I first discovered Oakland’s 5th Avenue Marina when we moved to the city in 1991. I’ve always enjoyed exploring a new city’s wild edges, especially when they involve boats and waterways. The ramshackle marina is tucked away at the end of lower 5th Avenue west of the Embarcadero, on a narrow spit of unincorporated land consisting of carpenter’s gothic cottages, plywood shanties and historic industrial buildings hearkening back to Oakland’s heyday as a locus for ship-building.
I hadn’t been down this way in at least a dozen years so was unexpectedly delighted to find that lower 5th Avenue has retained its funky character, having survived the real estate boom leading up to the crash. Cities need to protect their raw, undeveloped edges, wild places that so often draw artists and dreamers and encourage the more playful side of human nature.