Like many of its Bay Area counterparts, Oakland, California is a city full of diverse neighborhoods, comprised of unique identities blending and interacting to form one of the region’s primary destinations. Temescal is one such example where you can see the local history while experiencing the recently emerged culinary and art scenes that have come to define much of the area.
Once just a stop along the railway that ran down Telegraph Avenue from Oakland to Berkeley, Temescal did not become a part of Oakland until 1897. Upon the construction of the 24 Freeway during the 1930s, the borders changed and the neighborhood struggled. This concept is reminiscent of the post World War II urban redevelopment that took place in New York, when highways were built through cities.
It was not long ago when residents saw Temescal as an area to stray away from. Things changed about ten years ago when local merchants made a deliberate effort to change the image, with the first step being the implementation of a property tax. The tax proceeds helped business, as evidence from the 18% increase in sales-tax receipts between 2004 and 2008.
According to a 2009 article from the Wall Street Journal, the neighborhood draws a “mix of yuppies and plaid-wearing hipsters,” a large part of the contemporary culture in the San Francisco Bay Area. As you drive down Telegraph Avenue, the main street that runs through the district, you will see an array of culinary venues, art galleries and shops that reflect this new demographic. For example, at around 2:00 PM on any given weekday there will be a line outside of Bakesale Betty, a popular sandwich shop, that runs down the block. The neighborhood also hosts a popular Farmers Market every Sunday.
With the impressive community and economic development that has enlivened the neighborhood, Temscal is branding for Oakland’s image. There now resides a hub of culture where these “yuppies” and “hipsters” can find affordable living conditions, public transit in the MacArthur BART station and good eats.
What examples of neighborhood revitalization can you think of in your area?
Credits: Photographs by Robert Poole. Data linked to sources.