Speaking of cities, a nice story from NPR about our current home — and featuring Cafe Van Kleef!

When Van Kleef opened his bar 10 years ago, everyone said he was crazy. At the time, he says, “hookers, muggers, thieves and homeless were rampant” in the area.

“At 5 o’clock, the streets were absolutely empty. Everybody vacated Oakland. There was nobody here,” Van Kleef explains. “You could park anywhere you wanted. You could park a fleet of taxis if you wanted to!”

But Van Kleef, an artist and former rock impresario, had a different vision for Uptown Oakland, which he saw as “the last geographical possibility” for an arts and entertainment district in the city. So Van Kleef opened his bar just a block from City Hall.

“I suddenly felt like a paramedic pounding the chest of Oakland with some vision of breathing life into this dead thing,” Van Kleef recalls. “And it worked. The city revitalized. The heart started beating again.”

Tags: oakland

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