Hundreds of gnomes fill the sidewalks in Oakland. Have you seen them? We see the same gnomes in our neighborhood regularly, yet each time we pass them, my kids love pointing them out like it’s the first time they spotted them. This activity is perfect for the littlest walkers because it is right at their level. I thought we walked our neighborhood a lot before SIP. But now we know our neighborhood gnomes intimately. I’ve gained an even deeper appreciation of the gnomes and their creator(s).
Who Are These Oakland Gnomes?
While the original gnome creator remains anonymous, new gnomes clandestinely pop into neighborhoods overnight. The gnomes were almost evicted in 2014, but were saved by the loving Oakland community, and granted asylum until this day.
The gnomes are mysterious, and each hand-painted gnome has its own personality. Some sport kilts, while others ride skateboards. Some gnomes are waving hi, and some are accompanied by mushrooms or sheep. My favorite gnome is at the corner of Jayne Ave & Euclid Ave. She is a scientist.
How to Find These Secret Gnomes
The gnomes typically reside at the bottom of telephone or utility phones — never trees! — and have also been known to pop up in corners of store windows. The estimated population by various “gnome experts” is somewhere between 500 and more than 5,000. My personal estimate is somewhere right in the middle of those vastly different guesses.
We’ve found the highest gnome populations to be in the Lake Merritt, Adams Point, Haddon Hill and Cleveland Heights neighborhoods. Friends have reported sightings as far as Jack London, Rockridge, Mills College, Highland Hospital, and a couple Oakland Fire Departments.
Exact Locations to Start Your Gnome-hunt:
- Start at Mandana Blvd. and Lakeshore Ave. Walk Northwest uphill towards Grand Ave. Look low.
- Start at Grand Ave. and Euclid Ave. Walk North towards Jayne Ave. Keep an eye out for my favorite female scientist!
- Start near Oakland High School and walk the neighborhoods of Cleveland Heights and Haddon Hill (Hint: Haddon Hill Cafe has a gnome perched near a cafe window sill).
- Start on Florence Ave. off Broadway Terrace. Walk the loop of Sonia Street.
These little gnomes bring smiles to folks of all ages, and enrich what could be just another mundane walk around the neighborhood. How many gnomes can you find? Good luck!