As the largest regional park district in the United States, many of the East Bay's regional parklands have historical significance in the development of the West Coast and Bay Area regions.
Once considered the Coney Island of the
West, Alameda Shoreline and Crown
Memorial State Beach were previously
known as Neptune Beach from the 1880s
until the outbreak of WWII and was the
place to come in the East Bay for
exciting roller coaster rides, a dip in the
giant size pool and the largest beach in
the San Francisco Bay.
- Tilden Regional Park in Berkeley houses the beloved Carousel, which was built in 1911 by the Hershell-Spillman Company and is one of only a handful of menagerie editions left in the U.S. It is also registered on the National Registry of Historic Places.
- Pt. Pinole Regional Shoreline in Richmond was a gunpowder and dynamite-manufacturing site from 1881 to 1960, producing more than two billion pounds of dynamite before the regional parks acquired the property in 1973 from Bethlehem Steel.
- Alameda's Crown Memorial Beach was also renowned from the 1880s until the outbreak of World War II as Neptune Beach, an amusement center and the largest beach on San Francisco Bay.
- The Iron Horse Regional Trail is arguably the District's most popular recreational trail spanning 25 miles from Alameda County through six Contra Costa communities. Formerly it was the site of a railroad right-of-way between Concord and San Ramon that was transformed into a public access trail in the early 1980s.
- Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont was a prosperous 19th century fertile farm field and country estate of George Washington Patterson in the mid 1800s.
- Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch was the largest coalfield operation in California from 1850s to 1900. It provided a fuel source for northern California, providing power for factories, heating the State Capitol and powering steamboats on the river until 1900.
- In the 1870s scow schooners brought wheat from the Brentwood Area to McNear's Warehouses near today's Eckley Pier at Carquinez Regional Shoreline. At that time it was the second largest wheat producing area in the country. Ships picked up wheat at this site to take it to Liverpool, Australia, China and the Mediterranean. In 1880, one-quarter of all California's wheat was loaded onto ships from these warehouses.
- Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve in Oakland shares the distinction of being one of the District's original parks, along with Temescal and Tilden. Its "Round Top" peak is made up of lava and volcanic debris left over from a 10 million year old volcano.
- Quarry Lakes in Fremont is one of the newest regional parklands opened in 2002, formerly a working quarry in the mid-19th century. Its gravel from the banks of Alameda Creek was used in the construction of the western section of the transcontinental railroad.
- Tilden Regional Park in Berkeley is home to the Moon Trees, grown from seeds that circled the Moon. In 1971, Stuart Roosa was an astronaut on the Apollo 14 mission to the Moon. He brought tree seeds with him. The seeds came back and were planted out at a variety of US Forest Service nurseries; one was in Placerville, CA and that was the source of Moon Trees, one of which is in the Regional Parks Botanic Garden, at the rear of the garden, and another at the entrance to Tilden's Environmental Education Center. This one can be easily found: the two benches at the entrance form a "V" shape and the point of the "V" points to the tree. If one Googles "Moon tree, Roosa, Apollo" the NASA page devoted to the moon tree story comes up and more can be read there.
- Historic Ferry Point in Miller Knox Regional Shoreline Park was dedicated in 2002 after the
Park District restored a part of the pier for public fishing and recreation. Before bridges spanned the Bay, ferries and trains once linked San Francisco with the rest of the nation. At that time, the Bay Area boasted the largest ferry system. At Ferry Point, ship and rail first met in 1900 when Santa Fe tunneled through the hills to open the western terminus of its transcontinental line. Train passengers disembarked for the first time to board a ferry for San Francisco. Freight trains too pulled in to Ferry Point yard. The boxcars were loaded onto barges and hauled by tugboat across the bay.