Oakland is the largest city and the county seat of Alameda County, California, United States. A major West Coast port city, Oakland is the largest city in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, the third largest city overall in the San Francisco Bay Area, the eighth largest city in California, and the 45th largest city in the United States, with a population of 419,267 as of 2015. It serves as a trade center for the San Francisco Bay Area; its Port of Oakland is the busiest port in the San Francisco Bay, the entirety of Northern California, and the fifth busiest in the United States. The city was incorporated in 1852.
Oakland’s territory covers what was once a mosaic of California coastal terrace prairie, oak woodland, and north coastal scrub. Its land served as a rich resource when its hillside oak and redwood timber were logged to build San Francisco, and Oakland’s fertile flatland soils helped it become a prolific agricultural region. In the late 1860s, Oakland was selected as the western terminal of the Transcontinental Railroad. Following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, many San Francisco citizens moved to Oakland, enlarging the city’s population, increasing its housing stock and improving its infrastructure. It continued to grow in the 20th century with its busy port, shipyards, and a thriving automobile manufacturing industry.
Oakland is known for its sustainability practices, including a top-ranking for usage of electricity from renewable resources. Oakland is also known for its history of political activism, as well as its professional sports franchises (such as the Oakland Raiders, Oakland Athletics and the Golden State Warriors) and major corporations, which include health care, dot-com companies, and manufacturers of household products. In addition, due to a steady influx of immigrants during the 20th century, along with thousands of African-American war-industry workers who relocated from the Deep South during the 1940s, Oakland is the most ethnically diverse major city in the country.
Oakland has more than 50 distinct neighborhoods. The greater divisions in the city include downtown Oakland and its greater Central Business District, Lake Merritt, East Oakland, North Oakland, West Oakland, and the Oakland Hills. East Oakland, which includes the East Oakland Hills, encompasses more than half of Oakland’s land area, stretching from Lakeshore Avenue on the east shore of Lake Merritt southeast to the San Leandro border. 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. In 2011, Oakland was ranked the 10th most walkable city in the United States.
Lake Merritt, an urban estuary near downtown, is a mix of fresh and salt water draining in and out from the Oakland Harbor at the San Francisco Bay and one of Oakland’s most notable features. It was designated the United States’ first official wildlife refuge in 1870. Originally a marsh-lined wildlife haven, Lake Merritt was dredged and bordered with parks from the 1890s to the 1910s. Despite this reduction in habitat, Oakland is home to a number of rare and endangered species, many of which are localized to serpentine soils and bedrock. Lake Merritt is surrounded by residential and business districts, including downtown and Grand Lake.
The city of Piedmont, incorporated in Oakland’s central foothills after the 1906 earthquake, is a small independent city surrounded by the city of Oakland.
Oakland is a major West Coast port, and the fifth busiest in the United States by cargo volume. The Port of Oakland handles 99% of all containerized goods moving through Northern California, representing $41 billion worth of international trade. There are nearly 200,000 jobs related to marine cargo transport in the Oakland area. These jobs range from minimum wage hourly positions to Transportation Storage and Distribution Managers who earn an annual average salary of US$91,520. The Port of Oakland was an early innovator/pioneer in the technologies of Intermodal Containerized Shipping. The city is also home to several major corporations including Kaiser Permanente, Clorox, and Dreyer’s ice cream, and retailer Cost Plus World Markets. Tech companies such as Ask.com and Pandora Radio are located in Oakland, and in recent years many start-up high tech and green energy companies have found a home in the downtown neighborhoods of Uptown, City Center, Jack London Square and Lake Merritt Financial District. In 2014, Oakland was the fifth ranked city for tech entrepreneurs by total venture capital investment. In 2015 Uber announced plans to build and house 3,000 employees in a new office at the site of the old Sears building, which is being redeveloped with plans to open in late 2017.
As of 2013, the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metropolitan area has a GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of US$360.4 billion, ranking eighth among metropolitan areas in the United States. In 2014, Oakland was amongst the best cities to start a career, the highest ranked city in California after San Francisco. Additionally, Oakland ranked fourth in cities with professional opportunities. Numerous companies in San Francisco continue to expand in or migrate over to Oakland.
Oakland experienced an increase of both its population and of land values in the early-to-mid first decade of the 21st century. The 10k Plan, which began during former mayor Elihu Harris’ administration, and intensified during former mayor Jerry Brown’s administration resulted in several thousand units of new multi-family housing and development.
