Archive for the 'Places Of Note' Category

01
Apr
12

Skateboarding Dreams In Claremont Canyon

We have never witnessed skateboarders careening down Claremont Canyon, but some pretty amazing athletes have gone to the trouble of video-taping their dream runs.   It’s downright exhilarating in “Claremont,” especially when these guys start their journey around 2:30 minutes into the video.

Wow, how fast are these skateboarders moving?  Maybe up to 60 miles per hour?  We think they’re under control, while traveling faster than any cars, because they maneuver the curves quite well and they do know how to slow down.

Perhaps inspired by this epic video, other guys have recorded their journeys.  We discovered one skateboarder who filmed his entire run holding the camera boom himself, as well as two boarders who handed off their boom and filming en route.  In both videos, they started a bit lower in Claremont to avoid the more difficult and crazy curves.

It makes us wonder about the (unfilmed) skateboarders pursuing their dreams, and whether they have safely ridden down the canyon too.  Claremont neighbors often complain about drivers speeding down the canyon and nearly missing them!  When it comes to the boarders, so far..so good.

18
Feb
12

Our Beloved Bay Bridge, In The Beginning

In honor of this weekend’s Oakland Bay Bridge closure heading westbound, we decided to remember the 75-year-old in better days.  As a newborn, she was an engineering marvel and the longest cantilever bridge in the world.

Let’s flashback to the four-day long, bridge opening celebration.  Julian Lozos, a San Franciscan, shared this cover art from the ceremony program itself.  The cover, which Lozos discovered and bought on eBay, is a thing of 1936 deco-beauty.  Though I wonder why all the people seem mellow and a bit snobbish.  Show some enthusiasm!

Next, we go to the Bay Bridge parade route.  Another local, Ward Ryan, digitized films about Bay Bridge construction and discovered this lovely parade float.  Who are these goddesses adorning the bridge?  Do they provide a classy touch or something more?  We think they have been replaced by our lucky troll, who currently resides on the bridge itself.

Last but not least, we present an image from the Little Miss Bay Bridge contest.  Pleasanton resident J. Boles shared this snapshot of his mother, who represented Emeryville and won the contest.  She was awarded a nice ribbon by actress Rochelle Hudson, a big deal at the time.  So we have proof there were contests well before the Toddlers & Tiaras era.

The Bay Bridge has done yeoman’s service, without major changes.  Her two decks were revamped over fifty years ago, to remove the trains and accommodate growing vehicle traffic.  And we know about the fixes since the 1989 Loma Prieta collapse, necessary but not sufficient for long-term safety.  The bridge could only last for a lifetime.

On Labor Day 2013, we will marvel at our brand-new, replacement bridge that moves with earthquakes.  She will become another shining beacon, complete with open views towards Oakland and the hills.  And we’ll all be there, this time.

P.S.  Tip of the hat, to contributors and posters on Facebook’s Bay Bridge memories.

25
Sep
11

Whew, Oakland Looks Pretty Good

At the Moneyball movie premiere,  we received kudos from the stars.  Brad Pitt, who plays Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane, declared  “Man, I hope [all Oaklanders] like it.  I think it’s a love letter.”  His Oakland A’s number-cruncher, played by Jonah Hill, added “I love the Bay Area, I love Oakland.”  That’s great, but we needed to see the love letter for ourselves.

After watching Moneyball this opening weekend, we felt uplifted about the A’s and pretty good about Oakland.  The Coliseum is a central backdrop, where Billy Beane places his bets on affordable hitters and their performance plays out.  Other city locations were used sparingly, and here’s the line-up:

  • The Coliseum – Yes, it appears realistically during most of the movie.  You see the playing fields, the locker room, offices and entry ways.  We think the locals who filled the place did a great job.  The real footage of the decade-old games looks just fine, too.
  • The Home – Billy Beane lives in a quiet, nice home.  The scenes take place in a comfortable-looking kitchen that would fit well in our Montclair homes.  One misfire?  There are collectible plates on the walls, which seems strange in an earthquake-prone locale.
  • The Port – Of course, when Beane is trying to figure things out, he goes for a drive and ends up in an open, empty lot.  The Port’s cranes are right there, trying to tell him that he’s protected in Oakland.
  • The Bridge – Yes, our Bridge just had to be in the movie, with the lights twinkling from San Francisco.  (We can’t wait until the new bridge emerges and there’s a view of our hills in future flicks.  Wishful thinking here.)
  • The Airport – There are a couple scenes at the gate, when Beane collects or drops off his daughter.  These small bits could have been filmed at Oakland or anywhere, and thus were too neutral for our tastes.

