Surprising Richmond

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Okay Bay Area, I have one little request. Would it be possible, just maybe, kinda, sorta, to quit beating up on Richmond? You know, that little city at the end of the BART line? I know Richmond's had its share of problems. High crime is nobody's idea of fun and an oil refinery is nobody's idea of beautiful. But things are different now. For one thing, crime is down. Way down. And that's kind of the thing. When people hear about crime in Richmond, they just sort of roll their eyes and say, what do you expect, it's Richmond.

But how many of you have ever even been here? Richmond is sort of like the Bronx. Everyone's heard of it but nobody's been there. If San Francisco is like New York and Oakland like Brooklyn, then Richmond is the Bronx, which means lots of hard working middle to lower-middle-class folks. And that, people, means diversity, something us Richmonders are justifiably proud of. There's an established African-American community, a Latino community consisting of Spanish speakers from Mexico to all points south. Don't forget our vibrant Laotian community. I live a block from their Buddhist temple, Wat Lao Rattanaram and on weekends gongs and chanting fill the air. Richmond is a major cultural mash up.

As for the sights, walk or bike along the Richmond Marina Bay Trail with its jaw dropping views of The City. Take in the amazing Ford Richmond plant, Albert Kahn's brick and glass masterpiece, and the neat Rosie the Riveter Visitor's Center next door. There is a very cool mid-century civic center on Barrett Avenue that includes the Richmond Art Center, a 75-year-old institution that brings art to the masses. Don't miss the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts in the historic Winter's Building downtown.

Take lessons in singing or dance, learn to play an instrument or catch a performance of the local talent. And Richmond has tons of affordable studio space in funky warehouses for struggling artists priced out of San Francisco or Oakland. We even have our own little gentrified area, Point Richmond. Cute shops, nice restaurants and a village vibe.

So this is an open invitation. Visit Richmond sometime. There's a lot to see and experience. Who knows, you might even like it. And please, quit rolling those eyes.


 With a Perspective, I'm Terence Krista.