Ghosttown (or Ghost Town) is a neighborhood in West Oakland. It overlaps partially with the Hoover/Foster neighborhood. One could call it "West Oakland Annex" because until about the mid-1980s everything east of San Pablo was considered to be in North Oakland. For example, the North Oakland Public Library branch was on the east side of San Pablo between 34th/35th Streets.

Origins of the Name

There are many different versions of the origins of the name "Ghosttown." Here are just a few:

  • It was named after two historic casket companies located in the neighborhood [source]
  • It originated because the neighborhood felt like a "ghost town" after many families were displaced by eminent domain for the construction of the 980 freeway and BART. [source]
  • Due to the high number of shootings in the area in the 1980s, the police began referring to the area as a "ghost town." [source]
  • According to the Wikipedia entry for Ghost town, "The name originates from a drug king pin who referred to the area as a ghost town due to the shortage of other drug dealers whose absence was attributed to the king pins dominance over the area." However, the source cited for this information is the same source as the two above points [source], but it appears that that source doesn't actually advance this theory.
    • An unsigned comment from 2007 on the talk page of the Wikipedia Ghost Town entry states "!!! I can't believe that "Ghostown" is actually listed as a part of West Oakland! I lived on 33rd Street between West and Grove Sts. (Grove St. is now MLK Way) from the fall of '79 til about '83 and I was there when the name "Ghostown" was first coined. The name should be attributed to one Arthur Palmer who lived on 33rd St. He complained about how boring that area was. He actually said "this place is like a ghostown". As I remember it, he began hanging out with members of a fairly large family who lived in a house on the corner of 32nd and Grove Sts. They all began calling it Ghostown and being that they were well known in the community, the name stuck. As I remember it, Ghostown is the area within the boundaries of I-580 (north), the Grove-Shafter Freeway(east), 31st St.(south) and San Pablo Ave (west)." This may be one direction to pursue when investigating the origins of the name of this neighborhood further.

It is difficult to identify when the name "Ghosttown" first began to be used to describe this neighborhood. According to Google Trends, "ghost town oakland" had almost no searches before 2008. This San Francisco Chronicle story from 2000 discussing the 60 Minutes report spotlighting the violence in the neighborhood ("His Honor, the Mayor" from Season 32, Episode 16; first aired January 2, 2000) shows the tenuous nature of the neighborhood name at the time: "known as "Ghost Town" on the streets."

Where is Ghosttown???

As of 2013, Ghosttown does not appear on Google Maps (the entire area is listed as Hoover-Foster). It would be good to have more information on the role of newcomers to the neighborhood, such as Novella Carpenter's Ghost Town Farm or Ghost Town Gallery, in popularizing the name.

Comments on this entry say: "ghost town never extended past 27th st until novella carpenter " & "numerous cited articles from wikipedia put ghosttown further west" (but which ones??)


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