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Exploring Oakland by bus

Bonne Marie Bautista

This guide is meant to inspire adventurous acts of exploration and entice the reader to find her own way through the “psychogeography” of Oakland – discovering how our natural and constructed environment structures our emotions and behavior. The more you explore, the more you’re going to see.

Practice perception – apply the ideas you just learned in sociology, anthropology, ethnic or women’s studies to your world-view as you go. Be an active, conscious observer of this wild world you’re a part of. Take nothing for granted. Question everything. Think critically about inanimate objects like street signs and the location of bus stops. Talk to people.

This guide is also public transportation-based. Get on the bus! It’s important to get on the same level as the city and driving through it will not have the same effect. Two pros of public transport: it gets you around cheaply, and offers tons of opportunities to experience the city you never knew you lived in.

Don’t fear public transportation! If you feel out of your comfort zone at anytime, question what shapes your comfort zone. Try paying just a dollar if you’re concerned about the cost – the drivers usually don’t mind.

As you go, here is some food for thought: Why does our urban environment look like this? What shaped our neighborhoods? Who shaped our neighborhoods? Who has been affected by the changing landscape of Oakland and how?

Imagine what O–akland may have been like 10, 50, 100, or 500 years ago. Did you know that a large creek runs under the intersection of 51st Street and Telegraph Avenue in North Oakland? This city is built on top of something. What do you think is underneath?

The 57 bus, which stops just outside the front gate, is an important route to get familiar with. Taken west from the stop on the Mills side of MacArthur Boulevard, it will carry you through six Oakland neighborhoods, before dropping you in Emeryville.

You’ll pass parks, weekly farmers markets, good, cheap food, bike shops, Lake Merritt, BART stations, Kaiser Hospital, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and much more. If you want to get to know Oakland better, here’s a good place to start. Get off the bus anywhere along the way when you feel like exploring by foot and read “The low down on our Oak-Town” in August 27th’s Campanil for suggested destinations.

Things I’ve noticed along the way: Oakland’s old-school burger and hot dog joints, Laord’s Ice Cream on MacArthur Boulevard at Coolidge Avenue, the giraffes painted under the 580 freeway where Macarthur Boulevard crosses Harrison Street, the sassy “stop requested” sign you’ll catch eventually if you ride the 57 enough, Emeryville’s corporate blandness and Bay Street’s disgraceful location atop an ancient Ohlone burial site.

What did you see? Tell a friend about it, ask a teacher about it, or tell me about it: Want to suggest a good adventure? Let me know!