As I get closer to the end of my photography project on Oakland, I'm noticing three or four areas in Oakland that have not received as much (if any) of my attention at this point: The upper Oakland Hills, the middle of North Oakland (38th-50th streets), the upper half of West Oakland and Deep East Oakland. My goal is to cover all of these areas by the end of February.
That being said, this thread focuses on the middle of East Oakland (Central and half of Deep East Oakland): The area between the 50's and the 80's. Some on this board have been requesting for me to do a thread on the area surrounding the Coliseum for some time now, so I finally got around to it. Some people consider the 50's the "real" beginning of East Oakland; I am not one of them, but at the same time I understand where this comes from. East Oakland is as much a geographic designation as it is a cultural one; for years, it was and is sometimes still used as a catch-all for where the region's black population lives, the vast majority of which living between the 50's and the 100's. Another name for this area that originated from it was the nickname "the Town", which has come to encompass all of Oakland. The police have a much less endearing nickname for the area: The Killing Fields. Outsiders tend to simply refer to this area and the rest of East Oakland as the ghetto.
One thing about this area is unmistakable: It has seen better days. As it stands now, it is the most murderous section of Oakland and one of the poorest. One should note that there are middle-class neighborhoods adjacent to this area that experience little to none of the crime - Maxwell Park, Frick, Eastmont Hills, Toler Heights, Durant Manor, etc. - but it also does not change the reality that the area has entered a depression. Some attempts have been made by the city to rectify the damage of the industrial collapse and the crack epidemic of the late 70's and 80's that brought all this to be. The Lockwood Gardens (more popularly known as the Ville) have been renovated and are no longer sport a bombed-out appearance, although the crime problem still persists. There is talk of building a "sports city" in the Coliseum area to bring jobs back to the area, although there is also talk of all of our teams leaving Oakland for good. They constructed the largest library branch in Oakland last year on 81st Avenue & Rudsdale (pictured in this thread) but the schools that would be using it are on the verge of closing. Simply put, this part of Oakland is on its last legs. The only true sign of hope is the beginning of a revitalization movement of the business district on International Boulevard, but many of the areas other business corridors - MacArthur Boulevard, Eastmont Mall, Bancroft Avenue - remain economically depressed as ever.
I do not want this to be mistaken as the story of all of East Oakland or all of Oakland for that matter though as it so often is. I would like to believe that I've amassed enough evidence with all the countless East Oakland threads I've done that it is the most economically diverse part of the city and has a huge variety of neighborhoods. However, I also don't want to be mistaken for somebody who sugar-coats the reality; there is a real problem in the heart of East Oakland that many would prefer not to confront. The ultimate goal for this project is to be holistic; if it isn't, IMO it can't offer any real insight into what Oakland is like right now.
That's the end of my preamble... other than what's been mentioned above, here's the neighborhoods I covered on this thread:
- Wentworth Holland
- Arroyo Viejo
- Bancroft Business
I also included two pictures of graffiti I took in Dimond on the way back.
Here's some music to go along with it (warning: coarse language):
• Video Link
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