Amblin' Alameda: Antioch

Amblin' Alameda: Antioch

Morton Chalfy

On Saturday morning we strolled up and down Park Street, taking in the delights of this past weekend's art and wine fair. We hugged some friends, bought a trinket and paused for the music at each end of the tent line.

There have been cavils about there not being enough art or wine at the fair, but our walls are full and our wine consumption is not what it once was, so we didn't feel any lack. One of the pleasures of life in Alameda is the number of friends one runs into in one's daily passage, and the fair is always a good place for a lot of that.

On Sunday afternoon we made the trek out into the hot, hot hinterlands to Antioch to attend a concert by the Royal Society Jazz Orchestra of music from the early 20th century. It's my sweetie's favorite music, we know many of the musicians well and we'd never been to Antioch, so the trip had elements of discovery to it.

Antioch sits along the San Joaquin River, and the concert was held in a fully restored, ornate movie palace also built in the early 20th century.

The downtown was a revelation: It was mostly deserted, one empty storefront after another. The theater is clearly part of an attempted resuscitation of the historic area, but so far it doesn't seem that much progress has been made.

Not knowing the recent history of the town but having seen many other towns go through this same process, it seems that the monster mall we passed between the highway exit and the downtown area could explain the dearth of business. America built the malls we love and killed the downtowns we used to love, giving rise to the urban core renewal movement. Good luck to them all.

After the performance we drove home, away from triple-digit heat and toward a bustling, vibrant, virtually fully occupied downtown area. The fair was just ending but still filled Park Street. We didn't mind. The air was cooler, the streets were fuller, people were smiling and a little inconvenience was a small price to pay for a town that is so clearly alive and flourishing.

We might worry about Webster Street holding its own in the face of the development of Alameda Landing, but at most competition will bring change, not wholesale death to the merchants along the street. Alameda has the problems of growth and success to deal with - much to be preferred over the problems of trying to revive a moribund area.

Even the traffic was refreshing after the empty streets of Antioch.


Submitted by Michele Ellson on Tue, Jul 28, 2015

Webster Street is doing just fine after Alameda Landing started filling up with businesses. In fact, we are down to only 3 small vacant store fronts and we have new businesses that want to come in to our district but cannot find the space.

Neptune Plaza is 100% leased and all the restaurants are packed during lunch and dinner.

Peet's Coffee is renovating the former Burger King building and it is going to be a great addition to our street. And the Starbucks on Webster is busier than any other location in Alameda.

-Sandip Jariwala
Hawthorn Suites

Submitted by Karen Bey on Sun, Aug 2, 2015

Sandip, that's what new development does! It encourages new investment in the surrounding areas. Your post shows the benefits of new development on the West End. Glad to hear Peet's is coming to Webster Street!

Submitted by Karen Bey on Sun, Aug 2, 2015

If you get a chance, take a tour of Oakland's Uptown District. Downtown Oakland is experiencing a wonderful renaissance!

The restoration of the Sears Building and the Imagnin Building are just a couple of the projects that are going on. Not to mention what's happening at Jack London Square. It's pretty exciting to see Oakland transform itself into a wonderful destination!