City of Oakland
Downtown Oakland from Lake Merritt
Downtown Oakland from Lake Merritt
Flag of Oakland
Location in Alameda County and the state of California
Location in Alameda County and the state of California
Country United States
State California
 • TypeMayor-Council
 • MayorJean Quan (D)
 • SenateLoni Hancock (D)
 • AssemblyNancy Skinner (D)
Sandré Swanson (D)
Mary Hayashi (D)
 • U. S. CongressBarbara Lee (D) (CA-09)
 • Total78.002 sq mi (202.024 km2)
 • Land55.786 sq mi (144.485 km2)
 • Water22.216 sq mi (57.54 km2)  28.48%
42 ft (12.8 m)
 • Total390,724
 • Rank1st in Alameda County
8th in California
47th in the United States
 • Density5,000/sq mi (1,900/km2)
Time zoneUTC−8 (PST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−7 (PDT)
ZIP code
94601, 94602, 94603, 94605, 94606, 94607, 94610, 94611, 94612, 94618, 94619, 94615, 94621
Area code510
FIPS code06-53000
GNIS feature ID0277566

Oakland (/[invalid input: 'icon']ˈklənd/) is the eighth-largest city in the U.S. state of California, with a 2010 population of 390,724. It is a major West Coast port, located on San Francisco Bay, about 8 miles (13 km) east of San Francisco. Originally incorporated in 1852, Oakland is the county seat of Alameda County, and it is a central hub city for the Bay Area subregion collectively called the East Bay. Oakland is ranked #1 in climate in the U.S. and Forbes Magazine has ranked it the 10th best city in the U.S. for business.[2] In 2011 Oakland was ranked the 10th most walkable city in the United States[3] Oakland tops the list of the 50 largest US cities using electricity from renewable sources.[4]

The land that Oakland covers was once a mosaic of coastal terrace prairie, oak woodland, and north coastal scrub. Oakland served as a rich resource when its hillside oak and redwood timber were logged to build San Francisco, and Oakland's fertile flatland soils helped it become a prolific agricultural region. During the California Gold Rush, Oakland became the main staging post for passengers and cargo journeying between the Bay Area and the Sierra foothills. In the late 1860s, Oakland was selected as the western terminal of the Transcontinental Railroad. It continued to grow into the 20th century with its busy port, shipyards, and a thriving automobile industry. Following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, many San Franciscans left that city's destruction, and a great number of Oakland's homes were built during the 1910s and 1920s. An extensive streetcar network connected most of Oakland's neighborhoods to inter-city rail lines and to ferry lines. During the 1940s, thousands of war-industry workers moved to Oakland from the Deep South.

Ruptures along the nearby San Andreas fault caused severe earth movement in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1906 and 1989. San Andreas quakes induces creep (movement occurring on earthquake faults) in the Hayward fault, which runs directly through Oakland, Berkeley, San Jose and other Bay Area cities.[5] In 1991, an urban firestorm destroyed nearly 4,000 homes and killed 25 people in the Oakland hills; it was the worst such firestorm in American history.[6]

The 20th century saw a steady influx of immigrants to Oakland from around the globe, making Oakland is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in Alameda County.[7] The city has experienced its own 'renaissance" during recent years with the opening of theaters and art galleries, trendy shops, modern downtown condos, pubs, and restaurants with top chefs. In spite of its large size (56 square miles (150 km2), from the hills to the waterfront), Oakland and its neighborhoods are easily accessible, with convenient BART trains and city buses. [8] Some progress has been made during recent years reducing Oakland's high crime rate; violent crime is primarily concentrated in certain neighborhoods, although property crime remains problematic throughout the city.[9]


Depiction of Oakland in 1900.

The Ohlone

The earliest known inhabitants were the Huchiun tribe, who lived there for thousands of years. The Huchiun belonged to a linguistic grouping later called the Ohlone (a Miwok word meaning "western people").[10] In Oakland, they were concentrated around Lake Merritt and Temescal Creek, a stream that enters the San Francisco Bay at Emeryville.

The area was inhabited by the Ohlone people before Spanish settlers displaced them in the 18th and 19th centuries. Spain expanded the Viceroyalty of New Spain and colonized Alta California to stop the advancement of Russia from Alaska. Much of the land that was to become Oakland was held by the Peralta family under the Rancho San Antonio (Peralta) land grant. New Spain became independent in 1821 under the name "Mexico." In 1846, the Territory of Alta California was conquered by American forces, becoming simply "California." Throughout the 1840s and 1850s, American squatters laid legal claim to the land held by the Peralta family.

Early history

Conquistadors from New Spain claimed Oakland and other Ohlone lands of the East Bay, along with the rest of California, for the king of Spain in 1772. In the early 19th century, the Spanish crown deeded the East Bay area to Luís María Peralta for his Rancho San Antonio. The grant was confirmed by the successor Mexican republic upon its independence from Spain.[11] The ranch included a stand of oak trees that stretched from the land that is today Oakland's downtown area to the adjacent part of Alameda, then a peninsula. The Peraltas called the area encinal, a Spanish word that means "oak grove." Upon his death in 1842, Peralta divided his land among his four sons. Most of Oakland fell within the shares given to Antonio Maria and Vicente, who opened the land to American settlers, loggers, European whalers, and fur-traders[12]

Continued development occurred after 1848 when, as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo following the Mexican-American War, the Mexican government ceded 525,000 square miles (1,360,000 km2); 55%[13] of its pre-war territory (excluding Texas) to the US in exchange for $15 million. The original settlement in what is now the downtown was initially called "Contra Costa" ("opposite shore", the Spanish name for the lands on the east side of the Bay) and was included in Contra Costa County before Alameda County was established on March 25, 1853. The California state legislature incorporated the town of Oakland on May 4, 1852. In 1853, John Coffee "Jack" Hays, a famous Texas Ranger, was one of the first to establish residence in Oakland while performing his duties as Sheriff of San Francisco.[14][15]

The town and its environs quickly grew with the railroads, becoming a major rail terminal in the late 1860s and 1870s. In 1868, the Central Pacific constructed the Oakland Long Wharf at Oakland Point, the site of today's Port of Oakland. The Long Wharf served as the terminus both for the Transcontinental Railroad and for local commuter trains of the Central (later, Southern) Pacific. The Central Pacific also established one of its largest rail yards and servicing facilities in West Oakland, which continued to be a major local employer under the Southern Pacific well into the 20th century. The principal depot of the Southern Pacific in Oakland was the 16th Street Station located at 16th and Wood, which is currently being restored as part of a redevelopment project.[16] In 1871, Cyrus and Susan Mills paid $5,000 for the Young Ladies' Seminary in Benicia, renamed it Mills College, and moved it to its current location in Oakland, adjacent to what is now Seminary Boulevard. In 1872, the town of Brooklyn was incorporated into Oakland. Brooklyn, a large municipality southeast of Lake Merritt, was part of what was then called the Brooklyn Township.

A number of horsecar and cable car lines were constructed in Oakland during the latter half of the 19th century. The first electric streetcar set out from Oakland to Berkeley in 1891, and other lines were converted and added over the course of the 1890s. The various streetcar companies operating in Oakland were acquired by Francis "Borax" Smith and consolidated into what eventually became known as the Key System, the predecessor of today's publicly owned AC Transit. In addition to its system of streetcars in the East Bay, the Key System also operated commuter trains to its own pier and ferry boats to San Francisco, in competition with the Southern Pacific. Upon completion of the Bay Bridge, both companies ran their commuter trains on the south side of the lower deck, directly to San Francisco. The Key System in its earliest years was actually in part a real estate venture, with the transit part serving to help open up new tracts for buyers. The Key System's investors (incorporated as the "Realty Syndicate") also established two large hotels in Oakland, one of which survives as the Claremont Resort. The other, which burned down in the early 1930s, was the Key Route Inn, at what is now West Grand and Broadway. From 1904 to 1929, the Realty Syndicate also operated a major amusement park in north Oakland called Idora Park.

