The Temescal district, the neighborhood surrounding Telegraph Avenue and 51st Street in North Oakland, has become a contender for the title of East Bay Hipster Gulch. By which I mean the area is characterized by lots of young folks hanging out, sporting the latest in fashion and barely rideable bicycles. In fact, the first Friday of the month is a phenomenon all the way up Telegraph from downtown to 51st. Galleries are open late, clubs are thronged, and except for the very wide well-paved street you might think you were in non-colonial Williamsburg–the one in Brooklyn.
But traces of the avenue’s up-and-down history persist. Smack in the middle of a block that features an odd but cool gallery (it featured a live Halloween display with a young woman making like Norman Bates’s mother and spooking some visitors), a Burmese restaurant, and a good pizza-and-beer joint, you’ll find a rent-by-the-week motel. But like the rest of the area, it’s going through changes. I prefer to think of it as the Maya, but that’s because I formed my impression facing north. South-facing viewers see the Telegraph-Shattuck (those two streets meet, or diverge, a block away).