Here's a look back at 2013 in Our Oakland, and hoping that Oakland has a prosperous, peaceful 2014. It's hard to pick just two photos per month, so I tried to choose the two most representative, not necessarily the two 'best' photographically speaking.
Since K is going to be out of town for a couple days, yesterday we went for a hike in Knowland Park. I'd been near it, and heard lots about it, but never explored it. It's a lovely open space near I-580, different than other parks in Oakland.
The background of the park is unusual. It's technically a state park, leased to the city of Oakland, and sub-leased to the zoo. There are beautiful views out over the bay (when it's not too hazy from a Spare the Air Day, at least), and there's a variety of wildlife found in the park. We saw several hawks circling overhead.
The western part of the park is crisscrossed with fire roads, but otherwise unimproved outside the zoo. The zoo wants to expand, and the Save Knowland Park group was formed to protect the park. There's nothing quite like it in Oakland, so it's worth preserving. There's no (easy) going back to open space once it's gone.
Here's wishing you happy holidays in Oakland, whatever your beliefs. This fun video is from musician and poet Lisa B, and is full of Oakland love. Including some pictures from me, Oakland Daily Photo, and others. Enjoy and spread the love!
This wonderful sign marks the surprisingly controversial Latham Square at Telegraph and 16th Street. For many years the intersection between Telegraph and Broadway was a mess. Telegraph comes in at an angle, and 15th Street doesn't quite line up. It's been the scene of many a near-miss, not just cars vs. pedestrians or bikes, but cars vs. cars, too. So Walk Oakland Bike Oakland, East Bay Bicycle Coalition and others lobbied to have it made into a pedestrian plaza. The decision was made to try a 6-month trial to see what all the effects were, but instead of 6 months, the city mysteriously cut the project off at 6 weeks, and changed the configuration to one-way south. There were complaints from some local businesses that business had dropped off, but it's impossible to tell if the closure had anything to do with it after only 6 weeks. Sole Space, Aardvark Engraving, and especially Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe, I'm looking at you! Not all your customers drive. Many of them walk, bike or take transit, and it's absurd to try to blame a change in business on it after such a short pilot. As CM Rebecca Kaplan said, "I just want to say, on a process perspective, I think the City of Oakland owes every stakeholder involved a huge apology." Sigh.
Anyway, back to the sign. It's both old and new. It's made of old city of Oakland street signs (the ones without the oak tree), and includes a planter on top. The square is named for the Lathams. There's the Latham Fountain honoring them, and the historic Latham Square Building across from the Cathedral Building.
Just a couple of events to post about. It hasn't all been watching sunsets, I've been busy with work lately.
Home Field Advantage: Oakland Book Signing - Thursday, December 18, 5-7pm. Buy a copy of the new Oakland book, Home Field Advantage: Oakland—The City That Changed the Face of Sports, and it get it signed by local author Paul Brekke-Miesner. At the Oaklandish popup at 472 Water Street in Jack London Square. Read more about the book at the 38th Notes blog.
Picardy Drive Community Social - Sunday, December 22, 6-8pm. Picardy Drive (between 55th and Seminary), aka, Christmas Tree Lane, will host its community holiday event 6-8pm under the lighted tree that's on the island in the middle of the block. This tradition has been going on for more than 30 years! Whether or not you come for the social, stop by to check out the holiday lights. The entire street lights up for the holidays, and hundreds of people check it out every year.
Saturday several dozen people and 1 dog joined us for the fourth annual "Walk and Shop" walk with Oakland Urban Paths. We took the same basic route as previous years, except that we reversed the path. Even if you're not into holiday shopping, it's a great walk.
As before, we started at Mandana Plaza along Lakeshore Avenue. We headed behind the Grand Lake Theatre, across Grand Avenue and over I-580 and up some stairs into Adams Point. From there we walked on more stairs down past Harrison and Oakland Avenues to Glen Echo Creek.
We paralleled the creek under I-580 to MacArthur Blvd., where we then headed up to Piedmont Avenue. People were given the option of starting their shopping explorations, or a brief jaunt back over to Glen Echo Creek to see where it is above ground again. Most people opted for the latter, then returned to Piedmont Avenue. After a brief pause for shopping, food, or whatever people wanted to do, the group re-gathered at the Key Route Plaza for our return walk.
We crossed back over Harrison and Oakland Avenue, and into the Morcom Rose Garden. Then we walked up Jean Street (and that's a long way up) so that we could walk down some newly paved stairs on Bonham Way then cross Grand Avenue. We stopped for a bit outside the office of Ruth Stroup. She owns the building adjacent to the bottom of the Davidson stairs, and had it fixed up, and stepped out to say hello.
Then we had a special OUP treat. One of the Walk Oakland Bike Oakland (OUP's parent organization) board members invited us to his home nearby. We climbed part of the Davidson steps, walked a few blocks, and were welcomed into a sunny back yard and a table spread with tasty treats for us. After lounging about for a while, we returned to our starting point by climbing the rest of the Davidson stairs. They've been recently repaired by the city of Oakland, so after many years of hazardous stepping, they're in great shape.
Thanks to Wade and Lisa for hosting us, and thanks to everyone who came out for the walk. Hope to see you on the next walk, Saturday, January 11th!
Alate and sparse events post. It's a First Friday, so lots of Art Murmur stuff going on. There's also the annual tree lighting at JLS, the lighted yacht parade, and more.
