Oakland’s Uptown is where the cool cats play. Hip taverns and restaurants of national renown reside in the neighborhood and some want to rebrand the 19th Street BART station to reflect its resurgence. Oakland Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney proposed Tuesday to seek preliminary support for renaming the station as “19th Street/Oakland Uptown.”

However, the city’s potential expenditure for new signage, brochures and other costs associated with the name change could be costly. BART Board Director Robert Raburn, who represents the area surrounding the station, told the Oakland Community and Economic Development Committee the cost of tinkering with station names could be as high as $600,000.

McElhaney and others noted the planned renaming of the Oakland Coliseum station next year to reflect the addition of the Oakland Airport BART connector to the system represents an opportunity for Oakland to defray its costs, but only if it acts soon. The BART Board of Directors meets Thursday to finalize the Coliseum name change.

No cost estimates were including in Tuesday’s agenda item. Instead, McElhaney said she is merely seeking council support for the concept and direction to move forward with a cost estimate. Even in the event, Oakland can split the cost of rebranding the 19th Street station, Councilmember Libby Schaaf said, she could not support the city footing part of the bill. Schaaf later voted to move the item to the full City Council. The name-change item was placed on the City Council’s consent calendar for consideration Sept. 17.
Spotlighting one of Oakland’s most vibrant neighborhoods all over the BART system could be a boon to the area’s business community. On Tuesday, McElhaney hinted members of the Uptown business community might be asked to help pay some rebranding costs.


Cross posted from East Bay Citizen



About The Author

Susan Mernit is editor & publisher of Oakland Local (oaklandlocal.com) a news & community hub for Oakland, CA. A former VP at AOL & Netscape, & former! Yahoo Senior Director, Mernit was consulting program manager for The Knight News Challenge, 2008-09; was a 2012 Stanford Carlos McClatchy Fellow; and is a board adviser to The Center for Health Reporting at USC, Annenberg School of Journalism. She has consulted with many non-profit organizations on strategy, product development and social media/engagement, including Salon.com, TechSoup Global, Public Radio International and the Institute for Policy Studies/Economic Hardship Reporting Project, led by Barbara Ehrenreich.

18 Responses

  1. CWM

    But the problem is that the area is not “Uptown.” Real estate interests tried to rebrand it as such—they hoped that Jack London Square would become “downtown” and the vicinity of City Hall would become “uptown”—but it makes no sense. Everyone understands that the area is *downtown* Oakland.

  2. Anthony Moorae

    I agree with CWM. That moniker bugs me because whoever heard of an Uptown smack dab in the middle of downtown ? I thought whole Uptown thing started with the old Uptown club on Telegraph in the late 90’s. Someone on another forum suggested that the area as Uptown goes back to the early 20th century. As a life long Oaklander, I’ve yet to corroborate that. Uptown sounds nice- if it were actually Uptown from Downtown- like say out towards MacArthur BART. I think out of towners would laugh at yet another Oakland misnomer. “Uptown… but isn’t this Downtown Oakland ?”.

  3. Tim

    Of course that is the Uptown (as the area has come to be known) BART station and renaming it is perfectly appropriate.

  4. stan dodson

    I’m not passionate either way about the name, but I do want to make sure the city doesn’t pay a dime to change it. Oakland has already put gazillions of dollars/resources into that area. It’s time to let them be and concentrate on other Oakland neighborhoods that are working hard to succeed but all on their own.

  5. CWM

    Tim, I’m not sure why you’re trying to argue this. Real estate and business interests tried to brand the area “Uptown” but that doesn’t make the term either accurate or relevant.

    Think of what you just said: “Uptown” is a “part of greater Downtown.”

    Do you realize how ridiculous that sounds?

  6. Tim

    So is Chinatown. And Old Oakland. And City Center. Should every area of downtown just be called “Downtown”? Or is it possible that certain neighborhoods within downtown can have their own names?

  7. Tim

    And whatever problem you have with “real estate and business interests,” clearly they have won this battle. People call this neighborhood Uptown, therefore, it is not unreasonable to rename the BART station Uptown. You don’t have to like it, but that’s the way it is. If people didn’t call this neighborhood Uptown, it wouldn’t be in the CBD name, it wouldn’t be on maps and it wouldn’t be part of a proposed BART station renaming.

  8. Jonatton Yeah?

    Not unlike Army v Cesar Chavez, people who have been here for a while will call it downtown, those newer to the area will call it Uptown. Neither or right or wrong as they’re cultural definitions of a place in cultural transition. What isn’t moving is 19th Street so I say keep it as 19th Street BART Station. I personally don’t understand the desire to keep renaming things. Why change SFO to Harvey Milk? SFO is perfectly fine. Why Willie Brown Bridge? The Bay Bridge is more than sufficient. These “movements” seem to cause far more trouble than they’re worth. I swear some of the motivations are deliberately antagonisitic, as if they’re just trying to get goat.

  9. CWM

    Areas of cities acquire meaningful names when they reflect how people use those areas. “Uptown” is simply not a meaningful designation. It’s the name of the housing complex, but not a neighborhood.

  10. CWM

    Tim, do you realize that not one person has spoken in favor or your position? That’s because no one supports it.

  11. Tim

    Good thing this issue won’t be decided by the vote of participants in this comment thread

  12. Eric K Arnold

    what i’d like to know is where Downtown stops and where Uptown begins. why not just rename 19th St. “Gentrification Station”? Because that’s what we’re talking about here.

  13. CWM

    Yeah, that’s right, Eric. The use of the term “Uptown” has everything to with how real estate interests see the city and nothing to do with how real Oakladers view it and use it. Hopefully McElhaney will realize how stupid it would be to waste $600,000 on a stunt like this.

  14. Jonatton Yeah?

    To waste 600K$ on this is obviously well extends beyond laughable. Anyone who thinks otherwise must have more money than I (and far less sense – which is really saying something). But if those who moved in there, those who pay a ton in property tax, want to call it “Uptown” rather than “Downtown” I really don’t think it’s worth getting up in arms about. They exist. They are in Oakland. Therefore, they are “real” Oaklanders. The reality is that every neighborhood is named by some special interest – whether it be historical acknowledgement, financial gain, or geographic simplicity. That’s just reality; “real” so to speak. Nobody really wins, nobody really loses; it just occurs.

    Ant to fire up the gentrification debate at 19th and Telegraph is an exercise in futility. It’s done. Finished. Taking on this battle is like the Germans fighting for Normandy a year after D-Day.

    That said, don’t change the name of the BART station. It’s going to appear as a win for those who have moved to that area in recent years (it isn’t) and a loss for those who feel the changes aren’t positive (also wrong). Given the tensions that appear to obviously exist, renaming is just a pointless flaming of a fire that is already been flamed to a degree that isn’t doing Oakland anyone any favors. And Oakland is what we all care about, right? That’s why we’re here on this site and in this city, right? 19th Street BART Station (like 12th Street) is fucking fine.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.