Wednesday, May 25, 2011

neighborhood name signs

Exactly where neighborhoods are is frequently arbitrary, and what they're called is often a source of disagreement (see the discussion on, Where is the DTO?). There are various ways of defining what a neighborhood is. I've started a map-and-photo project which considers another: what the neighborhood labels itself with signs. As with other methods, it's going to be imperfect, and definitely less complete than the Oakland Neighborhoods Map since not all neighborhoods put up signs and some of those are unofficial, but it's another way of looking at things.

So here's the Oakland place name signs map:

View Oakland place name signs in a larger map
Some of the signs are metal (especially the district signs put up by the city), some are vinyl banners (which can look OK until they fade and tear), and some are wooden signs (particularly the ones in the hills). But there are a few unique ones, like the clock in Montclair, the road-spanning arch in the Laurel, or the gazebo in Oak Center.

From Oakland neighborhood signs
More recently I've been seeing some nice name and direction signs, like this one in Fruitvale. Not only do they tell people where they are, they reflect something of the area, and give directions of how to get to various points nearby.

As usual, this is a work in progress. I'd love to know of other neighborhood and district signs around Oakland. Particularly in East Oakland; I've spotted some, but as a lot of these signs get put up in business areas and wealthier residential areas, there aren't as many in East Oakland.

Speaking of maps and where lines get drawn, it was interesting to watch the discussion the other night on the redistricting plans for voting districts in California. While that includes all of California, this discussion was in Oakland and was focused on the Bay Area. It was note-worthy to hear how often variations on the idea "don't combine my district with people who aren't like me" were put forth. Less often were pleas to "don't split my area" (like Oakland or West Oakland). If you're interested in the state redistricting process, check out the We Draw The Lines website. I don't envy the commission their task.

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