At The Hat Guys, tradition meets style

Derrek Bell leans forward and places his elbows on the counter, turning the hat he is holding upside down to expose the price tag attached to the inside. He holds it gently, careful not to pinch it or bend it out of shape. The Panama hat has travelled all the way from Cuenca in Ecuador, where it was manufactured, to a factory in Alessandria, Italy, where it was shaped and tagged with a little navy label that spelled “Borsalino” in a cursive gold font. It is now on a rack at The Hat Guys, an upscale hat shop in downtown Oakland that has served famous heads for over two decades.
Bell has worked here as a salesman for seven years. “Take a look at this,” he says, pointing at the price tag. The Borsalino name puts the hat’s price at $1,200. It is one of the most expensive hats in the store.

The Livermores: Rockridge’s Founding Family

The Livermores were one of the earliest families to settle in Rockridge, and contributed significantly to its development in the early twentieth century. In addition to turning the large tracts of land above Broadway into residential areas, they were also involved in the establishment of public utilities and lumbering in California. Read on for more on Rockridge’s founding family.

Port still waiting on federal funds for dredging

The federal government has been collecting the Harbor Maintenance Tax from port customers for years with the specific purpose of port maintenance and dredging. When the government increased the tax in 1990, it did so with the explicit promise that all dredging needs would be met with funds collected from the tax, according to Port of Oakland’s spokesperson Marilyn Sandifur. Today, in the long, drawn-out battle over port funds, Port of Oakland officials claim the government has not released sufficient funds for maintenance over the years, and the proof is in the channels’ depths.

Council approves community benefit program near Lake Merritt BART

The Oakland City Council approved plans for a community benefit program for a half-mile area surrounding the Lake Merritt BART station, which includes Oakland’s Chinatown. The proposal suggests that all developments beyond a certain size include one or more community benefits, if it makes a reasonable rate of return and profit.

Golden Gate: Then and Now

Take a tour of Golden Gate in the 1950s and earlier, and the neighborhood today. While some buildings have remained intact, most retail stores have been replaced by new businesses. What do you think of the changes in the neighborhood?

Oakland at Work: Piloting Giants

The San Francisco Bar Pilots navigate all the ships through the San Francisco Bay. They take the occasional cruise ship in and out of Monterey Bay, as well as piloting commercial vessels as far up the Sacramento River as Stockton, but the majority of the traffic comes from the Oakland port.

Teen center to remain open after debate at City Council meeting

The Oakland City Council voted Tuesday night to keep a teen center open, while agreeing to the let the city take control of the center from Councilmember Desley Brooks (District 6), who had helped to establish and run it using funds from her own office. The council also unanimously approved a $3.5 million package to develop hotels, a conference center, a new stadium, and a shopping center in a 750-acre area around the Coliseum in an effort to entice the Raiders, Warriors and A’s to stay in Oakland.

60 years after it was built, Children’s Fairyland keeps the tradition of storytelling alive

Over the years, Fairyland has kept its focus on storytelling alive. Each week, the puppets go live in front of a crowd of children, telling classic tales like “Sleeping Beauty” and more obscure ones the puppet masters have borrowed from other cultures. “You don’t need a lot of technology to tell a story,” says C.J. Hirschfield, Director of Fairyland. “And it is how we pass along our culture – whatever it is – through the stories, through generations.”

Temescal: Then and Now

Take a look at Temescal in the late 19th and early 20th centuries – a place where rail lines ran across Telegraph Avenue, and businesses thrived on the side – and Temescal today. What has changed? What has survived?

Council deadlocks over resolution that would allow tougher policing of protests

During another contentious meeting Tuesday night, the City Council deadlocked over a resolution aimed at increasing the policing of protests. The resolution would have made protests that block streets without a permit illegal, and allowed the city administrator to use “whatever lawful tools” required to prevent protesters from hindering everyday business operations.

Jakada Imani on the Ella Baker Center, his port commission bid, and fighting for Oakland

Jakada Imani has had to battle his entire life. As a child, he said, he was diagnosed with dyslexia, lived in a home with parents addicted to drugs, and was homeless for a brief period of time. He fought the odds to become a well-respected community leader, and strived to find ways to protect the rights of the disenfranchised. He said that was why he wanted to be a port commissioner – to fight for the people of West Oakland.