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old picture of park blvd.

Before it was known as Park Boulevard, the Glenview's main drag was known as Walker Street and an extension of 4th Avenue.

How well do you know your neighborhood? Before Mandela Parkway grew flowers, the Cypress Freeway threw shadows over West Oakland. Pre-dating the Uptown swing in fine downtown dining, dives like the Hof Brau hung signs with blinking lights on Broadway. And who would’ve known that the Fruitvale, a mecca for Hispanic foods and festivals, was lined with cherry orchards?

City history rests just below the concrete surface in our lovely, multi-layered Oakland. This summer, the Oakland Heritage Alliance continues its walking tour series. Inspired by the architecture, landscapes and people that have characterized the Town, a few armchair historians continue to lead the curious on several strolls through time.

image of park blvd. apartment building

Today, Park Boulevard has a mix of single-family and multi-unit homes.

Tomorrow, I invite you to join me on a stroll through the Glenview. Oakland History Room historian Kathleen DiGiovanni and I will traverse a hillside neighborhood and share the stories of a growing Oakland. Before the gourmet restaurants opened, ranchers raised cows and crops along Park Boulevard. A train carried passengers up Trestle Glen and loggers hauled redwood trunks down Park from the hills.

When the “Glenview Heights” subdivision, as it was called in 1925, took shape, settling space ran for $150 a foot. Some scrambled for homogeneity while others welcomed diversity with the Key Route streetcars that rambled up Park to Leimert. As one property owner put it, “Just picture another Oakland built almost entirely around the outside of the present city. That will give you some idea of the coming importance of Park Boulevard. It is going to be Oakland’s great north and south artery, and it cannot be paralleled.”

1925 map of "Glenview Heights"

The Oakland Tribune ran this map of "Glenview Heights" in 1925.

Saturday’s route will start at Glenview Elementary School, wind through Dimond Canyon and head up E. 38th toward Hampel, ending on Park’s business district. The tour lasts from 10 a.m. to noon.

For histories and poems from all corners of our city, check out Erika Mailman’s compilation “Oakland’s Neighborhoods.” You’ll find a complete listing of the Oakland Heritage Alliance tours here.

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Slow shopping isn’t just organic, it’s good for you.

It’s a lot better than heading to the mall, anyway. Holiday highway traffic and box store crowds are hard on your health. Take a look at Black Friday, with its long tradition of Cabbage Patch Kid stampedes and Tickle Me Elmo crazes. This year shoppers didn’t hit stores in their usual rabid fashion, though. Black Friday sales rose only 0.5 percent higher in 2009, even as Americans spent $10.66 billion the day after Thanksgiving. Cyber Monday brought up online purchases by 14% from 2008, indicating people stayed indoors after turkey day, pointing-and-clicking.

Let Oakland suggest a more festive alternative. Whether you wore black or plaid last Friday, this week bring out the green; find holiday gifts made and sold in Oakland. You’ll get out, stretch your legs (earning you an egg nogg) and see the streets decked out in holiday decor. Crisp air and sparkling lights beckon more brightly than the glow of a computer screen.

In a time of year when instances of road ragers and QVC sales increase, shopping locally will lead you to the perfect gift in little time. And it will help keep your neighbors in business. Here are some spots to check out…

December 5–6:

Holidayland Reception
Blank Space and Compound galleries continue their Paul Bunyan-themed artist sale, featuring the artwork of over 100 local artists, designers and craftspeople. In case you missed the sale launch last week, stop by for Oakland Art Murmur this Friday and take your picture with Paul’s ox Babe; your $5 mug shot goes to support Oakland high schools. Also in store for First Friday are tamales by Tina Tamale of La Borinquena. Sip on Mexican Hot Chocolate, munch on a green bean tamale and peruse the fine art for sale. Emily Sevier creates ornaments to wear on site.
Reception: Fri., Dec. 4, 6 p.m.–10 p.m., Sale through Dec. 20, Blankspace Gallery, 6608 San Pablo Ave., 510-547-6608, blankspacegallery.org.

CCA Holiday Fair
Students and alumni of the California College of the Arts, will turn the campus into an arts bazaar Saturday morning. Have your pick of original paintings, jewelry, textiles, paper media and more. As you browse, enjoy complimentary jazz and treats.
Sat., Dec. 5, 11 a.m.–2:40 p.m., California College of the Arts 5212 Broadway, glee@cca.edu, cca.edu.

Piedmont Avenue Tree Lighting Ceremony & Holiday Stroll
Merchants along one of the city’s oldest business districts show some holiday flair for the shopping season. L’Amyx sells its quality teas (and accoutrements) at a 10–25 percent discount, and feature musician Michael Grandi plays jazz guitar and Cascada de Flores some Cuban folk tunes from 6 p.m.–10 p.m. The tree lighting ceremony (one of three scheduled in Oakland this week) begins the festivities, near the clock tower towering over the Mexican-American diner, J’s Hamburger & Such.
Sat., Dec. 5, 5 p.m. to closing, 41st St. and Piedmont Avenue, piedmontavenuemerchants.org.

