downtown oakland
Downtown Oakland circa 1910

Posts from — April 2011

DTO Reading File, Last Friday in April

April 29, 2011

To keep you plugged-in this Last Friday weekend, a collection of news, views and events for your perusing pleasure.

Baseball Oakland organizes the first in a series of “Urban Tailgates,” where A’s fan meet in downtown Oakland and then take BART to the Coliseum. A preview of what would come with a Victory Court ballpark?

Speaking of BART, at the urging of a Facebook page, the usually tone-deaf agency has decided to experiment running trains one hour later on Friday nights. The agency is also considering helping to subsidize AC Transit’s all-night bus service from San Francisco, which would provide more coverage than what BART can do with its trains.

East Bay cult sport roller derby comes to the DTO Saturday as the Oakland Outlaws face the Richmond Wrecking Belles, part of a double-header at the Oakland Marriott Convention Center.

The Wall Street Journal reviews Uptown mainstay Pican.

Jack London Square announces its schedule of free summer activities. Highlights include outdoor dancing lessons and musical performances in the summer evenings.

While Oakland debates mobile food vending regulations for Downtown and other neighborhoods, Modern Coffee is planning a “coffee container” to expand their services into the street. Look for the architectural marvel to open on 13th St this summer.

The corollary to First Friday is today, the Last Friday of the month. At many galleries, it is the final opportunity to view art before the shows change for next week’s Art Murmur. For example, Old Oakland gallery Chapparal City will close its abstract architectural collage show Space/Shift with a party Saturday evening. If you missed the gallery openings, don’t miss the gallery closings!

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Where is the DTO 4?

April 22, 2011

Last month I presented a 2008 map of downtown and asked for input on the locations of the districts that constitute downtown. The comments revealed areas of agreement and contest. The map below hopes to illuminate the areas of contention so we can achieve new consensus. The neighborhood lines are removed because they weren’t contested except at the margins.

Map of the DTO

So what are the areas of disagreement?

SOBO / Oaksterdam / Midtown

I don’t like the term Midtown because, as Artemis said, downtown is not big enough to have an Uptown and a Midtown, and the terms also imply that downtown is a separate area from Uptown and Midtown, when in fact they are subdistricts of a larger downtown. Oaksterdam, though present in the popular imagination, is not a clear-cut district – the University is on Broadway between 17th and 15th, and there are several Oaksterdam University-affiliated storefronts on 15th Street, but the area is at best three blocks large and therefore too small to be a downtown district. Personally I think of Oaksterdam as less a place than a state of mind. Nobody likes SOBO, but what other term should be used? By the way, the Downtown Association seems to want to extend City Center across Broadway, via 13th St.

Civic Center / Laney College

Nobody seems to like either of these names. Civic Center is the historic name for the area although grand plans for a County and City hub collapsed after the passage of Prop 13. People often refer to things in this area as “near Laney College,” but Laney College itself seems too specific to be the name of a neighborhood. So what should it be called? Is it just a subset of Chinatown? To me it seems large and distinct enough to be its own district.

West DTO

West DTO is a term that I coined to describe the western edge of downtown that borders West Oakland. Like its neighboring ‘hood, Ghost Town, the West DTO is underpopulated and underdeveloped. However it’s pretty big, and is clearly separated from City Center / Old Oakland by 14th and Clay Streets. Does this area need a name, or should it just wait its turn for investment? Is it perhaps part of Uptown?

Financial District / Lake Merritt Office

Folks didn’t seem to like Lake Merritt Office District, which is more-or-less the official name for the district that’s home to Oakland’s biggest private-sector office buildings. Lake Merritt Financial District, another traditional name for this area, seems pretty dated given that Oakland lost its financial industry (which was indeed headquartered here) quite some time ago.


A part of our discussion not covered here is the creeping border of downtown, with Uptown being used to describe restaurants and bars as far north of 27th Street. If you’re interested in the future of Auto Row, plan to attend the relaunch of the Broadway / Valdez Specific Plan next Thursday, April 28, at the First Presbyterian Church at 2619 Broadway, from 6 to 8. You can learn how the City is planning to transform Auto Row into a retail destination and high-density housing.

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