Saturday, February 28, 2009

Alameda: An Introduction

When we were talking with people about possibly living in Alameda, or when we've told people we now live there, these are some of the responses we got (remember, these are from locals):
"I'm not sure I've ever been there. I hear it's nice though."
"Sure Andy, I'll meet you in Alameda. Umm, how do I get there?"
"How long does it take you to get to Oakland?"
"I've been to Alameda for breakfast, but it's a bit out of the way."
Let's put these quotes in a little perspective by looking at a map of the San Francisco Bay:

Oddly, many Oakland residents seem to have only a vague idea where Alameda is and how to get there, despite the 4 bridges and a tunnel connecting Alameda and Oakland, and despite the fact that the distance between Alameda and Oakland is less than an average city block.

Hi San Francisco!

For people that do know Alameda and how to get there, it's mostly known for the monthly antiques fair, multiple classic breakfast joints, the great views of San Francisco, and of course the place where MythBusters does a lot of there large scale experiments. Here's a clip from an Alameda episode:

Alameda is also home to St. George Spirits, makers of Hangar 1 Vodka and in the news recently for reintroducing absinthe into the US.

Beyond the geography comments, we also heard a number of opinions about the general nature of the town:
"It's kind of stuck in the 50s, but at least that means good diners."
"Fogue-town." [as in old fogies]
"It still feels like a military town."
"It's over-policed."
Certainly the breakfast part is true: Ole's Waffle Shop, Jim's, Tillie's, Albert's, Marti's Place, the list goes on. My claim is that Alameda has more breakfast per capita than anywhere else in the Bay Area - difficult to prove perhaps, but I think it's true. In fact, you can watch my ongoing and admittedly foolhardy project to eat at every breakfast place in Alameda here.

The "over-policed" part feels true when you get pulled over for going 28 in a 25 mph zone, but nobody's complaining when they look at the crime rates relative to Oakland. As for the other comments, I can vouch for the fact that Alameda has changed a lot in recent years, and much of the "stuck in the past" feeling has gone, particularly along Park Street where a number of great restaurants and shops have opened in recent years, and the beautiful Art Deco Alameda Theatre has recently been reopened.

The lights are on again at the Alameda Theatre

Alameda is certainly a bit sleepy compared to Oakland (hey, it's "island living" after all), but it's actually quite a quirky place

complete with odd public memorials,

a strange notion of what someone might want for free,

and a unique spectator sport known as "Gooseball".

Because of it's location in the San Francisco Bay, Alameda is a very maritime-focused city, dotted with crowded harbors and boat repair and supply shops. This explains the Alameda City Flag,

the local love for a spirited but rather unsuccessful band of pirates,

and the official Seal of the City of Alameda.

Actually, I hardly had to make a joke about the real official Seal of the City of Alameda, because it almost mocks itself with the rather obvious statement "Seal of the City of Alameda" included on the seal. I should follow this pattern and write "This is a blog" at the beginning of every post from now on, just in case it wasn't clear.

I'm not certain, but I think this might be the Seal of the City of Alameda

Our time in Alameda so far has been great: the community is friendly, there's a wonderful organic market nearby, the fears of living in a stuck-in-the 50s "fogue town" haven't come true at all. So come on over to Alameda for good breakfast, the antiques fair, and, if you get lucky, you might just score a free door.


Steve said...

The word that comes to mind when I think of Alameda is "liquifaction."

Anonymous said...

Considering our proximity to Oakland, perhaps we're under-policed.

Andy M. said...

Luckily Oakland doesn't know how to get to Alameda, so this mitigates the need for policing to some degree.

As for liquifaction, the old Victorians have lasted this long, so I'm not too worried there - the landfill bits in the west may have more to worry about. Rosenblum Cellars may sink into the ground, but Ole's will survive.

alameda said...

Re: seal of the city

It is not uncommon for a city to explicitly state that this is the seal of said city :)

Bernadine said...

I think you take some amazing pictures and as a result love to check out your blog.

You should share some of these wonderful pictures with the bizymoms Alameda community.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking of moving to Alameda. I want to live on Shoreline. Any recommendations on apartments? Thanks!

Andy Murdock said...

I wish I could help - I don't really know enough about the buildings along Shoreline to really compare. It might be nice to be close to Crown Point for access to the park, but then the other end of Shoreline is closer to shopping and Park St.

Anonymous said...

As for liquifaction check this out:

The older houses/non land fill areas don't have any more to worry about than any other bay area city.