Ballena Bay – not!
As some but perhaps not all of BBYC’s members know, Ballena Bay did not exist until the 1960s. The entire SF Bay shore of Alameda was swamp and shallows, much like we see looking from A-dock towards Crab Cove. Back then Alameda’s shoreline was just a bit off Central Avenue – as shown by the small stretch of shallow water going all the way up to the back of buildings on Central today. Then in the 1960s massive landfills occurred. Not only was Ballena Bay created but the entire South Shore area of Alameda.
I recently discovered a proposal that would have had the Ballena Bay area become something starkly different – the East Bay end of a tunnel and causeway crossing SF Bay!
Almost from the time it opened in 1936, the Bay Bridge suffered from traffic jams. Interrupted by WW II, governments and planning groups were calling for more lanes crossing from Oakland to San Francisco by the late 1940s.
Two plans were proposed: One would have built a copy of the Bay Bridge along side the existing span. The other proposal had a new tunnel crossing the Bay starting at Army Street (today Cesar Chavez Street) in southern San Francisco and ending at Fifth Street in Alameda! (For those unfamiliar, that’s the intersection on Central with the stop signs). Some argued that this “more southern” crossing would better insulate our transportation from an atomic attack (remember, this was in the days of “duck and cover” drills at elementary schools)!
Neither of the proposed crossings was built and the area across from Fourth Street was filled to become Ballena Bay. The next time you run out of the marina and pass the breakwater, imagine confronting a causeway carrying six or more lanes of traffic!