Proof That Oakland Hills Don’t Exist

In case you wondered, Montclair and the Oakland Hills don’t really exist.  We live in a state of mind, at least from the perspective of mass transit.  BART recently revised their maps and removed curves a bit.  Then Burrito Justice created a hyperlinear version that vanquishes us, forever.

Take a look at the BART-produced map, where you can detect a slight angle south between Orinda and Rockridge.  We believe that tips the hat to Montclair, a bit.  Then notice the large curve as you head south from Rockridge to MacArthur, where there’s some space to fit the Oakland Hills.  While we don’t exist here, at least you see terra incognitas.

BART - New Linear Map

Now check out Burrito Justice, where they decided to remove all the curves from the BART transit lines entirely.  Their hyperlinear map sure looks graphically interesting, but creates big problems for us.

Yes, we have been wiped off the planet!  Note the straight line between Orinda and Rockridge, with no possibility for Montclair.  Then look at where MacArthur, 19th and City Center are placed, directly below Orinda and Rockridge.  There is literally no place for the Oakland Hills in a square world.

Burrito Justice - Hyperlinear BART

Everyone already gets confused about geo-political borders for the Montclair District and the Oakland Hills.  We describe them by the nearby highways, and that usually does the trick.  But now these BART map oversights are insulting at best and nefarious at worst.

Armed with our cheshire cat grins, we declare that “we live in an imaginary place.”  Though we swore there were people, homes, schools, parks and a downtown village around here…somewhere.

Walking Montclair’s Steeps

While there are all kinds of great ways to view the topography of Montclair, the most practical one is Walk Oakland! This cool map shows the specific pitches of streets, and helps you get around on foot or bicycle.

Click here to see the map, and magnify any Montclair neighborhood.  You’ll notice the streets are graded by color, with deeper pinks as you head up the hills:  0-3% white; 3-6% light; 6-9% medium; and over 9% dark.

Take a closer look at this Montclair snapshot.  If you know your area, then you’ll agree the pitch colors are remarkably accurate – depending on whether they head up or transverse the hills.

What I like best about this map is that is reveals some ideal walks.  Why do I always restrict to walking up to Skyline?  Probably nothing more than habit.  As an avid walker, the map encourages me to check out some other places rather than my typical routes.

This walking map also manages to label the streets and neighborhoods clearly.  While we don’t commonly use the original neighborhood names, they honor our history.  In addition to Hiller Highlands, Montclair and Piedmont Pines, you can zoom into Forestland, Merriewood and Fernwood too.

Of course, it’s fun to fly around Google Earth and see actual satellite images.  It’s even more useful to have these pitch measurements – and there’s no other place to find them.