Oakland


Oakland is a major West Coast port city and the busiest port for San Francisco Bay and all of Northern California. It is the third largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area, the eighth-largest city in the state, with a population of 390,724 according to the 2010 census. Incorporated in 1852, Oakland is the county seat of Alameda County. It serves as a major transportation hub and trade center for the entire region and is also the principal city of the Bay Area Region known as the East Bay. The city is situated directly across the bay from San Francisco.

In the late 1860s, Oakland was selected as the western terminal of the Transcontinental Railroad. It continued to grow into the 20th century with its busy port, shipyards, and a thriving automobile industry. Following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, many San Franciscans relocated to Oakland, increasing the city’s population, housing and infrastructure.

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, have made Oakland one of the most ethnically diverse major cities in the country. Oakland is known for its history of political activism, as well as its professional sports franchises and major corporations, which include health care, dot-com companies and manufacturers of household products. The city is a transportation hub for the greater Bay Area, and itsshipping port is the fifth busiest in the United States.

Oakland has a Mediterranean climate with an average of 260 sunny days per year. Lake Merritt, a large estuary centrally located east of Downtown, was designated the United States’ first official wildlife refuge. Jack London Square, named for the author and former resident, is a tourist destination on the Oakland waterfront. Progress has been made in reducing the city’s high crime rate; violent crime is primarily concentrated in certain neighborhoods, although property crime remains problematic throughout the city. Oakland is continually listed among the top cities in the United States for sustainability practices, including a No. 1 ranking for usage of electricity from renewable resources.

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. Lake Merritt is surrounded by residential and business districts, including downtown and Grand Lake.

The 2010 United States Census reported that Oakland had a population of 390,724. The racial makeup of Oakland was 134,925 (34.5%) White, 109,471 (28.0%) African American, 3,040 (0.8%) Native American, 65,811 (16.8%) Asian (8.7%Chinese, 2.2% Vietnamese, 1.6% Filipino, 0.7% Cambodian, 0.7% Laotian, 0.6% Korean, 0.5% Japanese, 0.5% Indian), 2,222 (0.6%) Pacific Islander (0.3%Tongan), 53,378 (13.7%) from other races, and 21,877 (5.6%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 99,068 persons (25.4%).

There were 153,791 households, out of which 44,762 (29.1%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 50,797 (33.0%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 24,122 (15.7%) had a female householder with no husband present, 8,799 (5.7%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 11,289 (7.3%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 3,442 (2.2%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 52,103 households (33.9%) were made up of individuals and 13,778 (9.0%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49. There were 83,718 families(54.4% of all households); the average family size was 3.27.

The population was spread out with 83,120 people (21.3%) under the age of 18, 36,272 people (9.3%) aged 18 to 24, 129,139 people (33.1%) aged 25 to 44, 98,634 people (25.2%) aged 45 to 64, and 43,559 people (11.1%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36.2 years. For every 100 females there were 94.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.8 males.

There were 169,710 housing units at an average density of 2,175.7 per square mile (840.0/km²), of which 63,142 (41.1%) were owner-occupied, and 90,649 (58.9%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 3.0%; the rental vacancy rate was 8.5%. 166,662 people (42.7% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 215,924 people (55.3%) lived in rental housing units.

In 2008 the median income for a household in the city was $48,596 and the median income for a family was $55,949. Males had a median income of $46,383 versus $44,690 for females. The per capita income for the city was $30,094. In 2007 approximately 15.3 percent of families and 17.0 percent of the general population were below the poverty line, including 27.9 percent of those under age 18 and 13.1 percent of those age 65 or over. 0.7% of the population is homeless. Home ownership is 41% and 14% of rental units are subsidized. The unemployment rate as of August 2009 is 15.2%.

Income

The median income for a household in the city is $40,055, and the median income for a family is $44,384.

Shifting of cultures

Oakland is one of the most ethnically diverse major cities in the country. The city’s formerly most populous ethnic group, white, declined from 95.3% in 1940 to 32.5% by 1990. Since the 1960s, Oakland has been known as a center of Northern California’s African-American community. However, between 2000 and 2010 Oakland lost nearly 25% of its black population. The city demographics have changed due to a combination of gentrification, along with many blacks relocating to Bay Area suburbs, or moving to the Southern United States. Blacks formed a strong plurality for many years, peaking in 1980 at about 47% of the population of Oakland. Despite the decline, black residents maintain their status as Oakland’s single largest ethnic group as of 2010, at 27% of the population, followed by non-Hispanic whites at 26%, and Latinos of any race at 25%.

Recent trends have resulted in cultural shifts, leading to a decline among some of the city’s longstanding black institutions, such as churches, businesses, and nightclubs, which has been a point of contention for some long-time black residents.

In recent years, immigrants and others have marched by the thousands down Oakland’s International Boulevard in support of legal reforms benefiting illegal immigrants.

An analysis by the Urban Institute of U.S. Census 2000 numbers showed that Oakland had the third-highest concentration of gays and lesbians among the 50 largest U.S. cities, behind San Francisco and Seattle. Census data showed that, among incorporated places that have at least 500 female couples, Oakland had the nation’s largest proportion. In 2000, Oakland counted 2,650 lesbian couples; one in every 41 Oakland couples listed themselves as a same-sex female partnership.

