downtown oakland
Downtown Oakland circa 1910

Posts from — October 2007

Where is the DTO?

October 2, 2007

With the opening of Whole Foods on 27th and Harrison, observers have commented that the new store is “a stone’s throw from downtown.” So, where, exactly, is downtown Oakland?

Uniquely for a city of its size, Oakland has a very large downtown that includes several distinct districts. Traditionally, downtown is bordered by 980 to the West, Lake Merritt to the East, Grand Ave to the North and 880 to the South. That does not include Jack London Square, Auto Row, or the up-and-coming arts district centered at 23rd and Telegraph. The 10k Plan’s area includes Jack London Square and areas north to 27th Street (including the Whole Foods and Mayor Brown’s former residence at 27th and Telegraph).

Within downtown, neighborhoods are characterized by unique land-use patterns (such as high-rise office in Center Center and high-rise residential in the Lake Merritt Apartment District), different types of retail (ethnic goods and services in Chinatown, or specialty shops in SOBO), and distinctive architecture (Art Deco in Uptown, Victoriana in Old Oakland). I created a map of the districts, based on a downtown map from the Oakland Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.

DTO District Map 1

Already, newish neighborhood groups are focused on their districts, like Old Oakland Neighbors, Downtown Lake Merritt Apartment Neighborhood Group, and the SOBO (South Of Broadway Oakland) merchants’ association. Visitors to the DTO are often confused by downtown’s size and the utter lack of city wayfinding. This map is a start toward identifying those districts and placing them in context.

So, I ask the reader – what do you think? Are these borders correct? With Jack London Square approaching the high-density mixed-use character of downtown, should it remain separate? If the Conley Report’s goal of transforming Auto Row happens, should that be considered downtown? Is there a historic name for the area I call West DTO?