Wednesday, November 15, 2006

There There

I know what Gertrude Stein said about Oakland, and I’m here to tell you it’s not true. (She was talking about her family home, anyway, not the whole city.) Oakland is certainly there in every way.

I finished the Eastlake area of Oakland, and am now walking the downtown area. This is going to take a while. Not because it’s so big--downtown is actually pretty compact--but because there is a lot to distract me and I didn’t cover too much ground on my first day. When I wasn’t walking slowly to spot art deco details on the buildings (a lot of downtown was built in the 1930s and ’40s), I was poking my head in Asian grocery stores--my first day’s walk took me through a tiny Korea Town.

I also finally went inside a building I’d been meaning to explore for a long time. The former Hotel Oakland is an enormous building--a testament to the time, back in the day, when Oakland was the place to be--that has been converted into senior housing. It’s an imposing building from the outside, and beautiful inside, looking like the early 20th-century hotel it used to be. You’re not really supposed to go in because it’s private now but it seems to be okay to stand in the lobby and gawk at all the cherubs and columns.

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