Spanish flu victims are tended by American Red Cross nurses at the Oakland Municipal Auditorium (now the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center)

Early 1900s

The original extent of Oakland, upon its incorporation, lay south of today's major intersection of San Pablo Avenue, Broadway, and Fourteenth Street. The city gradually annexed farmlands and settlements to the east and the north. Oakland's rise to industrial prominence, and its subsequent need for a seaport, led to the digging of a shipping and tidal channel in 1902, which created an "island" of nearby town Alameda. In 1906, its population doubled with refugees made homeless after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. Concurrently, a strong City Beautiful movement, promoted by Mayor Frank K. Mott, was responsible for creating and preserving parks and monuments in Oakland, including major improvements to Lake Merritt and the construction of Oakland Civic Auditorium, which cost $1M in 1914. The Auditorium briefly served as an emergency ward and quarantine for some of Oakland's Spanish flu victims in 1918 and 1919. The three waves of that pandemic killed more than 1,400, out of 216,000, Oakland residents.

One day's output of 1917 Chevrolet automobiles at their major West Coast plant, now the location of Eastmont Town Center

By 1920, Oakland was the home of numerous manufacturing industries, including metals, canneries, bakeries, internal combustion engines, automobiles, and shipbuilding.[17]


The 1920s were economic boom years in the United States as a whole, and in California in particular. Economic growth was fueled by the general post–World War I recovery, as well as oil discoveries in Los Angeles and, most notably, the widespread introduction of the automobile. In 1916, General Motors opened a major Chevrolet automobile factory in East Oakland, making cars and then trucks until 1963, when it was moved to Fremont in southern Alameda County.[18] Also in 1916,[19] the Fageol Motor Company chose East Oakland for their first factory, manufacturing farming tractors from 1918 to 1923.[20] In 1921, they introduced an influential low-slung "Safety Bus", followed quickly by the 22-seat "Safety Coach."[21] Durant Motors operated a plant in Oakland from 1921 to 1930,[22] manufacturing sedans, coupes, convertibles, and roadsters.[23] By 1929, when Chrysler expanded with a new plant there, Oakland had become known as the "Detroit of the West."[24]

The first experimental transcontinental airmail through flight lands in Oakland. Left to right: Mayor John L. Davie, unknown, Eddie Rickenbacker, John M. Larsen (aircraft salesman), partially obscured unknown man, Bert Acosta (in cavalry boots), J. J. Rosborough (postmaster), unknown.

Russell Clifford Durant (called "Cliff" by his friends) was a race car driver, speedboat enthusiast, amateur flier, President of Durant Motors in Oakland, and son of General Motors founder William "Billy" Crapo Durant. In 1916, he established Durant Field at 82nd Avenue and East 14th Street.[25] The first experimental transcontinental airmail through-flight finished its journey at Durant Field on August 9, 1920, with Army Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker and Navy Lt. Bert Acosta at the controls of the Junkers F 13 re-badged as the model J.L.6.[26] The airfield served only secondary duties after 1927, as its runway was not long enough for heavily loaded aircraft. In April 1930, test pilot Herbert "Hub" Fahy and his wife Claire hit a stump upon landing, flipping their plane and mortally wounding Hub without injuring Claire.[27] Durant Field was often called Oakland Airport, though the current Oakland International Airport was soon established four miles (6 km) southwest.[28]

On September 17, 1927, Charles Lindbergh attended the official dedication of the new Oakland Airport. A month earlier, on August 16, participants in the disastrous Dole Air Race had taken off from Oakland's new 7,020-foot (2,140 m) runway headed for Honolulu 2,400 miles (3,900 km) away—three fliers died before getting to the starting line in Oakland; five were lost at sea, attempting to reach Honolulu; and two more died searching for the lost five.[29] On May 31, 1928, Charles Kingsford Smith and his crew departed Oakland in Southern Cross on their successful bid to cross the Pacific by air, finishing in Australia. In October 1928, Oakland was used as a base for the World War I aircraft involved in the final filming of Howard Hughes' Hell's Angels.[30] In 1928, aviator Louise Thaden took off from Oakland in a Travel Air to set a women's altitude record, as well as endurance and speed records.[31]

Oakland expanded during the 1920s, flexing enough to meet the influx of factory workers. Approximately 13,000 homes were built between 1921 and 1924,[32] more than between 1907 and 1920.[33] Many of the large downtown office buildings, apartment buildings, and single-family houses still standing in Oakland were built during the 1920s; and they reflect the architectural styles of the time.

In 1924, the Tribune Tower was completed; in 1976, it was restored and declared an Oakland landmark.

Rocky Road ice cream was created in Oakland in 1929, though accounts differ about its first promoter. William Dreyer of Dreyer's is said to have carried the idea of marshmallow and walnut pieces in a chocolate base over from his partner Joseph Edy's similar candy creation.[34]

World War II

During World War II, the East Bay Area was home to many war-related industries. Among these were the Kaiser Shipyards in nearby Richmond. The medical system devised for shipyard workers became the basis for the giant Kaiser Permanente HMO, which has a large medical center at MacArthur and Broadway, the first to be established by Kaiser. Oakland's Moore Dry Dock Company expanded its shipbuilding capabilities and built over 100 ships.

Valued at $100 million in 1943, Oakland's canning industry was its second-most-valuable war contribution after shipbuilding. Sited at both a major rail terminus and an important sea port, Oakland was a natural location for food processing plants, whose preserved products fed domestic, foreign, and military consumers. The largest canneries were in the Fruitvale District and included the Josiah Lusk Canning Company, the Oakland Preserving Company (which started the Del Monte brand), and the California Packing Company.[35]

Prior to World War II, blacks constituted about 3% of Oakland's population. Aside from restrictive covenants pertaining to some Oakland Hills properties, Jim Crow laws mandating racial segregation did not exist in California, and relations between the races were mostly harmonious. What segregation did exist was voluntary; blacks could, and did, live in all parts of the city.[36]

The war attracted tens of thousands of laborers from around the country, though most were poor whites and blacks from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas—sharecroppers and tenant farmers who had been recruited by Henry J. Kaiser to work in his shipyards. These immigrants from the Jim Crow South brought their racial attitudes with them, and the racial harmony that Oakland blacks had been accustomed to prior to the war evaporated.[36] Southern whites expected deference from their black co-workers, and initially Southern blacks were conditioned to grant it.[37] As Southern blacks became aware of their more equal standing under California law, they began to reject subservient roles; the new immigrants prospered, though they were affected by rising racial discrimination and informal post-war neighborhood redlining.[37]

The Mai Tai cocktail was first concocted in Oakland in 1944, and it became very popular at Trader Vic's restaurant.[38] Established in 1932, just four years later, Trader Vic's was so successful San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen was inspired to write, "the best restaurant in San Francisco is in Oakland."[39] Trader Vic's was chosen by the State Department as the official entertainment center for foreign dignitaries attending United Nations meetings in San Francisco.[40] The restaurant continued to grow in popularity and was running out of room when, in 1951, founder Victor Bergeron opened a larger one in San Francisco. In 1972, the flagship Oakland restaurant moved to the nearby Emeryville Marina.[41]

Post-WWII (1940s and 1950s)

