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Oakland, California

Oakland founded in 1852, is the eighth-largest city in the U.S. state of California and the county seat of Alameda County. Oakland is located in Northern California in the San Francisco Bay Area, the sixth most populous metropolitan area in the United States. Based on 2006 statistical data, Oakland is the 44th largest city in the United States. The California Department of Finance estimates that Oakland's population on January 1, 2008 was 420,183.

Oakland is a major West Coast port, and is home to several major corporations including Kaiser Permanente and Clorox, as well as corporate headquarters for nationwide businesses like Dreyer's and Cost Plus World Markets. Oakland is a major hub city for the Bay Area subregion collectively called the East Bay.

Rand McNally named Oakland as having the best weather in the United States. According to the 2000 U.S. census, Oakland and Long Beach, California are the most ethnically diverse cities in the United States, with over 150 languages spoken in Oakland. Attractions include Jack London Square, the Oakland Zoo, the Oakland Museum of California, the Chabot Space and Science Center, Lake Merritt, the East Bay Regional Park District ridge line parks and preserves, and Chinatown.


The earliest recorded inhabitants were the Huchiun tribe, belonging to a linguistic grouping later called the Ohlone (a Miwok word meaning "western people"). In Oakland, they were heavily concentrated around Lake Merritt and Temescal Creek, a stream which enters the San Francisco Bay at Emeryville.

Oakland, along with the rest of California, was claimed for the Spanish king by explorers from New Spain in 1772. In the early 19th century, the area which later became Oakland (along with most of the East Bay), was granted to Luís María Peralta by the Spanish royal government for his Rancho San Antonio. The grant was confirmed by the successor Mexican republic upon its independence from Spain. The area of the ranch that is today occupied by the downtown and extending over into the adjacent part of Alameda (originally not an island, but a peninsula), included a woodland of oak trees. This area was called encinal by the Peraltas, a Spanish word which means "oak grove", the origin of the later city's name. 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. They would open the land to settlement by American settlers, loggers, European whalers, and fur-traders.

Full-scale settlement and development occurred following California being conquered by the United States during the Mexican-American War, and the California Gold Rush in 1848. The original settlement in what is now the downtown was initially called "Contra Costa" 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.

The town and its environs quickly grew with the railroads, becoming a major rail terminus 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 both the terminus of the Transcontinental Railroad as well as the 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 (2006–8) being partially restored as part of a redevelopment project.

A number of horsecar and cable car lines were constructed in Oakland in the latter half of the 1800s. 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 direct 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'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, located 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.

The original extent of Oakland upon its incorporation lay south of today's major intersection of San Pablo Avenue, Broadway and 14th Street. The city gradually annexed farmlands and settlements to the east and 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, creating the "island" of nearby town Alameda. In 1906, its population doubled with refugees made homeless after the San Francisco earthquake and fire who had fled to Oakland. 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 US$1M in 1914. The Auditorium would briefly serve as 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 Oaklanders (out of 216,000 residents).

By 1920, Oakland was the home of numerous manufacturing industries, including metals, canneries, bakeries, gas engines, automobiles, and shipbuilding.


The 1920s were economic boom years in the United States as a whole, and in California especially. Economic growth was fueled by the general post-war recovery, as well as oil discoveries in Los Angeles and the widespread introduction of the automobile. General Motors opened a major Chevrolet automobile factory in Oakland at 73rd Avenue and Foothill (the current location of Eastmont Mall) in 1916, making cars and then trucks there until 1963. A large lot in East Oakland, 106th and Foothill Boulevard (the current location of Foothill Square), was chosen by the Fageol Motor Company as the site for their first factory in 1916, turning out farming tractors from 1918 to 1923, and introducing an influential low-slung "Safety Bus" in 1921 followed quickly by the 22-seat "Safety Coach". Sporty Durant Motors operated a plant in Oakland from 1921 to 1930, making two basic models: the low-priced "Forty" and the faster "Sixty", the latter with a greater number of styling options including two-door, four-door, hardtop, cabriolet (convertible) or open-air roadster. Mayor John L. Davie was on hand in 1922 at the occasion of the first Durant to roll off the line. By 1929, when Chrysler expanded with a new plant in the city, Oakland had become known as the "Detroit of the West".

