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Eastshore Highway, ancestor of Interstate 80, officially dedicated in El Cerrito 79 years ago this week

eastshore dedication 05 26 1937

The granddaddy of the Bay Area freeway system was dedicated 79 years ago this week at a ceremony at San Pablo Avenue and Hill Street in El Cerrito on May 27, 1936. The Eastshore was the first newly built highway in the Bay Area, constructed to handle traffic heading to the new Bay Bridge and Oakland and relieve the increasing volume on San Pablo Avenue. At the time it was dedicated it was described as “one of the most modern and finest stretches of roadway in California.”
Modern or not, the highway saw continual upgrades almost from the time it was completed. The highway was expanded from two lanes to three in each direction and in 1940 stoplights were added at the entrances on Ashby and University avenues in Berkeley.
Then as now, officials in Berkeley were hard-pressed to figure out how to handle the complex interchange at Gilman Street.
In 1942 a second roadway branching off at Albany and originally dubbed the Shipyard Highway, was created using more Bay fill to handle the volume of traffic from defense workers going to the Kaiser shipyards in Richmond. That roadway is now a portion of Interstate 580 and connects to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.
The Eastshore Highway became the Eastshore Freeway in the 1950s, expanded and extended through West Contra Costa to the Carquinez Bridge. Today the successor to the cornerstone of the Bay Area freeway system is 10 lanes wide, with dedicated carpool lanes, yet it consistently ranks at or near the top of the most congested freeways in the Bay Area.

Eastshore Highway under construction in 1934.
Original caption: “S. F.. BRIDGES.. S. F. OAKLAND; E. B. FILL LEADING TOWARD BERKELEY” from the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection

Eastshore Highway April 1936.
Original caption: “This aerial view looking north toward Berkeley from the Distribution Structure of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge shows the Berkeley Fill which will be completed in time for the opening of the great bridge to automobile traffic early in November. Highway engineers under the direction of C. H. Purcell, Chief Engineer of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and State Highway Engineer, are designing this approach to be one of the finest and safest arterials in California.” From the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection

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With the Bay fill in place the contracts to build the actual highway were awarded in June of 1936.

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Contractors ran into trouble in August of 1936 when a portion of the fill collapsed.

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Berkeley took advantage of the newly enclosed area to the east of the highway by creating Aquatic Park in 1936.

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Workers construct Aquatic Park in Berkeley in 1935.

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Berkeley also extended Gilman Street to the highway, awarding a paving contract in October 1936 to provide another entrance.

Eastshore Highway 1938.
Original caption: “Division of the Eastshore Highway approach to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge with a medial strip was the Bay Region’s most important recent contribution toward the cause of accident prevention, in the opinion of traffic experts. The result has been a minimum of collisions on one of the most heavily traveled thoroughfares in Northern California.”
From the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection

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The portion of the Eastshore Highway north of University Avenue took longer to construct because it ran inland from the Bay and had to cross railroad tracks, which required construction of a bridge by Albany Hill and digging through hills in the Richmond Annex. Above is the elevated roadway at Albany Hill, along with Albany’s original entrance to the highway at Pierce Street.

eastshore highway pierce st albany 1937
Albany quickly found out that there were problems with the entrance at Pierce Street, including visibility, the volume of traffic and cars driving the wrong direction on the one-way route to the on-ramp.

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The first crash on the new portion of the highway was recorded in July of 1937.

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This September 1937 aerial view from the Oakland Tribune shows the original route of the highway.

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Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders makes a meal stop on Solano Avenue in Albany

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A patron took these photos of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at China Village Restaurant on Solano Avenue in Albany.

After a long day of campaigning in the Bay Area on Wednesday, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and his entourage — including Secret Service agents — stopped for a late night meal at China Village on Solano Avenue. The unannounced appearance quickly drew a crowd of onlookers taking in the scene from outside the restaurant.
“It was worth the wait,” said a woman who was there when Sanders came out of the restaurant after he was done feeling the burn of the Szechuan cuisine. “He was great. He shook hands with everyone.”
Small groups were still outside the restaurant, closed by then, after Sanders departed.

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Adoring crowd on Solano Avenue chants for @BernieSanders Wednesday

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New Bay Trail link for bicycle commuters to be dedicated in Emeryville

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City of Emeryville

A ribbon-cutting on a Bay Trail link will be held at the northwest corner of Christie Avenue and Shellmound Street in Emeryville at 9:30 a.m. May 12, which is Bike to Work Day. The new section “connects southbound cyclists from Emeryville, Berkeley and Richmond to the Bay Bridge Bicycle and Pedestrian Pathway and the Mandela Parkway, and connects northbound cyclists from Oakland and beyond to the Emeryville and Berkeley Marinas, and shorelines up to and through Richmond.”

“The Emeryville Connection” Ribbon Cutting will dedicate “the opening of the new cycle track section of the Bay Trail, from Powell Street to Shellmound Street on the north edge of Christie Avenue, along with Emeryville’s second dedicated bicycle turn signal at Shellmound Street and Christie Avenue.”

A Bike to Work energizer station will be at that location from 7 to 9 a.m. that morning.

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Berkeley District 3 council candidate Mark Coplan outlines his platform

Mark Coplan, retired spokesman for the Berkeley Unified School District and candidate for the District 3 City Council seat, has issued the following statement about his candidacy:

Berkeley Residents: My Platform for Your Review and Consideration

Dear Editor and Berkeley Voice Readers,
I was first asked to consider running for the Council by retired teacher and neighbor Ann Einstein whose endorsement reads, “You don’t have to be an Einstein to know that Mark Coplan is good for our community. You just have to know him.” I would love to have your endorsement as well, and endorsements from friends, neighbors and community leaders are as important to me as those of elected officials and other organizations usually considered critical to a successful campaign, maybe more.

I do not plan to run a traditional campaign, and in fact I am committed to not adding to the offensive stack of junk mail that will flood your recycling bin, and my volunteers and I will be knocking on your door with green-friendly literature to personally ask for your vote instead. I intend to serve District 3 residents diligently, but I’m reaching out to all Berkeley residents as I intend for my service to positively impact all of our fine city.

I am not a career politician, but I have spent my adult life in public service, and what I have to offer is very clear – Service and Commitment. As the Public Information Officer for the Berkeley Unified School District, my energy and passion has helped me to better serve parents and staff, who have always asked, “How can you be everywhere?” Deeply committed to my community, I will bring that energy to District 3 and will commit full time as a Councilperson. I have a reputation of working effectively with all sides of the issues, with a keen ability to listen to all viewpoints and identify mutual ground and consensus. I can work with people to collectively define and implement our best ideas – and I have a reputation for being trustworthy. I will state my positions clearly and vote decisively, insuring that my constituents always know exactly where I stand.

My 20 years of serving BUSD, as a very active parent and in the administration, have given me a solid, strong understanding of protocols, public process, transparency, and a foundation for a window into the workings of city government. I’m just beginning to look more closely at some of our city issues, and I’m seeing some practical solutions that I will be drafting up to share. Furthermore, I have established professional relationships with most of our elected officials, from the local, county, to the state level, their staff, and with City of Berkeley administrators and staff.

I am sensitive to the unique issues of south Berkeley, such as racism, shootings, police relations and the impact of gentrification and redistricting which have transformed District 3’s composition. We have people of all colors, conservative and progressive pockets of young and older families, hipsters, and university students. I will visit our District 3 businesses monthly and hold regular community meetings, and listen to my District’s concerns. I intend to adopt all of the schools in District 3 and participate in their school communities, and I’ll encourage the rest of the Council to do the same (Full disclosure – Daryl Moore did it first).

I have earned community respect on all levels, and I am known for respecting everyone, including those I may disagree with. I will not allow discord with fellow councilmembers to impact my desire to find equitable solutions or mar my positive attitude. Although I may debate passionately for my neighbors, I will not disparage or attack anyone with differing views, in public or in private.
I encourage you to contact me directly with your questions and your support at markcoplan.district3@gmail.com.

Sincerely,
Mark Coplan, City Council Candidate for District 3

Mark Coplan Dec 2015 01

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Richmond: Plan for airport at Point Isabel never got off the ground 50 years ago


Before the Point Isabel proposal, an airport was proposed off of Berkeley in 1945. (San Francisco Public Library History Center)

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If a plan first raised in 1966 had flown with regulators, there might have been an airport for small aircraft along the Bay in Richmond where dogs now frolic, strollers and bicyclists take in Bay views and UC Berkeley is planning its global campus.
The proposal for the Point Isabel airport between Point Isabel and Brooks Island surfaced in the summer of 1966 and was largely embraced by business leaders in Richmond as beneficial to local commerce and the region as a whole. Had the proposal been made 10 years earlier, it might have flown. But plans to fill 225 acres of mudflats now had to go before the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the regulatory panel established in 1965 as a result of the activism of the the Save San Francisco Bay Association (later Save the Bay).
The airport proposal was exactly the type of project Save the Bay tried to halt, but it wasn’t for lack of trying by the idea’s promoters.
The City Councils in Albany, Berkeley and El Cerrito all went on record in opposition, with Kay Kerr, one of the three founders of Save the Bay and the wife of UC Berkeley President Clark Kerr, speaking against the project before the El Cerrito council.

point isabel airport 10 1966

The plan did get as far as being submitted to the BCDC for consideration, but discussion was postponed a few times and the notion ultimately ran out of steam.

