MacArthur Blvd. Portrait Project, Bus, Salon, Graffito, Map



MacArthur Blvd. Portrait Project

In spring 2006, photographers Johnna Arnold, Bob Hsiang , and Heike Liss wandered along MacArthur Boulevard (between Fruitvale and Seminary Avenue), capturing an intimate “portrait” of the East Oakland storeowners and businesses in a district locally known as the Macarthur Corridor. While presenting a rich and varied portrait of the life and personality of the neighborhood, the project also questioned the powerful social, political, economic, and environmental long-term impact that the Interstate 580 freeway has had on the MacArthur Corridor.

Heike Liss took portraits of business owners (both outside and inside their stores); Bob Hsiang photographed store exteriors (including architectural details, signage, and window displays); and Johnna Arnold captured street culture (transportation, pedestrian movement and objects on and around the boulevard) through a series of images that give one a sense of roaming the boulevard. The results are breathtaking and vibrant, instilled with both a historical and preservationist’s purpose, but through an artistic lens.

The MacArthur Corridor Portrait Project is part of an historical initiative sponsored by Mills College, with support from the James Irvine Foundation. The stories and photographic portraits can be found in the digital archives at Mills College’s F.W. Olin Library and at the Oakland Public Library’s Oakland History Room for public access and use.