The Albany Bulb

Except for San Francisco, my current hometown of Berkeley is probably the northern hemisphere’s coldest place on July mornings. The wet fog crawls through the Golden Gate and finds a convenient resting place in the Berkeley hills. Three miles south, Oakland is sunny and warm.

The fog loves the Albany Bulb too, just north of Berkeley’s city limits. The Bulb is a 33-acre chunk of land that juts out into the bay next to a deteriorating race track and a patch of sandy beach.

The Bulb must be the most idiosyncratic 33 acres in the Bay Area. Over the years, the it has been a landfill, a homeless encampment, and an art installation. Today, it’s a park, an art installation, and an encampment for 177 species of birds.

The Bulb is one of my favorite places for hiking on these July mornings. Rugged pathways meander up and down unpredictably through coastal live oaks, yellow fennel and red valerian, which host hundreds of graffiti and driftwood projects. Most are spray-painted on concrete slabs that were dumped here 50-100 years ago. The graffiti is mostly simple. A smiley face. Some hearts. Words that look like tagging. Some of the graffiti is political and obviously recent, with references to Black Lives Matter. A flag is planted in a pile of rubble announcing liberation. A group of young men are painting cement slabs with the faces of those who have died from police violence.

We stop to enjoy the priceless views of the expanse between Marin County and the Bay Bridge. Wind surfers swoop with the seagulls just beyond jagged outcroppings.

The Bulb has its own Statue of Liberty. It has a tree swing, a wooden wind sock, and a labyrinth. On these July mornings, it has a lot of fog.


“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the Universe, to match your nature with Nature.”
— Joseph Campbell




  1. Rosie The Wonderdog and I often visit The Bulb. There’s tons of interesting things to see and sniff. The art has evolved over the years as old stuff weathers and fades away and new stuff is created… just like life on Earth. It’s a really magical place and reminds me how blessed we are to live in the amazing Bay Area. Your pictures were chosen with care and are keepers. Thanks.

  2. I loved this blog, Kim. Even though I spent the first 10 years of my life in the Bay Area, Oakland mostly, I never knew of The Bulb. It probably wasn’t then what is today from the photos you’ve chosen. I love the mish- mash of creative ingenuity with nature as the backdrop. It’s understandable why you like to go there on a foggy July morning. I do remember the fog!

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