Annual Pottery and Craft Sale
Studio One Art Center offers the best of both worlds during the giving season: gifts and a good cause. Purchase any art piece and all the proceeds go to fund Oakland’s youth programming.
Sun., Dec. 6, 12 p.m.–4 p.m., 365 45th St., 510-597-5027, oaklandnet.com/parks.

Fourth Annual Holiday Reception & ArtWalk
Back in the days when corporate plants dominated the landscape, the factory workers used to jangle their pay in-pocket, earning the neighborhood the name “Jingletown.” These days the arts drive the industry here instead of Ford Motor Company, and the products are more climate-friendly. Don’t miss photographer Jan Watten‘s portraits, Sarah Swell‘s metal-wrought jewelry or the Institute of Mosaic Art, whose gorgeous tile murals tag the warehouses on Chapman Street. Download an ArtWalk map here.
Reception: Fri., Dec. 4, 6 p.m.–9 p.m.; Gallery 4:20, 420 Peterson St.; ArtWalk: Dec. 5–6, 12–13, 11 a.m.–6 p.m., when you’ve reached the intersection of Peterson and Ford streets, you’re in the epicenter of ArtWalk, jingletown.org.

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December 12–13:

Holiday Buy Night
Pro-local Oakland Unwrapped and Oakland Grown are just two of the merchant organizations sponsoring this “Mall-ternative” to box store shopping. Products at this evening fair have more variety than a box of See’s candy, with everything from candles to kayaks for sale. Linden Street Brewery keeps customers warm with the launch of its Bleeding Heart Lager, a name that characterizes the most die-hard of Oaklanders.
Dec. 10–11, 5 p.m.–10 p.m., Jack London Market, 55 Harrison St., oaklandunwrapped.org.

Holiday Gifty Art Sale
The Crucible, largely responsible for the upsurge in the Oakland’s art scene, hosts more than 70 Bay Area artisans for this annual gift fair. Each booth standing on their 56,000 square foot space holds new surprises without the high retail prices. Also, sale-goers see demonstrations of what makes the Crucible tick year-round; glass blowing, metal casting and blacksmithing demonstrations wow crowds (11 a.m.–3 p.m.), between live performances and Santa’s appearance (1 p.m.).
Dec. 12–13, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., 1260 7th St., thecrucible.org.

Winter Arts Fair
Join Mercury 20 gallery to select artfully rendered pottery, mixed media, tote bags, jewelry and more. One of the several artists to participate is Chela Fielding, who brings her mixed media to the sale. One of her installation pieces, the charming and stark “Memory Drawers,” was pictured in a book called “Memory Boxes” by Anna Corbin. The hidden objects give the work a nostalgic feel, like a well-loved advent calendar. No chocolate Santa Clauses here, though. Cheer and refreshments however will be served.
11 a.m.–5 p.m., 25 Grand Ave., 510-701-4620, mercurytwenty.com.

Second Annual Temescal Holiday Skate & Stroll
The outdoor ice skating rink takes center stage at this neighborhood fair, with sales proceeds benefiting Good Cents for Oakland and the Emerson School. Once you’ve reprised “The Nutcracker” on ice, peek into the charming stores in the Temescal. All weekend long, hear carolers and dunk candy canes in hot chocolate. On Sunday, artist Mark Brest van Kempen unveils his city-sponsored art series—“Views of the Greenbelt”—sculptures that reflect the flora and fauna of the Rockridge-Temescal neighborhoods.
Dec. 12–13, 12:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m., Telegraph Avenue and 49th Street, temescaldistrict.org.

Local Love
Manifesto Bicycles is just one of the retailers spicing up 40th Street for holiday consumption. On Saturday it fetes 40th Street with the Local Love collective, a band of block merchants, including the Rowan Morrison Gallery, 1-2-3-4 Go! Records and the city’s premier mag shop: Issues.
Dec. 12, 6 p.m.–9 p.m., 40th Street and Broadway, 510-595-1155, wearemanifesto.com.

Fourth Annual Holiday Reception & ArtWalk
Back in the days when corporate plants dominated the landscape, the factory workers used to jangle their pay in-pocket, earning the neighborhood the name “Jingletown.” These days the arts drive the industry here instead of Ford Motor Company, and the products are more climate-friendly. Don’t miss photographer Jan Watten‘s portraits, Sarah Swell‘s metal-wrought jewelry or the Institute of Mosaic Art, whose gorgeous tile murals tag the warehouses on Chapman Street. Download an ArtWalk map here.
ArtWalk: Dec. 5–6, 12–13, 11 a.m.–6 p.m., when you’ve reached the intersection of Peterson and Ford streets, you’re in the epicenter of ArtWalk, jingletown.org.

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Out-of-town & Ongoing:

Renegade Craft Fair
Oaklandish represents The O in SF with its line of pop-historical wear. This homegrown outfit makes the best threads for those tapped into Oakland’s cultural underbelly. And Oaklandish is just one of hundreds more Bay Area vendors setting up shop at Fort Mason, which hosted the wildly successful Slow Food Festival two summers ago. Renegade’s combination of small businesses and big markets provide ample tasting of the region’s indie art.
Dec. 19–20, 11 a.m.–7 p.m., Fort Mason Center, Herbst Pavilion, San Francisco renegadecraft.com.