Russell Crapo Durant (called "Rex" or "Cliff" by his friends), a race car driver, speedboat enthusiast, amateur flyer, president of Durant Motors in Oakland and son of General Motors founder William "Billy" Crapo Durant, established Durant Field at 82nd Avenue and East 14th Street in Oakland in 1916. The first experimental transcontinental airmail through flight finished its journey at Durant Field on August 9, 1920, with famed pilots Army captain Eddie Rickenbacker and Navy lieutenant Bert Acosta at the controls of the Junkers F 13 rebadged as the model J.L.6 for US Postal Service. The airfield served only secondary duties after 1927, as its runway was not long enough for heavily loaded aircraft. A tragic death occurred in April 1930 at Durant Field when Lockheed test pilot Herbert "Hub" Fahy and his wife Claire hit a stump upon landing, flipping their plane and mortally wounding Hub without injuring Claire. Durant Field was often called Oakland Airport, though the current Oakland Airport was soon to be established four miles to the southwest.

On September 17, 1927, Charles Lindbergh attended the official dedication of the new Oakland Airport. A month earlier, participants in the ill-fated Dole Air Race had taken off from Oakland's new 7,020 ft. runway on August 16, 1927, headed for Honolulu 2,400 miles 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. On May 31, 1928, Charles Kingsford Smith and his crew took off from Oakland in Southern Cross on their successful bid to cross the Pacific by air to finish in Australia. Both Boeing Air Transport (one of the origins of United Airlines) and Model Airlines began service from the new airfield in 1927 and 1928, respectively. Oakland was used in October 1928 as a base for the World War I aircraft involved in the final shooting of Howard Hughes' film Hell's Angels. On December 7, 1928, Louise Thaden lifted from Oakland to set a women's altitude record. She then set endurance and speed records in March and April, 1929, to become a triple record holder, all three flights in a Travel Air flown out of Oakland.

Oakland grew significantly in the 1920s, flexing to meet the influx of factory workers. 13,000 homes were built from 1921 to 1924, more than in the period 1907 to 1920. Many of the apartment buildings and single-family houses still standing in Oakland were built in the 1920s. Many large office buildings downtown were built in the 1920s, and reflect the architectural styles of the time.

Rocky Road ice cream was invented in Oakland in 1929, though accounts differ regarding 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. Fentons Creamery in Oakland claims that William Dreyer based his recipe on a similar ice cream flavor invented by his friend, Fentons' flavor chief George Farren, who blended his own marshmallow-walnut-chocolate candy bar into ice cream. Both accounts agree that Dreyer was the first to use toasted almond instead of walnut pieces.

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 whose medical system 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 US$100M in 1943, Oakland's canning industry was the city's 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.

Prior to World War II, blacks constituted approximately 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.

The war attracted to Oakland large numbers of laborers from around the country, though most were poor whites and blacks from Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Mississippi--sharecroppers who had been actively recruited by Kenry 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. Southern whites expected deference from their black co-workers, and initially Southern blacks were conditioned to grant same. As Southern blacks became cognizant 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 postwar neighborhood redlining.

The Mai Tai drink was first concocted in Oakland in 1944, and became very popular with military and civilian customers at Trader Vic's restaurant located at San Pablo Avenue and 65th, very close to Berkeley and Emeryville. Established in 1932, Trader Vic's became successful enough by 1936 that San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen was inspired to write that "the best restaurant in San Francisco is in Oakland. Trader Vic's in Oakland was chosen by the State Department as the official entertainment center for foreign dignitaries attending United Nations meetings in San Francisco. The restaurant continued to grow in popularity but was running out of room until 1951 when founder Victor Bergeron opened a larger one in San Francisco. The Oakland location closed in 1972 when it moved operations to the Emeryville Marina.

Post-WWII (1940s and 1950s)

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," and the segregationist attitudes that the Southern immigrants brought with them disrupted the racial harmony they had been accustomed to prior to the war. Many of the city's more affluent residents, both black and white, left the city after the war, moving to neighboring Berkeley, Albany and El Cerrito to the north and to the newly developing East Bay suburbs--Orinda, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek and Concord. The newly arrived poor Southern whites tended to move to Alameda, San Leandro and Hayward. Between 1950 and 1960 approximately 100,000 white property owners moved out of Oakland—part of a nationwide phenomenon called white flight..

By the end of World War II, blacks constituted approximately 12% of Oakland's population, and the years following the war saw this percentage rise along with an increase in racial tensions. Starting in the 1950s, 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.

