East Bay Park District founders and relief map - Oakland CAAnsel Hall points out the proposed Regional parklands to local civic leaders
The East Bay Regional Parks District (EBRPD) was formed in 1934 and acquired land for parks from the East Bay Municipal Water District in 1936. The first parks were Tilden, Sibley, Temescal and Redwood in the East Bay Hills behind Berkeley and Oakland CA.
Even before the parks were acquired, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) set up camps in the hills in 1933-34, and they operated in the parks for the entire New Deal decade, 1933-42. A unique contribution to the parks by the CCC helped win public approval for the district’s creation. As Gray Brechin notes:
“CCC boys at Camp Strawberry Canyon produced ten large-scale relief maps of the East Bay to help win overwhelming voter approval for the creation of the East Bay Regional Park District in November 1934. Though its initial goal exceeded 10,000 acres, the district by 1942 had acquired only 4,300 acres in what are now Tilden, Lake Temescal, Sibley, and Redwood regional parks.” (Brechin 2008)
The maps were probably made in a facility on the edge of the UC Berkeley campus. Two of the photos below show park district pioneers with one of the maps in the early 1930s.
One of the maps survived and was extensively restored and rededicated August 26, 2016, thanks to the efforts of Ranger Dave Zuckerman and other park staff. Photos below show the remaining map before and after restoration, plus the park staff and descendants of Ansel Hall and the daughter of Herbert Meier. Hall wrote the original plan for the park district and Meier was the National Park Services architect behind the rustic style of park buildings. Hall and Meier were both from Berkeley.
The map now hangs in the Tilden Park Environmental Education Center (i.e., Visitor’s Center).
Elbert Vail, The Early Story of the East Bay Regional Parks. Unpublished manuscript, East Bay Regional Parks District archives.
Elbert Vail, Progress Report: 22 Major Projects, c 1939, East Bay Regional Parks District archives
Elbert Vail, 1940 Master Plan. Oakland CA: East Bay Regional Parks District, 1940. East Bay Regional Parks District archives
Mimi Stein, A Vision Achieved:Fifty Years of the East Bay Regional Parks District. Oakland CA: East Bay Regional Parks District, 1984. @ https://www.ebparks.org/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=25719
Brechin, Gray. 2008. "Forgotten Foundation". Bay Nature Magazine. January 1. https://baynature.org/articles/jan-mar-2008/forgotten-foundation
Anonymous, "WPA and CCC worksites in East Bay Regional Parks District," manuscript report, January 2, 2012.
Smith, Harvey. 2014. Berkeley and the New Deal. Charleston SC: Arcadia Books.
Amanda Sue Marshall, The East Bay Hills: A Brief History. Charleston SC: The History Press, 2017.
Project originally submitted by Gray Brechin on August 9, 2020.
Additional contributions by Richard A Walker.
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