03 March 2011

Oakland Marathon neighborhood tour - # 17 - Lakeshore

The Lakeshore area is the neighborhood at the northeast corner of Lake Merritt where Grand Avenue and Lakeshore Avenue almost converge and pass under I-580, and then take separate routes around the lake: Grand on the north side of the lake and Lakeshore on the east side.  The excellent Wikipedia articles about Oakland's neighborhoods to which I've linked for your further reading throughout this series, refer to the area as the Grand Lake District, but on the map of the marathon and based on my own experience, I am calling it the Lakeshore area.  Six of one...
Lakeshore Avenue business district.

Grand Avenue business district.  The most noteworthy landmark of the area is the Grand Lake Theater, a neighborhood institution since 1926.  It is locally owned, not part of a chain.

Whether it's part of the Lakeshore Area or Adams Point may be debatable, but the area just west of I-580 and close to the northeast corner of the lake is pretty.  This view is looking west toward buildings that line Grand Avenue.
As is the case in the adjoining Adams Point neighborhood, residential areas of the Lakeshore neighborhood consist of structures dating from the early part of the 20th century onward.  There are many apartments and condominiums, but also plenty of single family homes, especially when one leaves the denser areas on or close to Grand and Lakeshore Avenues, and the blocks on the hilly ridge that
lie between the two arterials.

The tony Trestle Glen area is known as a separate Oakland neighboorhood, but it is linked closely to Lakeshore because Trestle Glen has no commercial district of its own.  Here is the start of Trestle Glen Road at Lakeshore Avenue.  (Trestle Glen Road starts in Oakland but crosses into Piedmont.)
Past Mandana Avenue, Lakeshore is leafy and residential heading northeast in the direction of Piedmont.  Grand Avenue, by contrast, remains mostly commercial for several blocks beyond Mandana.  But one of my favorite features of Oakland is tucked away off of a sidestreet from Grand Avenue, invisible to visitors, and perhaps largely unknown to other Oaklanders.

From Grand, turn left on Jean Street by the excellent nursery (part of the Grand Lake Ace Hardware), go a short block and there you are at the entrance to the Morcom Rose Garden.  Park on the street, and then go for a stroll.  You will not be disappointed.


These photos were taken in February, not exactly the prime month for blooming roses.  But the rose garden is pretty in any season.  This picture conveys a sense of the layout.  Probably a small creek ran through this little area historically, since it rises upward heading north, and is bound by slopes on either side.  (Here is a link to another person's blog post with photos that show the rose garden in its glory.)

While it lies within the City of Oakland, the east side of the rose garden abuts the City of Piedmont.  I'm placing the the rose garden within the Lakeshore area, but in fact it is sandwiched in between the Piedmont Avenue neighborhood, the Lakeshore area, and the City of Piedmont.

An interesting feature of the rose garden is the presence of the annual "Mother of the Year" plaques, set in the pavement roughly halfway up the park.  Changing views of the role of women and mothers is demonstrated by the names which begin in 1954.  For a number of years the typical name is something such as "Mrs. Robert Smith".  Then you start to see names in the style of of "Mrs. Elizabeth Smith".  Finally the form that we would find most sensible emerges: "Elizabeth Smith".  I'll bet they all were great mothers - it's just nice to know what their names were.

The park was dedicated during the heart of the Depression in 1937 (see photo below), though the origins of the park date back up to the 1910s when the land was first acquired by the City.

Is it Oakland or Santa Barbara?  The Rose Garden Apartments next to the entrance to the park.

Jean Street makes a sharp left and rises steeply after it passes the entrance to the rose garden.
We end with another relic of the past at the corner of Lakeshore Avenue and Mandana Avenue that continues to serve those of us who walk or drive.  It's a WPA concrete imprint by the curb from 1940.

Those who relentlessly bash government take note that "awful government projects" such as the Bay Bridge, the Caldecott Tunnel, and the Morcom Rose Garden (all completed in 1936-37) are mainstays of the East Bay more than 70 years after their dedications.  The bridge and the tunnel continue to be critical pieces of the region's infrastructure.

Oakland Marathon neighborhood tour - navigational links:
Backward to: Adams Point
Forward to: Lake Merritt
Oakland Marathon website

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