Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The National Park Service Teases the East Bay

I'm heading up to the San Francisco Bay Area next week, and so in preparation I decided to take a look at the National Park Service sites in the East Bay, where I'll be staying. I'd been to various units of Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco, but there are no fewer than four NPS sites on the other side of the Bay. You know the National Park Service, right? Stunning natural grandeur, amazing slices of history, memories to treasure, etc., right?

Well, I haven't been to any yet, but the National Park Service sites in the East Bay look kinda fourth-tier to me. They all certainly commemorate worthy people or events, but I hope you'll understand when I say that visiting them doesn't really sound like an experience up there with Yosemite or the Grand Canyon, or even historic sites like Independence Hall or Alcatraz.

Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park
It seems like a neat idea, but all it amounts to for now is a memorial that started as a public art project, a visitor center in the lobby of Richmond City Hall that's closed for the summer, and a self-guided auto tour of some old factories --- or sites of factories, none of which, of course, are making destroyers anymore. One of the ships is available to visit, so there is that.

Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site
One of America's greatest writers, this site is basically just his house, and most of the year it's open by reservation only. The annual festival in September celebrating his plays and life isn't even at the historic site, it's in town, presumably because that's where they have a theater.

John Muir National Historic Site
John Muir, mountain man, father of the National Parks and great naturalist, gets a National Historic Site, and, like Eugene O'Neill's, it's just the house he lived in. No, not some log cabin he built with his own hands in the wilderness, but his wife's parents' house on the edge of town where he managed their fruit ranch. At least it's open to the public. Not to be confused with Muir Woods National Monument.

Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial
Visiting this site of a WWII munitions disaster requires reservations made two weeks in advance to get security clearance, since it's on an active Navy base. If you do visit, you park outside the gate and get shuttled to the site, but the website is mum on what they actually show you once you get there.


At Saturday, June 27, 2009 at 7:25:00 PM PDT, Blogger clynne said...

Hey, when are you gonna be in the Bay Area? I'll be there July 8 - 10.


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