On Nov. 16 the Oakland Tribune reported that Berkeley had officially stated its opposition to the project:

OPPOSE AIRPORT
The council also went on record as opposing the proposed Richmond Airport in the bay between Point Isabel and Brooks Island. The project, which is to come before the Bay Conservation and Development Commission on Friday, would require
filling 225 acres in two stages.
The council opposed the project because it would create a noise problem and commit a major portion of the Eastbay shoreline before a regional plan could be drawn up. Councilmen also noted that regional plans call for inland rather than bay airports.

On Nov. 19 the Tribune reported that “BCDC took no action at this time on a request by the city of Richmond for an ‘advisory opinion’ on a proposed airport construction at Point Isabel which would involve filling 225 acres of tidelands. The project would serve small planes.”

A man readies to throw a ball for his dog to fetch while enjoying the sunset at Point Isabel Regional Shoreline in Richmond, Calif. on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011.  (Dean Coppola/Staff)

A man readies to throw a ball for his dog to fetch while enjoying the sunset at Point Isabel Regional Shoreline in Richmond, Calif. on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011. (Dean Coppola/Staff)

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Jewel Lake in Tilden Park replenished by recent rains

jewel lake 12 2015 by Marta Yamamoto

Jewel Lake in Tilden Regional Park in the Berkeley hills is ” is back and lovely as always,” reports our correspondent Marta Yamamoto, who took the photo above. As she reported in September, the prolonged drought had reduced the lake, popular with park visitors and wildlife alike, to what many were referring to as “Jewel Puddle.”
As that story noted, the lake “originated as a reservoir known as Wildcat Creek Diversion Dam, finished around 1921, when water reached East Bay cities via its concrete aqueduct.”

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Jewel Lake as it looked in its dried out state in September. Staff photo by Kristopher Skinner.

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Monarch butterflies return to Albany Hill

Monarch migration

Along with sightings of monarch butterflies overwintering at Aquatic Park in Berkeley (see below) the beloved creatures have made their annual return to the eucalyptus grove on Albany Hill.
This photo was taken by El Cerrito resident Steve Crawford, who reports, “They are harder to get to this year since they have taken up residence in a tree about halfway down the steep west side.”

Monarch butterflies huddle together on the branches of a tree at Aquatic Park in Berkeley on Nov. 24. Bay Area News Group photo by D. Ross Cameron.

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New Berkeley Historical Society exhibit opens with free program Oct. 11

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“Art Capital of the West: Real and Imagined Art Museums and Galleries in Berkeley” is the new exhibit of the Berkeley Historical Society, opening with a program and reception from 2-5 p.m. Oct. 11 at the Berkeley History Center, 1931 Center St. Admission is free, donations are welcome.

When artist Jennie V. Cannon visited Berkeley in 1907, she wrote, “I could not believe my eyes—there were artist groups and displays everywhere—so many fine artists that this place surpasses San Francisco as the art capital of the West.” Coinciding with the opening of the new UC Berkeley Art Museum, the Berkeley Historical Society exhibit explores over a century of hopes, dreams, successes and setbacks of Berkeley art museums and galleries. “Art Capital of the West”: Real and Imagined Art Museums and Galleries in Berkeley will run from October 11, 2015 through April 2, 2016 at the Berkeley History Center in the Veterans Memorial Building, 1931 Center Street, Berkeley.

Details: www.berkeleyhistoricalsociety.org or 510-848-0181.

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When Berkeley liked Ike: Presidential candidate made East Bay stops this week in 1952

D. D. Eisenhower

Dwight Eisenhower is met by a crowd of people, including many UC Berkeley students, at the Berkeley railroad station. (Oakland Tribune Photo)

D. D. Eisenhower

Eisenhower, the Republican nominee challenging Adlai Stevenson, made some brief remarks in his Berkeley whistlestop appearance. (Oakland Tribune Photo)

Republican presidential nominee Dwight Eisenhower was given a welcome befitting a war hero by Berkeley residents this week in 1952. The Oct. 8 appearance was part of a whistlestop swing by train through the East Bay on the way to a speech at the Cow Palace by the acclaimed World War II general. Other stops included Vallejo, Crockett and Richmond, along with a rally at City Hall Plaza in Oakland before he went via motorcade across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco and a scheduled speech at the Cow Palace. The appearances were partly a response to a similar trip through the area by Democratic nominee Adlai Stevenson.
Accompanying Eisenhower on his trip through the area were California Gov. Earl Warren and U.S. Sen. William F. Knowland, whose family owned the Oakland Tribune.

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Signs displayed during Eisenhower’s Berkeley visit included “UC likes Ike” and “Let it rain, let it pour, Ike will lead us safely now, he always has before.”

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