View of Lake Merritt looking southwest from the northeastern tip of the lake

In 1946 National City Lines (NCL), a General Motors holding company, acquired 64% of Key System stock; during the next several years NCL engaged in the conspiratorial dissolution of Oakland's electric streetcar system. NCL converted the Key System's electric streetcar fleet to diesel buses, tracks were removed from Oakland's streets, and the lower deck of the Bay Bridge was converted to automobile traffic, which reduced the passenger carrying capacity of the bridge. Freeways were planned and constructed, which partitioned the social and retail fabric of neighborhoods, and increased automobile ownership further reduced demand for mass transit. The state Legislature created the Alameda and Contra Costa Transit District in 1955, which still exists today as AC Transit, the third-largest bus-only transit system in the nation.[42]

Soon after the war, with the disappearance of Oakland's shipbuilding industry and the decline of its automobile industry, jobs became more scarce. Many of the poor blacks who had come to the city from the South decided to stay in Oakland. Longstanding black residents complained that the new Southern arrivals "tended towards public disorder,"[43] and the segregationist attitudes that some Southern migrants brought with them disrupted the racial harmony that Oaklanders had been accustomed to before the war.[36] Many of the city's more affluent residents, both black and white, left the city after the war, moving to neighboring Alameda, Berkeley, Albany and El Cerrito to the north; to San Leandro, Hayward, Castro Valley and Fremont in Southern Alameda County; and to the newly developing East Bay suburbs, Orinda, Lafayette, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek and Concord. Between 1950 and 1960, about 100,000 white property owners moved out of Oakland—part of a nationwide phenomenon called white flight.[44]

By the end of World War II, blacks constituted about 12% of Oakland's population, and the years following the war saw this percentage rise, along with an increase in racial tensions.[43] Starting in the late 1940s, the Oakland Police Department began recruiting officers from the South to deal with the expanding black population and changing racial attitudes; many were openly racist, and their repressive police tactics exacerbated racial tensions.[45]

Oakland was the center of a general strike during the first week of December 1946, one of six cities across the county that experienced a general strike in the first few years after World War II. It was one of the largest strike movements in American history, as workers were determined not to let management repeat the union busting that followed the first World War.[46]

In the late 1950s, the largest high-rise up to that time was planned on the former site of Holy Names University, a parcel at the corner of 20th and Harrison Streets: the headquarters building of Kaiser Corporation. Also during this era, the oldest section of Oakland at the foot of Broadway was transformed into Jack London Square.

Oakland, which had been racially harmonious and quite prosperous before the war, by the late 1950s found itself with a population that was increasingly poor and racially divided.[36][47]

1960s and 1970s

In 1960, Kaiser Corporation erected its headquarters at the former site of Holy Names University, a parcel at the corner of 20th and Harrison Streets. It was the largest skyscraper in Oakland, as well as "the largest office tower west of Chicago" up to that time.[48] Also during this era, the oldest section of Oakland at the foot of Broadway, Jack London Square, was redeveloped into a hotel and outdoor retail district.

During the 1960s, the city was home to an innovative funk music scene that produced well-known bands like Sly & the Family Stone, Graham Central Station, Tower of Power, Cold Blood, and The Headhunters. Larry Graham, the bass player for both Sly & the Family Stone and Graham Central Station, is credited with the creation of the influential slap and pop sound still widely used by bassists in many musical idioms today.

By 1966, only 16 of the city's 661 police officers were black. Tensions between the black community and the predominantly white police force were high, and police brutality against blacks was common.[44][49] The Black Panther Party was founded by Oakland City College (later Merritt College) students Huey Newton and Bobby Seale as a response to police brutality.[50]

It was also during the 1960s that the Oakland Chapter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club began to grow into a formidable motorcycle gang and organized crime syndicate.[51][52][53][54] Its Oakland Clubhouse is still on Foothill Boulevard.

President Johnson's War on Poverty programs were launched in 1964, in his State of the Union address. The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research reports that, by 1967, 140 federal programs (many administered by the Black Panthers) dispensed more than $100 million in Oakland, nearly double the City of Oakland's annual budget.[43]

During the 1970s, Oakland, along with many other American cities, began to experience serious problems with gang-controlled dealing of heroin and cocaine, with attendant increases in both violent crime and property crime. Drug kingpin Felix Mitchell was responsible for much of this criminal activity, and Oakland's murder rate increased to twice that of New York and many other major cities.[43]

On October 2, 1973 a sniper on the ground killed an Oakland police surveillance[55] helicopter pilot, a Vietnam war veteran, with a head shot from a sniper rifle.[55] The helicopter crashed nose down in a parking lot and exploded in a ball of flame[56] near Fruitvale and Foothill in east Oakland, killing a second Oakland police officer who died from burns. The "August Seventh Guerrilla Movement" claimed responsibility for the sniper attack.[57]

In late 1973, the Symbionese Liberation Army assassinated Oakland's superintendent of schools, Dr. Marcus Foster, and badly wounded his deputy, Robert Blackburn. Two months later, two men were arrested and charged with the murder. Both received life sentences, though one was acquitted after an appeal and a retrial seven years later. In 1974, the SLA, led by the self-named "Cinque," went on to kidnap newspaper heiress Patty Hearst, granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst, from her Berkeley apartment.

Former U.S. Senator William Knowland editor and publisher of the Oakland Tribune, died in February 1974.

In sports, the Oakland Athletics MLB club won three consecutive World Series championships in 1972, 1973, and 1974 (it won again in 1989). The Golden State Warriors won the 1974–1975 NBA championship; and the Oakland Raiders of the NFL won Super Bowl XI in 1977 as well as Super Bowl XV in 1981.

1980s and 1990s

Starting in the early 1980s, the number of Latinos, mostly of Mexican origin, began to increase in Oakland, especially in the Fruitvale district. This district is one of the oldest in Oakland, growing up around the old Peralta estate (now a city park). It always had a concentration of Latino residents, businesses and institutions, and increased immigration, continuing into the 21st century, has added greater numbers.

During the 1980s, crack cocaine became a serious problem in Oakland. The drug culture that had gained a foothold during the 1970s became increasingly violent and socially disruptive. Poverty increased, and the free market conservative think tank Manhattan Institute for Policy Research reports that by the end of the 1980s, more than 20% of Oakland's population was on welfare.[43]

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Oakland's black plurality reached its peak at approximately 47% of the overall population. Oakland featured prominently in rap music, as the hometown for such artists as MC Hammer, Digital Underground, Hieroglyphics (including Souls of Mischief and Del tha Funkee Homosapien), The Luniz, Tupac Shakur, and Too Short. Outside of the rap genre, Grammy-award winning artists such as En Vogue, Tony! Toni! Tone!, and Billie Joe Armstrong of the trio Green Day also emerged from Oakland.

On May 24, 1990, a pipe bomb placed underneath traveling eco-activist Judi Bari's car seat exploded, tearing through her backside and nearly killing her. The bomb was placed directly under the driver's seat, not in the back seat or luggage area as it presumably would have been if Bari had been transporting it knowingly. Immediately after the 1990 car bombing, while Bari was in Oakland's Highland Hospital, she and a friend were arrested on suspicion of knowingly transporting the bomb. The Alameda County district attorney later dropped the case for lack of evidence, and in 2004 the FBI and the City of Oakland agreed to a $4 million settlement of a lawsuit brought by Bari's estate, and her friend, over their false arrest.[58]

On October 20, 1991, a massive firestorm (see 1991 Oakland firestorm) swept down from the Berkeley Hills above the Caldecott Tunnel. 25 people were killed, and 150 people were injured, with nearly 4,000 homes destroyed. The economic loss has been estimated at $1.5 billion, and it was the worst such firestorm in American history.[6] Many of the original homes were rebuilt on a much larger scale.

