Then: The area including what is now Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline in Oakland has a Wild West history. The park is on San Leandro Bay, which was the scene of extensive oyster farming in the 1880s and ‘90s. This photo shows oyster workers harvesting the shellfish under the protection of an armed guard, to protect them from oyster pirates. By 1890 the oyster farms had closed due to bay pollution and silting.
Today: Kayakers enjoy the waters near Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline’s Tidewater Boating Center, a popular launch area for boaters.
Then: This 1959 photo shows Marchios family ranch land that later became Contra Loma Reservoir in Antioch. Contra Loma Reservoir was constructed in 1965. An agreement between the Contra Costa Water District and EBRPD allowed the Park District to open the park to the public for recreation in 1968.
Today: Contra Loma Reservoir. Contra Loma Regional Park offers a swim lagoon, picnic areas, a turfgrass lawn and the reservoir with boat launch ramp.
Then: A unique activity at today’s Coyote Hills Regional Park in the 1960s – the Stanford Research Institute’s Biological Sonar Laboratory. Here Dr. Thomas Pouleter studied marine mammals.
Today: Coyote Hills Regional Park offers trails and a visitor center. Sharing the history and cultural heritage of Ohlone peoples past to present is a major emphasis of the park’s educational programs.
Then: Alameda Creek being explored by a group of 19th century lady adventurers in the photo above, is the county’s largest waterway. During its history, the nearby land has seen agriculture, quarrying, and now commercial and residential uses.
Now: Alameda Creek Regional Trail opened in January 1973. The trail offers 12 miles with a north-side trail for horseback riding, and a south-side paved trail for pedestrians, runners and cyclists.
Then: In the late 1970s Mildred and Jeanette Meyers stand outside what is now the Garin Barn Visitor Center at Garin Regional Park in Hayward. With their sister, Dr. Edith Meyers, they bequeathed their adjacent 1,200 acre ranch to EBRPD and it became Dry Creek/Pioneer Regional Park.
Today: Garin and Dry Creek/Pioneer Regional Parks contain miles of hiking and riding trails. The Garin Barn Visitor Center displays artifacts from Hayward’s ranching and farming era.
Then: From 1890 to the mid-1970s, trains of the Southern Pacific Railroad chugged through the Diablo and San Ramon valleys from Suisun Bay to Pleasanton, serving the farming communities along the way. The photo shows the Danville depot in 1895.
Today: Developed incrementally since 1987, the Iron Horse Regional Trail now extends along the former railbed for 30 miles between Concord and Pleasanton.
Then: EBRPD has provided lifeguard service at its swim areas for 75 years. Photo: EBMUD
Today: A lifeguard stands watch at Don Castro Regional Recreation Area in Hayward.
During the 2013 swim season there were 177 lifeguards on staff, who successfully rescued 146 swimmers.
Then: For thousands of years, Tatcan Bay Miwoks managed the landscape known today as Las Trampas Regional Preserve with techniques that increased its abundance. Above, Ramona Garibay (Saclan Bay Miwok) shows a step in processing acorns for food. Later the land use was mostly ranching.
Now: Las Trampas is a park for energetic hikers. Wildlife is abundant and there are spectacular views.
Now: Kennedy Grove, named in honor of President John F. Kennedy, is known for its shady eucalyptus groves and lush expanse of green lawn. The park is ideal for recreation, picnics and hiking.
Then: The opening-day view of Roberts Regional Park in Oakland shows the pool, lawn, merry-go-round and pony ride. The park was named in honor of Tommy Roberts, a labor leader and charter member of the Park District board who served from 1934 until his death in 1958 at age 95.
Today: The merry-go-round and pony ride are gone, but a special feature at Roberts is its accessible play structure, designed so that children with all levels of physical ability can play together.
Today: With more than 30 miles of trails, Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park is a paradise for hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers.
Then: Lake Chabot reservoir was build in 1874075 as a primary drinking water source for the east bay. It was named after engineer Anthony Chabot. The park opened to the public in 1966 through an agreement with EBMUD. Photo: EBMUD
Today: Boating, fishing, and picnics are popular activities at Lake Chabot. Adjacent Anthony Chabot Regional Park offers camping.
Then: Artists created flotsam sculptures along the shores of the San Francisco Bay. Iin 1961, Sylvia McLaughlin cofounded both Save the San Francisco Bay Association and Citizens for Eastshore State Park. The resulting Eastshore State Park was renamed after Sylvia McLaughlin by the State of California in 2013.
Today: Land ownership is divided between the State and EBRPD, which operates the park. There are meadows, hiking and biking trails and a sports field.