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Another magical night in downtown Oakland

6 Jul

Two and a half years ago, right after the Fox Theater had finally opened and on an Art Murmur night, I experienced a magical night in downtown Oakland. Here’s what I wrote about it in February, 2009:

…There was always something that bothered me about downtown Oakland – most people just didn’t seem to get how great the DTO is. I’d practically have to beg friends to meet me downtown for a drink after work. And forget dinner downtown – even many of my friends who work in the DTO never stuck around past dark.

Slowly, I’ve noticed a change in attitudes towards downtown, but on Friday night, the DTO finally felt like it was reaching its potential.

There were people everywhere! From 14th Street all the way down past the Art Murmur on 23rd, there were thousands of people on the street and inside art galleries, music venues, bars, and restaurants. People on foot, people on bike, and people in cars. At many points, I witnessed gridlock on the streets, something I’ve never seen downtown at night….

As the Art Murmur dwindled down, many headed to the Uptown to catch a free night of music. Though it wasn’t overly crowded, there was always a wait to get a drink, and the energy was high. I sat for a while near the front door and watched the rain fall, illuminated by a lamppost on the sidewalk outside. I sat back and smiled and I think a few tears welled up in my eyes. This was downtown as I always saw it – vibrant, fun, and sometimes unpredictable – but now this was the downtown so many others were experiencing, and I knew they would return.

Since then, I’ve seen downtown crowded and just as vibrant many times at night, particularly on special occasions, like Uptown Unveiled. But I’ve yet to have those same feelings again. I’ve yet to recreate that distinct realization that downtown has reached another night-time milestone or cleared another hurdle to reaching its full potential.

That changed on Friday night. Continue reading