We see dead people: Traipsing through the valley of the Bay Area kings, all dead as coffin nails


It's always a grand old, gruesome time visiting Mountain View Cemetery at the dead edges of Oakland. The Bay's most historic burial ground was designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who also had a hand in NYC's Central Park and Yosemite, and encompasses so many generations, grandiose sacrophagi, weird crypts, oddball mausoleums, and intriguing headstones that one's head begins to spin, imagining all the dead people roaming Gold Rush 'Fisco, bunkered down during WW II, forever dying young and leaving a beautiful monument.

Busty pinup sphinxes guard one once-very-wealthy dead person's house. All photos by Kimberly Chun.

The Moore Brothers were inspired by Mountain View to make their last album, and guarens, you'll be similarly transported, drawn inexorably back, back, back, to visit it again, again, again, to look for more pyramids.

Believe it or not, this is one of two sizable pyramids at Mountain View Cemetary.

I've yet to glimpse the lasting resting spots of author Frank Norris, artist Thomas Hill, architects Julia Morgan and Bernard Maybeck, and railroad builder Charles Crocker, but I have marveled at the stony facade of candyman Ghiradelli's crypt and checked out the lovely, mossy, creepy pond deeper into the grounds. You can spend hours here amid the crumbling headstones from the 1800s.

A sweet little '30s-era angel - with a rave-ready whistle around her neck.

Disarray in the forgotten corners of the cemetary.

The tombstone reads "Rest at last, dear one."

There was a daytime mini-rave/party going on atop one hill the day I last visited. But you can do it the official way: free docent-led tours begin at 10 a.m. the second Saturday of each month and last about three hours. The next one is April 14. You can also arrange your own tailored outing by contacting Mountain View Cemetery, 5000 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, at (510) 658-2588.

For reals? "Mother and Baby 1901"?