downtown oakland
Downtown Oakland circa 1910

Posts from — March 2011

Where is the DTO 3?

March 11, 2011

On Tuesday, the City Council Community and Economic Development Committee approved a request to apply for a grant to study a downtown transit investment – something that some are calling a “streetcar” study, although it will study all modes of transit. During the discussion, Councilmember Jane Brunner (North Oakland) pointed out that calling the stretch of Broadway above downtown but below 580 “Upper Broadway” was very confusing to people in North Oakland. And while they were on the subject, Councilmember Pat Kernighan (Chinatown – Eastlake – Crocker Highlands) posed a similar question:

She asked, where is Uptown? What is the relationship between Uptown and Downtown? Is there a Mid-Town? These questions are worth exploring.

Downtown Oakland – or as we like to call it around here, the DTO – is becoming a destination because of its cultural attractions, including nightlife, and the US Census reports that downtown is one of the (few) fast-growing parts of the city. With the downtown core becoming a bigger part of Oakland, it is time to dust off the old maps and see if we can update the geography of the heart of Oakland.

Below is a map from 2008, part of a discussion on mapping downtown’s identity. An updated map is a good project, so how can we change it? What do you, as a downtown resident, worker, or enjoyer, think about this map? Is it basically right or way off? What has changed since 2008? And what are the answers to CM Kernighan’s questions – where is Uptown? Is there a Mid-Town? Next week I will upload a map based on our discussion and we’ll see how cultural change can be expressed as geography.


No redevelopment, just a good time

March 4, 2011

Once again it is the First Friday of the month, and despite threats to the Redevelopment funding that has been at least partly responsible for downtown’s resurgence, there is no shortage of new business and optimism about the direction of the DTO. For your partying pleasure, I offer an edited guide to what’s new and happening this (hopefully) sunny March weekend.

Uptown’s newest retailer, the somewhat controversial upscale sex shop Feelmore510, gets in on the First Friday action with a display of erotic photography, and across the street on Telegraph, Uptown’s newest watering hole, Bar Dogwood, offers an artsy atmosphere with nods to taxidermy. The New Parkway is exploring an Uptown venue – if you like it, be sure to offer your input!

Over in Old Oakland, Levende East has expanded its hours and offerings, with brunch on Sundays and a First Friday reception featuring the drawings of local favorite Obi Kauffman. Newish gallery Chaparral City brings fine art to 9th Street with a painting and photography show. Jack London Square’s Swarm Gallery on Sunday will host an open house of the work of artists in their studios, expanding the DTO’s artiness to the normally-slow weekend.

With new surface parking lots downtown formally nixed by the Planning Commission, Oaklanders can look forward to more productive development in the central core. The Kaiser Center has submitted a bid for the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, which could be a new job center and lead to spin-off companies selling innovative technology.

In restaurant news, SOBO’s Disco Volante is getting great buzz for its eclectic yet affordable menu, while Flora is moving forward with the next-door bar and restaurant, positioned to be more affordable and casual than the Art Deco mothership.

And today’s headline event, Uptown’s Art Murmur, features numerous galleries as well as a fun atmosphere. Highlights include a retrospective of 60 years of printmaking from California College of the Arts, an art show inspired by female anatomy at Warehouse 416, and the Great Wall’s interactive projection at the intersection of West Grand and Broadway.

And if you’re willing to venture outside of the DTO, don’t forget about the White Elephant Sale this weekend – but be warned, apparently shopping trips to Fruitvale are newly controversial.

Though the snow snafu has made many wary of forecasts, I will venture a prediction – tonight’s Art Murmur will be fun and dry! See you in Uptown – I’ll be the guy without an umbrella.