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—  City  —
Aerial view of downtown Oakland and Lake Merritt

Nickname(s): Oaktown, The O, The Town
Location in Alameda County and the state of California
Oakland is located in the USA
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 37°48′16″N 122°16′15″W / 37.80444°N 122.27083°W / 37.80444; -122.27083
Country United States United States
State California California
County Alameda
 - Type Mayor-Council
 - Mayor Ron Dellums (D)
 - Senate Loni Hancock (D)
 - Assembly Nancy Skinner (D)
Sandré Swanson (D)
Mary Hayashi (D)
 - U. S. Congress Barbara Lee (D) (CA-09)
 - City 202.4 km2 (78.2 sq mi)
 - Land 145.2 km2 (56.1 sq mi)
 - Water 57.2 km2 (22.1 sq mi)
Elevation 12.8 m (42 ft)
Population (2008)[1]
 - City 404,155
 Density 2,783.4/km2 (7,209/sq mi)
 Metro 7,264,887
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 - Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP codes 94601–94615, 94617–94624, 94649, 94659, 94660–94662, 94666
Area code(s) 510
FIPS code 06-53000
GNIS feature ID 0277566

Oakland (pronounced /ˈoʊklənd/) is the eighth-largest city in the U.S. state of California[2] and a major West Coast port city, located on San Francisco Bay about eight miles east of the city of San Francisco. Oakland is a major hub city for the Bay Area subregion collectively called the East Bay, and it is the county seat of Alameda County. Based on United States Census Bureau estimates for 2008, Oakland is the 44th-largest city in the United States with a population of 404,155.[3]

The area was inhabited by the Ohlone people for thousands of years 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, and in 1852 the California legislature incorporated the town of Oakland.

Oakland grew initially from having its hillside oak and redwood timber resources logged to build San Francisco, and Oakland's fertile flatland soils helped it become a prolific agricultural region. In the late 1860s, Oakland was selected as the western terminus of the Transcontinental Railroad. It continued to grow into the 20th century with its 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, and the late twentieth century saw a steady influx of immigrants from around the globe. According to the 2000 U.S. census, Oakland is the second most ethnically diverse city in the United States, with many languages spoken.[4]

Oakland has struggled with significant challenges, including high unemployment, widespread poverty, and an elevated rate of violent crime. Ruptures along the nearby San Andreas fault caused severe earth movement in 1906 and in 1989. During the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, Oakland suffered significant property damage, as well as many deaths and injuries. San Andreas quakes cause induced creep in the Hayward fault, which runs directly through Oakland.[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]

Oakland 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.[7]

Oakland is also the home of Rocky Road ice cream, and the Mai Tai cocktail. It has enjoyed a thriving West Coast blues scene, and can claim numerous prominent homegrown musicians representing genres such as rhythm and blues, funk, punk and hip hop. Recreational attractions include the Fox Theater, the Paramount Theater, Jack London Square, Lake Merritt, the Oakland Estuary, the Oakland Zoo, the Oakland Museum of California, the Chabot Space and Science Center, Oracle Arena, the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, the East Bay Regional Park District ridge line parks and preserves, and Chinatown.



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").[8] In Oakland, they were concentrated around Lake Merritt and Temescal Creek, a stream which enters the San Francisco Bay at Emeryville.

Spanish colonialism

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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

1840s and 1850s

Continued development occurred after 1848 when the Mexican government ceded 1.36 million km² (525,000 square miles; 55%[9] of its pre-war territory, not including Texas) to the United States in exchange for US$15 million (equivalent to $313 million in 2006 dollars) as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo following the Mexican-American War. The original settlement in what is now the downtown was initially called "Contra Costa" (Other Coast) 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 [10][11].

1860s and 1870s

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 being partially restored as part of a redevelopment project.[12] In 1871 Cyrus and Susan Mills bought the Young Ladies' Seminary—then located in Benicia, California—for $5,000, renamed it Mills College, and relocated it to its current location in Oakland. In 1872, the town of Brooklyn, a large municipality just southeast of Lake Merritt, was incorporated into Oakland. The town of Brooklyn was part of what was then called the Brooklyn Township.

