Sunday, January 31, 2010

Jack London Calling

Jack London is closing Barnes and Noble book store. It seems like the perfect place for an urban renaissance but its so disconnected from Downtown Oakland by the freeway that it hasn't drawn any of the energy from the employment center. There's even a relatively close BART station if you consider the blocks are of a walkable size and most of the attractions are about a half mile away. But the highway is daunting. I often wonder what would have happened if they trenched the freeway or just made it an urban boulevard for a number of blocks to allow a smoother connection between the urban fabric that existed before the freeway. Ultimately I believe that this is the perfect connection for a streetcar, but it would be nice if there were no highway as well.

(The photo shows Jack London just south of the freeway before the waterway. The Lake Merritt BART station is just north and downtown Oakland is Northwest)

8 comments:

arcady said...

Having made that walk a few times, I can say that yeah, it's definitely disconnected from downtown and the BART. It's not just the freeway though, it's also the industrial area that takes up those blocks, which just doesn't seem like a very friendly place. Perhaps a streetcar would actually help matters here.

espeeac12 said...

It's about time Oakland rebuilds the Key System, another foolish "Modernization" of the fleet by the infamous National City Lines...

How about having some orange and silver streetcars return to Oakland, and perhaps it would experience not only a renaissance for the tourist economy, but maybe I could actually get around town for once!

arcady said...

The Key System was in dire need of modernization though. The trains themselves were outdated the day they were rolled out, having been built with parts from streetcars from the 1910's in an era when the PCC was brand new. They were slow, too, topping out at 30-35 mph. More modern trains would probably have helped, though, and I suspect the Key System over the bridge may have actually had a higher capacity than BART's Transbay Tube.

mfogel said...

A streetcar would be great.

But realistically, I think what's going to happen is in about 2020 people will start talking about adding a second transbay tube. Come say... 2027? it'll end up being routed via alameda to SF. With a BART station at jack london square.

Cap'n Transit said...

The call of the wild?

Andrew said...

White Fang!

Jon said...

I take it a good number here have seen this film but the Key System did have plans to improve the rail system after the war. Thanks to the wonderful NCL this didnt happen. =<

Adirondacker12800 said...

It already has a streetcar, when a Capitol Corridor train rumbles through in the middle of the street...