There are so many things I love about living in the Central Valley. Kearney Park and Kearney Boulevard are two treasures that I find many of our locals don’t know about, have never visited or haven’t been to in decades.
Whenever I tell people about Kearney Park and Blvd., I feel a little conflicted. Fly fishermen don’t go around telling everyone about their secret fishing spot. At this point, Peeve and I often have Kearney Park to ourselves. There are a few other regulars we’ve met, but quite often it is just the two of us.
But the other part of me, the less selfish part, wants people to know about these great resources because they are so special, and also because the more that people appreciate these resources, they will be more apt to protect them if they are threatened (like the loss of trees from the drought).
I won’t go into a ton of history, but if you are curious about Martin Theodore Kearney or Kearney Mansion, these are two good links. The history of Kearney is a huge part of the history of our region. By learning our history, even just a little, you will grow your appreciation for where we live.
I’ve had the opportunity to show off Kearney Blvd. and Park to some pretty notable people and they have been wildly impressed, including Stan Eckstut, who helped plan Battery Park in NYC, Charles Birnbaum, the founder of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, and Food Network personality Simon Majumdar. As enthusiastic as I am about these local treasures, it’s still fun to see an outsider’s appreciation.
Craig’s Tips for Getting to Kearney Park
Enter Kearney Blvd. from Fresno Street, just west of downtown, or from Highway 99. The Art Deco sign announces the entrance to the Blvd. Enjoy the 11 miles of palm and eucalyptus trees, and oleanders. You’ll pass Chandler Airport and the Flight Line Café, where you can enjoy breakfast or lunch as you watch small planes take off and land.
St. Alphonsus Church is on Kearney and is surrounded by one of my favorite neighborhoods in Fresno. At Marks Ave. you will be presented with a fork in the road. Follow the signs to the left to stay onto Kearney Blvd. Madison is a straighter drive but hey, you’re out for sightseeing, not to be in a hurry! It’s easy, just follow the trees to get the full effect. Kearney and Madison join up later so both get you to the park.
I’ve led a few group bike rides from downtown to the park, along the boulevard. You really get a sense of the grandeur of Kearney Blvd. while on a bike, and also just how quickly downtown turns into countryside. The road can get a little rough in a few spots—you know, that dry-lake-bed feeling—but there is a bike path that you can switch to. Also, just like anywhere out in the country, there might be an occasional dog to help you get to your maximum heart rate!
What Makes Kearney Park So Special
Last autumn, I picked olives from the park’s ancient trees. I water brined them and then finished them with salt water. They were delicious! My friend Mr. Hadjinlian was my mentor for picking and curing the olives. He was quite overwhelmed on his first visit to the park.
If you go in the morning during the winter, there are turkey vultures roosting in some of the trees. When the sun rises, they spread their wings to capture the sunlight and warm up. It’s quite a sight.
Did you know that you can’t have alcohol in City of Fresno parks but you can in County of Fresno Parks? That’s right, if you’re planning a barbecue or picnic and would like to have a local craft beer or a glass of local wine (why would you have anything else?) then Kearney is a great spot. Also, if a team of realtors at a certain FresYes office were to challenge other local real estate companies to a horseshoe tournament at Kearney Park this summer, that might be fun. Right, Jason Farris?
Kearney Park Information
See you out there!