Emeryville Historical Society Launches City’s First Historic Walking Tour

3 mins read

The Emeryville Historical Society is pleased to announce the launch of the first of its kind self-guided historic walking tour around the city’s historic Park Avenue District.

The tour is the culmination of 100’s of hours of research, writing and photo curation.

The EHS orchestrated a guided tour of the Del Monte Cannery prior to its 1992 demolition.

The nearly 35-year-old organization has previously coordinated guided walking tours but this is the first with historical markers that will allow residents and visitors to take the tour on their own, in-person or virtually.

The organization has been working hard to digitize their collection of stories and photos and recently received a Lifetime Achievement recognition from Assemblymember Mia Bonta at the 2nd annual District 18 awards celebration.

Custom signs for the 30 stops along the tour contain a vintage photo and QR code that when scanned bring up a story and audio clip.

The 1.7-mile, flat walk around the city’s Park Avenue District along the southern border of the city will take you around the historic core of the city including 30 points of interest. The tour should take less than two hours by foot.

The area is chock full of still-standing warehouses and other razed structures that played vital roles in Industry, recreation and science. Notable sites include the Oakland Oaks Ball Park, the birthplace of modern greyhound racing, the Doble steam car factory and other more notorious sites that helped give the city dubbed “The Rottenest City on the Pacific Coast” by former Alameda County D.A. Earl Warren its moniker.

Longtime resident Ben Yee installing the signage for Dugan’s Café that was once located next to his home along Park Avenue.

Longtime resident Ben Yee, who owns the Rudy’s property and lives in the district’s only single family home, assisted installation of the tour and expressed excitement with sharing the stories he grew up hearing. “Even after living in Emeryville for almost 50 years, there are still many stories I never heard.”


Each stop has a printed marker with a QR code that when scanned will launch a web page with an audio clip (bringing earbuds is recommended) explaining the history of each building or razed structure as well as vintage photos and maps.

Printed maps of the tour can be picked up at Rudy’s Can’t Fail, Emeryville City Hall, Wondrous Brewing Co. or downloaded/printed from a PDF at EmeryvilleHistorical.org.

Take the tour with App, Website or Virtually

If you’re taking the tour in-person, the first marker is located at the foot of Park Avenue. Each tour marker except the first is mounted to one of the city’s green light posts. The QR code on each sign when scanned will load the website stop on the tour.

Taking the tour via PocketSights App:

  1. Download and launch the PocketSights app (available through Apple App Store or Google Play)
  2. Enable the location awareness feature on your device (or search “Emeryville”) to bring up the tour
  3. Select “Standard Tour Mode” and begin navigating
  4. Each point of interest should launch automatically when you are in proximity. If not, tap the “I’m here” button or the green marker (tap re-center to locate your position relative to marker)

Taking the tour via the EHS website (no app download required):

  1. Get a map from one of the locations detailed above or download/print a PDF from the tour page
  2. Scan the QR code at each point of interest from your mobile device
  3. To hear an audio clip of the stop, select “Listen in browser” (preferred to “Listen on SoundCloud” which will navigate you away from the tour page)

The tour can also be taken “virtually” with either the PocketSights or through the website. PocketSights also hosts curated walking tours posted by other local orgs including WhollyH2O who have plotted a fantastic Temescal Creek walking tour across the South Bayfront bridge.

EHS Creative Director Rob Arias, who devised and orchestrated the tour, hammers in the stake for the first marker at the foot of Park Ave (photo: Ben Yee).

“I lived in the area for 18 years and developed a curiosity for every building in the district,” noted Historical Society Creative Director & Archivist Rob Arias who also sat on the city’s Park Avenue District Advisory Committee before it was dissolved. “I was frequently asked ‘what did this building used to be?’ or ‘when was it built?’ I learned a lot about the city’s history in the course of writing these stories for the 30 points of interests and we hope this tour answers many residents’ questions.”

“The Park Avenue District is the historic core of the city,” noted Donald Hausler the 86-year-old co-founder of the organization. “This is where Joseph Emery lived and where the trustees organized to found the city. The cluster of hotels, recreation, industry and transit made it one of the most vital east-west corridors in the East Bay. It’s a historically critical area not just for Emeryville, but the entire Bay Area and maybe even the state.”

EHS co-founder Don Hausler pauses at a bench along Park Avenue while taking a trial run of the tour.

The tour is made possible through a City of Emeryville Community Grant as well as sponsorship by Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café and Paxio Fiber Optic Internet.

The EHS would like to extend its appreciation to recently retired City of Emeryville Planning Director Charlie Bryant for his contributions including research and fact-checking.

If the tour is deemed successful, and if funding materializes, the organization hopes to launch similar tours across the Emeryville Greenway and San Pablo Avenue.

Those that enjoyed the tour are encouraged to donate or become an EHS member. New members at the $50/yr. level and above are eligible for a free Arcadia Published Emeryville History book or “Rottenest City” Tee.

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The Emeryville Historical Society

The EHS was founded in 1989 by a small group of local history buffs. Membership, which comes with a subscription to their quarterly printed journal and access to their vast archives, is available through their website.


    • Yes, you can either grab a printed map at one of the designated locations, print one out from home or by scanning the QR codes at each stop which will take you to the EHS website. Teh advantage of the app is it guides you from stop to stop.

  1. Fantastic! What a wonderful gift to the City-Rottenist. I still pause at that statement since I have lived here, raised kids here, and developed the community ECOG gardens with my neighbors for 35 years.

    Elisabeth Montgomery

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