Streetcar suburbs

A number of horsecar and cable car lines were constructed in Oakland during 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.

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 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).

One day's output of 1917 Chevrolet trucks 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.[13]


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 most notably the widespread introduction of the automobile.[citation needed] In 1916, General Motors opened a major Chevrolet automobile factory in Oakland at 73rd Avenue and Foothill, which is the current location of Eastmont Town Center, making cars and then trucks there until its closure in 1963.[14] A large lot in East Oakland, 106th and Foothill Boulevard, which is the current location of Foothill Square,[15] was chosen by the Fageol Motor Company as the site for their first factory in 1916, turning out farming tractors from 1918 to 1923,[16] and introducing an influential low-slung "Safety Bus" in 1921 followed quickly by the 22-seat "Safety Coach".[17] Durant Motors operated a plant in Oakland from 1921 to 1930,[18] making sedans, coupes, convertibles and roadsters.[19] By 1929, when Chrysler expanded with a new plant in the city, Oakland had become known as the "Detroit of the West".[20]

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 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.[21] The first experimental transcontinental airmail through flight finished its journey at Durant Field on August 9, 1920, with Army captain Eddie Rickenbacker and Navy lieutenant Bert Acosta at the controls of the Junkers F 13 re-badged as the model J.L.6 for the US Postal Service.[22] 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.[23] Durant Field was often called Oakland Airport, though the current Oakland Airport was soon to be established four miles to the southwest.[24]

On September 17, 1927, Charles Lindbergh attended the official dedication of the new Oakland Airport. A month earlier, participants in the disastrous Dole Air Race had taken off from Oakland's new 7,020-foot 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.[25] 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. 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.[26] 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 in 1929.[27]

The restored Tribune Tower, an Oakland landmark since 1976

Oakland expanded during the 1920s, flexing enough to meet the influx of factory workers. Approximately 13,000 homes were built between 1921 and 1924,[28] more than between 1907 and 1920.[29] 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.

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.[30]

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 $100 million 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.[31]

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.[32]

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 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.[32] Southern whites expected deference from their black co-workers, and initially Southern blacks were conditioned to grant it.[33] 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 postwar neighborhood redlining.[33]

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.[34] 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."[35] 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.[36] 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.[37]

Post-WWII (1940s and 1950s)

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

During the late 1940s, the conspiratorial dissolution of the Key System's electric streetcar lines began following the 1946 acquisition by National City Lines (NCL), a GM holding company, of 64% of Key System stock. NCL converted the Key System's electric streetcar fleet to buses. Streetcar 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, partitioning the social and retail fabric of neighborhoods with freeway flyovers and on ramps. Automobile ownership increased, which 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.[38]

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," [39] and the segregationist attitudes that some Southern migrants brought with them disrupted the racial harmony that Oaklanders had been accustomed to before the war.[32] 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, 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.[40]

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.[39] 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.[41]

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 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.[42]

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.[32][43]

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.[44] 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 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.[40][45] 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.[46]

It was also during the 1960s when the Oakland Chapter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club 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 on Foothill Boulevard.

President Johnson's "War on Poverty" found major expression in Oakland. At their peak, various federal programs dispensed monies each year that amounted to close than twice the city's annual budget.[39]

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. As in many other American cities, Oakland began to experience serious problems with gang-controlled dealing of hard drugs, like heroin and cocaine, along with attendant increases in both violent crime and property crime. The 1970s saw the rise of drug operations topped by drug lord Felix Mitchell, whose activities, based in the public housing project known as San Antonio Villa, helped push Oakland's murder rate to twice that of San Francisco or New York City.[39]

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 would be acquitted after an appeal and a retrial seven years later. The SLA, led by the self-named "Cinque", went on to kidnap newspaper heiress Patty Hearst from her Berkeley apartment the following year.

