was also a nice view of Witter Field to enjoy as they went down El Cerrito.
The group emerged on Magnolia and a short walk back up it got them to the lower portion of the divided San CarIos street. They went down it looking for construction and the new wall until almost the street’s end. A few hundred feet from the Oakland Avenue corner the walkers came to the completed, new portion of the wall. It is a hundred feet or so long, and blends in nicely with the rest of the walk. It was agreed that the construction company did a nice job, but the walkers were pleased it alone didn’t cost $611,000. They liked the wall so much they took the attached group picture in front of it with Stella Houston holding the Post article in a “Where in the World?” photo manner.
The walkers carefully crossed Oakland Avenue and continued their walk of San Carlos. Tree work and house remodeling were being done on homes along the way. San Carlos ends when it comes to Blair Avenue, which quickly becomes Ricardo Avenue. Next was Cambridge Way and the group took it to Manor Drive where they started going up and down the parallel Manor, York Drive, Ricardo, and Monticello Avenue streets, with Cambridge and Arroyo Avenue being the bridge between them. On Cambridge the walkers were charmed by a home built in what architect walker Jim Kellogg described as a “storybook design.” It has a “witch’s cap” turret above the front door that the walkers felt Hansel and Gretel would have liked too. A Zillow search established that this house was built in 1925.
The walkers went up Monticello to the Lorita Avenue cul-de-sac looking for the bottom of a very hidden pathway, but Dick Carter misread his route directions. The top of this pathway, coming up from Monticello, is at the end of Lorita. The group had walked past the bottom of the pathway on Monticello without seeing it. The group was forgiving of Dick’s mistake and decided they would walk the pathway on a future Wednesday.
The group continued up Monticello and then Park Way when the road takes a hard left and changes names. They admired the beautiful cedar shake shingle homes across from Dracena Park. Many were built in 1908 by people moving to the area after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. There was also a huge evergreen tree in the yard of a home near Dracena Avenue for the walkers to enjoy.
Near the top of Park there the opportunity to visit one more seldom walked street. It is Waldo Avenue. This one-block street with lovely homes and blossoming trees was once the back side of the home of Walter Blair, the first European settler of what is now Piedmont. Coming out on Blair Avenue, the street that bears his name, it was only one block for the group to get up to Highland Avenue and a short walk back to the center of town. In all, it had been about a three mile walk with many new and old Piedmont things to see, as well as new and old Wednesday walking friends to be with, on a delightful, late winter morning.