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The East Bay in myths and memorials

on March 25, 2019

On an ordinary Monday, we sent the reporters of Oakland North and Richmond Confidential out into our cities with a goal: Capture the spaces that are famous for their legends, their myths, their memorials to the people who made the Bay Area great and to the moments in history that still haunt us. Each reporter took a camera, notebook and pen–and one or two took their audio equipment as well. Their goal was to sit quietly in the space for one hour, just observing, taking notes, and absorbing the feeling of the place. No news events were on the docket; we didn’t expect anything in particular to be happening while they were there. The goal was simply to capture a slice of present-day life in the shadow of East Bay history.

The reporters were free to interpret the theme of “myths and memorials” however they wanted. Some went to spaces famous for the people who once spent time there, like the field named after legendary baseball player Rickey Henderson, or the saloon where writer Jack London used to hang out. Some went to the spaces that now commemorate some of the biggest disasters in East Bay history: The Oakland Hills fire, the Cypress freeway collapse during the Loma Prieta earthquake, the Ghost Ship warehouse fire. Others went to memorials to some of the Bay Area’s longtime heroes, like the Rosie the Riveter museum or Oakland’s monument to great humanitarians, or to sacred spaces like churches and cemeteries. And still others found the spaces that make the East Bay a little bit magic, like Point Richmond’s fairy houses.

Below, you can click the link on each story to learn more about each site.

Chapel of the Chimes by Wyatt Kroopf

It’s a maze of rooms, each with their own little wonders.

Cypress Memorial Park by Ricky Rodas

“When the quake stopped, a rain of concrete dust obscured everything.” Six feet away: “The smell of lime from the crushed concrete was overpowering.”

Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon by Caroline Champlin

Once I feel confident that I understand the significance of at least five items on the wall, I gave myself permission to settle into my chair and relax.

Point Richmond fairy houses by Yasmin Graeml

All of the houses are different, reflecting each fairy’s personality.

The Oakland Hills Fire Memorial by Julie Chang

But signs of visitors over the years are visible. Both the exhibit and garden have been graffitied, and cigarette butts along with other common trash are strewn about.

Lois the Pie Queen by Betty Marquez Rosales

This is a diner that feels like walking into a grandmother’s kitchen on a warm, sunny spring afternoon.

Remember Them, Champions for Humanity by Roza Ismailai

“What does it make you feel?” I ask a woman who is passing by. “Inspired and motivated,” she replies.

The mausoleum of the Cathedral of Christ the Light by Juliette de Guyenro

Underground, memories are everywhere, haunting the room with dead lives from the past. Written on the walls, the names of people buried here correspond with their smiling pictures

Ghost Ship memorial mural by Katey Rusch

Those are the names of the 36 people killed when a fire ravaged the “Ghost Ship” warehouse just a few blocks away. The December 2, 2016 fire at the warehouse was the deadliest in Oakland history.

Rickey Henderson Field by Darren Scioneaux

It is the time of the year Oaklanders gear up for the arrival of America’s pastime: baseball, a game played on a beautifully-manicured diamond made of beam clay and green grass.

The Evergreen Cemetery by Sabine Berzina

On a plaque devoted to a husband and wife, a date of the sunrise and sunset of their lives is engraved, not the date of birth and the day of passing.

Morcom Ampitheater of Roses by Edward Booth

A vine with white roses is woven through a trellis above an area of organized but barren rose bushes.

Rosie the Riveter WWII Homefront by Stephanie Penn


  1. […] organizers of the Prisoners Literature Project.Oakland North reporters created a special project on the East Bay’s myths, legends and memorials. (It’s totally charming; you should check it out!) And before leaving for summer break, we […]

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