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 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 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 by the end of the 1980s, more than 20% of Oakland's population was on welfare.[39]

During the late 1980s and 1990s, 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 and Too Short. Tupac Shakur, who grew up on the East Coast, later lived in Oakland for several years. 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.

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 Cypress Viaduct freeway (Interstate 880) structure collapsed, killing 42. The eastern span of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge also sustained damage and was closed to traffic for one month. Throughout the 1990s, buildings throughout Oakland were retrofitted to better withstand earthquakes.

On May 24, 1990, a pipe bomb placed underneath traveling 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.[47]

On October 20, 1991, a massive fire (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. 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.[48][49]

During the mid 1990s, Oakland experienced somewhat of an economic "renaissance" [50] 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.


A night view of Oakland's downtown skyline and Lakeside Apartments District as seen from the newly restored East 18th Street Pier[51] on the East side of Lake Merritt, a popular resting place for joggers, pedestrians, and cyclists. At center left, the brightly-lit office building adorned with neon signs and a clock tower is the Tribune Tower at 13th and Franklin. Just above the aeration fountain in the center of the frame is Oakland's 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.[52] Since Brown's stated goal was to add 10,000 residents to downtown Oakland, in what became known as the "10K" plan. It has 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 has touched the historic Old Oakland district, the Chinatown district, the Uptown district, and downtown.

The 10K plan and other redevelopment projects have been controversial with many who believe these projects have led to rent increases and gentrification which is displacing lower-income residents from downtown Oakland into outlying neighborhoods and cities. Additional controversy over development proposals have arisen 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 have resulted in lowered sales, rentals and occupancy of the new housing and slower growth and economic recovery than expected.

The Oakland Athletics have long been searching for a site to build a new baseball stadium. In 2006, the A's announced a deal to build a new stadium in Fremont, California, to be called Cisco Field. However, as a result of opposition from businesses, and residents' strong opposition regarding another proposed site closer to a future rapid transit station, plans for Fremont ceased in February, 2009.[53]

In 2001, the Oakland Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church proposed a replacement for the St. Francis de Sales Cathedral (1891), which was damaged in the 1989 earthquake and subsequently demolished. The Diocese proposed situating a Grand Cathedral, rising 15 stories, directly in front of the Kaiser Convention Center and surrounding it with a "grand plaza," which would have extended all the way to the edge of the lake. Coalition of Advocates for Lake Merritt (CALM), an Oakland group, proposed an alternative plan involving a remake of the 12th Street Dam, halving the number of traffic lanes. Elimination of the underpasses and overpasses was proposed, with stoplights installed where the road intersects with 12th Street and 1st Avenue. The beach was proposed to be widened, with a gently sloping lawn leading up to the roadway, new walking and bike paths in each direction. Crosswalks with pedestrian-activated stoplights were proposed to replace the tunnels under the freeway.[54] However, an alternative development resulted in the Cathedral of Christ the Light across Harrison Street, from the Lake's west end.

In February 2006, the Oakland Ballet folded because of 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.[55] In 2007, however, founder Ronn Guidi announced the revival of the Ballet.

A new use for the Kaiser Convention Center at the south end of Lake Merritt was proposed in 2006: a redevelopment designed to nucleate a cultural and educational district with the neighboring Oakland Museum of California and Laney College.[56] In July 2006, the Oakland City Council approved putting a bond measure on the ballot to expand the city's library system and convert the closed Kaiser Center into a replacement for the city's aging main library, but Oakland voters defeated the library bond measure in the November 2006 election.[57]

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.[58] [59]

In recent years, several skyscrapers have been proposed for various neighborhoods within the Central Business District. Of note is the 530 ft (162 m), 42-story, "Emerald Views" luxury condominium tower which was proposed in 2006. This building was to be constructed on the historic Schilling Gardens parcel at the lake's edge. Another 395 ft (120 m), 37-story tower, "1439 Alice Street", has been proposed for a parcel directly across the street from the Malonga Casquelord Arts Center. Another skyscraper project was proposed in 2008: the 56-story 715 ft (218 m) Encinal Tower, a mixed-use office and luxury residential skyscraper sited on Broadway above the 19th Street BART station, designed by the architecture firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. If approved and built, it would become the tallest building in the city.

