Amazing Places: A Walk Around Oakland’s Jingletown

First panel of the murals along Rue de Merde in Jingletown, an Oakland, CA, neighborhood is by Bill Silveira. It shows the words "Oakland Riviera." Photo by BF Newhall

Bill Silveira’s mural is the first of many along Peterson Street, nicknamed Rue de Merde in honor of its role as a popular dog walk . Photo by BF Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Is Oakland the next Brooklyn? Lots of people are saying so.

The face of a dog is a detail of a mosaic on the walls of a building in Oakland, CA, Jingletown neighborhood by Isaiah Photo by BF Newhall

Detail of a mosaic by Isaiah Zagar of Philadelphia on  a corner building in the Jingletown neighborhood. Photo by BF Newhall

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

"Jingletown," a mural by Jill McLennan on the Rue de Merde, Jingletown, Oakland, CA. It shows a woman walking her dog. Photo by BF Newhall

“Jingletown,” a mural by Jill McLennan on the Rue de Merde. Photo by BF Newhall

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.”

a car entirely covered with mosaics parked in Oakland, CA, Jingletown neighborhood. Photo by BF Newhall

A mosaiced car parked on Ford Street — by “Sarah.” Photo by BF Newhall

A long, sleek, midcentury American coupe parked in a driveway in Jingletown, Oakland, CA. Photo by BF Newhall

Twentieth-century sleek parked in a driveway. Photo by BF Newhall

Found art -- or junk rusting on the street -- in Jingletown, Oakland, CA. Photo by BF Newhall

Found art rusting on the street. Photo by BF Newhall

A mural embellishes the logo of  the Oakland Museum Women's Board on Lancaster Street, Jingletown, Oakland, CA. The mural depicts an elephat with raised trunk. Photo by BF Newhall

A new mural by Bay Area artists Vogue, Ernest Doty, and Griffin One at 333 Lancaster Street, the warehouse site of the annual White Elephant Sale of the Oakland Museum Women’s Board. The aerosol painting is 240 x 30-feet and features Bay Area plants and animals as well as a white elephant. Photo by BF Newhall

Mural with Christian cross for Ministerio Internacional Maranatha, Jingletown, Oakland, CA. Photo by BF Newhall

Mural for Ministerio Internacional Maranatha. Photo by BF Newhall

A mosaic depicting the Virgin of Guadalupe by Kim Larson. Jingletown, Oakland, CA.  Photo by Barbara Falconer Newhall

I wish the face of this “Virgin of Guadalupe” by Kim Larson weren’t obscured by mirrored tiles.  Photo by BF Newhall

The 420 Gallery, a converted industrial building at 420 Peterson Street, Jingletown, Oakland, CA.. Photo by BF Newhall

The 4:20 Gallery, along with other Jingletown artists’ studios, welcomed the public during the 2014 Open Studios. Photo by BF Newhall

Street sign at the intersection of Ford and Peterson Streets -- Rue de Merde -- Jingletown, Oakland, CA. Photo by BF Newhall

Photo by BF Newhall

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  1. Barbara Falconer Newhall says:

    According to Sage, the producer of the mural at 333 Lancaster Street, Ernest Doty contributed the birds, Vogue the chameleon and tree frog, and Griffin the elephant and raccoons. Check out those website links on the caption for more of their stuff.

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