Oakland was the center of a general strike during the first week of December, 1946, one of six cities across the county which experienced a general strike in the first few years after WWII. 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.

During the 1950s automobile ownership increased, and Oakland's freeway system was constructed, which reduced demand for public transport; the Key System was dismantled after ridership dwindled, and the lower deck of the Bay Bridge was converted to automobile traffic. The largest high rise up to that time was constructed on the west side of Lake Merritt, the headquarters building of Kaiser Corporation (the industry, not the HMO). Also in this era, the seedy, rundown area at the foot of Broadway was transformed into Jack London Square.

Despite this progress and development, by the late 1950s, Oakland, which had been racially harmonious and quite prosperous before the war, found itself with a population that was increasingly poor and racially divided.

1960s and 1970s

During the 1960s the city was home to an innovative funk music scene which 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 poverty-stricken black community and the predominantly white police force were high, and police brutality against blacks was common. Killings of young black boys in Harlem and San Francisco added fuel to the fire. In this charged atmosphere, the Black Panther Party was founded by Merritt College students Huey Newton and Bobby Seale as a response to police brutality.

It was also during the 1960s when the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club's Oakland Chapter, began to grow into a formidable organization. By the 1980s it was the most feared and respected of all Hells Angels chapters. Its Oakland Clubhouse still sits at 4019 Foothill Boulevard in East Oakland.

President Johnson's "War on Poverty" found major expression in Oakland; at its peak various federal programs dispensed monies each year that amounted to more than twice the city's annual budget, yet poverty kept increasing and welfare rolls grew, especially among Oakland blacks.

During the 1940s and 1950s, drug use had been confined primarily to a low-key, underground drug scene centered around Oakland's jazz and music clubs. Beginning in the late 1960s, marijuana use became common, and the use of hard drugs, like heroin and cocaine, was on the rise. As in many other American cities, Oakland began to experience serious problems with gang-controlled drug dealing, along with attendent increases in both violent crime and property crime. The 1970s saw the rise of drug operations topped by drug lord Felix Mitchell, whose activities helped push Oakland's murder rate to twice that of San Francisco or New York City.

In sports, the Oakland Athletics MLB club won three World Series in a row (1972, 1973, and 1974); the Golden State Warriors won the 1974–1975 NBA championship; and the Oakland Raiders of the NFL won Super Bowl XI in 1977.

1980s and 1990s

Starting in the early 1980s, the number of Latinos, mostly of Mexican origin, began to increase significantly 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 has always had a concentration of Latino residents, businesses and institutions, but increased immigration which has continued right up to 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 by the end of the 1980s, more than 20% of Oakland's population was on welfare.

In the late 1980s and 1990s, Oakland featured prominently in rap music, both as the hometown for such artists as MC Hammer, Digital Underground, Hieroglyphics (including Souls of Mischief and Del tha Funkee Homosapien), The Luniz and Too Short. Tupac Shakur, who grew up in New York City and Baltimore and later moved to Oakland, lived there for 5 years, longer than in any other city. Outside of the rap genre, Grammy award winning artists such as Green Day, En Vogue and Tony! Toni! Tone! also emerged from Oakland.

The Loma Prieta earthquake occurred on October 17 1989, in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, its surface wave measuring 7.1 on the Richter magnitude scale. Several structures in Oakland were badly damaged. The double-decker portion of the Cypress Viaduct freeway (Interstate 880) structure, located in Oakland, collapsed, killing 42. The eastern span of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge also sustained significant damage and was closed to traffic for one month. Throughout the 1990s, buildings throughout Oakland were retrofitted to better withstand earthquakes.

On October 20 1991, a massive fire (see 1991 Oakland firestorm) swept down from the Berkeley Hills above the Caldecott Tunnel. 25 were killed and 150 injured and over 2,000 homes were destroyed. The economic loss has been estimated at $1.5 billion. Many homes were rebuilt much larger than they originally were.

During the 1990s, the TV sitcom Hangin' with Mr. Cooper was set in Oakland, starring actor/comedian Mark Curry, who was born in Oakland.

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.