JLS lights up for the holidays - Friday, December 6, 5-7:30pm. Lighting of the 55' tree, holiday musical entertainment, live reindeer, tap dancing trees, costumed characters, and more! The tree lighting will take place at 7:15. (free)
Jingletown Art Walk Saturday, December 7, 11am-6pm. A great way to check out the diverse and interesting artists of Jingletown. Over 50 artists and studios participating, including one of my favorites, Gray Loft Gallery. (free)
Oakland Holiday Parade - Saturday, December 7, 2pm. The 14th annual holiday children's parade, with bands, balloons, floats and more. (free)
Lighted Yacht Parade - Saturday, Dcemeber 6, 4:30pm. The annual lighted yacht parade graces the waters off Jack London Square. (free)
Jingletown Art Walk Sunday, December 8, 11am-6pm. A great way to check out the diverse and interesting artists of Jingletown. Over 50 artists and studios participating, including one of my favorites, Gray Loft Gallery. (free)
Oakland Urban Paths walk - Saturday, December 14, 10am. Join OUP for our 4th annual 'Walk and Shop' from Lakeshore to Piedmont Ave. and back again. It's a great walk even if you don't shop, or just use it as a chance to scout out future opportunities. (free)
Alot of people outside of Oakland are writing about Oakland, which is mostly a good thing. (There have been several notable exceptions.) One article I read recently is titled "Lessons from Oakland's waterfront district", on lessons for Seattle to learn on modernizing an area without losing all its character.
Someone asked about the streets shared with heavy trains, which is kind of unusual. Lots of cities have light rail, but heavy railroads through the middle of a city, especially sharing streets with cars, aren't so common any more. Railroads have long been a big part of Oakland; the first transcontinental railroad line terminated here, and helped shape Oakland. But the waterfront lines haven't been Oakland's only heavy rail system. The Sacramento Northern Railway used to rumble up and down Shafter Avenue to 40th Street (where it then shared tracks with the Key System streetcars.) And the Southern Pacific's East Bay Electric Lines competed for a time with the Key System.
Having trains mixed with street traffic has led to a few accidents over the years, but no more so than regular railroad crossings anywhere else, whether gated or not. I think people forget that trains can't swerve or stop suddenly, and then are surprised when they re-learn otherwise.
I set about to seeing what pictures I have of trains in Oakland, particularly in JLS, and found a number, including a video I took while riding the Capitol Corridor from Oakland to Sacramento.
Ihope you're able to spend today with loved ones, and that you're not rushing off to the early Black Friday sales, or worse, having to work at them.
One of the things I'm thankful for are the wonderful people in Oakland, especially those that run small businesses that are the backbone of our economy and part of Oakland's diverse character. So instead of rushing off to the mall, shop local on Friday. More of the money you spend locally stays local (73¢ vs. 43¢ of each dollar). Show your Oakland love and shop Oakland.
On Friday I joined some other curious and intrepid souls for a Savor Oakland food tour. But the tours aren't just walking from place to place and eating. Our guide, Carlo, is very knowledgeable about the food and the places we were going, as well as Oakland history. He humbly says his wife Geneva is an even better guide. Either way, they've put together a great tour around Jack London Square. I highly recommend it.
We started at Home of Chicken and Waffles, and they'd made arrangements for a vegi option for me, replacing the chicken with mac and cheese. Carlo told us about the invention of the combination, originally a favorite of jazz musicians after a late night gig, it was popularized in Los Angeles at restaurant called Roscoe's. But he also told us about the origins of fried chicken (Western Africa and Scotland) and of waffles (Europe, popularized in the U.S. in part by Thomas Jefferson).
Then we walked past Cerruti Cellars, one of a number of wineries based in Oakland, where Carlo told us about the burgeoning wine scene in Oakland and the East Bay. We walked through the warehouse district and Carlo told us a bit about the history of Oakland and the railroads.
We stopped near Blue Bottle Coffee. Because of their demands for freshness, it's not practical to stop there with a group, so instead we had a taste of some of their New Orleans-style iced coffee. It's different than most iced coffee you've probably had. Instead of putting ice cubes and sugar into regular coffee, the coffee is cold-brewed for 18 hours and combined with some chicory and some organic cane sugar. The results are delicious. On our way to the produce market area, we walked past nearby Bicycle Coffee, and we heard more about the "third wave" of coffee, from the likes of Folger's, to Peet's and Starbucks, and now careful, small-batch roasting that Blue Bottle and Bicycle do.
At the produce market it was relatively quiet, since most of the activity starts early each morning. We about the history of the produce market, which was originally further up, but has always been a bustling area even back to the days of horse-drawn carriages.
Heading north, we went next to Authentic Bagel Co. for some samples. It was started by two brothers from the East Coast, Mark and Jason Scott. During a stint making brunch at Monaghan's, they started making their own bagels. They found a hand-written recipe from their grandmother and used that as the basis of theirs. The results are great. Not the bready things you get most places, but a nice, chewy, flavorful bagel. Then we took another pause from eating and stopped by the lOAKal Art Gallery & Boutique. Besides their usual assortment of locally-made and local-loving items, they currently have a show on display from Peter Adamyan.
Walking past another local art gallery, The Hive, we came to Urban Legend Cellars for some wine-tasting. Marilee and Steve told us about their wine making and about their name. Part of their story is about breaking down myths about how wine is made, so their name and logo is a nod to that. Despite the persistence of the rumor and even t-shirts, the port cranes in Oakland were not the inspiration for the Star Wars AT-ATs walkers—that's a local urban legend.
We looped back along the waterfront, taking in the beautiful (though still sometimes breezy) day, and hearing more about Oakland's history. Our next stop was Forge for some tasty Neapolitan-inspired pizza and some local beer from Linden Street Brewery. We lingered there for a bit, then headed next door to Bocanova. Most folks had some ceviche while I had a very tasty quinoa salad, and we followed that with some churros dipped in chocolate. Yum!
Our final stop was Miette, where we heard about their story, and (since we were pleasantly full), we got some macarons to go. It was a great tour. I'm looking forward to their next Savor Oakland destination: Chinatown.