Friday, August 21, 2015

Oakland Originals documentary

What makes Oakland such a great city are the people who have called Oakland home over the years. My book, Legendary Locals of Oakland (due out December, 2015), will cover some of the people who have and are making Oakland what it is. But for a different look on some current Oaklanders, check out the "Oakland Originals" series of video documentaries:

They've made four amazing documentaries so far, recently just hit their Kickstarter goal for a fifth documentary and are hoping for funding for 3 more. These documentaries have great production values, but more importantly, feature some really interesting people from Oakland.

Watch the current documentaries here.
Check out their Kickstarter here.

Friday, August 14, 2015

signs: Drake's Dealership

The newest beer garden in town is Drake's Dealership. It's in part of the Hive complex that (surprise!) used to be a car dealership. Back in the day, a lot of the businesses around there were related to the auto industry. They've done a creative reuse of the space, and removed the roof of part of the building to serve as a beer garden. Yummy pizza, and as always, yummy Drake's beer.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Laurel Street Fair

Saturday after the urban paths walk, I cycled over to the Laurel district for their annual street fair. Lot of folks out having fun, and as a bonus, I finally got a chance to try a Mamacitas Cafe donut kebab!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Oakland Urban Paths: Glen Echo Creek

Saturday, 35 people (and one dog) joined Oakland Urban Paths for an exploration of the Glen Echo Creek watershed, led by Chris Kidd.

The local topography is something like a hand with the fingers spread, with ridge lines alternating with shallow valleys cut by streams like Glen Echo Creek. The creek starts as two branches, Cemetery Creek that comes through Mountain View Cemetery, and the Rockridge branch, which comes through the Claremont Country Club's golf course and feeds into the Bilger quarry. Heading east from our start outside the Cat Town Cafe and Adoption Center, we descended slightly then began climbing the next 'finger' on the other side.

There are lots of beautiful houses and stairways along the way. One interesting stop was at Oak Park. The site was formerly Edison Elementary School which one person on the walk had attended as a child. The school was closed in 1971 because it wasn't up to earthquake standards. It was subsequently sold and converted into condominiums. While the playground became a city park, the city doesn't maintain it, the neighbors do.

Like many creeks in the East Bay, much of Glen Echo Creek runs in underground culverts. Glen Echo does have more open segments than many creeks, but it almost disappeared completely. Back in the 1950s, there was a plan to build the Richmond Blvd. Freeway which would have run from near Snow Park downtown, over Glen Echo Creek and through Piedmont, and to highway 13. Fortunately it wasn't built...the freeways that were built were hard enough on Oakland as it is.

We meandered through part of Piedmont and to the Morcom Rose Garden. It was created in originally called the Oakland Municipal Rose Garden and the first rose was planted by then-mayor Fred Morcom in 1933. We took a brief break there while people checked out the roses, watched the labors of the Dedicated Deadheaders who take care of the roses, and looked at the names on the Oakland Mother of the Year walk of fame.

A different route took us back to our starting point, a bit tired but a lot more knowledgeable. Thanks to everyone who came out for the walk, and thanks to Chris for leading it!

Next month's walk is still being worked out, but check for details. As usual, it will be the 2nd Saturday, starting at 10AM. See you on the paths!

A map of our route (PDF).

More pictures from the walk:

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Oakland Aviation Museum

One of the things I did while working on Legendary Locals of Oakland was visit the Oakland Aviation Museum in search of the bust of Feng Ru, the "father of Chinese aviation" and the first person to pilot an airplane on the West coast. I found the statue, but I found a lot of other interesting stuff, too.

The museum has numerous vintage aircraft on display, mostly inside what was the Boeing School of Aeronautics. There are also various displays showing uniforms, memorabilia, and even a Norden bombsight. There are exhibits on women in aviation, black Americans in aviation, and Oakland's part in "Operation Babylift" during the Vietnam War.

The pride of the aviation museum is a Short Solent Mark III flying boat. It stood in for a larger Boeing China Clipper in "Raiders of the Lost Ark". A copy of Life magazine marks the seat where Harrison Ford sat as Indiana Jones. The plane can be viewed any time the museum is open, but you can only view the interior on special occasions.

It's a very cool museum, definitely worth checking out, even if you're not particularly into airplanes. There's a lot of history on display there.

Lots more pictures from the Oakland Aviation Museum: