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Downtown Oakland Walking Tours: Preservation Park 

When: Sat., May 12, 10 a.m., Wed., June 6, 10 a.m., Sat., July 7, 10 a.m., Wed., Aug. 1, 10 a.m., Sat., Sept. 1, 10 a.m., Wed., Sept. 26, 10 a.m. and Sat., Oct. 27, 10 a.m. 2007
Phone: 510-238-3234
Price: free
Heads up. If you're one of the many longtime East Bay residents whose familiarity with downtown Oakland starts and stops at BART, the City of Oakland offers an eye-opening alternative. From now through October, take your pick from eight different ninety-minute walking tours of downtown Oakland ( Held every Wednesday and Saturday starting at 10 a.m. and rotating weekly, the free tours address the city's rich historic legacy by focusing on the lives of the people who built and inhabited its landmarks. While reservations are suggested (call 510-238-3234), no one who shows up at the last minute will be turned away.

Saturday's tour, for example, focuses on Preservation Park. Anyone can stroll through the three-block redeveloped area that starts at 13th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way and marvel at the architecture. But how many know the history of the old Carnegie Library (now the African-American Museum), the Pardee Home Museum with its typical 19th-century interiors, and the garden windmill? The big brass fountain, whose sister resides at Telegraph and Broadway, has a long history of moving from place to place since it was first fabricated in France. The honeymoon cottage was owned by Oakland's first millionaire, who made his fortune selling boots and shoes to miners. Do you know in which house in the park Jack London possibly received tutoring in French in order to graduate high school, or the location of the high school itself?

If the private lives and public prizes of the rich and famous are not your cup of tea, how about the New Era/New Politics tour (July 18), highlighting African-American leaders who have made their mark on Oakland and the Bay Area, or the tour of Oakland Chinatown (July 25)? If you'd also like to learn about your own neighborhood, be sure to check out the host of award-winning tours sponsored by the Oakland Heritage Alliance. or 510-763-9218.

— Jason Victor Serinus


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