On the love for teeming streets

I want a city that never sleeps

Christiana White
6 min readApr 10, 2024
Photo by Ronan Furuta on Unsplash

That’s what they say about New York, that it never sleeps. That’s true in Buenos Aires, certainly, and I’ve heard it’s true of Mexico City as well. These mega-cities of apartment towers where the citizenry occupy the streets, where every stoplight has a klatch of people vying for position, trying not to fall off the curb, rubbing shoulder to shoulder. Where the subways regularly disgorge torrents of people onto the street above. Where buskers roam with their instruments and children shriek and crowds gather for the impromptu performance.

I like cities like this.

Twice since I moved to my new flat, I’ve walked through Uptown, Oakland. I’m sorry to say, only twice. And I have not yet since I’ve moved here walked beyond that, to Jack London Square, to the marina to see the boats and breathe in the aroma of the sea.

This is because my walks to Uptown gave me pause. I hate to admit it. For my entire life, it has been a popular pastime to bash Oakland, San Francisco’s sister city across the Bay, for its crime problems. Each time a wave of this chatter arose, I ignored it. I’d never been mugged, robbed, accosted, or battered while going about my life here, and I’ve lived in Oakland my whole life, with a few forays out of the country from time to time.