23 February 2011

Oakland Marathon neighborhood tour - # 14 - Jack London Square

15 years ago it would have been a stretch to call the Jack London Square area a neighborhood.  But in that time, many of the old warehouses that predominated have been converted to lofts and condos, and many new residential structures have been erected.

The center of the Jack London Square area is where Broadway ends at the Embarcadero.

The elements of the area are disparate.  What you have in addition to the increasing number of large residential buildings are:
- the Jack London Square commercial and touristic area
- the Oakland Produce Market which comes alive in the early morning hours
- the entertainment venues including Yoshi's jazz club (formerly in Rockridge) and the multiplex movie theatre
- remaining light industrial and distribution enterprises
- all manner of places to eat and drink
- Oakland's Amtrak station
- Oakland dock for the ferry that runs between Oakland, Alameda, and San Francisco

What will be interesting to see in coming years is whether the newly built Jack London Market is successful.  This colossal development at the east end of Jack London Square and across from the train station, aims to replicate the success of San Francisco's Ferry Building as an artisan food marketplace in the East Bay.  An article from July 2010 in the East Bay Express describes the challenges ahead.

Solid brick buildings like the American Bag Co. at right were the norm in the area surrounding Jack London Square.  There are still many of them, though most of the large ones have been renovated for reuse as offices, lofts, or condos.

But across the street from the old building is this very new condominium.  Its style is a take on an early 20th century warehouse but there is no mistaking its modernity.

The streets look quiet in these three pictures taken around 3:00 p.m., but come back around 5:00 a.m. and it will look a lot different.  This is the Oakland Produce Market.  Once in the early 90s I took a day off just to see what happened in the early morning hours here.  If you go there at an early hour, my advice is to watch out for the guys driving forklifts - this is their turf!

Note the tall building -"The Ellington" -in the background - another new condomimium.

Historic dive bar: Heinold's First and Last Chance.  Jack London was here.

Oakland's Amtrak station.  Trains run in the street for about 4 blocks along the Embarcadero directly in front of Jack London Square.  This is also the Union Pacific (formerly Southern Pacific) mainline track leading north, south, and to the Port of Oakland.  There is a lot of coming and going by rail in this part of Oakland.

Why I love Oakland.  Come on, how many places can you find a vegan soul food restaurant?  (Solely Vegan - at the corner of Broadway and 2nd.)

On the same block of Third Street as Solely Vegan lies the old Western Pacific train station.  When the original (pre-Amtrak) California Zephyr ceased operation in March 1970, the train station was no longer needed.  It has had many uses since then.  Up until not so many years ago, the mainline track (for freight) of the Western Pacific Railroad ran down the middle of Third Street on its way to the port.  Eventually (late 90s?) the Union Pacific, acquirer of both the Western Pacific and Southern Pacific stopped using the old W.P. line in Oakland, and the track was removed from Third Street.  Trains now operate exclusively on the Embarcadero.

Beer Revolution is located in the modest building with the blue canopies just to the right of the old station.  It's agit-prop Che Guevara meets craft brew.

What the cool kids are drinking.  This is the home of Blue Bottle Coffee, the ne plus ultra of Bay Area coffee.  I was interested to see that besides a few other retail locations in the Bay Area, they have a roastery in Brooklyn, NY.

Oakland Marathon neighborhood tour - navigational links:
Backward to: Chinatown
Forward to: West Oakland
Oakland Marathon website

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