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Oakland, California

Oakland, founded in 1852, is a city on the east side (aka East Bay) of San Francisco Bay in Northern California in the United States. To its north is Berkeley, home to the famous university campus (University of California, Berkeley). To its west is San Francisco, across the Bay Bridge. To its south is the city of San Leandro, and to the east Oakland is bounded by five of the East Bay Regional Parks. In the center of Oakland, and completely surrounded by it (prompting the common analogy to a doughnut hole), is the wealthy independent city of Piedmont. Oakland is home of the Port of Oakland, which is one of three major shipping ports on the US West coast.

Oakland's media reputation is as a high-crime city with a crumbling public education system. However, weather, location, hillside neighborhoods with stunning views of San Francisco and the Bay, aggressive policies to reduce crime, and a substantial offering of shopping districts and restaurants representing cuisines both homegrown and worldwide have led real estate prices to skyrocket in the past decade.

Oakland is the county seat of Alameda County. As of 2000, the city's population was 399,484, making it the third largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area after San Jose and San Francisco.

Tourist attractions in Oakland include the Oakland Museum , the Art Deco Paramount Theater, Chinatown, Jack London Square, Lake Merritt, Children's Fairyland and Network Associates Coliseum, home to the Oakland Raiders National Football League team, the Oakland Athletics Major League Baseball team, and the Golden State Warriors National Basketball Association team. The city's commercial and residental structures exhibit a great variety of styles, including Art Deco and Craftsman.

The Oakland Tribune published its first newspaper on February 21, 1874. The Tribune Tower, which sports a clock, is one of Oakland's landmarks.

Oakland hosts Oakland International Airport, which serves much of the low-cost air traveler's market from the San Francisco Bay Area.

Oaklanders are understandably frustrated by the misuse of the most famous quote said about their city. "There's no there there," was uttered by Gertrude Stein upon learning as an adult that her childhood Oakland home had been torn down. Her quote did not have anything to do with the city itself. Modern-day Oakland has turned the quote on its head, with a statue downtown simply titled, "There."



Oakland is located at 37°47'43" North, 122°13'41" West (37.795227, -122.228111)1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 202.4 km² (78.2 mi²). 145.2 km² (56.1 mi²) of it is land and 57.2 km² (22.1 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 28.28% water.

Oaklanders most broadly refer to their city's terrain as "the flats" and "the hills," which up until very recent waves of gentrication have also been a reference to Oakland's deep economic divide, with "the hills" being more affluent communities. About 2/3rds of Oakland lies within the flat plain of the San Francisco Bay, with 1/3 rising into the foothills and hills of the East Bay range.


Oakland's climate is a combination of coastal cities like San Francisco and inland cities like San Jose. While it is not located on the Pacific Ocean, its position directly inland from the Golden Gate means that the city gets a significant amount of cold nighttime fog during the summer. It is far enough inland, though, that the fog usually disappears by the morning allowing the city to have stereotypical warm sunny California days.

Oakland's average temperature of 55F/13C is a little lower than many other California cities. Oakland's average high is 62F/17C and average low is 48F/9C with the warmest month being September, and the coldest month being January. An average of 23 inches of rain falls each year with almost all rain occurring between October and May.

Rand McNally ranked Oakland's climate as the best in the United States.


As of the census2 of 2000, there are 399,484 people, 150,790 households, and 86,402 families residing in the city. The population density is 2,751.4/km² (7,126.6/mi²). There are 157,508 housing units at an average density of 1,084.8/km² (2,809.8/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 35.66% African American, 31.29% White, 0.66% Native American, 15.23% Asian, 0.50% Pacific Islander, 11.66% from other races, and 4.98% from two or more races. 21.89% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

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

In the city the population is spread out with 25.0% under the age of 18, 9.7% from 18 to 24, 34.0% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 10.5% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 33 years. For every 100 females there are 93.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 90.2 males.

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.