In late 1996, Oakland was the center of a controversy surrounding Ebonics (African American Vernacular English), an ethnolect the outgoing Oakland Unified School District board voted to recognize on December 18.[59][60]

During the mid 1990s, Oakland experienced somewhat of an economic "renaissance"[61] with new downtown land development such as a $140 million state government center project, a $101 million city office building, and a 12-story office building for the University of California, Office of the President. The City Center redevelopment project was bought by Shorenstein Co., a San Francisco real estate firm. Office vacancies dropped to 11 percent from 16 percent in 1996. Officials at the Port of Oakland and Oakland International Airport, began multimillion-dollar expansion plans to keep pace with rival shipping ports and airports on the West Coast.

Loma Prieta earthquake

Main article: 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake

The Loma Prieta earthquake occurred on October 17, 1989, a rupture of the San Andreas fault that affected the entire San Francisco Bay Area. The quake's surface wave measured 7.1 on the Richter magnitude scale, and many structures in Oakland were badly damaged. The double-decker portion of the freeway (Interstate 880) structure collapsed. The eastern span of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge also sustained damage and was closed to traffic for one month.


A night view of Oakland's downtown skyline and Lakeside Apartments District as seen from the newly restored East 18th Street Pier[62] At center left, the brightly-lit office with a clock tower is the Tribune Tower. Above the aeration fountain is Oakland City Hall, with a lighted round clock near its cupola

After his 1999 inauguration, Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown continued his predecessor Elihu Harris' public policy of supporting downtown housing development in the area defined as the Central Business District in Oakland's 1998 General Plan.[63] Since Brown's stated goal was to add 10,000 residents to downtown Oakland, it became known as the "10K" plan. It resulted in redevelopment projects in the Jack London District, where Brown purchased and later sold an industrial warehouse, which he used as a personal residence, and in the Lakeside Apartments District near Lake Merritt, where two infill projects were approved. The 10K plan touched the historic Old Oakland district, the Chinatown district, the Uptown district, and downtown.

The 10K plan and other redevelopment projects were controversial due to potential rent increases and gentrification, which would displace lower-income residents from downtown Oakland into outlying neighborhoods and cities.[64] Additional controversy over development proposals arose from the weakening of the Bay Area and national economy in 2000, 2001, 2007, and the credit crunch and the recession of 2008. These downturns resulted in lowered sales, rentals and occupancy of the new housing and slower growth and economic recovery than expected.

The Oakland Athletics have long sought a site to build a new baseball stadium. A deal announced in 2006 to build a new park in Fremont, to be called Cisco Field was halted three years later as a result of opposition from businesses and local residents.[65] Local efforts have been put forth by both fans and city politicans to retain the A's, including three potential locations near downtown and the Oakland waterfront.[66] The South Bay city of San Jose has shown continuing, strong interest to be the team's new home, and is the preferred destination for current team owner Lew Wolff.[67]

The Oakland Ballet, performing in the city since 1965, folded temporarily in 2006 due financial problems and the closure of their performance facility, the Calvin Simmons Theater at the Kaiser Convention Center.[68] The following year, founder Ronn Guidi announced the revival of the Ballet under new director Graham Lustig, and the program continues to perform at the Laney College Theater.[69]

In February 2009, the Fox Oakland Theatre reopened. The theatre was closed for most of the previous 42 years, with few events held there. After a thorough restoration, seismic retrofit, and many other improvements following years of severe neglect (including a fire as recently as 2004),[70] the historic landmark theater started drawing patrons from all over the Bay Area.[71] The century-old Lake Merritt Boat House had a major renovation and restoration completed in August 2009. The opening of the Lake Chalet Seafood Bar and Grill followed shortly afterwards.[72] [73]

In the early morning hours of January 1, 2009, unarmed civilian Oscar Grant was shot and killed by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle on a crowded platform at the Fruitvale BART Station in East Oakland.[74] Officers had subdued Grant in a prone position for allegedly resisting arrest, before Mehserle shot Grant in the back with his gun, which he claimed to have mistaken for his stun gun.[75] In the ensuing week, demonstrations and riots took place in downtown Oakland, with demonstrators citing police brutality and racial injustice as their motivation.[76] Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in July 2010, and sentenced to two years in prison. Both the verdict and sentencing set off further demonstrations in downtown Oakland, which included looting and destruction of property.[77][78]

On March 21, 2009, recent Oakland parolee Lovelle Mixon, 26, fatally shot four Oakland police officers and wounded a fifth officer during a routine traffic stop. Three of the officers killed were ranking sergeants, the first time the Oakland Police Department had lost a sergeant in the line of duty. It was the single deadliest day for sworn personnel in the department's history, as well as the deadliest attack on police officers in California since 1970.[79]


Aerial view of center of Oakland

Oakland is located at 37°48'16"N 122°16'15'W[80] in the longitudinal middle of California, on the east side of San Francisco Bay.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 78.0 square miles (202.0 km²). 55.8 square miles (144.5 km²) of it is land and 22.2 square miles (57.5 km²) of it (28.48 percent) is water.

Oaklanders most broadly refer to their city's terrain as "the flatlands" and "the hills", which until recent waves of gentrification have also been a reference to Oakland's deep economic divide, with "the hills" being more affluent communities. About two-thirds of Oakland lies in the flat plain of the East Bay, with one-third rising into the foothills and hills of the East Bay range.

Lake Merritt

Main article: Lake Merritt

One of Oakland's most notable features is Lake Merritt near downtown, an urban estuary which is a mix of fresh and salt water draining in and out from the Oakland Harbor at the San Francisco Bay.[81] Originally a marsh-lined haven for wildlife, Lake Merritt was dredged and bordered with parks from the 1890s to the 1910s. Despite this reduction in habitat, Oakland is home to many rare and endangered species including the Presidio Clarkia, Pallid Manzanita, Tiburon Buckwheat, Oakland Star-Tulip, Most-Beautiful Jewel Flower, Western Leatherwood, and the Alameda Whipsnake. Many rare species are localized to serpentine soils and bedrock.


Main article: List of neighborhoods in Oakland, California

The north end of the Adams Point district, as seen from Lakeshore Avenue on the east shore of the Lake

Oakland has more than 50 distinct neighborhoods, many of which are not "official" enough to be named on a map.[82] The common large neighborhood divisions in the city are downtown Oakland and its greater Central Business District, Lake Merritt, East Oakland, North Oakland, West Oakland, and the Oakland Hills. East Oakland actually encompasses more than half of Oakland's area, stretching from Lakeshore Avenue on the east shore of Lake Merritt southeast to San Leandro. North Oakland encompasses the neighborhoods between downtown and Berkeley and Emeryville. West Oakland is the area between downtown and the Bay, partially surrounded by the Oakland Point, and encompassing the Port of Oakland.

Another broad geographical distinction is between "the hills" and "the flatlands" (or "flats"). The more affluent neighborhoods are located in the hills along the northeast side of the city, while neighborhoods are generally less prosperous the nearer they are located to San Francisco Bay. Downtown and West Oakland are located entirely in the flatlands, while North and East Oakland incorporate lower hills and flatlands neighborhoods. This hills/flatlands division extends beyond Oakland's borders into neighboring cities in the East Bay's urban core.

The relatively affluent city of Piedmont, incorporated in Oakland's central foothills after the 1906 earthquake, is a small independent city completely surrounded by the city of Oakland.


Based on data gathered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Oakland is ranked #1 in climate among U.S. cities.[83] Oakland's climate is typified by the temperate and seasonal Mediterranean climate. Summers are usually dry and warm and winters are mild and wet. More specifically, it has features found in both nearby coastal cities such as San Francisco and inland cities such as San Jose, making it warmer than San Francisco and cooler than San Jose. Its position on San Francisco Bay directly across from the Golden Gate means that the Northern part of the city can occasionally experience cooling maritime fog. It is far enough inland, though, that the fog often burns off by midday, allowing it to have typically sunny California days. The hills tend to have more fog than the flatlands, as the fog drifts down from Berkeley.

