Saturday, February 23, 2002

I've lived in this same apt. in Oakland since 1997 - literally about two minutes from Piedmont Ave. and until a few weeks back, I had never, ever bothered to see what was at the top (east) end of Piedmont. On a whim, I drove up there the other weekend and discovered what has to be one of the most gorgeous places I've ever visited in the Bay Area - the Mountain View Cementary. I know that might sound a little macabre, but I can't front - it's amazing, one of the most beautiful parcels of land I've seen in the entire Bay Area.
"millionaire's row"

The cemetary sprawls across 200+ acres in the lush Oakland Hills, sitting on what has to be some prime real estate but the only way you can buy into any land here is to, you know, die. (Note to self: look into burial plot for self). At the higher plots, you can get at least a 180 view of the Bay Area, extending from downtown Oakland, past the San Francisco skyline and northwards to Berkeley and Richmond. All the way south and to the east are more of the Oakland Hills. Everything is green (it is a cemetery after all) and on a nice day (which is often), the yawning blue sky stretches above like a massive canopy.

Equally impressive is the range of architecture that you can find. Many of the gravesites - especially the large crypts - date back to the 19th century and Mountain View is home to a lot of major Bay Area bigwigs - including Samuel Merritt (after whom Oakland's Lake Merritt is named) and Domingo Ghirardelli, the chocolate entrepreneur. Many of their crypts lie along what's called Millionaire's Row (for obvious reasons) and herein lies some of the most impressive burial buildings you'll find. Huge, ornate and monumental in the literal sense. Here's a few photos:

going out in style

Anyways, I'll try to post up some landscape photos when I get the chance. But if you ever want to visit, drive up on a nice weekend day and go to the very "top" (eastern end) of Piedmont Ave in Oakland and the you'll drive straight into the Cemetery.