|Map of Key Route lines|
|An old Key Route station|
|A Key Route train running through Oakland|
The Key System is one of those things that, in all honesty, I might rose-tint just a little. Maybe it's because it's dead and gone, maybe it's because the current transit systems are just so flipping bad, that I can't help and look at the old maps and photos and think that the Bay Area had something that was so right, and well thought out, and well designed, and the community just allowed it to be thrown away. Truth be told, no one knew what was going to happen to public transit in the East Bay during the '50s and '60s, and no one could have seen how the rise of car culture would blow apart once-cohesive neighborhoods and communities by pushing highways and overpasses through residential areas, or how the new freeways would turn thriving commercial districts into total backwaters, deprived of traffic and shoppers with most people being routed out of the neighborhoods onto the newly bustling highways of California.
|The old Piedmont Key Route station|
If you ride a bike in the East Bay, you have ridden where the Key System used to provide rail service. Telegraph Ave., Broadway, San Pablo, College, Lakeshore, Trestle Glen, and Grand all had regular rail service. The Key System had car barns on the east end of Lake Merritt near 3rd Ave, at 51st and Telegraph in Temescal, in the Elmhurst neighborhood in East Oakland, and in Richmond. Many of the streets in Alameda are as wide as they are because they initially included railroad tracks running down the center of the street. There aren't many visible signs of the Key System left, but it did shape the direction and form of many of the central streets in the East Bay.