Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Preservation Park, Oakland, CA

Preservation Park is a tiny little island of perfectly restored and beautifully landscaped calm in the middle of downtown Oakland. It's located between Martin Luther King and Castro St., and 12th and 14th streets. There are sixteen buildings in the park, but only five of them are standing in their original locations. The remaining eleven buildings were moved to their present locations from elsewhere in Oakland to prevent their demolition. The buildings were arranged to resemble a 19th century neighborhood. The houses are a mix of Queen Anne, Italianate Villa, Colonial Revival, and Craftsman style architecture. The centerpiece of the park is the Latham-Ducel Fountain. Made of cast iron and forged in Paris, the fountain depicts Diana, the moon goddess. The park benches surrounding the fountain are some of the best seats in town on a sunny afternoon. If I worked in downtown Oakland I would eat lunch here a lot.

The park is open to the public during the day, but the buildings are not open to the public. You can rent the buildings for classes or events and there is a handful of organizations and companies that are based in the park. The park itself and the buildings in it are managed as a non-profit partnership between the tenants of the buildings and the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation.

There are a handful of other historical sites in the immediate vicinity, chiefly the First Unitarian Church of Oakland and the Pardee Home. There are also a number of privately owned buildings that have historic significance in the surrounding blocks. A bit farther afield there is the Tribune Tower, Lake Merritt, and the original site of the College of California. All of these are very close together so it's easy to link them into a single ride.

Getting There By Bike...
If you've ever ridden your bike through downtown Oakland then you know that it's never great. Scenic, lightly trafficked roads these are not, but if you avoid Broadway and head towards Preservation Park on either Jefferson or 12th Street then it's slightly easier. I've never tried it, but I doubt that the maintenance staff would appreciate it if you locked your bike to the wrought iron fences that surround the park. Best to plan on either pushing the bike, or locking it up outside the park proper.

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