Jerry Brown, who was elected mayor of Oakland in 1998, initiated a plan to bring an additional 10,000 residents to downtown Oakland. The plan has resulted in several redevelopment projects near Lake Merritt, Jack London Square, and other neighborhoods just outside of downtown. These redevelopment projects have been controversial as many residents see these projects as gentrification, resulting in the loss of lower-income and minority residents in downtown Oakland. Additionally, the weakening of the Bay Area economy in 2000 and 2001 resulted in low occupancy of the new housing and slower growth and economic recovery than expected. In recent years demand for high-rise condos and towers has surged. Currently, several high-rise buildings have been proposed for various neighborhoods within the Central Business District. Of note is Encinal Tower, a mixed-use skyscraper proposed for a parcel on Broadway above the 19th Street BART station, which has been designed by the architecture firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. If approved and constructed, it would become the tallest building in the city at with 56 levels of office floors below residential floors of market-rate condominiums.

Additionally, the Oakland Athletics have long been searching for a site to build a new baseball stadium. The A's never showed interest in building a ballpark in Downtown Oakland. Finally in 2006, the A's announced a deal to build a new stadium in Fremont, California, to be called Cisco Field.

In February 2006, the Oakland Ballet closed due to financial problems and the closure of their performance facility, the Calvin Simmons Theater at the Kaiser Convention Center. The Oakland Ballet had been performing in Oakland since 1965. In 2007, however, founder Ronn Guidi announced the revival of the Ballet.

A new use for the Kaiser Convention Center was proposed in 2006: a redevelopment designed to nucleate a cultural and educational district with the nearby Oakland Museum of California and Laney College. In July 2006, the Oakland City Council approved a bond measure to expand the city's library system and convert the closed Center into a replacement for the city's aging main library, but Oakland voters defeated the library bond measure in the November 2006 election.


Oakland is located around 37°48' North, 122°15' West (37.8, -122.25), 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 78.2 sq mi (202.4 km²). 56.1 sq mi (145.2 km²) of it is land and 22.1 sq mi (57.2 km²) of it (28.28 percent) is water.

Oaklanders most broadly refer to their city's terrain as "the flatlands" and "the hills," which up 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 within the flat plain of the San Francisco Bay, with one-third rising into the foothills and hills of the East Bay range.

One of Oakland's most notable features is Lake Merritt near downtown, the largest urban saltwater lake in the United States. (Lake Merritt is technically an estuary of San Francisco Bay, not a lake.)


The city of Oakland stretches from the San Francisco Bay up into the East Bay hills. The character of these neighborhoods continues to change as waves of migrants from within the United States and from other countries relocate here. The changing economy has also lured more workers with information technology and biotechnology skills to Oakland.

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

Another broad geographical distinction is between "the hills" and "the flatlands" (or "flats"). The flatlands are the historically working-class neighborhoods located relatively closer to San Francisco Bay, and the hills are the more upper-middle/upper-class neighborhoods along the northeast side of the city which include the Montclair and Claremont Hills neighborhoods. This hills/flats division is not only a characteristic of the City of Oakland, but extends beyond Oakland's borders into neighboring cities in the East Bay's urban core. Downtown and West Oakland are located entirely in the flatlands, while North and East Oakland incorporate lower hills and flatlands neighborhoods.

One island of "Non-Oakland" exists in the upscale city of Piedmont, which incorporated into a separate city after the 1906 earthquake in Oakland's central foothills, completely surrounded by the city of Oakland.

Downtown and Lake Merritt

East Oakland


Lower Hills District

Central East Oakland

San Antonio

  • Lynn
  • Tuxedo
  • Reservoir Hill
  • Cleveland Heights
  • Bella Vista
  • Highland Park
  • Highland Terrace
  • Meadow Brook
  • Ivy Hill
  • Clinton
  • Rancho San Antonio
  • Oak Tree
  • Merritt
  • East Peralta/Eastlake
  • Jingletown


North Oakland

West Oakland

Oakland Hills

Northeast Hills

Southeast Hills

  • Crestmont
  • Sequoyah Heights
  • Sheffield
  • Skyline-Hillcrest Estates
  • Caballo Hills
  • Leona Heights
  • Chabot Park
  • Woodminster


Oakland's climate is typified by the temperate and seasonally arid Mediterranean climate. More specifically, it has features found in both nearby coastal cities such as San Francisco and inland cities such as San Jose, so it is warmer than San Francisco and cooler than San Jose. Its position on San Francisco Bay directly across from the Golden Gate means that the city gets significant cooling maritime fog during the summer. It is far enough inland, though, that the fog often burns off by midday, allowing it to have typically sunny California days.