At approximately 2 am on January 1, 2009, following reports of a fight on a BART train, BART police detained several persons on the platform of the Fruitvale station. BART police officer Johannes Mehserle fatally shot BART passenger Oscar Grant, III in the back as he was detained in a face-down position on the platform. Several days after the shooting, on the night of January 7, 2009, rioters smashed storefront windows, and burned several cars in Oakland's downtown.[60] On January 14, 2009 Mehserle was arrested in Douglas County, Nevada, where he had fled. He was transported back to Oakland and charged by the Alameda County District Attorney's office with Grant's murder. Protests and rioting followed, especially on February 6 when Mehserle was released on bail.

Video of the shooting taken by BART passengers were widely broadcast and streamed online during the first few days following Grant's death.[61]

In February 2009, the Fox Oakland Theatre reopened. The theater 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,[62], the historic landmark theater started drawing patrons from all over the Bay Area.[63]

On March 21, 2009, Oakland parolee Lovelle Mixon, 26, fatally shot four Oakland police officers, and wounded a fifth officer. At approximately 1 pm, Mixon shot and killed two officers during a routine traffic stop. Mixon fled the scene, hiding in his sister's nearby apartment, and shortly after 3 pm he killed two more officers. During the ensuing shootout, the police killed Mixon in self-defense and a fifth officer was wounded. 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.


Aerial view of center of Oakland

Oakland is located around 37°48' North, 122°15' West (37.8, -122.25),[64] 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.[65])

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.


Aerial view of Oakland looking west. In the foreground is the San Antonio District. At left is the Oakland Estuary. Lake Merritt lies in the center, with the Lakeside Apartments District and downtown just beyond. West Oakland and the Port of Oakland are seen in the distance, with parts of North Oakland at right.

Oakland has more than 50 distinct neighborhoods across land running from the San Francisco Bay up into the East Bay hills, many of which are not "official" enough to be named on a map.[66] The common large neighborhood divisions in the city are downtown Oakland and its greater Central Business District, East Oakland, North Oakland, and West Oakland. East Oakland actually encompasses more than half of Oakland's area, stretching from Lakeshore Drive 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 flatlands are the working-class neighborhoods located relatively closer to San Francisco Bay, and the hills are the upper-class neighborhoods along the northeast side of the city. 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.

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

Central business district

Oakland's "central business district" (CBD), as defined by the 1998 General Plan, contains all or a portion of the following neighborhoods:

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


Lake Merritt

"Lake Merritt" is used to refer to the lake itself, and to the residential neighborhoods and commercial districts in its vicinity.

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

North Oakland

West Oakland

Oakland Hills

Northeast Hills [69]

Southeast Hills [70]


Oakland's climate is typified by the temperate and seasonal Mediterranean climate. Summers are usually dry and warm and winters are cool 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 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 (98.2 cm) and the driest year was 1910 with 12.02 inches (30.5 cm). The most rainfall in one month was 15.35 inches (39.0 cm) in January 1911. The most rainfall in 24 hours was 4.27 inches (10.8 cm) on February 12, 1904.[71]

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

At the Oakland International Airport, the record high temperature was 107 °F (42 °C) on June 2, 1960, and the record low is 25 °F (−4 °C) on January 5, 1949. The wettest year was 1973 with 29.37 inches (74.6 cm) and the driest year was 1976 with 8.64 inches (21.9 cm). The most rainfall in one month was 11.29 inches (28.7 cm) in December 1955. The most rainfall in 24 hours was 4.53 inches (11.5 cm) on October 3, 1962. A rare snowfall in February 1976 totaled 1.0 inch (2.5 cm).[72]

