Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, the East Bay Regional Park District is honoring one of its earliest champions of parks and open space by renaming Redwood Regional Park after Aurelia Reinhardt. Official action to rename the park to Dr. Aurelia Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park was approved on October 15, 2019, by the Park District’s Board of Directors.
Dr. Aurelia Henry Reinhardt was an important and remarkable woman from the Bay Area, born in San Francisco, and residing in Oakland with her family. Her significant contributions played a substantial role in the formation of the East Bay Regional Park District in 1934. She was one of five original board members – and the only woman – elected to represent the newly-founded Park District on its first Board of Directors. During her tenure, the Park District negotiated its first land purchase, which created the first three parks: Tilden, Temescal, and Sibley parks. A lover of redwood trees, she later worked to acquire property that would become Redwood Regional Park. The park’s redwood grove, Aurelia Reinhardt Redwoods, already bears her name.
“Aurelia had a long history of public service and advocacy for human and environmental rights,” said Park District Director Dee Rosario, who initiated the renaming. “She was an amazing woman whose legacy is still alive today in the Park District’s 73 Regional Parks and 125,000 acres of preserved open space.”
A college educated woman in the graduating class of 1898 at the University of California, Berkeley, she went on to earn her Ph.D. from Yale in 1905, an untraditional feat for women at the time. Dr. Reinhardt was a tireless community leader and supporter of parks not only in the East Bay but also nationally. She was elected president of Mills College in Oakland, the only women’s college on the west coast, building opportunities for women and lifting the school’s reputation through two World Wars and the Great Depression. She served as president of Mills College from 1916 to 1943.
The now-publicly-named Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park is one of the Park District’s most popular parks and receives 1.4 million visitors per year.
“As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the women’s suffrage movement in 2020, it is fitting for our nationally-recognized Park District to highlight Aurelia Reinhardt, a remarkable environmentally and socially conscious woman from Oakland,” said Park District General Manager Robert Doyle.
A public recognition celebration to rename Redwood in honor of Aurelia Reinhardt will be held at a later date.