Late last year, a person who had taken both of my San Francisco tours, started asking me about taking him on an Oakland tour. He remembered that I had mentioned wanting to figure out an East Bay walk and politely called me out on the idea. While working my nonprofit day job on Broadway at 19th Street for a few years, I spent many lunch hours walking around Chinatown, Uptown, and Downtown, snapping stencil photos, annoying Jet Martinez while he painted his huge mural, stopping by galleries, and enjoying the tagging and graffiti. I would talk about the walks with my coworkers, who started asking me when I'd figure out an Oakland tour. Now, Isaac wanted me to do a rough first run in the streets of Oakand.
I said yes, and promised to take Isaac and his son and son's friend on my first-ever intentionally shared Oakland street art walk. I did research, made a route, did more research, and in late December, we wandered over to Chinatown, through "Mural Lane", and up to Uptown. We packed the three hour walk with murals, graffiti, sunshine, and a beer at the end. Thanks, Isaac!
Once Hugh D'Andrade heard that I was finally giving an Oakland walk (right past his apartment), he helped me organize a second one in January. About 15 people showed up for that one. I made more notes, altered things a bit, researched more, and then we took the walk for a second run. My friend Eleni couldn't make this tour, so she organized a third one a few weeks later with about 10 people. So, more research and notes for me, with the final issue to work out being restrooms and an open cafe to meet up at the beginning (Peet's on Broadway failed in both of those accounts. Hello, Awaken Cafe).
After all the research, note taking, feedback processing, and tour tweaks, the tour is now open to the public. I know that Jack London Square just got a lot of freshly painted walls, but I haven't been able to check it out. Having walked that part of Oakland for several years, it may be too much walking to add Jack London to the current route. But, things change! Who knows what will happen?!
Speaking of change... RIP to an entertaining BiP wall on Broadway, now covered by construction (photo by Jonathan Evans)