A Brief History of Cooley Landing
Disclaimer: this is not intended to be a comprehensive history of Cooley Landing as there is much more to it than this. I have excerpted the events relevant to The Living Shoreline Project. Please scroll down to read the history.

Aerial photo of Cooley Landing. Courtesy of CLUI

As an artist, I am interested in how a landscape changes over time and the environmental implications of those changes. This is a birds-eye view of Cooley Landing today. However, this peninsula of land didn't always exist.

Historic Map showing wetlands around the bay

200 years ago, the area was lush wetlands, as shown in this historical map.
[image courtesy of the Oakland Museum of CA and SFEI]

Illustration of first people catching birds with net

It was a favorite hunting and fishing spot for the native tribes. There were so many birds that the sky would be almost black with them and they could be caught with a net.
[photo from "The Ohlone Way" Heyday Books]

Lithograph of Brickworks

Big changes began during the Gold Rush when it became a shipping port. In 1867, Lester Cooley purchased the land and it became known as Cooley Landing. From 1874 - 1884, a brickworks factory operated at Ravenswood (now Jack Farrell Park). This illustration shows two field kilns and eight pub mills in the yard with Cooley’s Landing on the bayshore where schooners transported bricks to San Francisco to build the Palace Hotel.

San Mateo County Dump burning landfill

The biggest changes happened from 1932 to 1960 when the land was filled by the San Mateo County dump, forming the peninsula we know today as Cooley Landing. Unfortunately this filled in valuable wetlands and contaminated the soil with lead, mercury, PCBs and other toxins.
[Image from "Over Time Palo Alto 1947 - 1980" by Ben Hatfield. Photo by Adrian Hatfield]

Image of Cooley Landing in 1990s

In 1960 Carl Schoof purchased the land and operated Palo Alto Boat Works until 1998. The boat lift is still on site.
[Photo courtesy of Jitze Couperous].