Oakland is hilly but not mountainous. It is a physically beautiful place, but unlike in San Francisco, its beauty does not confront you at every hill crested or corner turned. You have to seek it out. Try standing at Van Buren and Euclid and looking north to the hills or south to the gleaming lake. Stroll the beautiful unpainted remnants of the town once known as Brooklyn at the strange elbow bend in International between 12th and 14th Avenues. Or feel the moody haze as you sit on the little knoll just east of Lake Merritt at dusk in autumn. Some early spring day at sunset, find your way to the obscure meeting place of Wellington Street and Everett Avenue in the foothills, watch the sun blast its way into the city’s broken-comb skyline, and try not to be moved. Walk certain historic blocks in West Oakland, rich in architecture, any time of the day or year: Eighth Street between Henry and Pine, or Chester between Fifth Street and South Prescott Park.
Thursday, May 22, 2014
A Unified Theory of a Tough Town by Jim O'Brien, in the June issue of San Francisco Magazine. The entire issue is dedicated to the life, politics, culture and people of Oakland. Here's a little excerpt from my article: