Stone footbridge, Redwood Park - Oakland CA
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. The New Deal provided extensive aid towards improving the new parks (except for Sibley) for public recreation, working with the Parks District’s first general manager, Elbert Vail.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) set up five camps in the East Bay hills and operated in the parks for the entire New Deal decade, 1933-42. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was active in the parks c. 1939-42.
Both the CCC and WPA work teams made substantial improvements in Redwood Park, including roads, trails, bridges, picnic areas, and more.
The Stream Trail along Redwood Creek and the picnic areas along the lower trail are most likely CCC, along with clearing the playfields and planting trees.
The two stone bridges over Redwood Creek along the Stream Trail and some stone drinking fountains could be CCC or WPA. The main stone bridge at the entrance to the park is probably WPA.
There are no detailed records identifying specific works, so one has to make educated guesses. Park staff have also made later additions and repaired earlier stonework.
At the time, Redwood Park included what is now Roberts Regional Reserve, so some tree plantings and trails there are likely CCC. They also cleared the area and built the amphitheater where the opening ceremonies for the Park District were held in 1936 (Vail 1940).
The park administrative buildings predate the New Deal, leftover from an old logging camp; but the park staff residence building is New Deal, most likely WPA.
Redwood Park is now known as Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park.
Elbert Vail, The Early Story of the East Bay Regional Parks. Unpublished manuscript, East Bay Regional Parks District archives.
Elbert Vail, Progress Report, c 1939, East Bay Regional Parks District archives
Elbert Vail, 1940 Master Plan. Oakland CA: East Bay Regional Parks District, 1940, available at East Bay Regional Parks District archives
Anonymous, "WPA and CCC worksites in East Bay Regional Parks," typed report, January 2, 2012.
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. http://baynature.org/articles/jan-mar-2008/forgotten-foundation
Amanda Sue Marshall, The East Bay Hills: A Brief History. Charleston SC: The History Press, 2017.
Project originally submitted by Richard Walker on August 9, 2020.
Additional contributions by Joan Greer.
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