Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Rockridge is another of Oakland's older communities. The neighborhood has been described as the area east of Telegraph Ave., west of the Oakland Hills, south of the Berkeley border, and north of the Broadway/51st St. intersection. The neighborhood takes its name from the large rock outcroppings that form a part of the exposed shutter ridge of the Hayward Fault. Many off these rocks are obscured by development now, but some can still be seen behind the Safeway parking lot at the intersection of 51st and Broadway. The back part of the parking lot is bordered by a fence and a lagoon that serves as a reservoir for the Claremont Country Club. The lagoon fills what used to be an active quarry that operated well into the '50s.
Rockridge, similar to Temescal immediately to the west, owes much of its existence to the presence of effective public transit into and out of the neighborhood, and the presence of several major thoroughfares. College Ave. is the main street cutting through Rockridge and it serves as an important traffic corridor between the upper end of downtown Oakland and Berkeley, specifically with the University of California campus. The development of the Key System and a number of street car routes that served the area, and the AC Transit routes that took over service after the Key System was dismantled, as well as the presence of the Rockridge BART station, make this a desirable neighborhood for commuters, and this has been true since the neighborhood started developing in earnest in the first quarter of the twentieth century. Electric streetcar tracks ran down College Ave. until the '50s and it wasn't until 1959 that the tracks for the Sacramento Northern Railway were removed from Shafter Ave., continuing up what is now Highway 13, and over the hills into Contra Costa County.
The neighborhood has historically been one off the wealthiest and whitest neighborhoods in Oakland. It also was home to a large number of residents who came from Northern Italy and were a part of the north Oakland "Little Italy" that dominated the area in the 1960s.
One of the features that I particularly like about the area is the Temescal-Rockridge Greenbelt that links the two neighborhoods. The greenbelt begins at Frog Park at the corner of Redondo and Clarke and follows what was once the bed of the Temescal Creek north, behind the DMV and ends at Hardy Park, on the corner of Claremont and Hudson. The greenbelt is a nicely restored and maintained area filled with native plants and redwood trees, benches, playgrounds that make me wish I was a kid again, and general green and growing goodness.
Getting There By Bike...
It's easy to get to Rockridge by bike, or BART, or the bus. Shafter, Telegraph and College are three of the major streets that cut right through the neighborhood, but I find both Telegraph and College to be a little too traffic heavy at times, and College doesn't always have the best bike lanes. But there's a lot to check out in this neighborhood. The homes in this part of Oakland are gorgeous, and it's fun to cruise around and check them out. As you head up College towards Berkeley the houses get larger and older, and there are a number of large and historic churches that trace their beginnings and their construction back to the years immediately following the 1906 earthquake when thousands of San Franciscans left the wreckage of the city and settled in the East Bay. If you're in Rockridge then you're also a stone's throw away from the Claremont Hotel, one of the great regional landmarks in the East Bay. Ride up Claremont from College Ave. and you'll see it near the intersection of Claremont and Ashby.