Our new E'ville Eye x Oaklandish neighborhood collection of tees features map designs for North Oakland, West Oakland, Downtown/Lake Merritt, East Oakland, Deep East Oakland, and the Oakland Hills.
These deeply rooted, locally designed tees were produced in collaboration with Rob Arias, a third-generation Bay Area resident who has worked as a graphic designer in Downtown Oakland for over two decades. Arias is also the founder of a local news website the E’ville Eye.
Arias’s work at the E’ville Eye nurtured his curiosity about Bay Area neighborhoods and their unique cultures, traditions, and nicknames. He has spoken publicly on this topic on KFPA, at the Pixar campus, and at Emeryville Public Market.
Arias started with t-shirt friendly maps for Emeryville, Berkeleyside, and North Oakland and now has expanded his efforts to include all of Oakland. Oakland is a big city, with a long complex history, so attempting to accurately capture every neighborhood was no small task.
One of the challenges Arias faced was finding an appropriate balance between historic and contemporary neighborhood names. He notes that some contemporary neighborhood names, like Ghost Town, Oaksterdam, and The Twomps are embraced while others, like NOBE (North Oakland-Berkeley-Emeryville), are more fraught because of their association with gentrification.
Arias started the design process for the neighborhood tees with extensive community outreach. He wanted to gain a deeper understanding of how locals define their community names and boundaries. Arias leveraged both his news outlet platform as well as the Oakland History Facebook Group and the passionate Oakland Twitterverse to do this research.
Based on local feedback, Arias changed the name of “Central Oakland”, to “Downtown & Lake Merritt.” He also acknowledged a tenacious community desire to distinguish between “Deep East” and “East Oakland” and intentionally excluded the four-letter acronym names assigned to some local hoods by realtors.
The next step in his design process was to overlay the grassroots input that emerged from the research process with street maps and then adjust the typeface and scale of each letter in the names to fit their respective boundaries. Arias says, “It was like putting a puzzle together in reverse.”
In addition to the neighborhood boundaries, Arias also weaved in important landmarks and the highways that carve through the city. Highways are particularly important because they define many of Oakland’s neighborhood boundaries.
Of course, residents of The Town do not enjoy a full consensus on neighborhood names and boundaries but nonetheless, these special designs represent where we stay and proclaim our sense of place in this ever-changing town. Arias says, “Some people might scoff at the inclusion of Uptown and Brooklyn Basin in this release but they both have historically rooted commercial areas that more recently are experiencing an influx of residential homes.”
Arias says, “I’m positive I got some things wrong or omitted a few important neighborhoods but my hope is that in some small way, these tees will help document historical neighborhood names for new and longtime residents alike.” He argues that “without physical reminders like these, many of our historical neighborhood names are in danger of disappearing.”
Rep your hood with E'ville Eye x Oaklandish Neighborhood Tees