At the Oakland Museum, the record high temperature was 109 °F (43 °C) on September 14, 1971, and the record low was 26 °F (−3 °C) on December 9, 1972. The wettest year was 1998 with 41.07 inches (104.3 cm) and the driest year was 1976 with 9.99 inches (25.4 cm) in 1976. The most rainfall in one month was 15.14 inches (38.5 cm) in February 1998. The most rainfall in 24 hours was 4.74 inches (12.0 cm) on January 4, 1982.[73]

Climate data for Oakland, California
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 78
Average high °F (°C) 57
Average low °F (°C) 45
Record low °F (°C) 30
Precipitation inches (mm) 4.85
Source:—Monthly Averages for Oakland[74] 2007-09-04


Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1860 1,543
1870 10,500 580.5%
1880 34,555 229.1%
1890 48,682 40.9%
1900 66,960 37.5%
1910 150,174 124.3%
1920 216,261 44.0%
1930 284,063 31.4%
1940 302,163 6.4%
1950 384,575 27.3%
1960 367,548 −4.4%
1970 361,561 −1.6%
1980 339,337 −6.1%
1990 372,242 9.7%
2000 399,484 7.3%
Est. 2008 404,155 1.2%

The U.S. Census Bureau's 2006-2008 American Community Survey estimates that the city's population was 36.9 percent White, 29.8 percent African American, 0.6 percent Native American, 15.6 percent Asian American, 0.5 percent Pacific Islander, 12.9 percent from other races, and 3.7 percent from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 25.2 percent of the population. There were 56,374 self-identifying "Asian" respondents, and 91,181 respondents who identified as "Hispanic or Latino of any race." There were 91,993 respondents who self-identified as "non-Hispanic Whites alone," in other words, not of "more than one race," which equals 25.4% of the "total population" estimate of 362,342. The African-American population "alone" was 106,853, or 29.5% of the total population estimate of 362,342. A statistically significant number of multi-racial respondents, 10,116, identified as being of at least two races.[75]

The data shows that Oakland is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country.[76]

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.[77][78]

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.[79] Home ownership is 41%[79] and 14% of rental units are subsidized.[79] The unemployment rate as of August 2009 is 17.5%.[80]

Shifting of cultures

From the mid 1960s up until the mid-2000s, Oakland, along with other Bay Area cities such as Richmond, East Palo Alto, Vallejo and Marin City, was known as the heart and soul of Northern California's African-American community. This has changed somewhat, as many African-Americans seek opportunities elsewhere in Bay Area suburbs while others have been neglected[citation needed] during the revitalization efforts by the city of Oakland. This has resulted in a population shift with whites barely edging past African Americans as the city's largest racial segment.[81] Oakland's African-American population peaked in the 1980s at nearly 47%. Though Blacks were never the majority, they have long been a strong plurality. However, in 2005, Oakland's African-American population was estimated at 33.2%.[82], nearly 14% below what it was just over 20 years before.

This trend has led to a general culture shift where many of the city's longstanding African-American activities and institutions have been diluted. In addition, other ethnic festivals such as the annual "Cinco de Mayo Parade" and "Dia de los Muertos Festival"(in Fruitvale, Oakland's Latino neighborhood) have been in danger of cancellation due to lack of funding from the city[83].

Today, while Oakland is still amongst the leaders in the nation in diversity [8] (and is still a flagship city for African-Americans culturally), many of the city's historically cultured neighborhoods are becoming increasingly gentrified, which has resulted in an increasing White presence. Ironically, these very neighborhoods are the same neighborhoods that many Whites fled in the 1960s (White flight). A prominent example of this is West Oakland, which has seen the most dramatic shift in population over the last 10 years due to gentrification [9].