In 2013, over 2.5 million people visited Oakland, injecting US$1.3 billion into the economy. Oakland has been experiencing an increase in hotel demand. Occupancy is 74%, while RevPAR (Revenue Per Available Room) increased by 14%, the highest increase of any big city in the western region of the United States. Both Oakland and San Francisco were forecasted to experience the highest increases in ADR (Average daily rate).
In recent years, Oakland has gained national recognition as a travel destination. In 2012, Oakland was named the top North American city to visit, highlighting its growing number of sophisticated restaurants and bars, top music venues, and increasing nightlife appeal. Oakland also took the No. 16 spot in “America’s Coolest Cities,” ranked by metrics like entertainment options and recreational opportunities per capita, etc. In 2013, Oakland topped the No. 1 spot in “America’s Most Exciting Cities,” notably having the most movie theaters, theater companies, and museums per square mile. In “America’s Most Hipster Cities,” Oakland took the number-5 spot, cited for luring San Francisco “hippies” into the city. Oakland has also increased its travel destination allure internationally.
Oakland has a significant art scene and claims the highest concentration of artists per capita in the United States. In 2013, Oakland was designated as one of America’s top twelve art communities, recognizing Downtown (including Uptown), Chinatown, Old Oakland, and Jack London Square as communities “that have most successfully combined art, artists and venues for creativity and expression with independent businesses, retail shops and restaurants, and a walkable lifestyle to make vibrant neighborhoods.” Galleries exist in various parts of Oakland, with the newest additions centered mostly in the Uptown area. Oakland ranked 11th in cities for designers and artists. The city is a renowned culinary hotbed,offering both a wide variety and innovative approaches to diverse cuisines in restaurants and markets, often featuring locally grown produce and international styles such as French, Italian, Iberian, Asian, Hispanic/Latino, African-Caribbean, Southern/French African-American fusions, etc. that reflect the city’s ethnically diverse population. Historically a focal point of the West Coast blues and jazz scenes, Oakland is also home to musicians representing such genres as rhythm and blues, gospel, funk, punk, heavy metal, Rap/Gangsta rap, and hip hop.
Downtown Oakland has an assortment of bars, and nightclubs. They include dive bars, dance clubs, modern lounges and jazz bars. The Paramount Theater features headlining musical tours and productions, while Fox Oakland Theatre draws various musical genres including jam bands, rock, punk, blues, jazz, and reggae. The Paramount and Fox theaters often book simultaneous events, creating busy nights uptown. In 2012, Oakland was dubbed a “New Sin City”, following its 2010 decision to relax its cabaret laws, which gave a boost to its nightclub and bar scene. Recent years have seen the growth of the Oakland Art Murmur event, occurring in the Uptown neighborhood the first Friday evening of every month. The event attracts around 20,000 people along twenty city blocks, featuring live performances, food trucks, and over 30 galleries and venues.
Gertrude Stein wrote about Oakland in her 1937 book Everybody’s Autobiography “There is no there there,” upon learning that the neighborhood where she lived as a child had been torn down to make way for an industrial park. The quote is sometimes misconstrued to refer to Oakland as a whole. Modern-day Oakland has turned the quote on its head, with a statue downtown titled “There.” 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.
akland has teams in three professional sports: Baseball, basketball, and football. The Oakland Athletics MLB club won three consecutive World Series championships in 1972, 1973, and 1974, and appeared in another three consecutive World Series from 1988 to 1990, winning their fourth championship in 1989. The Golden State Warriors won the 1974–1975 NBA championship, the 2014–2015 NBA championship, and the 2016–2017 NBA championship. The Oakland Raiders of the NFL won Super Bowl XI in 1977 and Super Bowl XV in 1981, while also appearing in Super Bowl II in 1968 and Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003. The Raiders left Oakland for Los Angeles in 1982, where they won a third Super Bowl championship and returned to Oakland in 1995. The Warriors announced in April 2014 that they will leave Oakland once their new arena is built across the Bay in San Francisco, while the Raiders are in the process of relocating to Las Vegas. On March 27, 2017, it was confirmed the Raiders would be moving to Las Vegas.
Oakland has many parks and recreation centers which total 5,937 acres (2,403 ha). In its 2013 ParkScore ranking, The Trust for Public Land, a national land conservation organization, reported that Oakland had the 18th best park system among the 50 most populous U.S. cities. In 2013, Oakland ranked 4th among American cities as an urban destination for nature lovers.