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


In the census of 2000, there were 399,484 people, 150,790 households, and 86,402 families residing in the city. The population density was 7,126.6/sq mi (2,751.4/km²). There were 157,508 housing units at an average density of 2,809.8/sq mi (1,084.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 38.66% African American, 23.52% White, 0.66% Native American, 15.23% Asian American, 0.50% Pacific Islander, 11.66% from other races, and 4.98% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 21.19 percent of the population.

The US Census Bureau 2005 estimates show 31.00 percent African American, 26.10 percent White, 0.60 percent Native American, 16.40 percent Asian American, 0.90 percent Pacific Islander, 14.00 percent from other races, and 4.80 percent from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 15.00 percent of the population.

The U.S. Census Bureau 2006 estimates show 34.1 percent White, 30.3 percent African American, 0.9 percent Native American, 15.6 percent Asian American, 0.7 percent Pacific Islander, 14.6 percent from other races, and 3.8 percent from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 25.9 percent of the population. The non-Hispanic White population totaled 89,834 - or 23.8% of the population of 377,256. The Black or African-American population (alone or in combination with one or more other races) was 123,277, or 32.6% of the total population.

Oakland is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country.

Out of 150,790 households 28.6 percent had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.0 percent were married couples living together, 17.7 percent had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.7 percent were non-families. 32.5 percent of all households were made up of individuals and 8.6 percent had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.60 and the average family size was 3.38.

An analysis by the Urban Institute of U.S. Census 2000 numbers showed that Oakland has the third-highest concentration of gays and lesbians among the 50 largest U.S. cities, behind San Francisco and Seattle. Census data show that, among incorporated areas that have at least 500 female couples, Oakland has the nation's largest percent per capita. In 2000, Oakland counted 2650 lesbian couples; one in every 41 Oakland couples listed themselves as a same-sex female partnership.

In 2000, Oakland's population was reported as 25.0 percent under the age of 18, 9.7 percent from 18 to 24, 34.0 percent from 25 to 44, 20.9 percent from 45 to 64, and 10.5 percent who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 93.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $40,055, and the median income for a family was $44,384. Males had a median income of $37,433 versus $35,088 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,936. About 16.2 percent of families and 19.4 percent of the 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. 0.7% of the population is homeless. Home ownership is 41% and 14% of rental units are subsidized. The current unemployment rate is 8.4%.


Oakland has a reputation as a city with a high rate of violent crime, a problem that began during the late 1960s and escalated during the 1970s and 1980s. By the end of the 1970s Oakland's murder rate had risen to twice that of San Francisco or New York City.

During the 1990s and 2000s, Oakland has consistently been listed as one of the most dangerous of large cities in the United States. A record number of 175 homicides were committed in Oakland in 1992. In 1993, Oakland's murder rate was 40.8 per 100,000; the 13th worst ranking for US cities with population over 100,000. Statistics published by Morgan Quitno put Oakland's crime at the 18th worst US city (out of 207 of the largest cities) in 1997, 16th worst in 1999, 22nd worst in 2000, 28th worst in 2002, 21st worst in 2004, and 21st worst in 2005. The 94 murders in Oakland in 2005 and 145 murders in 2006 contributed to making the city's ranking jump significantly worse, going to 8th most dangerous for 2006. All rankings above are based on the crime stats from the previous [calendar] year, with the reports released in the fall. Oakland ranks high in California for most categories of crime. Rates of other violent crimes, such as assault and rape, are also far above the U.S. average. 120 murders recorded in 2007 made Oakland's murder rate third highest in California, behind Richmond and Compton; however, Oakland also boasted rape and robbery rates per capita that were almost twice those of Richmond and Compton, making the city violent crime rate highest overall. In the Morgan Quitno's "Most Dangerous Cities of 2007," Oakland was ranked 4th most dangerous in the nation behind Detroit, St. Louis, and Flint, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd most dangerous cities in the nation, respectively.

In 2003, 109 murders in a city of 407,000 set Oakland 3.5 times higher than the national average. That same year, all violent crimes in Oakland were 2.31 times more numerous than the national average, and property crimes were 1.26 times more numerous. In 2004, there were 88 murders, and in 2005, there were 94. Police estimated that drugs played a part in 80% of the murders. Then-mayor Jerry Brown said that it was harder to deal with specific crime issues with fewer police officers than in previous years.

