Now an estuarial habitat, The Albany Bulb (or The Bulb) is a tiny little peninsula which was quite like an art gallery and a dum...
Now an estuarial habitat, The Albany Bulb (or The Bulb) is a tiny little peninsula which was quite like an art gallery and a dumping ground even before that. Mostly owned by the city of Albany in California, it lies between the Eastshore State Park and east San Francisco Bay.
The “Bulb”, referred usually to the whole peninsula, includes the Albany Plateau, north of Buchanan Street at its base, the high narrow "Neck" and the round "Bulb." A part of Albany, one can get here via Buchanan Street or the Bay Trail on the east of San Francisco Bay.
The Albany Bulb peninsula is an antiquity comprising landfilling of shallow Bay and the nearby wetland. The Bulb’s formation began purportedly in 1939 when Santa Fe Railroad blowed up the low hill ‘El Cerrito del Sur’ with dynamite in order to build Golden Gate Fields horse racing track. All of the detritus was swept into the Bay so that parking lots could be created.
In 1963, the proper round hill “Bulb” formed at the tip of the peninsula after its land owners City of Albany and Santa Fe signed a contract for the disposal of construction waste. And that’s why debris is mostly composed of concrete and rebar. In 1983, legal action taken against the landfill operator brought the dumping to an end.
The Albany Bulb was truly a refuge for the refuse. A diverse range of urban art such as graffiti, installation art, murals, sculptures and stencils were created out of the debris. The days of 2006 were the heydays of Albany Bulb art which are currently in the decaying stage.
Osha Neumann, a sculptor and activist lawyer, was a primary artist who created some of the tremendous artworks.
A group of artists ‘Sniff’ produced huge and really creative "murals" on wood and built sculptures on the northwest end of The Bulb.
"Mad Mark's Castle" is yet another distinctive feature named after its builder who was a long-time Bulb denizen. It’s a marvelous castle built out of scavenged concrete, rebar and plaster which is located on the southwest end of the Bulb.
A small, make-do ‘landfillian library’ was constructed mainly from driftwood and old boat parts. Donated by its benefactors, it comprised of around 300 books in different conditions. One could borrow and keep books for free; however, take-something-leave-something approach was encouraged.
In August 2013, the library was shut down because of destruction being caused by vandals. On January 12, 2014 the library went ablaze due a sudden fire.
Since the early 1990s, the homeless community “landfillians” of Albany Bulb lived here for around 20 years without any disturbance despite the lack of official permit from the City of Albany. The inhabitation was tolerated only until the population was considerably low. In 1999, the population of Albany Bulb was nearly 50 or 60 which resulted in mass eviction by the City of Albany later that summer.
In early 2013, the population again grew to similar numbers. In May 2013, the Albany city council evicted the Bulb residents and offered them some assistance with relocation. Ultimately, 30 Bulb denizens were offered $3,000 everyday on the condition that they’d leave their longtime homes in the Bulb. 28 of them accepted the buyout & left by April 2014 but 2 out of them who refused were arrested the next month. In 2016, the Albany city council gave approval to the city park plan in the space.
Similar to the Eastshore State Park, the Bulb is currently a natural habitat (environmental reserve) providing shelter to various birds, small mammals and reptiles. A group called “Albany Waterfront Coalition” is working toward the conservation of The Bulb. The vegetation here is typical of wetland ecosystems but also includes palm trees and blackberry bushes.
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