90 Years of East Bay Regional Parks

January 1, 2024
Ansel F. Hall and future park general manager Elbert Vail with Oakland, Berkeley, and Alameda County officials looking at map of future Tilden Regional Park in 1934

The East Bay Regional Park District’s story began in the late 1920s when thousands of acres of watershed land in the East Bay Hills suddenly became available for development. Civic leaders came together with a vision: preserve the land forever, and balance environmental conservation with public enjoyment.

To aid the cause, they enlisted renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. and National Park Service’s Chief Naturalist Ansel Hall to survey the watershed lands for potential park use. The resulting 1930 Olmsted-Hall report titled “Report on Proposed Park Reservations for East Bay Cities” brought national credibility to the effort and is largely considered the founding document of the East Bay Regional Park District.

Four years later, in the heart of the Great Depression, civic leaders placed a measure on the ballot to establish the Park District and tax themselves 5¢ for every $100 of property owned for land preservation. The measure passed on November 4, 1934, by a resounding 71 percent – even during trying times and economic instability. On June 4, 1936, the District purchased land from East Bay Municipal Utility District to create its first three parks – Upper Wildcat Canyon (Tilden), Temescal, and Roundtop (Sibley).

Today, the East Bay Regional Park District features 73 parks and is the largest regional park district of its kind in the nation. The Park District manages over 125,000 acres of parklands, 55 miles of shoreline, and over 1,300 miles of trails in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, available for hiking, biking, swimming, horseback riding, boating, fishing, picnicking, camping, and nature discovery. Wherever you live in the two counties, there is a beautiful Regional Park close to you.

To celebrate 90 years of land preservation, environmental conservation, and recreation, the District is planning a series of events and programs throughout the year, including a spring anniversary celebration and monthly naturalist-led “Explore Your Parks” adventure programs.

Celebrate with us!


90th Anniversary "Explore Your Parks" Adventure Programs

Hayward Regional Shoreline (West Winton Ave. Staging Area)
What are King Tides? How do they affect plants and animals, and what can we learn from them? Be prepared for muddy shoes! Drop-in program; no registration is required. – Jan 13 (Sat), noon-1:30pm; Feb 10 (Sat), 11am-12:30pm

Sunol Wilderness Regional Preserve (Sunol)
Love nature and want to contribute to real scientific studies? Learn how apps like Seek, iNaturalist, and others are used to help scientists gather data, while enhancing your next hike! Drop-in program; no registration is required. – Jan 27 (Sat), 10am-noon

Thurgood Marshall Regional Park (Concord)
In honor of Black History Month, tours will explore the southern end of the new Thurgood Marshall Regional Park – Home of the Port Chicago 50, where attendees can learn about the natural and human history of the land. Registration required. www.ebparks.org/calendar. – Sundays in February, 10am-1pm

Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline (Port Costa Staging Area)
Take in the spectacular views of Carquinez Strait and look for signs of spring’s approach along this rolling, paved trail. Heavy rain cancels. Drop-in program; no registration is required. – Feb 23 (Fri), 9am-noon

2024 Wall Calendar

The 2024 Wall Calendar celebrates the Park District’s 90th Anniversary. Pick up a calendar (while supplies last) in person after January 1 at any visitor center during open hours – check www.ebparks.org/parks/visitor-centers for opening hours. Or, come by the Regional Parks headquarters at 2950 Peralta Oaks Court, Oakland, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Regional Parks Foundation members receive a wall calendar in the mail as one of the many benefits of membership support.