Most violent crime occurs in West Oakland and the flatlands of East Oakland between I-580 and I-880. Montclair, Rockridge and Lake Merritt have fewer problems with violent crime. Property crime is widespread throughout the city. In 2007, Oakland had by far the highest robbery and motor vehicle theft rates of all significant cities in California, with one robbery per 114 residents and one car theft per 40 residents, three to four times the state average.

A rash of high-profile restaurant takeover robberies in 2008 has led to sharp criticism. Since the beginning of 2007 however, street crimes in Oakland have dropped substantially enough to bring overall crime down by a small percentage.

The five-year average for homicide victims in Oakland breaks 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.

Despite comprising only 30-35% of the population, African-Americans are over-represented in crime statistics, with the majority of crimes occurring in heavily African-American neighborhoods. 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. Bill Cosby mentions Oakland as one of the many American cities where crime is endemic and young African-American men are being murdered and incarcerated in disproportionate numbers because their parents, and the Black community in general, have failed to inculcate proper standards of moral behavior.


In the state legislature Oakland is located in the 9th Senate District, represented by Democrat Don Perata, and in the 14th, 16th, and 18th Assembly Districts, represented by Democrats Loni Hancock, Sandré Swanson, and Mary Hayashi respectively. Federally, Oakland is located in California's 9th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D +38 and is represented by Democrat Barbara Lee.


Oakland is a major West Coast port, and is home to several major corporations including Kaiser Permanente and Clorox, as well as corporate headquarters for national retailers like Dreyer's and Cost Plus World Markets.


Oakland has experienced an increase of both its population and of real-estate prices in the past decade, attributable to economic recovery and former mayor Brown's "10k Plan," which resulted in large amounts of new multi-family housing and development. In addition, Oakland's weather, location, and hillside neighborhoods with views of San Francisco and the Bay provide an attractive alternative to the high rents and home prices in nearby San Francisco. Because of its size, Oakland offers a substantial number of shopping districts and restaurants representing many American and international cuisines.


The West Oakland Community Land Trust, Inc. and The Institute for Community Economics have found ways to retain West Oakland's longtime residents and mitigate the impacts of gentrification. With some developers interested in a "village community" with the West Oakland BART station as its center, West Oakland has seen an influx of new residents. As a result, programs, such as the Anti-Displacement Network, have been started to assist in the stabilization of costs for homeowners and renters in West Oakland. Redevelopment proponents believe that by 2015, the redevelopment projects under way in West Oakland will provide employment, health services, recreational facilities, special placement facilities, and additional housing for new and current renters.


Oakland is known by several nicknames, of which the most common is "Oaktown". Oakland is sometimes called the "Sunny Side of the Bay", as it is less foggy and more temperate than San Francisco. Other nicknames include "O-town", "The Town" and "The O". The monicker "Oaksterdam" was reported in 2003 in association with the opening of a handful of medical marijuana clubs. Oakland is a part of the Bay Area consisting of the numerous counties that share a border on the bay, including the three largest cities of San Jose, San Francisco, and Oakland, which is sometimes referred to as the "Yay Area.

"There's no there there"

Many Oaklanders have been frustrated by the misuse of this famous quote about Oakland. "There's no there there", writer Gertrude Stein declared upon learning as an adult that her childhood Oakland home had been torn down. Contrary to popular belief, the comment was not meant to disparage the city, but rather to express a sentiment similar to "you can't go home again."

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 rapid transit tracks as they descend from their elevated section in Oakland to the subway through Berkeley.

Arts and culture

Annual cultural events

Many annual events celebrate the diverse cultures of Oakland:



Downtown Oakland has an assortment of bars and nightclubs. They range from punk-rock makeovers of dive bars, such as The Stork Club and the Ruby Room, to modern bistros and dance clubs, such as Luka's Taproom and Lounge, @17,Pat's bar, Roy's 19th. st. Station, The Uptown, and The Oasis, to hipster spots such as Radio, Geoffreys, Karribean City, and art and jazz bar Cafe van Kleef.

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 months 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, Johansson Project, Boontling Gallery, Ego Park, Mama Buzz, and Rock Paper Scissors.

The Rockridge area around the Rockridge BART station is known for its restaurants and bars. It stretches along College Ave from Broadway to Alcatraz Ave.