The U.S. Weather Bureau kept weather records in downtown Oakland from October 4, 1894, to July 31, 1958. During that time, the record high temperature was 104 °F (40 °C) on June 24, 1957, and the record low temperature was 24 °F (−4 °C) on January 23, 1949. The wettest year was 1940 with 38.65 inches (982 mm) and the driest year was 1910 with 12.02 inches (305 mm). The most rainfall in one month was 15.35 inches (390 mm) in January 1911. The most rainfall in 24 hours was 4.27 inches (108 mm) on February 12, 1904.[84]

The National Weather Service today has two official weather stations in Oakland: Oakland International Airport and the Oakland Museum (established 1970).

Climate data for Oakland Museum
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 78
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 58.1
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 44.7
Record low °F (°C) 24
Average rainfall inches (mm) 4.85
Average rainy days (≥ 0.01 in) 10.5 10.1 10.5 5.9 3.0 1.0 0.3 0.7 1.8 3.8 8.5 8.7 64.8
Source: NOAA[85]


Historical population


The 2010 United States Census[86] reported that Oakland had a population of 390,724. The population density was 5,009.2 people per square mile (1,934.0/km²). The racial makeup of Oakland was 134,925 (34.5%) White, 109,471 (28.0%) African American, 3,040 (0.8%) Native American, 65,811 (16.8%) Asian, 2,222 (0.6%) Pacific Islander, 53,378 (13.7%) from other races, and 21,877 (5.6%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 99,068 persons (25.4%).

The Census reported that 382,586 people (97.9% of the population) lived in households, 5,675 (1.5%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 2,463 (0.6%) were institutionalized.

There were 153,791 households, out of which 44,762 (29.1%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 50,797 (33.0%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 24,122 (15.7%) had a female householder with no husband present, 8,799 (5.7%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 11,289 (7.3%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 3,442 (2.2%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 52,103 households (33.9%) were made up of individuals and 13,778 (9.0%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49. There were 83,718 families (54.4% of all households); the average family size was 3.27.

The population was spread out with 83,120 people (21.3%) under the age of 18, 36,272 people (9.3%) aged 18 to 24, 129,139 people (33.1%) aged 25 to 44, 98,634 people (25.2%) aged 45 to 64, and 43,559 people (11.1%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36.2 years. For every 100 females there were 94.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.8 males.

There were 169,710 housing units at an average density of 2,175.7 per square mile (840.0/km²), of which 63,142 (41.1%) were owner-occupied, and 90,649 (58.9%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 3.0%; the rental vacancy rate was 8.5%. 166,662 people (42.7% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 215,924 people (55.3%) lived in rental housing units.

Demographic profile[87] 2010 2000 1990 1980 1970
White 34.5% 31.3% 32.5% 38.6% 59.1%
Asian 16.8% 15.2% 14.9% 8.3% 4.7%
Black or African American 28.0% 35.7% 43.9% 47.0% 34.5%
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.8% 0.7% 0.6% 0.8% 0.8%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.6% 0.5%
Some other race 13.7% 11.7%
Two or more races 5.6% 5.0%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 25.4% 21.9% 13.2% 9.5% 6.5%
White alone 25.9% 23.5% 27.8% 34.4% 53.4%


In 2008 the median income for a household in the city was $48,596 and the median income for a family was $55,949. Males had a median income of $46,383 versus $44,690 for females. The per capita income for the city was $30,094. In 2007 approximately 15.3 percent of families and 17.0 percent of the general population were below the poverty line, including 27.9 percent of those under age 18 and 13.1 percent of those age 65 or over. The average income for a family was $85,803. 0.7% of the population is homeless.[88] Home ownership is 41%[88] and 14% of rental units are subsidized.[88] The unemployment rate as of August 2009 is 17.5%.[89]

As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, the median income for a household in the city is $40,055, and the median income for a family is $44,384. Males have a median income of $37,433 versus $35,088 for females. The per capita income for the city is $21,936. 19.4% of the population and 16.2% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 27.9% of those under the age of 18 and 13.1% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Gay population

An analysis by the Urban Institute of U.S. Census 2000 numbers showed that Oakland had the third-highest concentration of gays and lesbians among the 50 largest U.S. cities, behind San Francisco and Seattle. Census data showed that, among incorporated places that have at least 500 female couples, Oakland had the nation's largest proportion. In 2000, Oakland counted 2,650 lesbian couples; one in every 41 Oakland couples listed themselves as a same-sex female partnership.[90][91]

Shifting of cultures

Since the 1960s, Oakland has been known as a center of Northern California's African-American community, as are Richmond, East Palo Alto, Vallejo and Marin City. However, between 2000 and 2010 Oakland lost nearly 25% of its African-American population.[92] The city demographics have changed due to a combination of rapid gentrification along with the fact that many African-Americans have sought opportunities in Bay Area suburbs, or have followed the national trend of middle-class African-Americans moving to the Southern United States[93][94][95] Though African-Americans never constituted a majority of Oakland's population, they formed a strong plurality for many years, peaking in 1980 at about 47% of the population. From 2000 to 2008, Oakland's black population, excluding persons who self-identify as African-American in combination with some other race, dropped from 35.7% to 31.9% of the total population. In contrast, Oakland's total white population, including those of Latino origin, increased from 31.3% to 36.9%.[94][96] Still, as of the 2010 Census, African-Americans maintain their status as Oakland's single largest ethnic group.[92]

Recent trends have resulted in cultural shifts, leading to a decline among some of the city's longstanding African-American institutions, such as churches, businesses, and nightclubs.[96] This decline in Black institutions has led some to postulate that Black culture in Oakland is being systematically minimized.[97] Although Oakland is the second most diverse city in Alameda County[98] and remains a culturally significant city for African-Americans, many of the city's once historically black neighborhoods have become more mixed; neighborhoods that once experienced white flight are seeing whites return in increasing numbers, along with residents from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. Oakland's black community "brought African American identity into the mainstream, instead of the margins," said Ishmael Reed, author of "Blues City: a Walk in Oakland" and a longtime resident. "I just hate to see the decline."[99] Oakland lost 33,502 black residents, an 8% decline, from 2000-2010.[100]

In addition, Latino festivals such as the annual "Cinco de Mayo Parade" and "Dia de los Muertos Festival" in Fruitvale, an Oakland neighborhood with a large Latino population, have been canceled due to lack of funding from the city.[101]


In recent years, immigrants and others have marched by the thousands down Oakland's International Boulevard in support of legal reforms benefitting illegal immigrants.[102] In 2009, Oakland's city council passed a resolution to create municipally-issued "Oakland identification cards" to help residents get easier access to city and business services, improve their civic participation and encourage them to report crimes to police.[103] City officials are considering eventual multipurpose ID cards that would serve as debit cards, bus passes, library cards, and discount cards for Oakland businesses. In 2010, Oakland's city council resolved to divert new municipal economic investment from firms headquartered in Arizona in the wake of that state's attempt to control illegal immigration.[104]


As with many large cities in the United States, Oakland has struggled with numerous challenges, including high unemployment and elevated rates of poverty.[105] Violent crime remains a serious problem in some neighborhoods, especially those in East and West Oakland. In 2008, 33 percent of homicides occurred in patrol beats 27, 29, and 35 which include just 11% of the city's population. Homicides were disproportionately concentrated: 72% occurred in three City Council districts, District 3 in West Oakland and Districts 6 and 7 in East Oakland, even though these districts represent only 44% of Oakland's residents.[106]

