Remarkable Photo Collection of Historic Park Landscapes Released

Second Collection of Martin J. Cooney Series Available Online

June 10, 2024

The East Bay Regional Park District is proud to unveil the Martin J. Cooney “Park Landscapes” online photo collection. This digital photo exhibit debuts a rare gathering of beautiful, nostalgic images that capture parkland and open space views of the East Bay from 1965 to 1981. At that time, the Park District was embarking on a period of considerable growth, tripling the number of Regional Parks to over 30. The Martin J. Cooney “Park Landscapes” collection has been carefully researched and curated by Park District Archives staff and volunteers, who have dedicated many hours to the preservation of the District’s history. As part of the ongoing 90th Anniversary celebrations planned throughout 2024, the photo collection is now available on the Park District’s Celebrating 90 Years webpage.

The release of the Martin J. Cooney “Park Landscapes” collection spans over 14 years of Park District photojournalism from the 1960s to the early 1980s. It memorializes landscapes, historic structures, and new parklands that later became part of the Regional Parks.

The Park District has grown to be the largest regional park district of its kind in the nation, with 73 regional parks available for hiking, biking, swimming, horseback riding, boating, fishing, picnicking, camping, and nature discovery. Wherever you live in the East Bay, there is a beautiful regional park close to you. The Park District manages over 126,000 acres of parklands, 55 miles of shoreline, and more than 1,330 miles of trails in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

In 2016, Martin’s family donated over 15,000 negatives to the Park District, which were taken in the 1960s to1980s when the Martin J. Cooney commercial studio provided professional photography services to the Park District. While Martin took some of the photos, most were taken by Nancy McKay, who became an apprentice of Martin’s in 1968 while working in the Park District’s Public Affairs Department and serving as its primary photographer for over 37 years. Additional Cooney photo collections were donated in association with the Oakland Tribune archives and are housed at the Oakland Museum of California.

The four Cooney photo collections being released this year in commemoration of the Park District’s 90th Anniversary include People in Parks (already available on the Celebrating 90 Years webpage), Park Landscapes, Park District Workers, and Special Events.

Join us in celebrating the East Bay Regional Park District’s 90th Anniversary with online photo exhibits and stories available through the Park District’s website. Explore the interactive photo collections, story maps, timelines, and online exhibits. Additional events and programs celebrating the Park District’s 90th Anniversary also include monthly naturalist-led “Explore Your Parks” adventure programs, among others. For more information about 90th Anniversary activities, visit Celebrating 90 Years.

Additional Curated Collections and Stories on Celebrating 90 Years Webpage

Martin J. Cooney Photo Collection – “People in Parks”
Visit the first in a series of exhibits featuring the Martin J. Cooney photography collection (1964-1980) from the Park District Archives.

Founding of the East Bay Regional Park District
Parks for the People (and By the People) – Explore the historic timeline of the formation of the East Bay Regional Park District (1864-1936).

Tilden Regional Park History
Did you know that many of the Regional Parks have historic features and unique stories? Explore your parks in a new interactive Story Map series, debuting with Tilden Regional Park.


The East Bay Regional Park District is the largest regional park system in the nation, comprising 73 parks, 55 miles of shoreline, and over 1,330 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and environmental education. The Park District receives an estimated 30 million visits annually throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties in the San Francisco Bay Area.




Park Landscapes