As a librarian who specializes in history, I’m always looking for new places and interesting ways to learn Oakland history. Particularly fascinating to me is Oakland’s geography. You can really learn history when you physically put yourself where history happened. To learn more about Oakland’s storied waterfront, I recently joined a boat tour sponsored by Liam O’Donoghue, the popular and widely respected podcaster of East Bay Yesterday. This two-hour history tour was filled with interesting anecdotes about the region’s environmental, cultural, and industrial history.
Taking off from the Emeryville marina on the fishing boat Pacific Pearl with about 26 passengers, Liam shared a few amazing geological details about the bay. Ten to fifteen thousand years ago the East Bay shoreline we know today was thirty miles west! The San Francisco Bay was just a valley fed by rivers whose headwaters were in the Sierras. Erosion and glaciers carved out the bay that we recognize today. The Ohlone, the earliest inhabitants of the region, lived on an abundance of