Oakland's crime rate began to escalate during the late 1960s, and by the end of the 1970s Oakland's per capita murder rate had risen to twice that of San Francisco or New York City. [107] Oakland became known as the "crime capital" of the San Francisco Bay Area.[108] Crime continued to escalate during the 1980s, and during the 1990s and first decade of the 21st century Oakland has consistently been listed as one of the most dangerous large cities in the United States. According to Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts, during 2011 Oakland has averaged three street shootings per day, some of which cause injury or death to innocent bystanders. [109] Crime remains one of Oakland's most serious challenges, and Oakland continues to have a reputation among its own citizens, its understaffed police force, and residents of other Bay Area cities as a dangerous place, with one of the top five highest rates of violent crime in the U.S.[110][43]

Oakland ranks highly in California for most categories of crime, and rates of violent crime such as assault and rape are far above the U.S. average.[111] The 120 murders recorded in 2007 made Oakland's murder rate third highest in California, behind Richmond and Compton. Historically, most murders have occurred in West Oakland and the flatlands of East Oakland between I-580 and I-880.[112][113] Montclair, Rockridge and some areas in North Oakland have fewer problems with violent crime.[114]

Property crime is widespread throughout the city. Oakland recorded the highest robbery and motor vehicle theft rates in California, with one robbery per 114 citizens and one car theft per 40 citizens, three to four times the state average.[9] Carjackings occur two to three times more frequently in Oakland than in other cities of comparable size, and police have recorded at least one reported carjacking in every Oakland neighborhood.[115]

African Americans comprise less than one-third of Oakland's residents, yet they are over-represented in crime statistics, and most homicides occur in African-American neighborhoods.[116][117] Journalist Earl Ofari Hutchinson mentions crime in Oakland as an example of a rising problem of "black-on-black" crime, which Oakland shares with other major cities in the US.[118][119] Bill Cosby mentions Oakland, Chicago and Detriot as a few of the many American cities where crime is "endemic" and young African-American men are being murdered and incarcerated in disproportionate numbers. Cosby opines that the parents of such youths and young men, and "the Black community in general," have failed to inculcate proper standards of moral behavior. [120]

In 2006, when Oakland's homicide count in reached its highest total in more than a decade, [121] the five-year average for homicide victims in Oakland was broken down as follows: 77% Black, 15.4% Hispanic, 3.2% White, 2.8% Asian and 1.6% Unknown. The five-year average for homicide suspects in Oakland breaks down as follows: 64.7% Black, 8.6% Hispanic, 0.2% White, 2.0% Asian and 24.4% Unknown. In 2006, homicide victims under the age of 18 tripled compared to previous years. Five year averages compiled for 2001–2006 showed that 30% of murder victims were between the ages of 18 to 24 and another 33% were between 25 and 34 years old. Males made up 96% of suspects and 88% of victims.[116]

The homicide drop in 2009 was the city's third in a row, [122] and there were fewer Oakland murders in 2010, 94, compared to 2009, when 104 people were killed. Assistant Police Chief Howard Jordan said that even though the police department’s resources have been diminishing, all police officers are still working as hard as possible to keep Oakland safe. [123]

Police understaffing

Despite its high crime rate, Oakland has fewer police officers than many other major cities. [124] In 2004 the number of police officers per 10,000 residents was as follows:

In Oakland, the number of police officers has been declining, and case loads are increasing. Since 2003 the number of police officers in the country's sixth most dangerous city has declined by 102.[124] The number of crimes that each officer has to deal with is double or triple those handled by officers in other major California cities.[124]


Oakland is a major West Coast port, and there are nearly 200,000 jobs related to marine cargo transport.[125] These jobs range from minimum wage hourly positions to Transportation Storage and Distribution Managers who earn an annual average salary of $91,520.[126] The city is also home to several major corporations including Matson, Kaiser Permanente and Clorox, as well as corporate headquarters for national retailers like Dreyer's and Cost Plus World Markets.[127] The first Longs Drugs store opened in Oakland. Tech companies such as Ask.com and Pandora Radio are located in Oakland,[128] and in recent years many start-up high tech and green energy companies have found a home in the downtown neighborhoods of Uptown, City Center, Jack London Square and Lake Merritt Financial District.[129]

Oakland experienced an increase of both its population and of land values in the early-to-mid first decade of the 21st century. The 10k Plan, which began during former mayor Elihu Harris' administration, and intensified during former mayor Jerry Brown's administration resulted in several thousand units of new multi-family housing and development.

Top employers

According to the City's 2009 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[130] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Alameda County 7,734
2 Kaiser Permanente 6,606
3 Oakland Unified School District 5,689
4 City of Oakland 4,630
5 United States Postal Service 3,961
6 Internal Revenue Service 2,500
7 Southwest Airlines 2,313
7 FedEx 2,241
9 Peralta Community College District 2,020
10 Children's Hospital Oakland 1,970

Government and politics

Oakland City Hall and central plaza in 1917. Built of framed steel with unreinforced masonry infill at a cost of $2 million in 1914, the structure was the tallest building in Oakland until the Tribune Tower was built in 1923.

Oakland has a mayor-council government. The mayor is elected for a four-year term. The council has eight council members representing seven districts in Oakland with one member elected at-large; council members serve staggered four-year terms. The mayor appoints a city administrator, subject to the confirmation by the City Council, who is the chief administrative officer of the city. Other city officers include: city attorney (elected), city auditor (elected), and city clerk (appointed by city administrator).[131] Oakland's Mayor is subject to a tenure limited to two terms. There are no term limits for the city council. Three council members are currently on their fourth term, and Councilman De La Fuente is serving for his fifth term, approaching two decades in office.

Oakland City Hall was evacuated after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake until $80M seismic retrofit and hazard abatement work was complete in 1995.[132]

Jean Quan was elected mayor in November 2010, beating Don Perata and Rebecca Kaplan in the city's first ranked choice balloting.[133]

In the state legislature Oakland is located in the 9th Senate District, represented by Democrat Loni Hancock, and in the 14th, 16th, and 18th Assembly Districts, represented by Democrats Nancy Skinner, Sandré Swanson, and Mary Hayashi respectively. Oakland is represented in the United States House of Representatives by Barbara Lee and is located in California's 9th Congressional District, which has a Cook PVI of D +38.[134]

News media

Main article: List of television stations in the San Francisco Bay Area

Oakland is served by major television stations broadcasting primarily out of San Francisco and San Jose. The region's Fox affiliate, KTVU, is based in (and licensed to) Oakland at Jack London Square along with co-owned independent station KICU-TV (licensed to San Jose). In addition, the city is served by various AM and FM radio stations as well; AM stations KMKY, KNEW and KQKE are licensed to Oakland.

The Oakland Tribune published its first newspaper on February 21, 1874. The Tribune Tower, which sports a clock, is one of Oakland's landmarks. At key times throughout the day (8:00 am, noon and 5:00 pm), the clock tower carillon plays a variety of classic melodies, which change on a daily basis. In 2007, the Oakland Tribune announced they were leaving the Tribune tower (where they had actually been a tenant for several years) for a new location in East Oakland outside the downtown core.

The East Bay Express, a locally-owned free weekly paper, is based in Jack London Square and distributed throughout the East Bay.


Oakland has a vibrant and burgeoning art scene that fuels many activities, events, and businesses, especially the ever-popular Art Murmur festivals.[135] Oakland has the highest concentration of artists per capita in the United States.[136] Oakland’s neighborhoods are filled with galleries and arts centers that offer classes in everything from welding metal sculptures or creating complex mosaic designs. "Foodies" flock to the city to explore cuisine’s new frontier where innovative menus often feature locally grown produce and reflect the global cultural heritages of the city’s ethnically diverse population.

It has enjoyed a thriving West Coast blues scene and can claim numerous prominent homegrown musicians representing such genres as rhythm and blues, funk, punk, heavy metal, and hip hop.


