Berkeley’s gritty neighbour
A major port and rail terminus, Oakland has long been the gritty counterpart to its liberal neighbor, Berkeley. Nonetheless, Oakland has much more to offer than Jack London Square, mainly for day-trippers, would suggest – it is a waterside shopping complex of minor appeal named after the locally-born writer.
The core of the town lies across 1-88 (the elevated freeway which cuts through the town), where the grand 19thC homes of the Old Oakland area, between 7th and 10th Streets and Broadway and Jefferson Street, sit just north of a compact and energetic Chinatown district.
Continuing south, the Oakland Museum, corner of 10th and Oak Streets, has copious art and natural science exhibits but earns top marks for its extensive, candid and entertaining accounts of California’s history, including a recreated beat generation coffee bar and genuine 1967 hippie paraphernalia. Nearby, the tree-shaded walkways fringing the expansive Lake Merritt are where Oaklanders walk their dogs or hire paddle boats for a leisurely afternoon afloat.
Detour – Hayward
South of Oakland and now consumed by East Bay suburbia, in the mid-19thC Hayward enjoyed the wealth and prestige which stemmed from its role as a supply stop on the route to California’s gold mines. Past glories are documented by the Hayward Historical Society Museum (http://www.haywardareahistory.org), 22701 Main Street. A look around the spacious interiors of the McConaghy House, 18701 Hesperian Boulevard, will demonstrate how rich townsfolk enjoyed life during the late 1800s.