Why Richmond’s Miller Knox Regional Shoreline is one of The Bay Area’s most underrated parks (Photo Essay)
*ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF AUTHOR UNLESS OTHERWISE STATED
The Bay Area has a multitude of beautiful places to explore, but none seem to garner as little attention as Richmond’s Miller Knox Regional Shoreline. The park is tucked away on the southwestern edge of the city, just below the stop-and-go traffic of I-580. While on a mission to enjoy Fleet Week without being drowned in the usual crowd of spectators, I found this gem of a public space that combines the natural beauty of coastal California with the industrial beauty of the East Bay’s urban core.
As our car made it to the other side of the Ferry Point tunnel, the first thing that I said was “Holy shit, this is Richmond?” The media image of Richmond as an ugly, industrial dot of blight on the Bay Area and the preconceived notions that had distorted my view of the city as a result of such coverage were immediately shattered as the calm bay breeze blew through my hair and the light of the sun shimmered beautifully on the eastern shores of San Francisco Bay.
I was compelled to walk through the park, attempting to take it all in, suddenly, the Blue Angels became of less importance. Every piece of this place felt alive. The dilapidated structures with direct view of the San Francisco skyline that are scattered around the area can make you feel like you’re traversing through a painting. None of it seemed real. Juxtaposition defined the experience. Two eras, two worldviews colliding. One shiny and new, the other crumbling and old; directly facing each other, as if in a sort of perpetual standoff.
Miller Knox wasn’t always a park, long before the East Bay Regional Park District was granted the acreage from the City of Richmond, this piece of land served as part of a vital train corridor, connecting the West Coast with the East. What is now Miller Knox Park was the western terminus of the Santa Fe Railway. Cargo or passengers that were San Francisco bound would then take a ferry at the adjacent Ferry Point.
Everywhere you look, there’s history. Not far from Miller Knox is the Rosie The Riveter WWII Home Front Museum that showcases Richmond’s importance during the war effort and how WWII shaped the future of Richmond as it was transformed from a small, rural community to an urbanized, industrial powerhouse.
Many still associate Richmond with crime and blight, but there is much more to this small, industrial city than meets the eye. It’s important to never judge a book by its cover. Even the most tattered and torn have a story, and can possess positive qualities that are easy to miss upon first glance. Richmond’s natural beauty and rich culture are a testament to this fact and Miller Knox is truly a great first chapter.