The name (originally Fruit Vale) comes from the many fruit orchards (largely apricot and cherry) which dominated the area in the late 1800s. After the 1906 earthquake, the onslaught of refugees from San Francisco caused a population boom, and the unincorporated neighborhood was annexed into the City of Oakland by 1909.
The Fruitvale shopping district is located along International Boulevard (formerly East 14th Street), from Fruitvale Avenue to 38th Avenue and is one of the major commercial areas of Oakland. The area is home to many Latino businesses and hosts several annual cultural events, including a Cinco de Mayo parade and a Dia De Los Muertos festival.
The Fruitvale BART station is located near the center of the shopping district, at the corner of Fruitvale Avenue and East 12th Street.
In 2004, the Unity Council opened the Fruitvale Transit Village. The "Fruitvale Village" has become a model of transit oriented development; showcasing a mixture of retail and housing integrated with public transportation.