downtown oakland
Downtown Oakland circa 1910

Category — chinatown

May it be First Friday

May 6, 2011

It’s First Friday of May and the weather is beautiful! The Uptown Arts District will be crowded with art gawkers on foot, while Saturday brings walking, biking and partying to the mix. Below, your First Friday highlights:

New Old Oakland gallery Sticks + Stones presents a group show with artists Bert Yip, Hyde, D Kelly, Isaac Blackwood and J-Miah, with DJs and music from 6pm to 1am.

Branch Gallery, upstairs from Bar Dogwood (455 17th St #301), is showing the sculpture and large-scale drawings of Steve Barich through July 1st.

The official Oakland Art Murmur, newly reorganized, has an updated website with a Google Map showing participating galleries.

Hatch Gallery, at 492 23rd St in the heart of the Art Murmur, is showing “a new body of work from Oakland based artist Jeremiah Jenkins concerned with the exploration of the past, current, and projected mistakes and successes of civilization.” Sounds heavy.

Justin Kanalakis of Who Made Oakland will park his mobile display in the area to increase knowledge about the Monster of Lake Merritt.

And the fun doesn’t stop on Friday! Saturday sees walking events to commemorate Jane Jacobs, the founder of urbanism. Walk Oakland Bike Oakland inaugurates a Jane’s Crawl to experience urbanism within the context of watering holes along the Telegraph Ave corridor from Uptown to Temescal, while the City of Oakland leads a tour of the part of Oakland Jane Jacobs would be most likely to recognize, Chinatown.

Rock Paper Scissors Collective, a non-profit teaching organization that was a founder of the Art Murmur, debuts an art-focused bicycle ride touring galleries throughout the city on Saturday. Read more on the official website.

Whether you’re on foot or on bike, looking at art or just having a good time, May’s First Friday and First Saturday allows you to experience as well as discuss urbanism. See you in Uptown!

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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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