Primary and secondary education

Most public schools in Oakland are operated by the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), which covers the entire city of Oakland; due to financial troubles and administrative failures, it has been in receivership by the state of California since 2002. The Oakland Unified School District (2006–2007) includes 59 elementary schools, 23 middle schools, 19 high schools, with 9 alternative education schools and programs, 4 adult education schools and early childhood education centers at most of the elementary schools[137] There are 46,000 K–12 students, 32,000 adult students, and 6,000 plus employees.[138] Overall, OUSD schools have performed poorly for years. In the 2005 results of the STAR testing, over 50 percent of students taking the test performed "below basic," while only 20 percent performed at least "proficient" on the English section of the test.[139] Some individual schools have much better performance than the city-wide average, for instance, in 2005 over half the students at Hillcrest Elementary School in the Montclair upper hills neighborhood performed at the "advanced" level in the English portion of the test, and students at Lincoln Elementary School in the Chinatown neighborhood performed at the "advanced" level in the math portion.

Oakland's three largest public high schools are Oakland High School, Oakland Technical High School, and Skyline High School. Oakland Tech has various academies, including its much renowned Engineering Academy, which sent more girls to MIT in 2007 than any other public school west of the Mississippi. [citation needed] There are also numerous small public high schools within Castlemont Community of Small Schools, Fremont Federation of High Schools, and McClymonds Educational Complex, all of which were once single, larger public high schools that were reorganized due to poor performance (Castlemont High School, Fremont High School, and McClymonds High School, respectively).

25 public charter schools with 5,887 students[140] operate outside the domain of OUSD. One, North Oakland Community Charter School (NOCCS), an elementary and middle school, is one of the few public progressive schools in the country. Lionel Wilson College Prep Academy and Oakland Unity High School have been certified by the California Charter Schools Association.[141][142] Other charter schools include the Oakland Military Institute, Oakland School for the Arts, Bay Area Technology School, and Oakland Charter Academy.[143]

There are several private high schools. Notables include the secular The College Preparatory School and Head-Royce School, and the Catholic Bishop O'Dowd High School, Holy Names High School and St. Elizabeth High School. Catholic schools in Oakland are operated by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland also include 8 K–8 schools (plus 1 in Piedmont on the Oakland city border). Northern Light School is a private nonprofit elementary and middle school. Bentley School is an Independent Co-educational K–12, college preparatory school, located on two campuses in Oakland and Lafayette, California.

Colleges and universities

Accredited colleges and universities include:

In 2001, the SFSU Oakland Multimedia Center was opened, allowing San Francisco State University to conduct classes near downtown Oakland.[144] The Oakland Higher Education Consortium and the City of Oakland's Community and Economic Development Agency (CEDA) opened the Oakland Higher Education Center downtown in 2002 to provide "access to multiple higher education service providers within a shared urban facility." Member schools include primary user California State University, East Bay as well as Lincoln University, New College of California, Saint Mary's College of California, SFSU Multimedia Studies Program, UC Berkeley Extension, University of Phoenix and Peralta Community College District.[145][146]


Despite large tax breaks East Bay nonprofit hospitals receive for community service, public hospitals such as Highland devote a much larger portion of their operating expenses to charity care.[147]

Mergers and closings

Summit Medical Center was a previous merger with Samuel Merritt Medical Center and Providence Medical Center in the 1990s. Peralta Hospital earlier had merged with Samuel Merritt Hospital. Oakland Hospital in the Fruitvale district closed in the 1990s. Naval Hospital Oakland (Oak Knoll Naval Hospital) closed during the military Base Realignment and Closure of 1993.

Parks and recreation

J. Mora Moss House in Mosswood Park was built in 1864 by San Francisco businessman Joseph Moravia Moss in the Carpenter Gothic style. The building houses Parks and Recreation offices and storage.


Additionally, the following seven East Bay Regional Parks are located entirely or partially in the city of Oakland:

Places of worship

Some of the most prominent places of worship in Oakland include: Evangelistic Outreach Center, Green Pastures, the Presbyterian, First Presbyterian Church of Oakland; Greek Orthodox Ascension Cathedral; the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Christ the Light; the United Methodist Chinese Community Church; the Unitarian First Unitarian Church; the Mormon Oakland California Temple; the Muslim, 31st Street Islamic Center, Light-House Mosque; the Reform Jewish Temple Sinai; the Conservative Jewish, Temple Beth Abraham; and the Orthodox Jewish, Beth Jacob Congregation, American Baptist; Faith Baptist Church of Oakland and the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses.


Downtown Oakland has an assortment of bars and nightclubs.[149][150] They range from punk-rock makeovers of dive bars, to modern bistros and dance clubs, to hipster spots and art and jazz bars. Also, the reopening of the Fox Oakland Theatre draws headline acts to include jam bands, rock, punk, blues, jazz, and reggae, among other genres of music. Shows performed by the Oakland School for the Arts—which is housed within the same complex—will give the theater increased usage. The Paramount and Fox theaters often book simultaneous events creating busy nights uptown.[151]

Oakland is home to a world-class jazz venue, Yoshi's, near Jack London Square. Jack London Square is a nighttime destination because of its movie theaters, restaurants, and clubs. Recent years have seen the growth of the "Oakland Art Murmur" event, occurring in the Uptown neighborhood the first Friday evening of every month, which features concurrent art openings from many galleries including 21 Grand, Fort, Johansson Project, Boontling Gallery, Ego Park, Mama Buzz, Ghost Town Gallery and Rock Paper Scissors.[152][153]



Main article: Oakland International Airport

Residents of Oakland utilize three major airports in the San Francisco Bay Area: Oakland International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, and San Jose International Airport. Oakland International Airport, located within the city limits of Oakland, is 4 miles (6 km) south of downtown Oakland and serves domestic and international destinations. AC Transit provides service to the airport from Oakland neighborhoods and the Coliseum BART Station on its "73" line for fare of $2.10, and aboard its "805" "All Nighter" bus all the way to downtown Oakland where other All Nighter connections are available.[154] AirBART provides more frequent shuttle bus service directly to the airport for a higher fare of $3.00.

Bridges, freeways, and tunnels

Because it is the last city before driving across the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge into San Francisco, Oakland is served by several major highways. Eastbound Bay Bridge traffic entering Oakland then splits into three freeways at the MacArthur Maze freeway interchange: Interstate 580 (MacArthur Freeway) heads southeast toward Hayward and eventually to the California Central Valley; Interstate 880 (Nimitz Freeway) runs south to San Jose; and the Eastshore Freeway (Interstate 80/I-580) runs north, providing connections to Sacramento and San Rafael, respectively.

Interstate 980 (Williams Freeway) begins its eastbound journey at I-880 in Downtown Oakland before turning into State Route 24 (Grove Shafter Freeway) at I-580. State Route 13 begins as the Warren Freeway at I-580, and runs through a scenic valley in the Oakland Hills before entering Berkeley. A stub of a planned freeway was constructed at the High Street exit from the Nimitz Freeway, but that freeway extension plan was abandoned.

Portion of the collapsed Cypress Viaduct in Oakland.

In 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake caused the Cypress Street Viaduct double-deck segment of the Nimitz Freeway I-880 to collapse, killing 42 people. The old freeway segment had passed right through the middle of West Oakland, forming a barrier between West Oakland neighborhoods. Following the earthquake, this section of the Nimitz Freeway was rerouted around the perimeter of West Oakland and rebuilt in 1999. The east span of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge also suffered damage from the quake when a 50-foot (15 m) section of the upper deck collapsed onto the lower deck; the damaged section was repaired within a month of the earthquake. As a result of the earthquake, a significant seismic retrofit was performed on the western span of the Bay Bridge, and the eastern span is scheduled for replacement, with the new span projected to be completed in 2014.

