By Barbara Falconer Newhall
Is Oakland the next Brooklyn? Lots of people are saying so.
Lots of people are saying so. As rents and living expenses skyrocket in San Francisco, thanks to the tech boom, hipsters and artists are relocating across the Bay to Oakland, where the climate is sunny and cool, and housing is (relatively) affordable.
A case in point — Jingletown, represented by the Jingletown Arts & Business Community, has been one of the fastest growing arts districts in the San Francisco Bay area. Located near the Oakland Estuary in the Fruitvale district, it’s bisected by the Nimitz Freeway.
The neighborhood, according to local legend, gets its name from the 19th-century mill workers, mostly of Azorean Portuguese background, who showed off their earnings by jingling the coins in their pockets as they walked through town. The Azorean population eventually gave way to Chicanos and Latinos, which today comprise about half the residents of Jingletown. Beginning in the 1960s, the neighborhood became an important center of Chicano political organization. The area suffered from an increase in crime during the 1980s and ’90s.
Oakland may or may not be a new Brooklyn, but Jingletown is defintely an old Brooklyn. At
one point back in 1856, according to some sources, the area was actually known as Brooklyn, so named for a ship bringing Mormon settlers to California.
Here’s what a Saturday afternoon stroll through the neighborhood with my trusty point-and-shoot turned up. I was struck by the difference in tone between works by women and men: a humorous train mural Jill McLennan urging locals to curb their dogs and a car covered with whimsical mosaics by an artist named Sarah were much more pleasing to me — a woman — than the more strident creations of Bill Silveira, Vogue, Ernest Doty, and Griffin One.
More neighborhood and street art at “Oakland’s Jingletown — Arts, Crafts, Cool Kitsch — and Cookies, “ “The Funky Charms of East Austin, Texas” and “Christmas Eve in Mexico — It’s All About the Baby Jesus.”