An icon lost: The Hayward fault’s Rose/Prospect curb

Certain places are prized by geologists, especially teachers, for their educational value. Out-of-towners make pilgrimages to them. Sure we all enjoy the Grand Canyon, but real geologists have Siccar Point, Darwin’s outcrop, the Carlin unconformity and other obscure sites on their life lists.

One of those places was right nearby in Hayward, until very recently. At the corner of Rose and Prospect Streets is a corner curb that happened to be built precisely across the Hayward fault, where the steady progress of aseismic creep slowly wrenched it apart.

The best time series of this corner was compiled by Sue Ellen Hirschfeld, a now-retired geology teacher at UC East Bay. It goes back to 1971, and even then there was a sizable offset. Probably the curb was first emplaced in the late 1950s.

It’s a popular site for folks in the know, and there’s at least one Flickr group with lots of photos. The neighbors are probably sick of us, though. I’ve visited it many times, and I sometimes took pictures. This photo is from 2006.


We’re looking east across the fault. This side is moving northward a few millimeters per year. I came back the next year and took this shot of the “echelon cracks” in the street, with the iconic curb in the corner.


In 2012 I brought a few enthusiasts to see it; they asked for anonymity but I can show you where they stood.


A closeup at the time shows that it had a total offset of about 7-1/2 inches, or 20 centimeters, since it was built. The painted arrow at the left shows the offset in the six years since 2006.


Last week I joined a party of visitors there, and to my dismay the corner has been dismantled. It looks like the plan is to put in a cutout for people with disabilities, which is a good thing and undoubtedly overdue. Still.


Anyway, I’m here to put the word out: Rose and Prospect is defunct. It is no more. Come back in 20 years. In the meantime, downtown Hayward is full of other examples of bent curbs.


There’s always the Old City Hall, too, which was built directly on the fault and has long been abandoned. The first time I visited there, maybe 25 years ago, I was looking at the street adjacent to it. As I watched, a little tongue of water emerged in the center of the street and started trickling downhill. Assuming that an old iron water main had just cracked, I found a phone booth and alerted the city. Cleaning up after a creeping fault never ends.

12 Responses to “An icon lost: The Hayward fault’s Rose/Prospect curb”

  1. Nancy Caton Says:

    Thanks for the map and explanation.

  2. Andrew Says:

    Nancy, there is no geologic structure mapped there, so any changes in the ground are probably very localized.

  3. Nancy Caton Says:

    Perhaps we should start monitoring the corner of Clemens and Leimert Place in Oakmore. Maybe it’s more landslide than tectonic (cannot decide which I’d rather since I live round the corner)

    Can post or email photo if you like

  4. manuelsintubin Says:

    Reblogged this on EarthlyMatters.

  5. Joyce Blueford Says:

    Andrew, thank you for the story. In Fremont we are working to preserve our “faults”….. this article helps to recognize the importance of preservation. City of Fremont officials have recognized the scientific importance. So far we have a faulted building and now are securing an earthquake trail through Central Park in Fremont. Preserving offsets helps to educate the community about earthquakes.

  6. Andrew Says:

    Readers, this is what a media dogpile looks like. If you add email, phone messages and Facebook contacts, it’s a lot of attention, but I’m glad to be able to speak up for science and for the Hayward fault. Since we’re its neighbors, we need to get to know it.

  7. Ian Cull Says:


    Could the person who owns the pictures above, or the person who runs this site call me soon regarding this post? We’re hoping to get a hold of someone in the next few hours. Thank you!

    Ian Cull
    NBC Bay Area

  8. Mike Sugerman Says:

    Please call Mike Sugerman channel 5 415-760-5958 soon!

  9. Trending News Says:

    Hi all,
    May the person who owns these pictures please call me 818-863-7600. ABC7 LA would like to use the pictures on this blog and Flckr.

    Thank you,
    Thalia Miranda

  10. nbschiff Says:

    I worked in the old city hall building in the mid-1970s. As you walked in, there was a wide sloping area of floor all across the main entry hall that ramped up maybe around a foot or so. It was not a handicapped accommodation. We worked for the county. For some reason it was okay for county employees to be in there, atop
    some fairly obvious seismic excitement, but not for city employees!

  11. leetramp Says:

    Then there’s D St in Hayward that was also “fixed”

  12. Patrick Lumm Says:

    I found this page on your site from a link on the “National Post” online, up here in Canada. I had an old late uncle that recently passed in Oakland, and usually visit some of his relatives each October when I do may annual driving trip down to Laguna Seca.

    I will peruse your site and look for interesting fault sites to visit while I stop through Oakland. Shame about the curb.

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