I've lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1982. It's a great place to live for a variety of people for a variety of reasons. Even in this micro-climate, multiple sterotypes persist. Gertrude Stein who for some reason has remained famous since the 1920's despite writing several exceedingly boring novels is most well known for her alleged statement about Oakland-"Theres no there, there." In this, as in many other things, Gertrude Stein was wrong.
First, Oakland is a City with distinct neighborhoods. From the Hispanic center of Fruitvale, to Piedmont to Rockridge to East and West Oakland. I'll discuss my two favorite locales.
Walk along College avenue in the Rockridge area and you are surrounded by academics, both students and teachers every where you turn. A veritable sea of Birkinstocks, yellow labs and Coexist bumper stickers. You'll also find Zachary's deep dish pizza and directly across the street, a great place that serves very thin crispy slices of pizza. Like Japanese, Chinese, Thai or Vietnamese? All within walking distance of the BART station. Transbay Sports is renowned among runners as being the best Running store in the Bay Area, down the street is Run Jane Run a store for women runners and sponsor of many races and events.
Piedmont has two faces. The first and most well known face are the million dollar and up homes in the hills, the private and public schools catering to the wealthy locals and a beautiful private golf course. The second face of Piedmont is Piedmont Avenue where you can rest your soul at one of the many coffee shops, check out the independent bookstores, eat a variety of fine meals, shop at a great grocery store and get your bike fix at Montano Velo. I've spent many a fine hour on the Avenue.
Yes, its true that there is a lacking of civic activity in downtown Oakland but, that is changing. Farleys East is evidence enough that the younger demographic will hang out and spend their money in Oakland. Usually the most severe critics of Oakland are people who live in San Francisco and didn't grow up there. Given that downtown San Francisco goes to sleep after 6 is ample evidence that criticising downtown Oakland for not being lively enough is the height of hypocrisy.
So, check out Oakland and if you mention this column, you'll be entitled to the beverage of your choice, maybe two depending on yopur review.