In California’s past thousands of native people in hundreds of different groups lived here (and their descendants still live here). The landscapes were different. Tule elk and pronghorn antelope, for instance, grazed in huge herds on native grasslands and grizzly bears roamed hills and valleys.

Laura Cunningham, an artist and naturalist trained in biology and paleontology, spent years studying and painting forgotten landscapes of California, publishing many of them in a book, A State of Change (Heyday 2010).

The following are reproductions of her art work showing how the area around Albany Hill may have looked hundreds of years ago.

Albany-Hill-sunset
San Francisco Bay November Sunset 400 years ago. Oil on cotton rag paper, 9 x 13 inches, 1998.
Albany Hill, summer
Clouds Over Bay 200 years ago. Oil on cotton rag paper, 9.5 x 9 inches, 1999.
sunset-Golden-Gate
Mid December Sunset at the Golden Gate 300 years ago. Oil on cotton rag paper, 7 x 10 inches, 1999.
Grizzly-EC
El Cerrito Grizzlies 500 years ago. Oil on cotton rag paper, 7.5 x 8 inches, 2005.
East-Bay-grass-lo
East Bay Hills
Oil on cotton rag paper, 7 x 21 inches, 1998
From the East Bay Hills a thousand years ago, Albany Hill can be seen, as well as the Golden Gate across San Francisco Bay. Western Meadowlarks (Sturnella neglecta) fly over purple needlegrass (Stipa pulchra). Early observers noted how the hills around the Bay lacked trees in most areas, and was a vast open grassy land.

More of Laura’s art work