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Harry Oldershaw

Freeways for the People

Using the I-980 freeway structure to reconnect the residents of West Oakland with the greater city


At the beginning of its story, Oakland was a city of opportunity. It was home to a
thriving Black community, fueled by an influx of African American immigrants from
the South seeking wartime jobs. This community defined the identity of West
Oakland, bringing in a vibrant and ground breaking jazz culture, as well as an
economy fueled almost entirely by Black business and economic interest. However,
racist urban planning decisions constructed freeways all around Oakland,
destroying 800 businesses and displacing 5,000 households. The construction of
the I-980 was the final wall of the coffin now surrounding West Oakland.
Today, West Oakland is still segregated from the rest of the surrounding City of
Oakland due to the existence of the I-980 freeway. How do we reconnect West
Oakland to the surrounding City of Oakland? Freeways for the People looks to
adaptively reuse the existing structure of the I-980 freeway as site for a linear park.
This would provide the deteriorated community of West Oakland with access to the
surrounding city, strengthen community cohesion and provide space to celebrate
the history and culture of West Oakland.

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