Filming Locations

Oakland has been a less expensive location for several notable movies, TV Commercials, and music videos


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

Oakland's former sports teams include:

Parks and recreation

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

Biology and ecology

The land that Oakland covers was once a mosaic of coastal terrace prairie, oak woodland, and north coastal scrub. Lake Merritt has only recently become a "lake", where it once was a productive estuary linked to the Bay. 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.


Oakland is a mayor-council government. The mayor is elected for a 4-year term. The council has eight council members representing seven districts in Oakland with one member elected at-large; council members serve staggered 4-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).

Ron Dellums, a former Berkeley city council member and U.S. Representative, was elected mayor in June 2006. The mayoral election race was contentious between Dellums and other candidates, including Oakland city council president Ignacio de la Fuente and councilmember Nancy Nadel. Each candidate had different visions of Oakland's future and different ideas about how to combat crime, encourage appropriate urban development, and foster successful public schools. In what was essentially a three-way race, Dellums gained the required majority of votes needed to win without a runoff election in November.

Dellums is a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, an organization formed in 2006 and co-chaired by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston mayor Thomas Menino.


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 There are 46,000 K-12 students, 32,000 adult students, and 6,000 plus employees.

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. Some individual schools have much better performance than the city-wide average, for instance, in 2005 over half the students at Hillcrest Elementary School performed at the "advanced" level in the English portion of the test, and students at Lincoln Elementary School performed at the "advanced" level in the math portion.

Several factors have been blamed for poor performance, including an inefficient top-heavy administrative structure and a student body that is often poor or from a background of limited English proficiency.

Oakland's three largest public high schools are Oakland High School, Oakland Technical High School, and Skyline High School. There are also numerous small 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 (Castlemont High School, Fremont High School, and McClymonds High School, respectively).

There are 25 public charter schools with 5,887 students which operate outside the domain of OUSD. Lionel Wilson College Prep Academy and Oakland Unity High School have been certified by the California Charter Schools Association Other charter schools include the Oakland Military Institute, Oakland School for the Arts, Bay Area Technology School, and Oakland Charter Academy

There are several private high schools. Notables include the secular The College Preparatory School and Head-Royce School, both with tuitions around $25,000 per year 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).

Julia Morgan School for Girls is a private middle school for girls housed on the campus of Mills College. Northern Light School is a private nonprofit elementary and middle school.

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.

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 in order 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.


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 independent station KICU-TV (licensed to San Jose). In addition, the city is served by various SF AM and SF 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 Emeryville near North Oakland and distributed throughout the East Bay.



Freeways, bridges, and tunnels

Oakland is served by several major highways: Interstate 80 (Eastshore Freeway), Interstate 580 (MacArthur Freeway), Interstate 880 (Nimitz Freeway), Interstate 980, State Route 13 (Warren Freeway) and State Route 24 (Grove Shafter Freeway). A stub of a planned freeway was constructed at the High Street exit from the Nimitz Freeway, but that freeway extension plan was abandoned.

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 one month after 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 Oakland Hills, connecting central Contra Costa County to Oakland. The Caldecott has three bores, with a fourth one planned.

Mass transit

The metropolitan area is served by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) from eight convenient stations for Oakland commuters. The system has headquarters in Oakland, with major transfer hubs at MacArthur and Oakland City Center/12th Street stations. BART's headquarters was located in a building above the Lake Merritt Station until 2006, when it relocated to the Kaiser Center over seismic safety concerns.

Public bus service is provided by AC Transit, which was created from the old privately owned Key System. The Alameda / Oakland Ferry operates ferry service from Jack London Square to Alameda, San Francisco, and Angel Island.


Oakland is served by the Oakland International Airport, one of three international airports in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is located 4 miles (6 km) south of downtown Oakland. Airlines serving Oakland International provide service to numerous destinations in the United States, as well as Mexico. Serving most low-cost air travelers to other major cities, the airport has proven a popular alternative to San Francisco International, thanks largely to a heavy Southwest Airlines presence, which has been servicing Oakland International since 1989. Right now, it is served by AirBART, which links the airport to the Coliseum BART Station, and a rail connector is tentatively in the works.


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 station, just outside of Oakland's borders in the city of the same name.

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).


As one of the three major ports on The American West Coast, 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, thereby displacing San Francisco which never modernized its old 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.



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.

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.

Sister cities

Oakland, California has eight sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International:

See also


External links

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