Moneyball primarily sticks to its Oakland A’s storyline, including the immediate business and sporting activities at hand.  There were no place-setting efforts to show off downtown landmarks or other great spots around the city.  Beane could have taken his daughter to Chabot Science, Lake Merritt or even the Zoo.  Alas, this movie isn’t a Oakland tourism promotion.  As Brad Pitt promised, it’s a true-love note to the Oakland A’s.

P.S.  Did you see District 4 Rep Libby Schaaf’s recent love letter to Oakland?  It does articulate the charms and challenges of Oakland quite well.  Check out Oakland:  The Self-Made City and find Schaaf’s letter in the right hand column.

13
Aug
11

Ode To Montclair School Renovations

As you know, Montclair Elementary School is getting an $18 million makeover.  Renovations began this summer, and continue through next year.  Most notably, two painfully-old portable classrooms and the cafeteria have been demolished.  Good riddance!

While the original school footprint is a nice deco-style building, the school campus has seen far better days.  It’s a top-notch school, filled with teachers who educate kids really well.  But the overcrowding is palpable.  When asked to envision and paint Montclair Elementary, one fifth grader simply created a portable classroom.

John Esposito, senior project manager for Oakland Unified School District, has overseen this summer’s activity.  He does have plenty to get done before the school year begins, and here’s the project schedule for this week:

1.      Fencing
2.      Installation of portable landings and ramps
3.      Cleaning and waxing of portable floors
4.      Moving of earth quake container
5.      Testing of new gas line to old portables
6.      Waiting for PG&E’s change out of existing gas meter for old portables – no date as yet from them
7.      Architect/other consultants preparing their punch lists – corrections, items missing
8.      Installing basketball poles

In only two weeks, all Oakland public schoolers head back to school.  Although Montclair Elementary’s a work-in-progress, students will return to an operational campus.  Their new building, which houses ten classrooms and a rec room, gets built next.

And let’s hope that students view their school differently, when the transformed campus emerges (fingers crossed) in 2012.

More info:  Check out the school expansion Q&A, new building, architectural renderings and group updates.

07
Aug
11

We’re All In Good Shape?

Leaving damn lies aside, it turns out that Oaklanders are pretty healthy.  According to Men’s Health magazine, the City of Oakland ranks as the third “most active” city in the nation.  Apparently, we exercise more and watch TV or play video games less frequently than nearly all other Americans — but that doesn’t mean most city residents are prepared to run the next Oakland Marathon.

Let’s start by sharing all the criteria Men’s Health used for the rankings:

  • Where and how often people exercise
  • Percentage of households that watch more than 15 hours of cable a week
  • Percentage of households that buy more than 11 video games a year
  • Rate of deaths from deep-vein thrombosis, a condition linked to a lot of sitting
  • Exercise defined as any physical activity in the past month

When you dig deeper, Oaklanders aren’t exercising at the same rates.  The Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHA) has attributed disparities to income and race distinctions, as well as access to safe exercise locations.

The stats don’t lie:  Alameda County officials also reported a wide range of lifespans.  In the Oakland Hills, Whites live 82.3 years and African Americans live 77.4 years. In the Flats, Whites live 76.6 years and African Americans live 70.5 years.

More info:  Although Alameda County released their comprehensive health study in 2009, it’s still an interesting resource.  Read the Unnatural Causes summary, delve into the full study, or review the exercise section.

30
Jul
11

Montclair Village, Back in 1947

Back in 1947, Montclair Village’s commercial district already existed and was fully platted.  As portrayed by this official map, our village should look familiar to modern-day Montclarions.

In the map, it’s easy to locate Mountain, LaSalle and Antioch — including the Coffee Central triangle.  You’ll also find some parking, with six (see the encircled “6″) spots designated on Moraga Avenue.

Sure, there are a few changes.  All those empty lots have been built out and transformed many times.  Now the Sacramento Northern is kaput, while Highway 13 rumbles alongside the Village.

Yet we still find comfort in what hasn’t changed in nearly 65 years.

10
Jul
11

Simcity Meets Montclair Village

Who should be occupying retail vacancies in Montclair Village?  Do you want more food, apparel, gifts or specialized services?  We made some fantasy picks a few years ago, and several ideas came true!  Now it’s your time to dream and speak up.

While Montclair Village retailers closed for different reasons, some spots have been vacant for a long time.  We believe that Score Education Center, the Movie Express and Argento Jeweler have been shuttered for well over a year.  Currently, there are nine storefronts to be rented, in these exact locations.

Roger Vickery, Director of the Montclair Village Association, has asked everyone for their thoughts.  You may leave them in the comments here, or email them to Vickery at montclairvillage@sbcglobal.net.

P.S.  Maybe Simcity’s creator could weigh in.  Will Wright lives in our hills, too.




November 2014
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Welcome to Montclair, Oakland

We live in the city yet are invaded by nature - or perhaps it's the other way around. Stop by often, and find out what's interesting to 94611 denizens.


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