I set out on a sunny afternoon to Fruitvale BART. The station itself is aboveground, elevated, and kind of beautiful. It has glassed in sides that angle outward on either side of the tracks (there are 2 platforms) And a partial roof that comes out from the sides to shelter the platform, which have another angled …. thing… I can’t describe this, argh! Each platform has one side completely glassed in, and then the on side closer to the train there’s a little angled bit that comes down over the platform, with little bart-train-window shaped windows in it, so that from one platform while there is a train in the station, you look up, and those little windows make it look like a WHOLE OTHER TRAIN is floating in the sky above the real train! And, the entire glass part of the platform shelter looks kind of like a giant glass BART car! Is it just in my imagination or has anyone else noticed this amazingness?
On the ground floor I did have a look at a wall of tiles painted mostly by local schoolchildren.
Then I headed out to the plaza just outside the station entrance. Wow it’s so nice! There are little stands (veggies, fruit, caramel corn/lemonade, fancy shea butter soap, textiles, mostly guatemalan woven stuff) and then a nice plaza with a fountain, lots of seating, lots of places to get delicious food, pastries, ice cream. The library is also right there though the entrance is around the corner. I was hanging out outside eating my delicious cornmeal fried fish & chips (perfect) and just going, OK, why is it so damn nice here?! A family went by with some very excited little kids jumping up and down and i realized as t hey approached why the kids were excited – the dad had a bunny in a little soft hutch carrier. Another guy walked by a while later from the other direction with an african grey parrot in an ornate white iron cage on a handtruck. The parrot was upside down, squawking, and clearly having a blast. (For a while I owned an african grey and so I know what they are like!) People in the burger joint talked with me. Some random other lady conversed with me about hair in the nicest way. Another lady and I had a laugh about the bunny. So i was thinking OK this is also how 24th and Mission could be and even is sometimes but it always has more of an edge. But… but it **could**. Anyway, it also was refreshingly not full of young bankers looking bewildered as they eat a dusty bagel in front of a bored security guard (Montgomery station…. that plaza with the fake checkers behind the mechanics monument…. I’m looking at you).
While I was there a nearby high school must have been on lunch hour because the plaza was cheerfully full of teenagers. Can I just say also I ended up chatting with all sorts of people. A friendly public space. I went shopping for a bit and came back to have ice cream (coconut + mamey) from the shop inside Fruitvale Public Market. I hope that the plaza outside the Richmond station can someday be this pleasant – it has the potential to be.
The library was a nice place to work – I found a quiet corner with rocking chair and free wifi by the window overlooking where the trains pull in. And, after work I looked at the local history and Native American history section, found a book on my list to read too (The Ohlone of Central California: People at the Edge of the World, by Betty Morrow). It was short so I had a quick read through and took notes for my game project. The social justice section was strong in this library as you would expect. There was a nice shelf of cheap books for sale by the elevator up top, then below at the entrance a shelf of equally nice free books and a lot of bulletin boards.
Another little plaza to the.. west? is connected and has mosaic circles in the ground and on a large bench (a sun/moon face) and a beautiful mosaic archway.
Anyway as I wandered around kind of randomly I decided I love this neighborhood. I’ll be back to hang out!
From the southbound platform I looked for the Oscar Grant mural but could only see a half of a face sketched onto a wall across the street. That may not have been it? The station was under construction so I may have just not been able to see the mural. I remember his horrible murder like it was yesterday and did NOT realize that was TEN YEARS AGO. Y’all.