A color view of the El Cerrito Plaza station before the opening of the Richmond line in
January 1973. (Photo courtesy El Cerrito Chamber of Commerce).
BART rolls into the El Cerrito Plaza station on the first (and rainy) day of service on the
Richmond line on Jan. 29, 1973.
The Richmond line of the BART system began operation 44 years ago this week, on Jan. 29, 1973. The first portion of the system, Oakland to Fremont, opened on Sept. 11, 1972, and other legs were rolled out in succession, with the Richmond-Fremont line being the second. (Concord followed in May 1973.)
BART ran along the Santa Fe Railroad right of way through Albany and El Cerrito and Santa Fe service continued until 1979, meaning a double dose of train watching or disruptive noise, depending on your point of view.
Abandonment by Santa Fe of the right of way led to the creation of the Ohlone Greenway, cited by BART as an early example of cooperative development of the communities it would be serving: “BART’s widely-known ‘linear park,’ for example, was constructed under the aerial right-of-way through Albany and El Cerrito to demonstrate how function could combine with aesthetics to enhance community environments.”
The story of the transit district’s rather unlikely road to reality is told in the new book “BART: The Dramatic History of the Bay Area Rapid Transit System,” authored by retired transit district spokesman Michael C. Healy and published by Heyday Books of Berkeley.
Here are some views of the opening of the Richmond line and the development along the way.
Groundbreaking for the downtown Berkeley station in 1966.
Elevated track under construction in Albany in 1968.
Excavation on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley in 1969.
Officials conduct a tree planting at the future Del Norte station in El Cerrito along what would become the Ohlone Greenway in 1969.
Passengers at the Richmond station await the arrival of the first train in January 1973.
The inaugural train on the line arrives at the Richmond BART station.
Richmond-bound train arrives at the El Cerrito Plaza in the rain on the first day of service.
A postcard view of the downtown Berkeley station from 1974. The station is now undergoing
BART under construction in Albany in 1968.