Two underwater tunnels, the Webster and Posey Tubes, connect the main island of Alameda to downtown Oakland, coming above ground in Chinatown. In addition, the Park Street, Fruitvale, and High Street bridges connect Alameda to East Oakland over the Oakland Estuary.

In the hills, the Leimert Bridge crosses Dimond Canyon, connecting the Oakmore neighborhood to Park Boulevard. The Caldecott Tunnel carries Highway 24 through the Berkeley Hills, connecting central Contra Costa County to Oakland. The Caldecott has three bores, with a fourth one under construction.

Transit, walking and bicycling

The Lake Merritt BART station.

The most recent census data compiled in 2007 before gasoline price spikes in 2008, show 24.3 percent of Oaklanders used public transportation, walked or used "other means" to commute to work, not including telecommuting,[155] with 17 percent of Oakland households being "car free" and or statistically categorized as having "no vehicles available."[156]

Bus transit service in Oakland and the inner East Bay is provided by the Alameda and Contra Costa Transit District, AC Transit. The district originated in 1958 after the conspiratorial dissolution of the Key System of streetcars that followed the National City Lines (NCL) holding company acquisition of 64% of its stock in 1946. In the 1948 federal case "United States v. National City Lines Inc.," the defendants were found guilty on a count of conspiring to monopolize the provision of parts and supplies to their subsidiary companies. The companies were each fined $5,000, and the directors were each fined one dollar. The verdicts were upheld on appeal in 1951.[157]

Many AC Transit lines follow old Key System routes.[42] Currently the district is planning a full scale Bus Rapid Transit line for the 1 line on the International Boulevard and Telegraph Avenue corridors.

The metropolitan area is served by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) from eight stations in Oakland. The system has headquarters in Oakland, with major transfer hubs at MacArthur and 19th Street stations. BART's headquarters was located in a building above the Lake Merritt (BART station until 2006, when it relocated to the Kaiser Center due to seismic safety concerns.

The city has regional and long distance passenger train service provided by Amtrak, with a station located blocks from Jack London Square served by the Amtrak Capitol Corridor, Coast Starlight and San Joaquins train routes. Capitol Corridor trains also stop at a second, newer Oakland Coliseum station. Amtrak's California Zephyr has its western terminus at Emeryville, CA station.

The Alameda / Oakland Ferry operates ferry service from Jack London Square to Alameda, San Francisco, and Angel Island.

Oakland licenses taxi cabs, and has zoned cab stands in its downtown. There is currently a movement underway to increase the supply of taxis by increasing the number of taxi licenses. A bicycle pedi-cab service operates downtown.

Pavement conditions are "at risk" on the 1,974 "total lane miles" of Oakland streets, many of which are wide, multi-lane arterial boulevards. Between 2005 and 2007 Oakland streets were ranked poorly in the results of an Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) study released on January 5, 2009.[158] Overall, Oakland streets scored in the "at risk" category of its Pavement Condition Index (PCI) over a three year moving average, resulting in hazardous pavement conditions for bicyclists and the probability of increased vehicle suspension and other maintenance costs for all road users. The MTC asserts that major repairs cost five to ten times more than routine maintenance, and scored Oakland streets overall as past the point where rehabilitation could have been used to prevent rapid deterioration.[159]

Following years of bicycle advocacy in Oakland by the East Bay Bicycle Coalition and others, The Oakland City Council adopted a Bicycle Master Plan in 1999 as a part of the Land Use and Transportation (LUTE) element of Oakland's 1998 General Plan. In addition, the Oakland City Council reaffirmed the bike plan in 2005 and 2007. The bike plan calls for a city "where bicycling is fully integrated into daily life, providing transportation and recreation that are both safe and convenient."[160] To date, several miles of bike lanes have been striped onto Bancroft Avenue in East Oakland, 14th Street and Market Street in West Oakland, on most of Lakeside Drive, and on Grand Avenue, though hundreds of miles of lanes proposed for arterial streets in the mid 1990s remain on the back burner. Facilities for parking thousands of bicycles have been installed downtown and in other commercial districts throughout Oakland since, in 2007, the city removed thousands of parking meter heads after installing new parking payment kiosks. The kiosks consist of mid-block, solar-powered machines that accept credit cards and dollar bills.

In the summer of 2009, because of budgetary shortfalls, Oakland's City Council increased hourly parking rates and violation fines, and extended hours of enforcement.[161]

Freight rail

Freight service, which consists primarily of moving shipping containers to and from the Port of Oakland, is provided today by Union Pacific Railroad (UP), and to a lesser extent by BNSF Railway (which now shares the tracks of the UP between Richmond and Oakland).

Historically, Oakland was served by several railroads. Besides the transcontinental line of the Southern Pacific, there was also the Santa Fe (whose Oakland terminal was actually in Emeryville), the Western Pacific Railroad (who built a pier adjacent to the SP's), and the Sacramento Northern Railroad (eventually absorbed by the Western Pacific, which in turn was absorbed by UP in 1983).


Main article: Port of Oakland

As one of the three major ports on the West Coast of the United States, the Port of Oakland is the largest seaport on San Francisco Bay and the fourth busiest container port in the United States. It was one of the earliest seaports to switch to containerization and to intermodal container transfer,[162] thereby displacing the Port of San Francisco, which never modernized its waterfront. One of the earlier limitations to growth was the inability to transfer containers to rail lines, all cranes historically operating between ocean vessels and trucks. In the 1980s the Port of Oakland began the evaluation of development of an intermodal container transfer capability, i.e. facilities that now allow trans-loading of containers from vessels to either trucks or rail modes.[citation needed]


Water and sewage treatment are provided by East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD). Pacific Gas and Electric Company provides natural gas and electricity service. Municipal garbage collection is franchised to Waste Management, Inc. Waste Management's four-week lockout of its workers in July 2007 resulted in trash piling up on Oakland streets.[163] Telecommunications and subscriber television services are provided by multiple private corporations and other service providers in accordance with the competitive objectives of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.


Oakland is known by several nicknames, of which the most common is "Oaktown."[164][165][166] Other nicknames include "O-town"[167][168] and "The Town".[169][170]

The moniker "Oaksterdam" came to fruition at the beginning of the 21st century in association with the opening of several medical marijuana clubs in Uptown and on the north side of downtown.[171] "Oaksterdam" is sometimes also used as a designation for the neighborhood in which these clubs reside.

"There is no there there"

The HERETHERE sculpture on the Oakland/Berkeley border

Many Oaklanders have been frustrated by the famous quote from writer Gertrude Stein's 1937 book Everybody's Autobiography: "There is no there there." Originally declared upon learning as an adult her childhood home in Oakland had been torn down, over time the quote has become misconstrued to represent the city of Oakland itself.[172][173]

Modern-day Oakland has turned the quote on its head, with a statue downtown simply titled "There." Additionally, in 2005 a sculpture called HERETHERE was installed by the City of Berkeley on the Berkeley-Oakland border at Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The sculpture consists of eight-foot-tall letters spelling "HERE" and "THERE" in front of the BART tracks as they descend from their elevated section in Oakland to the subway through Berkeley.[174]

Professional sports

Oakland has teams in three professional sports: Basketball, baseball, and football.

Club Sport Founded League Venue
Oakland Athletics Baseball 1901 (in Oakland since 1968) Major League Baseball: American League Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
Oakland Raiders American Football 1960 (in Los Angeles from 1982–1994) National Football League: American Conference. AFC West Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
Golden State Warriors Basketball 1946 (In Oakland since 1971) National Basketball Association: Western Conference. Oracle Arena
The Oakland Coliseum, home of the Oakland Athletics baseball and Oakland Raiders football teams

Oakland's former sports teams include:

Annual cultural events


Sister cities

Oakland has thirteen sister cities:[175][176]

Bahia, Brazil

See also



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