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. Crime continued to escalate during the 1980s, and during the 1990s and 2000s Oakland has consistently been listed as one of the most dangerous large cities in the United States. Today crime remains one of Oakland's most serious challenges, and Oakland continues to have a reputation among its own citizens, its 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 US.[39][84][85] [86]

A record number of 175 homicides were committed in Oakland in 1992.[87] In 1993, Oakland's murder rate was 40.8 per 100,000; the 13th worst ranking for US cities with population over 100,000.[88] Statistics published by Morgan Quitno (later CQ Press). put Oakland's crime at the 18th worst US city (out of 207 of the largest cities) in 1997,[89] 16th worst in 1999,[90] 22nd worst in 2000,[91] 28th worst in 2002,[92] 21st worst in 2004,[93] and 21st worst in 2005.[94] 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, and 4th for 2007, 5th for 2008, and 3rd for 2009.[95] 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.[96] 120 murders recorded in 2007 made Oakland's murder rate third highest in California, behind Richmond and Compton; however, Oakland suffered rape and robbery rates per capita that were almost twice those of Richmond and Compton, making Oakland's violent crime rate the highest overall.

In 2003, 109 murders in a city of 404,155 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.[97] 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.[98]

Historically, most murders have occurred in West Oakland and the flatlands of East Oakland between I-580 and I-880.[87][99] Montclair, Rockridge and some areas in North Oakland have fewer problems with violent crime.[100] 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 citizens and one car theft per 40 citizens, three to four times the state average.[86] A rash of high-profile restaurant takeover robberies in 2008 has led to sharp criticism.[101] Since the beginning of 2007 however, street crimes in Oakland have dropped substantially enough to bring overall crime down by a small percentage.[102]

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.[103]

African Americans comprise less than one-third of Oakland's residents, yet they are over-represented[104] in crime statistics, and most homicides occur in African-American neighborhoods.[103] 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.[105][106] 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. 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.[107]

In a November 2008 Congressional Quarterly Press publication, the city of Oakland was rated 5th worst in a nationwide ranking of violent crime. The ranking counted six crime categories: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft. CQ Press has used these categories for determining city crime rankings since 1999. By comparison, other Bay Area cities ranked as follows: Richmond was 9th worst, Vallejo 67th, San Francisco 102nd, Hayward 125th and Berkeley 132nd.[85] Oakland finished 2008 with 124 homicides, three less than the 2007 total.

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.[108] From January 2005 to December 2007, the first three years the Oakland Police Department began tracking the crime, 884 carjackings were reported in the city of 400,000 residents. By comparison, in San Francisco, a city with roughly twice the population, 334 carjackings occurred during the same time period.

An increase in the number of police officers helped reduce the crime rate toward the end of 2008, a trend that continued through the first half of 2009. Other serious crimes have dropped since January 1, 2009, compared to the same time period during 2008.[109] However, in the wake of several high profile officer-involved shootings and other violence in 2009, a spokesman for the Oakland Police Department has remarked that Oakland is "still a dangerous city." [84]

Economic development

Oakland is a major West Coast port, and there are nearly 200,00 jobs related to marine cargo transport[110]. These jobs range from minimum wage hourly positions to Transportation Storage and Distribution Managers who earn an annual average salary of $91,520[111]. The city is also 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.[7] The first Longs Drugs store opened in Oakland.

Oakland experienced an increase of both its population and of land values in the early to mid 2000s. 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. In addition, Oakland's mild weather, central geographic 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.

While Oakland has seen economic revitalization during the 2000s, the issue of gentrification has become a controversial topic which has affected Oakland's politics, culture, longtime, and new residents throughout the city. In West Oakland a community land trust has been formed in an attempt to secure collective non-profit ownership of land for residential usage. The Institute for Community Economics has worked to retain West Oakland's longtime residents and mitigate the economic impacts of rent intensification. 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. In response, programs such as the Anti-Displacement Network, have attempted to assist in the stabilization of costs for homeowners and renters in West Oakland. Redevelopment proponents believe such projects under way in West Oakland will provide employment, neighborhood-serving retail health services, recreational facilities, special placement facilities, and new affordable housing.

In East Oakland, average rents have increased during the 2000s as housing demand pressures in and around the Central Business District and neighborhoods surrounding Lake Merritt have affected outlying neighborhoods.

