Living local, urban design, sustainability, landscape architecture, and places in the East Bay. Design that works where it is.

Whistling Past the Graveyard

141101 Mtn View Cemetery-fall color-web

People in Oakland have great places to walk. There’s the East Bay Regional Parks, Lake Merritt, the Bay Trail, Arrowhead Marsh, Joaquin Miller Park, and a bunch of stairway walks through neighborhoods. Still, one of my favorites is Mountain View Cemetery.

After two graveyards impeded Oakland’s early growth, a group of Oaklanders decided to create a cemetery far enough from the center of town, that it would never be in the way. The non-profit Mountain View Cemetery Association was formed and the Board of Trustees began searching for a site. They bought 220 acres of hillside land from Rev. I. H. Brayton who used the proceeds ($13,000) to continue Oakland’s College of California, predecessor to UC Bekeley.

Millionaire's Row

Millionaire’s Row with a view of a Gothic Revival aedicula for Frederick Delger and the vault of Charles Crocker, founder of the Central Pacific Railroad

Frederick Law Olmsted
The cemetery’s designer is the Father of Landscape Architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted. Among the many distinguished places he designed are New York City’s Central Park and the Stanford University Campus. When the original UC Berkeley campus moved from Oakland, he designed the layout. His concept for the Mountain View Cemetery was to create a place that celebrated the works of man while elevating the beauty and peace of nature.

Famous Designers
Many of California’s rich and famous chose Mountain View as their final resting place and created remarkable mausoleums and monuments to celebrate their lives. Architects are rarely rich but Julia Morgan and Bernard Maybeck are famous, and both are interned at Mountain View Cemetery. Morgan is best known for designing the main building at Hearst Castle. She studied under Maybeck at UC Berkeley and designed the Greek Theater on that campus. Maybeck designed many Arts & Crafts buldings in the Bay Area, including the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco and the Faculty Club on the UC Berkeley Campus.

I guess it’s no surprise that the beautiful and elegant Mountain View Cemetery shares a relationship with the University in Berkeley. They were designed and built in the East Bay at a time when Californians wanted to demonstrate their civility and good taste to the world. They were fortunate that Frederick Law Olmsted was here to help them out. Both sites have sweeping views, grand boulevards, stunning landmarks, and plenty of hills to keep a seasoned walker in shape.

Beth Bagwell; Oakland: The Story of a City; 2012 Oakland Heritage Alliance

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: