The nickname, of course, alludes to the lawlessness that pervaded West Oakland during the crack era, complete with cocaine cowboys et. al. It was also, however, the birthplace of the Black Panther Party. African Americans and West Oakland became synonymous in the 1900's when southern black immigrants moved to Oakland en masse to work at the Port of Oakland, which is basically part of West Oakland. Oakland was a very segregated city at the time... West Oakland and the western half of North Oakland was almost entirely black and East Oakland was almost entirely white until the 1950's. Now, though, East Oakland is the most diverse region in the Bay Area and West Oakland is becoming increasingly hispanic and white as gentrification continues in the parts of West Oakland that border downtown.
West Oakland is possibly the most visibly-decayed neighborhood in California, and some of that is captured in these photos. More than that, though, these photos capture West Oakland before it is likely to make a big transition. It has always been the heart of the black population in Oakland... that may not be true, though, a mere 10 years from now.
This neighborhood's nickname is supposedly named for the two casket stores that operated side by side on the neighborhood's main business drag, but has also come to represent the neighborhood's struggle with bloodshed. Its actual name is Hoover Foster but Ghost Town is far more popular. 60 Minutes ran a special on a particularly dilapidated house in Ghost Town which prompted the city of Oakland to do something that I don't remember at this point.
This neighborhood is situated at the Southwestern-most corner of West Oakland and was one of the most affected neighborhoods by the Loma-Prieta earthquake in '89 (ie the collapse of the Cypress Freeway). It has historically been among the poorest neighborhoods in the city. It is home to the Campbell Village Housing Project and straddling remnants of the once-active commercial strip on 7th st by where the West Oakland BART stop now is.
This neighborhood is named for the most notorious project in West Oakland (and at this point Oakland), the ACORNs; it is also home to the MOHR 1 Public Housing. All of the projects in the West have recently undergone a face-lift but inside them its a whole other world.
Interestingly, there was a soccer camp or something going on in Lowell Park when I was there... most of the parents and kids where white. In the words of a friend who was with me, "I've never seen this many white people before in the West ever." I second that.
Ghost Town Set #2
That's it for now.