Fleming Point Pier* (see below)The Golden Gate Bridge is on the other side of The Bay
Here is a Brief (and approximate) History of the Albany Bulb from the University of California, Berkeley.
• Pre-1800 Beginning in about AD 500, the area was inhabited by native peoples, the
Costanoans (also known as the Ohlone). They were sedentary hunters and gatherers, who
exploited rich shellfish populations on the bay mudflats. Their shellmounds and grinding
mortars are still visible in areas near Albany Hill. The introduction of the Mission system to
the San Francisco Bay region in the 1770’s and the expansion of European settlements led to a rapid and devastating decline in their populations. The last Costanoan tribelets living an
aboriginal existence had disappeared by 1810.
• 1769-1849 (Gold Rush) Area was owned by Luis Peralta, as a Spanish land grant.
• 1853 John Fleming bought 50 acres on what became known as Fleming Point (present site of the Golden Gate horse racing track and parking lot) for a cattle ranch.
• Late 1800’s The US Congress and State of California granted the tidelands and adjacent
shorelines to railroad companies for development. The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe
Railroad became the main property owner of the Albany waterfront, and remained so until
• 1879 A plant opened on Fleming Point to produce explosives for use in gold mining. The
operation was notorious for numerous accidental explosions. The Eucalyptus trees growing
behind Albany beach and on Albany Hill were planted to help muffle the blasts. The
explosives plant was closed in 1905. A train depot named Nobel Depot was located near
Albany Hill and provided rail access to the plant; the depot was named after Alfred Nobel,
the inventor of dynamite and the namesake of the Nobel Peace Prize!
• 1908/09 What remained of the original Spanish land grant (Oceanview) was incorporated
and named Albany.
• 1919 The State Lands Commission granted the city of Albany a 100-year tidelands lease to
develop a harbor to promote commerce and navigation.
• 1920-1940 The shoreline remained relatively undeveloped and was used as a recreational
area by local residents.
• Late 1930’s A horsetrack operator was granted a lease from the State to build a track on
Fleming Point. The Point’s bedrock hill was blasted away during construction of the track
and the northern parking lot. The lot was created by filling marsh with rock and soil
removed from the Point. Fleming Point is one of the only remaining segments of San
Francisco Bay’s original shoreline. Golden Gate Fields opened in 1947.
• 1950’s Albany zoned its waterfront for industry. A small dump, established at the base of
Buchanan street in the early 1900’s, expanded greatly in size after 1961 when the State
relaxed its harbor requirement for Albany’s tideland lease.
• 1963-1984 Much of Albany’s present shoreline was created by filling the mudflats with
debris from construction and highway projects, creating the “plateau, neck, and bulb.” As a
result of racetrack construction and the landfill operation, Albany’s shoreline grew from 50
to 160 acres. Illegal dumping of plant material in the 1970’s led to high levels of methane
emission and fires.
• 1984 Litigation between the city of Albany and the landfill operator lead to the landfill’s
• 1986 The State declared the tidelands part of the “public trust”, preventing further filling of
• 1990’s A sizeable community of homeless people became established on the Albany Bulb,
and it became a mecca for artists who created numerous pieces of outdoor “folk art” from
found natural objects and human debris. A team of artists named Sniff have been responsible for much of the artwork. In 1999, the homeless community was evicted by the City of Albany, but the public art remains. The Albany Beach and Bulb became a popular site for off-leash dog walking.
• 1992 The State began purchasing land for a future park, encompassing the shorelines of
Emeryville, Berkeley, Albany, and Richmond. When completed, the park will encompass
1,817 acres with 5 miles of public access to the bay shoreline.
• 1997 Catellus Corp., the real estate branch of the Santa Fe Railroad sold the racetrack to its operators and the rest of its shoreline property to the State for the proposed Eastshore park. It will pay up to $3.5 million for environmental remediation.
• 2002 The proposed plan for the bayside Eastshore State Park was released for public
comment. The plan was hotly debated by various stakeholders (user groups) including
environmentalists, sports field advocates, dog walkers, and artists. On December 6, 2002,
the general plan for the park was approved by the State Parks Commission, and it was
designated a State Seashore. The final version of the plan contained several last minute
concessions to environmentalist groups lead by the Sierra Club and Save the Bay. The
Albany “Let It Be” organization formed to protest plans for developing the Bulb for water
sports and sports fields, at the expense of off-leash dog walking, public art, and wildlife
habitat. Construction of sports field on the Plateau is reconsidered.
• 2003-present Albany Bulb remains unchanged. Status of the project is unknown.
As flickr's CoastRanger, let me say this about the future of Albany's waterfront:
"I am against developing resorts, casino gambling, retail malls, high rise hotels and condos on our waterfront. I believe the racetrack should go and that this entire area be reclaimed and preserved as the jewel of the East Shore State Park, open to all of nature and humankind forever.
My taxes an Albany homeowner would go up 400 dollars per year if the Racetrack Interests go. I am more than willing to help pay for this dream. In fact, I consider it a great bargain. It will be my privilege and honor to be able to give so little to save so much!
If we allow those greedy hands to develop the land, it will be lost forever and our spectacular waterfront can never be reclaimed."
CoastRanger on flickr.com
Now, how is that for brief?