Mosswood Park is a lovely oasis in the urban landscape which was established 1909-1911 and is a public park operated by the Oakland Parks and Recreation Department. The park is bordered by West MacArthur Boulevard to the north, Broadway to the east, Webster Street to the west, and I-580 to the south in the Mosswood neighborhood adjacent to Temescal. It was named for J. Mora Moss and his wife, Julia Wood (Moss), who owned the area and sold the land to the city. 4
Do you have childhood memories of Mosswood Park?
The area was known as Mosswood dating back to the Mosses owning it in the 1800s. Moss died in 1880, and Wood died in 1904 and they had no children.
At least as early as 1908, neighbors wanted the city to purchase the land and make it park. (Apparently some of them thought the city had already purchased it.) 5 A bond measured needed to be passed, and to hold on to the land for city, the Bankers' Trust purchased the land until the bond could be approved. 6 It was thought to be a real gem, and even before the city was able to purchase it, they made arrangements to open the park to the public on Sundays. 7
Then came a plan in 1909 to use a large refund settlement from the People's Water Company to purchase the park instead of a bond measure. 8 Apparently that fell through, but finally in 1911, the city authorized purchasing the land, and on April 12, 1911, made a $20,000 down payment on the property. 9
The park even had a small zoo for a time. It started with a couple of deer. Then in 1911, the Selby brothers donated a pair of bear cubs. 10 Later that year, R. O. Wilson donated an orphan deer fawn. 11 A 1913 story about possible plans for a larger zoo at Linda Vista Park (now the Morcom Rose Garden) mentions the zoo at Mosswood had 5 deer and an aviary. "Borax" Smith offered to donate some llamas for a larger zoo. 12
Mosswood Park Today
Public park containing the Mosswood Recreation Center, Mosswood Dog Play Area, a community garden, amphitheater, baseball field, basket ball courts, tennis courts, and children's playground, as well as the J. Mora Moss House.
Because of the changes in the dogs-in-parks law in April, 2014, dogs are now allowed on-leash in this park.
Mosswood Park was the recipient of the East Bay Express Best Neighborhood Park Readers' Poll Award in 2014 and 2015.
Briefly MacArthur Park
Close on the heels of the plan to rename various streets to form MacArthur Boulevard, 8.5-year old Franklyn Delano Winston had the idea to also rename Mosswood Park in honor of General MacArthur, and the suggestion was quickly adopted and a new sign put up. 3 But H. F. Deaner, age 91, and others protested the name change before the city council because of the history of the Mosswood name, and barely a month later the decision was made to change it back to Mosswood Park. 4
Links and References
- Oakland Parks and Recreation Department official website
- Image(s) used by permission of the UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library
- Mosswood Park Also May Take M'Arthur's Name Oakland Tribune March 31, 1942
- It's Now MacArthur Park; Boy's Suggestion Adopted Oakland Tribune April 25, 1942
- MacArthur Park? No! It's Again Called Mosswood Oakland Tribune May 27, 1942
- Mosswood Club Would Have City Buy Tract Oakland Tribune February 6, 1908
- Mosswood Park Oakland Tribune December 31, 1908
- Everyone Invited to Visit in Mosswood Oakland Tribune May 9, 1909
- Park Extension in Plan for Bonding Oakland Oakland Tribune May 1, 1910
- Oakland Secures Control of New Park Oakland Tribune April 12, 1911
- City Presented With Bear Cubs Oakland Tribune June 22, 1911
- Doe Fawn Added to 'Zoo' Family Oakland Tribune August 16, 1911
- Zoological Park Planned For City Oakland Tribune February 21, 1913