The Cross of Trees was a large feature created by Joaquin Miller at his estate, The Hights. It appears with young trees in a photo dated 1891, on the hillside near the Browning Monument. He apparently also planted a cross of trees on Yerba Buena Island. 4
The cross appears in a 1920 photo accompanying an article, 1 and the trees forming it appear fairly mature. That article says:
With the cross of trees as its "back drop," in the natural amphitheater facing the Golden Gate, the program will be under the direction of Alexander Stewart. 1
An article two days prior says:
The amphitheater is within a cross of trees one thousand feet long, planted many years ago by Joaquin Miller. 2
A 2010 article in Eden, the newsletter of the California Garden and Landscape Historical Society, describes it as 150 feet by 650 feet.
A hand-annotated map shows the cross above the upper part of Sanborn Drive, with the end of its right arm near the the Browning Monument. However, even allowing for some journalistic license in "one thousand feet long," the Browning Monument is only about 200 feet from Sanborn Drive. Given the size of the cross shown in the photo, it seems more likely that the cross extended from near the Browning Monument much the way down to the lower part Sanborn near the the fire circle, closer to 650 feet.
A hand-drawn, not-to-scale map included in Juanita Miller's booklet About "The Hights" at Oakland, California suggests that is closer to correct. The top of the cross is drawn between the Pyramid to Moses and the Browning Monument, and indicates it was made of cypress trees.
Further complicating the clues, a 1977 article says:
The tremendous cross of trees Joaquin built to surround the hilltop pyre, when this was his estate, The Hights, can still be seen by incoming airplanes at Oakland airport, but authorities would not let his body be cremated in it. Park officials have an agreement with the Oakland airport that planes will not fly over the amphitheatre during performances, incidentally. 3
That seems unlikely, as it's hard to see the cross even as far back as a 1946 aerial photo.
Question: does anybody have a more precise reference on the location of the cross?
Links and References
- Unique Service of Easter Vespers to Be Held on Miller "Hights" This Afternoon Oakland Tribune April 4, 1920
- Easter Even[t] At The Hights to Be Impressive Service Oakland Tribune April 2, 1920
- Dry, But Lovely Cascades in Oakland San Francisco Examiner September 25, 1977
- Joaquin Miller's Trees Eden: California Garden and Landscape Historical Society 2010 newsletter (part 2)
- California's Arbor Day San Francisco Call September 11, 1892