Oakland is a major West Coast port, and there are nearly 200,000 jobs related to marine cargo transport. These jobs range from minimum wage hourly positions to Transportation Storage and Distribution Managers who earn an annual average salary of $91,520. The city is also home to several major corporations including Matson, Kaiser Permanente and Clorox, as well as corporate headquarters for national retailers like Dreyer’s and Cost Plus World Markets. The first Longs Drugs store opened in Oakland. 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.

Top employers

According to the City’s 2010 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Alameda County 10,374
2 Wells Fargo 5,862
3 Oakland Unified School District 5,704
4 City of Oakland 4,478
5 Cost Plus World Market 4,125
6 Kaiser Foundation Hospitals 3,105
7 Peralta Community College District 2,759
8 Safeway 2,692
9 Internal Revenue Service 2,500
10 Albertson’s 2,209

Arts and culture

Oakland has a significant art scene and claims the highest concentration of artists per capita in the United States. Galleries exist in various parts of Oakland, with the newest additions centered mostly in the Uptown area. The city offers a wide variety of cuisine in both restaurants and markets, often featuring locally grown produce and international foods which reflect the city’s ethnically diverse population. Historically a focal point of the West Coast blues scene, Oakland is also home to musicians representing such genres as rhythm and blues, funk, punk,heavy metal, and hip hop.

Annual cultural events

Events which celebrate the diverse cultures of Oakland include:

  • Oakland Greek Festival (mid-May)
  • Temescal Street Fair (June)
  • Fire Arts Festival (July)
  • Laurel Street Fair (early August)
  • Lakefest (early August)
  • Chinatown Streetfest (late August)
  • Art & Soul Festival (mid-August)
  • Oakland Pride (early September)
  • Montclair Jazz & Wine Festival (mid-September)
  • Koreatown/Northgate Culturefest (mid-September)
  • Germanfest (mid-September)
  • Eat Real Festival (late-September)
  • Black Cowboy Parade (early October)
  • Oaktoberfest (early October)
  • Oakland International Film Festival (September or October)
  • Fruitvale Dia de los Muertos Festival (Sunday before November 1)
  • Oakland Inspiration Awards (November)
  • Oakland Holiday Parade (First Saturday in December)
  • Oakland Armenian Style Christmas Family Night (December 3, 2011)

Attractions

  • AXIS Dance Company
  • Chabot Space and Science Center
  • Children’s Fairyland
  • Chinatown
  • Dunsmuir House
  • Fox Oakland Theatre, reopened: pending tour information TBA.
  • Jack London Square
  • Lake Merritt, Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Oldest wildlife/bird sanctuary in North America, Lake Merritt Garden Center, Bonsai Garden
  • Mountain View Cemetery, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and resting place of many famous Californians
  • Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, home of baseball’s Oakland Athletics, and the Oakland Raiders of the NFL
  • Oakland Aviation Museum
  • Oakland Museum of California
  • Oakland Public Library
  • Oakland Zoo
  • Oracle Arena, directly adjacent to the Oakland Coliseum, home to the Golden State Warriorsof the NBA
  • Paramount Theatre
  • Pardee Home
  • Peralta Hacienda Historical Park, Museum of History and Culture
  • Preservation Park
  • USS Potomac, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidential yacht

Nightlife

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.

Primary and secondary education

Most public schools in Oakland are operated by the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), which covers the entire city of Oakland; due to financial troubles and administrative failures, it has been in receivership by the state of California since 2002. The Oakland Unified School District (2006–2007) includes 59 elementary schools, 23 middle schools, 19 high schools, with 9 alternative education schools and programs, 4 adult education schools and early childhood education centers at most of the elementary schools. There are 46,000 K–12 students, 32,000 adult students, and 6,000 plus employees. Overall, OUSD schools have performed poorly for years. In the 2005 results of the STAR testing, over 50 percent of students taking the test performed “below basic,” while only 20 percent performed at least “proficient” on the English section of the test. Some individual schools have much better performance than the city-wide average, for instance, in 2005 over half the students at Hillcrest Elementary School 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 renowned Engineering Academy, which sent more girls to MIT in 2007 than any other public school west of the Mississippi. 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).

25 public charter schools with 5,887 students 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. 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, 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). 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:

  • Peralta Community College District
    • Laney College
    • Merritt College
  • California College of the Arts (formerly the California College of Arts and Crafts)
  • Holy Names University (formerly Holy Names College)
  • Lincoln University
  • Mills College (Julia Morgan School for Girls is a private middle school for girls housed on the campus)
  • Patten University
  • Samuel Merritt College (a health science college)
  • Oakland is also the home of the headquarters of the University of California system, the University of California Office of the President.

In 2001, the SFSU Oakland Multimedia Center was opened, allowing San Francisco State University to conduct classes near downtown Oakland. The Oakland Higher Education Consortium and the City of Oakland’s Community and Economic Development Agency (CEDA) opened the Oakland Higher Education Center downtown in 2002 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.