Saturday, March 28, 2020

Here's to Shelters with History

Ever since the sheltering-in-place took effect last week in California, we’ve been taking more of our daily walks closer to home in Alameda.

Alameda is an East Bay island city of 80,000 just south of Oakland. There are so many wonderful, architecturally interesting homes here. The city boasts around 3,000 Victorian dwellings – it is said more Victorian homes per capita than anywhere else. They include Queen Anne’s, Queen Ann cottages, and Edwardian and Italianate homes. All around the island are also many attractive one- and two-story California bungalows.

Whatever the style, there is often a single tall palm next to a home, or even a redwood or two or three. Those tall trees dwarf the homes underneath, and the contrast always makes me smile. You don’t see those contrasts back in the Midwest, where we lived until recently.

Alameda was once known as the “City of Homes and Beaches,” with many houses built in the late 1800s and early 1900s as summer homes for wealthy San Franciscans. Other homes were lived in year-round. Some houses built during that era have been replaced by non-descript apartment and condo complexes like the one we live in, but in the last few decades there have been efforts by city and many residents to preserve the older homes. I am so grateful for those efforts. Whether we live in an historic home or not, all of us can appreciate their beauty.

We may be sheltering in place for a while yet, but thankfully there’s plenty to see around Alameda. Sometimes we take the bay view trail and watch the water, sky, and shorebirds and enjoy the glimpses of the Bay Bridge and the San Francisco cityscape. Other times we head to one of those beautiful historic neighborhoods. The gardens help us savor spring colors, and the old homes remind us that a society that weathered the 1918 pandemic can probably handle this one, too.

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