A very small city in northern California, officially incorporated in 1907. Piedmont is quite a small town, comprising some 1.4 square miles; there are presently some 10,667 inhabitants (2010 census). When originally incorporated it was on the edge of the urban area of Oakland, and adjacent to a very large cemetery (the Mountain View Cemetery).  The cemetery is still there and still in use, and provides a large area of open space in what is now solid urban development.  (The cemetery is not inside the city limits of Piedmont.) As the name implies, this little town is situated just where the foothills begin to rise from the flat ground which surrounds the San Francisco Bay. Piedmont is now surrounded on all sides by the City of Oakland.  It is almost entirely residential.  In addition to residences, there are two gas stations, one hardware store, one very small grocery store, several churches and several banks. 

Piedmont, being a separately incorporated city, has its own mayor, its own city council, its own police department and is its own school district. There are three elementary schools: Egbert Beach School, Frank C. Havens School, and Wildwood Elementary School. Egbert Beach and Frank Havens were boys from Piedmont who went to World War I and were killed in that conflict. The schools were named in their honor. Because there were only two such casualties, "Wildwood" was named rather fancifully when the town needed one more elementary school. There is one Middle School, Piedmont Middle School, comprising grades six through eight, and one high school, Piedmont High School, grades nine through twelve.  Graduating classes from the high school are usually about 200 students.


It is a surprisingly small town, surprising because in fact it is really simply a part of a very large amorphous urban area. The town has its own Fourth of July Parade, featuring residents in antique automobiles, the high school band, and sometimes the Lawn Chair Brigade, a group of local men who march in formation carrying folding lawn chairs, which they unfold and use as seating when the parade stalls. Corny, in a word. One of the big events in town is the Bird Calling Contest, in which high school students compete at imitating....bird calls. This event was instituted by the now-legendary Piedmont High School teacher Leonard J. Waxdeck and is now in its 46th year. More corny. If you live here, as I have since 1977, and raise children here, as I did, if your kid gets into some other family's liquor cabinet, you can and will call the other parents involved, because everyone knows everyone. How corny can you get.

In fact Piedmont is a relatively wealthy enclave (though I am not personally wealthy, and most houses in town are quite ordinary). Unlike the City of Oakland, which is currently very inadequately policed, Piedmont has police cars everywhere. Don't speed! Stop at stop signs! I remember calling the police one morning at 2 AM because I thought I heard someone creeping around downstairs. I was frightened of course. The squad car was in front of the house, with the ferocious German Shepherd (who scared the wits out of my cats) before I was off the phone. Personally I do not think there is anything wrong with this. I wish every homeowner everywhere could count on that kind of protection. (It would be even better if there were no burglars in the world, but for that we have to wait...) The schools are good. The place is peaceful, reflecting more its small-town side than the big city it is really a part of.

On Halloween children from the flatlands of Oakland, from the neighborhoods which are not safe, are driven up here in large numbers to shout "Trick or Treat!" at me when I open the door. Come one, come all! I don't wish that Piedmont were as beleaguered as so much of the rest of the world is. I wish every child could grow up in a place as safe as Piedmont.

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