Berkeley Holiday Artisans Open Studios
This recurring gallery crawl has an Oakland Art Murmur feel, and this winter it comes in holiday dressing. A self-guided tour leads you through every type studio shop and material imaginable, from leather to glass to semi-precious stones.
Dec. 5–6, 12–13, 19–20, Berkeley, 510-845-2612, berkeleyartisans.com.

Holiday Warehouse Sale
Fair trade goods are in abundance at this warehouse sale. It’s hosted by the World of Good, an organization and think-tank that works to improve living conditions for women living on less than $2 a day. World of Good helps millions of women and adolescent girls in the developing world. You can help by purchasing a gift at the sale; items are as little as $5 and discounts as great at 90%.
Dec. 5–6, 9 a.m.–6 p.m., 6315 Doyle St., Emeryville, worldofgood.org.

Oakland Artisan Marketplace
For those who miss this year’s slow shopping events, swing by this marketplace year-round. Each weekend Oakland artisans open up their folding tables and display their wares. More often than not, you’ll find Paula Chan among the vendors; her line includes handcrafted jewelry and frame-worthy cards and she’s always working on something new.
Fri., 10 a.m.–4 p.m. at Frank Ogawa Plaza; Sat., 10 a.m.–6 p.m. at Jack London Square; Sun., 10 a.m.–5 p.m. at Jack London Square, oaklandculturalarts.org.

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Elsinore Walk, aka Path #49

Elsinore Walk, aka Path #49

Walkers, strollers, bikers, and especially all you four-wheelers: Oakland needs you to restore its pedestrian paths. Tomorrow, at 9:30 a.m., volunteers from Oakland Urban Paths will lead a group of ped-lovers through a few stairways in the Glenview. Volunteers will measure stairs and other data while trekking in the footsteps of old Oaklanders.

Not since the streetcars ran the streets did these walkways etch their way into, beside and behind the street grid. Now OUP, in partnership with the City of Oakland and Walk Oakland Bike Oakland, leads its citizen recruits to preserve them from overgrowth and ruin. Come be a part of the action tomorrow and get micro on the following routes:

These are the paths that OUP plans to chart this Sunday.

These are the paths that OUP plans to chart this Sunday.

If you’ve explored a handful of the city’s walkways, you’ve noticed that they’re in varying states of disrepair. Glenview paths, for the most part, have retained their early 20th-century splendor. Elsinore Walk still has good signage. Others, like Paths #53 and 54 off Trestle Glen, have needed some major renovation. Some have leaning handrails and concrete cracked open from seismic shifts or erosion, and the Trestle Glen side of Glendora Path (#51) is completely blocked off:

glendora3

That’s where OUP comes in. Its inventory project will track each of the city’s seven districts. Volunteers have already set out to collect information on Oakland’s walkways, and after October 19, OUP will share its data with the city for the next step: renovation.

So GlenFriends: bring yourselves and the following items tomorrow, Sunday, September 19:

1) water bottle
2) sunscreen
3) clip board
4) measuring tape
5) pen
6) digital cameras if you got ’em

We will meet outside Ultimate Grounds at 9:30 a.m. Be sure to look over the volunteer waiver and sign it when you arrive. (You could even save the effort a few cents by printing it out yourself and bringing it with you.) If you’d like to hear the latest inventory updates on Districts 3 and 5, log on to Yahoo! Groups and sign up with oakland_upd3d5.

If you’ll have to miss this Sunday, but want to help out with other stairway inventories, check out the following District Leaders. They will happily sign you up for a data trek:

09/20/09 UPDATE:

This morning, OUP volunteers took stock of five Glenview walkways. Both legs of Elsinore Walk and #63 off Park Boulevard didn’t yield many unusual findings. Glendora Path, however, was a surprise. A sign at the top seems to indicate that it’s a public path:

glendora-path

Yet, a few paces into the bamboo-lined walk, the path makes a sharp right and dead ends a few houses down. If you’ve wandered this way, you’ve probably tripped over the loose rocks and yellow “Caution!” tape. Rather than wind down to Path #52 on Elbert Street, Glendora leads right into someone’s backyard.

A couple neighbors met us on our visit. They had one thing to say about Glendora Path: it isn’t public.

“This was created by the city for fire department access,” said one mother with kids in tow. “The houses along this path were built without outlets to Elbert Street, so we use this path and our Elbert neighbors’ personal paths to get home. It’s really a private path, and it would be nice if the city removed the sign so people don’t walk along here.”

Since the climb from Elbert Street (and through her neighbor’s property) is a little steep, she tends to park on Glendora and take the path to her backyard gate. Another neighbor returning to his Glendora Avenue home claimed that the path has been only loosely private since the 1970s.

Either way, public or private, Glendora Path is little more than a sign. GlenFriends and other urban explorers might want to skip this leg of their walking tour and give these path-dwellers their privacy.

Not to worry, Oakland has more then 200 paths and stairs from which to choose. Check out walk-bike-oakland-map to plot your next walk.