Government and politics

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).[112] Oakland's Mayor is subject to a tenure limited to two terms. There are no term limits for the city council. Three councilmembers are currently on their fourth term, and Councilman De La Fuente is serving for his fifth term, approaching two decades in office.

Oakland native Ron Dellums, a former Berkeley city council member and U.S. Representative, was elected mayor in June 2006. The mayoral election was a contentious one between Dellums and other candidates, including Oakland City Council president Ignacio De La Fuente and Councilmember Nancy Nadel.[113] 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.[114]

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 City Hall was evacuated after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake until US$80M seismic retrofit and hazard abatement work was complete in 1995.[115]

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[116].

News media

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 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 Emeryville near North Oakland and distributed throughout the East Bay.



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 [117] There are 46,000 K–12 students, 32,000 adult students, and 6,000 plus employees.[118]

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.[119] 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 renown 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).

There are 25 public charter schools with 5,887 students [120] which 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.[121] 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.

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.[122]

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.[123][124]


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.[125]

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

Places of worship in Oakland include the 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 and the Reform Jewish Temple Sinai.



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. Southwest Airlines has a large presence at the airport and has been flying there since 1989. AC Transit provides service to the airport from Oakland neighborhoods and the Coliseum Bart Station on its "50" line for fare of $2, and aboard its "805" "All Nighter" bus all the way to downtown Oakland where other All Nighter connections are available.[126] AirBART provides more frequent shuttle bus service directly to the airport for a higher fare of $3.00.

Bridges, freeways, and tunnels

Oakland is served by several major highways: Interstate 80 (Eastshore Freeway), Interstate 580 (MacArthur Freeway), Interstate 880 (Nimitz Freeway), Interstate 980 (Williams Freeway), 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.

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

Transit, walking and bicycling

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,[127] with 17 percent of Oakland households being "car free" and or statistically categorized as having "no vehicles available."[128]

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 which 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.[129]

Many AC Transit lines follow old Key System routes.[38] 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 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 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.[130] 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.[131]

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." [132] 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.[133]

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).

Water access

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,[134] 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.


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.[135] 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".[136][137][138] Other nicknames include "O-town"[139][140] and "The Town"[141][142]. The moniker "Oaksterdam" sprang up around 2001 in association with the opening of several medical marijuana clubs in Uptown and on the north side of downtown.[143]

"There's no there there"

The HERETHERE sculpture on the Oakland/Berkeley border

Many Oaklanders have been frustrated by the misuse of this famous quote about Oakland: "There's no there there",[144] 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 tracks as they descend from their elevated section in Oakland to the subway through Berkeley.

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:


Downtown Oakland has an assortment of bars and nightclubs.[145][146] 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, @17th, Pat's bar, Roy's 19th Street Station, The Uptown, and The Oasis, to hipster spots such as Radio, Geoffreys, Karribean City, and art and jazz bar Cafe van Kleef. 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.[147]

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, and Rock Paper Scissors.[148][149]

Annual cultural events

Many annual events celebrate the diverse cultures of Oakland:


Sister cities

Oakland has ten sister cities[150]:

See also



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  150. ^

External links

Coordinates: 37°48′16″N 122°16′15″W / 37.80444°N 122.27083°W / 37.80444; -122.27083

Simple English

Oakland, California
Nickname(s): Oaktown, The Town, The O
Coordinates: 37°48′N 122°15′W / 37.8°N 122.25°W / 37.8; -122.25
Country United States
State California
County Alameda
 - Mayor Ron Dellums (D)
Population (2006)[1]
 - City 411,755
 Density 7,126.1/sq mi (2,751.4/km2)
 Metro over 7 million
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 - Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)

Oakland is a city in California. It is across the bay from San Francisco. It is the county seat of Alameda County and the third-largest city in the Bay Area, after San Jose and San Francisco. At one time, Oakland had many factories that built cars, ships and airplanes. It is a major rail junction. It is the home of the Athletics baseball team and the Raiders football team.

California governor Jerry Brown was once mayor of Oakland.


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