*Tumbleweed not included.
I took my car into the shop early this morning for some routine maintenance. I had a couple of hours so I decided to walk up and down the Auto Row and take some pictures.
A little bit of background first. Oakland is across the bay from San Francisco and has about 440,000 people. It was a vibrant and productive city. Trolley cars were everywhere. There was heavy manufacturing employing tens of thousands of people. Tons of middle class people lived downtown or close to downtown.
After World War II, people started moving to the suburbs. Jobs went overseas. White flight destroyed the urban core. Though there are some really nice and safe neighborhoods in Oakland today, the outsider's image of the city is one of crime, poverty, and dysfunction.
For a century, a stretch of Broadway has been home to dozens of car dealerships. Broadway Auto Row has been in decline for decades. But the latest recession killed off even more dealerships. Jeep, Dodge, Ford, and Kia all left recently. Pontiac and Saturn no longer exist. Only a handful remain. Some of the marques that are left-- Honda and VW come to mind-- are doing fairly well. I'll let the following pictures give you a better idea of the state of Oakland and the state of the American automotive retail industry.
This is the Mazda lot with First Presbyterian Church in the background. That plane contrail caught my attention.
Mazda and Audi share a building now. Audi used to be down the street with Porsche. Porsche is gone too. This old brick building houses the service bays.
The Audi dealership has a surprising number of high end cars in its inventory. Here are an A8 and a couple of R8 Spyders.
This is the former Audi/Porsche dealership. It's vacant and for lease.
Here is the former showroom.
A lot of the vacant buildings have been converted into lofts or urban-chic bars. I wonder if this used to be the Packard dealership.
Around the corner from the Packard Lofts is this Mimosa Bar.
The streets that are perpendicular to Broadway were home to independent shops like this. I'm guessing this place is out of business. You may remember Hanzel Auto Body, a Citroen shop Murilee Martin featured on Jalopnik a while back. That's nearby. I would post a link, but the new Jalopnik/Gawker format makes my head assplode.
God's Gym is a Broadway Auto Row institution. But the paint scheme and those drawings scare the bejesus out of me.
I mention First Presbyterian on the Auto Row because this is where I got married.
Here is the view from the church steps. Across the street are Audis. On our wedding day, the cars across the street were Ford Focuses and F150s.
The VW dealership is doing well. I test drove a used Phaeton there recently. This Jetta TDI gets 44 miles per gallon. In the States, that's extraordinary.