Thursday, October 30, 2008

Doubling Back

There is a half-mile stretch where the creek and the street car line run roughly parallel and just a stone's throw apart. For certain, these two courses were never fully accessible at any point in time. Even in 1903, when the first "C" trains ran along the avenue, the creek would have been disappearing behind fences, and under roads and buildings.

I can't be the only one who entertains fantasies of geography while walking through our city. An example, what if for every four city blocks there was one lot dedicated to raising chickens? Those familiar with the lifestyle and habits of these birds may have many plenty of reasons why not. Still. And what if trout still populated this creek? This kind of thinking is an indulgence so I'll get it out of my system and deal with some time-travel.

1. To see the stands of giant redwoods of the nearby hills. If not felled in a mere 20-year span in the 1800's, this might be our most sacred local site.

2. To stand (in 1750) on the east shore of what is now our city lake. At that time it was an estuary, open to the bay and mouth to several creeks, including this one.

3. To ride a C-train past the diner, through the Cut, and down 40th Street toward the bay. (A 40th Street rail line is a real possibility in the next 10-15 years)

It would be greatly satisfying to try and throw a stone from here (standing on the former street car rails) to the creek--just to see.

A Net-sinker, used by local tribes to weight fishing nets

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Bridge

She noticed the light was fading
Her thoughts concerning the shape she was interested in capturing made her feel anxious
She wondered how long it would take before the light would completely disappear
Her senses seemed heightened, the sounds of the water slowing passing near her feet made her remember that this random stream was once a surging creek carrying the elements from here to there
She noticed the light had changed, the daylight she was using was gone and what remained was the artificial reflection of a moment she had captured for others to share

Within Address

Within the neighborhood there is an ease of movement, natural, curious and instinctive. Movement: aloft contours and slopes, along streets and steps, adds markers, tracks and signs of our investigations as well as the erosion and wear of the terrain. Inevitably we are taking it away with us, but we want to give it to you dear reader. Discovery is what you make it. THE 40th STREET CUT is making looking listening, and imagining the whole of where we are living.

This cross section is situated, marked out and encircled in an idea of time that is often hidden from our day to day concerns and remains an effecting part of expanded histories of the transportation system in Oakland.

[From the still partially forrested Richmond Street Glenn below West Macarthur our line plots north-west above the watershed and then north-east below the Kaiser Hospital complex up to a gate of the neighborhood, the key pivot of 40th and Broadway that slices along the contour of … Hill then continues sliding up to the Mountainview Cemetery grounds and along slopes to the 51st/Pleasant Valley terminus of the old Key line where, suddenly sloping south, carving through the arterial streets of single floor homes, apartment buildings and convalescent dwellings our line traces the creek path on its way down-stream to and through the Richmond Street Glen Echo where it has its most dramatic exposure with a few redwood stands and then disappears back underground for the final journey on its way to lake Merritt.]

This our address.

Within this description, these lines, is the home-grown cartography from which we will extract our art, the place ideas have grown and into the ideas of where we have placed.

There is a difficulty with language, with missives attempting to reconcile competing forces, and dualisms: an expansive/abstract and interconnected/convergence. A poetic intention. A difficulty of address arises, of noun conjugation, and an invocation of an animism that is seemingly grounded in a solitary conversation.

Agencies of oneself in the flurry of transformation are continually reaching for relational definitions.

Keyhole Cutaway

We’ve been out to look at the former ‘cut.’ This section of hillside was excavated to make way for an on-grade rail-line to pass on 40th Street from Broadway to Howe. Since the ‘cut’ existed for more than fifty years, we are almost certain that a different wedge of fill was used to re-occupy this gap.

Here is a view of the ‘cut’ at 40th Street and Broadway. A articulated bridge unit emerges heading toward the Bay Bridge.

The depth and length of the now filled-in ‘cut’ would certainly have been great enough to accommodate three articulated bridge units at once. It seems unlikely, however, that any trains were buried when the hillside was recovered and paved over. We’ll look into it.

The flagman stationed at this shanty was responsible for controlling the flow of rail traffic through the narrow ‘cut’ in the hillside at 40th Street and Broadway in Oakland.

Photographs collected from