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If you’re headed towards 280 or Pac Bell Park, a short jog over to 5th Street will take you back 200 years, courtesy of BayBoards. Visual artists Elise Brewster and Susan Schwartzenberg joined landscape ecologist and historian Robin Grossinger to create this self-guided tour of billboards and bus shelter posters, which presents two centuries of changing landscape in seven blocks.

There are BayBoards in the East Bay, too. On Highway 580 East near the Bayview exit, a full-size billboard presents a rediscovered 1861 photograph by Carleton Watkins, that matches the driver’s view almost precisely. This “re-view” shows the familiar features of Albany Hill and the Bay, but with dramatic marshlands and wildflower-covered meadows. A second board follows up on this visual story, highlighting the easily-overlooked remnant ecosystems still present in the view. In West Oakland, at 12th and Peralta, a street-level billboard explores the history of the oak forest that reached from the BayBoards site across town to Lake Merritt, giving Oakland its name.

- Meredith Tromble [Thursday, January 22nd, 2004]

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