The city of Oakland stretches from San Francisco Bay up into the East Bay Hills. Along the way, numerous neighborhoods reach from the "flatlands" neighborhoods which include the historically working-class areas of West Oakland, North Oakland, Fruitvale, and East Oakland up into the foothill districts (Grand Lake, Lakeshore-Trestle Glen, the Glenview, Lincoln Heights, the Laurel, Redwood Heights, Maxwell Park, Eastmont, and Millsmont), and into the high hills communities (North Hills, Hiller Highlands, Upper Rockridge, Montclair, Ridgemont, Grass Valley, Sequoyah Hills.) Several flatland neighborhoods are considered trendy and are gentrifying rapidly (Rockridge, Temescal, Piedmont Ave., Adams Point, Lake Merritt.) Downtown neighborhoods include the Loft District, the Waterfront, Old Oakland, Chinatown, and Uptown. The character of these neighborhoods continues to change as waves of immigrants from within the US and other countries relocate here for a more liberal lifestyle and the changing economy lures more technically skilled workers.


Places to see in Oakland include Lake Merritt, Jack London Square, and the Oakland Zoo. The USS Potomac , Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidential yacht, is berthed in Oakland.


Oakland was founded in 1852. In 1906 its population grew substantially with refugees made homeless after the San Francisco earthquake and fire.

World War II

During WWII, the East Bay Area was home to a massive Naval shipbuilding industry. The industry attracted a huge amount of laborers from around the country. Many of the new workers were African Americans, who enjoyed great prosperity during the war years.

Post War Years

Soon after the war, the shipbuilding industry virtually evaporated as did the jobs that came with it. Many who came to the city did not leave and decided to settle in their new home of Oakland. Meanwhile, many of the city's more affluent residents fled the city after the war in order to move into newly developing suburbs to the north and south of Oakland's city borders.

Soon Oakland, which had been quite prosperous and affluent before the war, found itself with a population that was dominated by a lower income class than had been typical for the city. Much of Oakland's current reputation as a high-crime city can be traced to the transformation that occurred after World War II.

60s and 70s Activism

Oakland was home to many activist groups during the 1960s and 70s. The Black Panther Party is perhaps the most famous of the groups that formed in Oakland.

80s and Beyond

In the late 80s and early 90s Oakland was home to two major natural disasters.

On October 17, 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake caused significant damage in Oakland, despite the fact that the epicenter of the quake was more than 70 miles (100 km) away from the city. The Cypress structure, a double decker portion of freeway that collapsed during the earthquake was in Oakland, and the portion of the San Francisco Bay Bridge that fell down was on the Oakland side of the span.

On October 20, 1991, the city was struck by the Oakland Hills firestorm. Due to an intense Diablo wind a small brush fire in the East Bay hills turned into an out of control wildfire that spread quickly across 1,600 acres (6 km²) of the dense housing of Oakland and Berkeley's hills. 25 people were killed, 2,449 single family houses were burned down, 427 apartment and condo units destroyed and $1.5 billion in damage were accrued. The fire remains one of the most damaging fires in California history.

Jerry Brown, a former governor of California, known to some as "Governor Moonbeam," was elected mayor in 1998 and re-elected with little opposition in 2002. In March 2004, Oakland's voters approved Measure P, an affirmation of the so-called "strong mayor" system, which enshrined permanently changes in the city charter that had given the mayor chief executive power over city government rather than the city manager (as had been historically the case prior to Brown's election as mayor).

Sister Cities

External links

  • City of Oakland official web page
Maps and aerial photos
Street map
| Topographic map
| Aerial photograph

  • Travel guide to Oakland from Wikitravel
  • Oakland/Berkeley Hills Fire
  • The Black Panther Party Research Project
  • American Babylon: Race & the Struggle for Postwar Oakland

Last updated: 02-06-2005 17:57:16
Last updated: 05-03-2005 17:50:55