The Bay Area's Top 10 Microhoods: Uptown Oakland

For...a nonstop art orgy.

Photo | Stephen Loewinsohn
The “I hella love Oakland” ethos may not be new, but it’s kicking into high gear in Uptown. Just a few years ago, 25th Street had nothing to offer but a few artist studios tucked into abandoned auto repair shops. But these days, its commonwealth of high-octane pop-up galleries is the nexus of the Bay Area’s buzziest artist community, drawing 8,000 people every month for Oakland Art Murmur’s First Fridays. At the 25th Street Collective (477 25th St.), local creatives churn out upcycled leather jackets via Platinum Dirt and make your Goodwill clothes new again by way of Ghetto Goldilocks. It’s a full-on artisan incubator, complete with a storefront gallery, a wine bar, workshops, and edutainment events.

Since 2009, the revamped Fox Theater (1807 Telegraph Ave.) has been bringing in big-name acts like Vampire Weekend and Neil Young, but now Uptown is attracting a new wave of bars and industrial-design restaurants, as well as a motley crew of spirited artists, community organizers, and Pandora employees. Yes, there are high-rise condos with stainless steel appliances, like the Uptown apartments at 20th Street and Telegraph, but within a five-minute walk, you can find Make Westing (bocce ball, anyone?), the Layover (a shoe-box dance dive), Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe (post-drink dinner fare), and Diving Dog Brewhouse’s DIY microbrew lab (1741 Telegraph Ave.; 1517 Franklin St.; 1805 Telegraph Ave.; 1802 Telegraph Ave.). Very soon there will also be Duende (468 19th St.), a restaurant by Paul Canales, formerly of Oliveto.

Around the corner from the Parkway Theater (474 24th St.) are the beginnings of a new bazaar-style town center that promises to bring even more murals and urban-ag markets to Uptown’s percolating mix, as well as an outdoor staging area, a beer garden, wood-fired organic pizza joints, and yoga houses. But if you’re looking for accessible green space, Farley’s East’s new parklet (33 Grand Ave.) is about all you can expect to find here.

THE ESSENTIALS:

Affordability: B (rent for a two-bedroom condo, $2,500; cost of a two-bedroom, $450,000)

Walkability to amenities: A (bike- and pedestrian-friendly roads lead to bars, restaurants, and theaters galore)

Public transportation: A (AC Transit; BART stations at 12th and 19th streets; a free shuttle to Jack London Square and Lake Merritt)

Weather: A (Summer forecast: 72 degrees and sunny)

Safety: C (Tends to be safer than the surrounding neighborhoods, but as with the rest of Oakland, crime is on an uptick)

The Bummer: Welcome to the uptown food desert—not a grocery store in sight
_____

Originally published in the January 2013 issue of San Francisco.