It had rained the night before, but there was no reason for our Piedmont Recreation Department's Walking on Wednesdays group to worry. It was Wednesday morning. The weather is always good when we meet in front of the Exedra. It was cloudy and cool, and 38 walkers and two K-9 best friends were there to enjoy a walk together.
After walking the streets of Piedmont for over five years now, the identifying a new Piedmont walkway seemed unimaginable, but that's what Mike H did. He saw there are stairs between St. James Place (not St. James Drive) and Trestle Glen Road, and realized we had never gone to them. We hadn't gone to Trestle Glen or St. James Place very often either. We could walk there, go down the stairs, and then do a loop up Trestle Glen to another set of stairs that goes back to St. James Drive. And anyone not wanting to do the stairs could just walk out St. James Drive to the second stairs.
It was recalled that early 20th Century Piedmont real estate and transportation development were closely linked. People needed to be able to get from their homes to work. Paths and stairs to Key System streetcars were often the solution.
The walkers had heard of the Key System's Transbay C Line that ran through Piedmont to Oakland and San Francisco in the first half of the 20th Century. However, most were unaware there was also a downtown Oakland A Line, a Claremont E Line, a Berkeley Adeline F Line, a Berkeley Sacramento H line, a Westbrae (Albany) G Line, and a Berkeley North Oakland K Line. All were Transbay lines. There were numbered 1 through 15 local East Bay routes too. Three served Piedmont, the 10 Piedmont Avenue & Hopkins Street line, the 11 Oakland Avenue Line, and the 12 Grand Avenue and Hollis Street Line that went up Fairview Avenue.
There was also the Trestle Glen B Line. The Trestle Glen neighborhood was developed around the B Line in the early 1900s. Access to the trains was possible via paths from Trestle Glen Road, Underhills Road, which runs parallel to Trestle Glen, and other nearby streets. The B-line went down 22nd Street, now Grand Avenue, past Lake Merritt, turned onto Lake Park Avenue, passed the Grand Lake Theater, and then turned up Lakeshore Avenue and Lakeshore onto a private right-of-way through what is now the Bank of the West, which is between Trestle Glen and Longridge Road. Longridge runs parallel to and between Mandana Boulevard and Trestle Glen. The line was single track to Wesley Avenue, which is south of Lakeshore and Lake Merritt,
and then was double track along Lakeshore and Grand Avenues to San Francisco.
The final Key System revenue B Line train departed the wooded Underhills station on April 20, 1958 for San Francisco. An attached photo shows it. Just like in Piedmont, after the rails were removed, new homes were built on portions of the right of way. Some homeowners extended their back yards on to the former B-train route.
All of this history put our Trestle Glen stairs destinations into content and off we went down Highland Avenue. We took our familiar walk up Sheridan, Wildwood, Crocker, and Hampton to the top of St. James Drive, and continued on to St. James Place. A driver in a car honked and waved to our long line along the way. We took a group photo at the top of St. James Place, and went down its hill to the 120 foot set of stairs to Trestle Glen. Phil W reported that a nearby house has an indoor swimming pool, but there was no time to ring the doorbell and see it. The stairs had the familiar inlay tiles that marked all of the 1920's St. James Wood real estate development's
sidewalks, and they were very steep. We were glad there was a hand rail. We emerged on Trestle Glen and Mike Henn led us up its hill, past the Cavanaugh Court cul de sac, to the second set of stairs. There was only a low concrete railing beside this 151 feet set of stairs, but we took our time and climbed back to St. James Drive. Thanks were given to Mike for finding the stairs. He said blame might be more appropriate, but that was not the case. We retraced their steps back to town center with appreciation for Mike identifying a great walk for us. Mike also provided the attached map of our walk. On the way back the skies fully cleared and it was a beautiful morning, just as it always is for the Wednesday walkers.