Most of the time when I travel to the San Francisco Bay area I stay near Palo Alto, since this is where I have most of my engagements. One spring I went to the Bay area and I knew that I would have to visit Berkeley on multiple occasions. I decided to stay in the Oakland area for an easy reach to San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Berkeley.
One afternoon I had a couple hours to kill so I was looking for some new and interesting travel photography locations around Oakland on Google Maps. At that time I was pretty familiar with the San Francisco side of the Bay, but it was my first encounter with the East Bay. Right away I spotted a tiny green dot labeled “Sunset View”, since it was surrounded by a flat grey color of blankness with a wide access to the waterfront. I could see it had potential for interesting travel photography shots.
The best way I can describe this location is as an oasis. It is like a beautiful spot in the middle of ugliness and nothingness, and to get to the park is an adventure of its own.
It is surrounded by industrial areas and the Port of Oakland, and to get there one has to navigate through multiple freeway underpasses and around West Oakland. This is the first time I had seen this very different side of the Bay Area; poor, underdeveloped, and even dangerous (at least it seemed so to me). But at the end you are rewarded with a beautiful place at the western tip of Oakland, the Middle Harbor Shoreline Park.
For years Middle Harbor was a restricted naval area in the Port of Oakland, but in the 2000s it was opened to the public and the park was built.
Here is a list of the park’s highlights relevant to travel photography:
- A panoramic view of San Francisco.
- A wide open view of the San Francisco Bay, with all kinds and sizes of ships frequently passing just in front of you.
- A great view of the Bay Bridge, but not the same view you see in most photos.
- If you are in luck with the weather you can frame your shot to have two bridges in it; the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate.
- The park itself is very nice and well maintained; green and clean, with a good-looking observation tower.
- It also provides some interesting perspective on the Port of Oakland, where huge cargo ships are being loaded just a few meters from the park.
After my second or third visit to San Francisco I started to build my personal list of interesting travel photography locations around the Bay Area so I always have something interesting to photograph, no matter where I am or how much time I have. The Middle Harbor Shoreline Park is an interesting addition to my list.
My plan for the next trip to San Francisco is to visit the park during the sunset hours.