Reserve your spot now for our July and August tours! Click on the titles below for detailed descriptions and to purchase tickets. Each tour is $10 for OHA members, $15 for non-members. New and renewing members will receive a $10 voucher to use toward a walking tour, so join today!
Walk into the past in California’s most historic cemetery to meet some of our state’s early movers and shakers along with the monuments that preserve their memory. We will visit Jack London's stepfather John, as well as his nanny, Jenny Prentiss, and members of the historic Civil War plot. This year also marks the 150th anniversary of the 1869 arrival of the Transcontinental railroad to Alameda and Oakland. Many of the celebration's participants are at Mountain View. A hilly walk. Tour Leader: Dennis Evanosky
Gain a new perspective on downtown Oakland's built environment with this tour focused on the architecture and major urban planning projects of the mid-twentieth century. Like all American cities, Oakland was dramatically transformed in the three decades after World War II as designers and urbanists developed new ideas for how cities should look and be experienced. This tour visits downtown Modernist landmarks, such as the Kaiser Center, as well as lesser-known architectural gems to explore the forces that shaped Oakland in a period of rapid change.
Tour Leader: Jon Rusch
Visit the site of Arbor Villa, Francis Marion “Borax” Smith’s palatial estate. Smith founded an international industry (“20-Mule Team Borax”), established the Key Route System, and became one of Oakland’s most famous, colorful entrepreneurs. The tour visits the site of Oak Hall, the 9th Ave. palm trees, the Mary R. Smith Cottages, and other historic houses, including ones designed by Bernard Maybeck and Julia Morgan. A 2-mile, hilly walk.
Tour Leader: Phil Bellman
Join a walk that starts at the Lakeshore shopping district and heads up Longridge Road to match period photographs to show how the development of Lakeshore Highlands after World War I was coordinated with integrating the Key System B line. Emphasis will be placed on surviving Key System landmarks, station locations, and walking paths to access the electric train line, and architectural landmarks that have defined the character of this attractive neighborhood. The walk will include several sloped walkways.
Tour Leaders: Ron Hook and Stu Swiedler
Expect an eclectic mix of stories on this two-hour walk that will begin and end in front of Oakland City Hall. During the stroll, we'll delve into the history of the people and places that have shaped the "The Town" – and also pay respect to the Ohlone culture that preceded the colonization of the East Bay. In the midst of downtown’s rapid transformation, the Long Lost Oakland walk will explore (and hopefully spark conversations about) how we got here.
Tour Leader: Liam O’Donoghue
Oakland's American origins date from the 1840s when redwoods logged in the Oakland hills were shipped from the foot of 13th Avenue. This tour begins at the 1856 shoreline and explores commercial and government buildings, homes and churches in this historic part of Oakland. The tour features an inside look at the Brooklyn Presbyterian Church (now Brooklyn Preserve) and the work that the folks are doing there. A long but level walk.
Tour Leader: Kathleen DiGiovanni
Oakland has one of America’s most legendary sports legacies and the center of that legacy surrounds Bushrod Park in North Oakland. Beginning at the historic, former University High School, we will walk this interesting neighborhood and discuss the area’s great athletes and institutions that helped produce the city’s reputation for changing the face of sports in America. A level walk. Tour Leader: Paul Brekke-Miesner
San Francisco’s Chinatown may be a tourist attraction, but Oakland’s is a vital economic force, ever changing in social dynamics and cultural diversity. Learn about this fascinating neighborhood and its evolution to “Asiatown” with many immigrants from Southeast Asian countries. In addition to the architectural stock, we explore the history, cultural bases, changing demographics and food of this community . Tour includes some interiors, time permitting. Optional group lunch after. A brisk level walk, some stairs. Tour Leader: Ernest Chann
In addition to its vast assortment of trees and shrubs, Mills College hosts a collection of weeds and escaped exotics that well represents those found in the greater Bay Area landscape. “Weeds” is a term often used generically and uttered with a dismissive sneer; in fact, weeds comprise a large and varied group of plants, each with its own history and characteristics, many with large bodies of myth and folklore attached to them, and many which have been found useful to humans as food, medicine and fodder. As we encounter these weeds, Richard will tell what he knows about their stories. Tour Leader: Richard Orlando
Explore the history and architecture of Montclair Village, a vibrant hill community. From the early toll road to the freeway, learn about Montclair's social, residential, and commercial development. Montclair's distinctive buildings - the fire station, women's club, recreation center, library, and more will be featured on this walk. A gently sloping walk with some unpaved areas. Tour Leader: Kathleen DiGiovanni
Named for its early orchards, Fruit Vale has long been associated with food - with its ranchos, dairies, farms and canneries. Generations of natives and immigrants shaped the neighborhood. Known as Oakland’s second downtown in the 1920s, by the 1990s it pioneered the first urban Main Street program and Oakland’s Facade Improvement program. A century of active development is read in the buildings, the multi-ethnic names, and the unique businesses. Tour Leaders: Betty Marvin, Pamela Magnuson-Peddle and Maria Sanchez
Old Oakland Airport (North Field) was dedicated by Charles Lindbergh and often visited by Amelia Earhart. One of the nation’s most historic aviation sites, its original facilities—five hangers, an administration building, and a hotel, built between 1927 and 1929—are largely intact. A level walk. Afterwards you may wish to visit the nearby Oakland Aerospace Museum. Tour Leader: Woody Minor
This walk introduces the characters who shaped the district’s early history. We’ll meet, among others, the Dimond, Hopkins, and Rhoda families. We’ll also learn about the German community with their Altenheim on the heights and beer gardens below. This 2 1/2-hour walk includes a stroll along Sausal Creek as well as stories about the district’s horse-drawn streetcars and the resort that the neighbors sent packing. Tour Leader: Dennis Evanosky
Grove Street School, the Ghirardelli house, Oakland Gas Light & Heat Co., Hall of Records, Bay City Iron Works, Oenophile Store, Central Free Kindergarten, Bret Harte Boardwalk, Muller Brothers Pickle Factory, Grove Street Pier, marshland Chinatown, Thunderbird Lodge, Landmark Number One . . . where are they now? Lurking between the freeways, container terminals, condo towers, Jack London Square, and the mainline tracks are surprising fragments of oldest Oakland, the southwest corner of the Original Town. A long, level walk. Tour Leader: Betty Marvin
We'll stroll around a small part of the "Detroit of the West" and view remnants of the auto sales and repair businesses of uptown Oakland. New buildings incorporate some historic facades: is this a good approach?
Tour Leaders: Valerie Winemiller and Naomi Schiff
Visit this distinctive neighborhood of predominantly Mediterranean-style houses, built between the wars, and situated on the hill between Lake Merritt and Park Boulevard. Set off as one of the first neighborhoods with underground utilities, its homes and gardens were designed by some of the Bay Area's most distinguished: Dickey, the Newsom brothers, A. W. Smith, Schirmer. A visit to a small "secret garden" and historic home may be included. Light refreshments will be served following the tour. Tour Leader: Page Yarwood