#TBT 1998: E’ville’s famed driftwood gallery is cleaned, added to Eastshore Park

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If you’re not familiar with the #TBT or “Throwback Thursday” phenomenon, it’s a popular weekly Internet trend that encourages users to post a reminiscent picture (baby, embarrassing haircut, fashion, etc.). The E’ville Eye has only been covering our city for three years, so obviously we missed a lot of good stuff! We thought it might be fun and educational to bring an old article to the surface from the interwebz’ vast archive.

Today’s “throwback” of the month takes us back to 1998 after a controversial clean up of one of Emeryville’s most sacred monuments: The Mudflat sculptures. After decades of debate, it was decided to restore the wetlands back to their natural state to protect migratory birds dependent on that area. 80 dumpsters of “trash” that once held passing intestate 80 onlookers captive was gone forever.

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Photo: SFGate.com


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Emeryville’s famed driftwood gallery is being cleaned, added to Eastshore Park

By Torri Minton, November 23rd, 1998
Medfly Man waving from a giant chair. Heffalumps. Prima ballerinas. The Driftwood Five playing flotsam and jetsam.

For decades, the derelict sculptures constructed of detritus from the bay made the Emeryville mudflats famous.

But the mud was contaminated with industrial waste, and artists’ foot traffic was damaging the ecosystem.

After decades of debate, mud won out over art. The wetlands are now taking a giant step backward — into their natural state — as part of the long-awaited Eastshore State Park.
Turning back time has meant the removal of big chunks of history. The last of the sculptures, fixtures for so long that many commuters remember them from childhood, were hauled away last year.
Read more on SFGate.com →

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Rob Arias

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who lived in Emeryville from 2003 to 2021. Rob founded The E'ville Eye in 2011 after being robbed at gunpoint and lamenting the lack of local news coverage. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

1 Comment

  1. […] The exhibit highlights the key role our region played in the 60’s and 70’s counterculture movement and includes a special focus on the transformative design and architecture of Northern California. These designs range from the hand-built houses in Sausalito, the original design of the now ubiquitous recycle symbol, and of course our infamous Emeryville mudflat driftwood sculptures that existed until the late 90’s. […]

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