Why West Oakland is Home to One of the Bay’s Chillest Parks
Life in the Bay Area can be stressful, that’s not a secret. There’s nothing esoteric about the fact that living in a modern dystopia can be, well, dystopian. But despite our numerous dysfunctions, the Bay Area, even its most urbanized corners, is home to some of the most beautiful public parks and walking paths anywhere in the United States.
The only problem with hiking in the Bay’s urban core is that some of the spots can get a bit crowded. No amount of trees or picturesque shorelines framing skyline vistas can stop people from being fucking annoying. So I look for places hidden amidst the hustle and bustle of the Bay. And every now and then, I get lucky, and in West Oakland, at the Port of Oakland of all places, I got lucky.
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I was bored and decided driving around Oakland was a good idea because I was determined to put my tires through an endurance test. I ended up in West Oakland. I know it has become eye-rollingly common for white people to say they like West Oakland, so get ready to roll those eyes because I like West Oakland. I like the Victorian-era architecture and the graffiti-covered walls. There are also cranes and colorful shipping containers. The cranes are cool and the shipping containers look neat stacked on top of each other.
As I was venturing out of residential West Oakland into the area’s more industrial corners, I accidentally found a park with a nearly empty parking lot. As I was driving by it I literally said aloud “well, what the fuck is this?” with a smile on my face. I later found out that it’s Middle Harbor Shoreline Park and it’s fucking perfect.
Most Bay Area residents see West Oakland’s cranes from afar while passing them on the freeway or speeding over them on BART, but when you’re standing within a few hundred feet of one, you begin to appreciate their size and their place as an essential Bay Area landmark that is as symbolic of Oakland as the Golden Gate Bridge is of San Francisco.
This park has panoramic views of the Bay and in every direction you look, you see something either pretty, interesting or larger than life; usually a combination of all three. The San Francisco skyline is so close you feel like you can reach out and touch it. The walking paths are well-paved and they take you really close to the Port of Oakland’s iconic cranes. Most Bay Area residents see West Oakland’s cranes from afar while passing them on the freeway or speeding over them on BART, but when you’re standing within a few hundred feet of one, you begin to appreciate their size and their place as an essential Bay Area landmark that is as symbolic of Oakland as the Golden Gate Bridge is of San Francisco.
The park features several sandy beaches with little logs that have been whittled down to comfortably sit on. It’s an ideal place to smoke a joint, or if you’re me, not smoke a joint because weed gives me panic attacks since I’m a fucking weirdo. You can also fly a kite. I didn’t fly a kite, but if I had a kite, I may have flown a kite. Yet, here I am, kiteless. You could do other things too, but I’m not creative enough to think of anything other than weed and kites. Fuck.
Places like these effortlessly highlight the juxtaposition that makes the Bay what it is: worth fighting for.
It’s moments like these, when I find little places I love, where I realize why I work so hard to stay here. I often say “if I wasn’t from here, I wouldn’t live here.” I tend to believe it when I say it. But then I accidentally stumble upon a tranquil park jutting out into the San Francisco Bay surrounded by massive industrial infrastructure. Places like these effortlessly highlight the juxtaposition that makes the Bay what it is: worth fighting for.
Middle Harbor Shoreline Park: 2777 Middle Harbor Rd, Oakland, CA 94607
Directions to park here.
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