Major places of worship in Oakland include: Oakland City Church, First Congregational Church of Oakland, Evangelistic Outreach Center, Green Pastures, the Presbyterian, First Presbyterian Church of Oakland; Greek Orthodox Ascension Cathedral; the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Christ the Light; the United Methodist Chinese Community Church; the Unitarian First Unitarian Church; the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ Oakland California Temple; the Muslim, 31st Street Islamic Center, Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California, Light-House Mosque; the Reform Jewish Temple Sinai; the Conservative Jewish, Temple Beth Abraham; Allen Temple Baptist Church; and the Orthodox Jewish, Beth Jacob Congregation, American Baptist; Faith Baptist Church of Oakland, St. Paul Lutheran, His Gospel Christian Fellowship, six Kingdom Halls of Jehovah’s Witnesses and St. Vartan Armenian Apostolic Church.
Most public schools in Oakland are operated by the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), which covers the city except for Sheffield Village. Due to financial troubles and administrative failures, it was in receivership by the state of California from 2002 to 2008. As of 2015 the Oakland Unified School District includes 86 division-run schools and 32 charter schools; the district also manages several adult education programs. As of 2015 there are 48,181 total K–12 students; among division-run schools, there are 4,600 plus employees.
OUSD test scores historically lag behind the rest of California, in particular due to a high proportion of English-language learners. Some individual schools have much better performance than the citywide average. As of 2013, for example, 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. 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).
Among charter schools in the district, North Oakland Community Charter School (NOCCS), an elementary and middle school, is one of the few public progressive schools in the country. 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 including the secular The College Preparatory School and Head-Royce School, and the Catholic Bishop O’Dowd High School, Holy Names High School and St. Elizabeth High School. Catholic schools in Oakland are operated by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland also include eight K–8 schools (plus one in Piedmont on the Oakland city border). Northern Light School is a private nonprofit elementary and middle school. Bentley School is an Independent Co-educational K–12, college preparatory school, located on two campuses in Oakland and Lafayette, California.
Oakland is served by major television stations broadcasting primarily out of San Francisco and San Jose. The region’s Fox O&O, KTVU, is based in (and licensed to) Oakland at Jack London Square along with co-owned independent station KICU-TV (licensed to San Jose). In addition, the city is served by various AM and FM radio stations as well; AM stations KKSF, KMKY, KNEW and KQKE are licensed to Oakland.
Oakland was served by the Oakland Tribune, which published its first newspaper on February 21, 1874. The Tribune Tower, which features a large clock, is an Oakland landmark. 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 daily. In 2007, the Oakland Tribune moved its offices from the tower to an East Oakland location, before folding in 2011.
The East Bay Express, a locally owned free weekly paper, is based in Jack London Square and distributed throughout the East Bay. Oaklandwiki is a thriving (mostly) English-language LocalWiki.
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, with 17 percent of Oakland households being “car free” and or statistically categorized as having “no vehicles available.”
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. Many AC Transit lines follow old routes of the Key System.
Intercity bus companies that serve Oakland include Greyhound, BoltBus, Megabus, USAsia, and Hoang Transportation.
The metropolitan area is served by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) from eight stations in Oakland. The system has headquarters in Oakland, with major transfer hubs at MacArthur and 19th Street stations. BART’s headquarters was located in a building above the Lake Merritt BART station until 2006, when it relocated to the Kaiser Center due to seismic safety concerns.
The 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, including a bicycle pedi-cab service.
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. Several miles of bike lanes were created as a result of the plan, with more awaiting funding. Facilities for parking thousands of bicycles have been installed downtown and in other commercial districts throughout Oakland. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey, Oakland moved into 7th place in the nation by percentage of people that choose to commute by bike in 2011.
Originating in Oakland, Kaiser Permanente, is an HMO started in 1942, during World War II, by industrialist Henry J. Kaiser to provide medical care for Kaiser Shipyards workers. It is the largest managed care organization in the United States and the largest non-governmental health care provider in the world. It is headquartered at One Kaiser Plaza in Downtown Oakland and maintains a large medical center in the Piedmont Avenue neighborhood.
Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, an East Bay hospital system, maintains its Summit Campus in the neighborhood known as “Pill Hill” north of downtown. Until 2000, it was the Summit Medical Center before merging with Berkeley-based Alta Bates. All campuses now operate under the Sutter Health network.
Alameda County Medical Center is operated by the county and provides medical services to county residents, including the medically indigent who do not have health insurance. The main campus, Highland Hospital in East Oakland, is the trauma center for the northern area of the East Bay.
Children’s Hospital Oakland is the primary medical center specializing in pediatrics in the East Bay. It is a designated Level I pediatric trauma center, and the only independent children’s hospital in Northern California.
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