Polish Hill, Russian icons

| September 4th, 2012, 7:50 PM

Entering Polish Hill under the Bloomfield Bridge

Entering Polish Hill under the Bloomfield Bridge

I love my tiny neighborhood of Polish Hill. Nestled between the Strip District, Lawrenceville, Oakland, and the Hill District, it often feels like a little village in the middle of the city. At the top of the hill on Bethoven Street, birds chirp in rambling gardens behind brick houses, and all is quiet (except for the brass band practicing in the old garage). Slightly crumbling  public stairways make their way through leafy hills, popping out between houses. Porches face north, with an incredible panoramic view of valley, rivers, train tracks, and city. There are hidden houses at the bottom of gullies. An outdoor gallery of graffiti under the Bloomfield Bridge gives way to a community garden. I live next door to a three-story building housing Lili Coffee Shop (a café that often hosts good live music),  the excellent record store Mind Cure Records on the second floor, and Copacetic Comics on the third, with its great selection of graphic novels, comics, used and new books, cds, and the wise council of its owner Bill Boichel. And there’s almost no need to mention Gooski’s—definitely the best dive bar in a hundred-mile radius…

The neighborhood is home to a fair number of artists, musicans, chefs, filmmakers, etc. I recently came accross this short film by Julie Sokolow about the neighborhood’s resident Russian Orthodox icon painter. Pretty fascinating stuff.

And a great set of photos of the recent May Day celebrations by Polish Hill man-about-town Mark Knobil.