Welcome to Oakland, California

Oakland, founded in 1852, is today considered a major Northern California city on the eastern shore of the San Francisco Bay. To the north lies Berkeley, home to the campus of the renowned University of California. To the west, across the Bay Bridge, stands San Francisco. Separated from the mainland by an estuary to the southwest is the island city of Alameda, while San Leandro lies to the southeast. Along the hills which run northwest to southeast, Oakland borders five of the East Bay Regional Parks. In the center of Oakland, and completely surrounded by it, is the prestigious city of Piedmont.

Oakland has experienced an increase of population in the past decade, attributable to economic recovery, along with Oakland's weather, location, hillside neighborhoods with views of San Francisco and the Bay, and a substantial offering of shopping districts and restaurants representing a vast array of cuisines. Oakland is the county seat of Alameda County. As of 2006, the city's population was 411,755, making it the third largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area after San Jose and San Francisco.

The Oakland Tribune published its first newspaper on February 21, 1874. The Tribune Tower is one of Oakland’s well-known landmarks. Oakland hosts Oakland International Airport, which serves the traveler’s market to and from the San Francisco Bay Area. Major employers in Oakland include the local, state and federal governments, United States Postal Service, regional transportation and utility authorities, Kaiser Permanente, Clorox, Zhone Technologies, Dreyers Grand Ice Cream, carriers associated with the Port, and commercial bakeries. Oakland’s climate offers features that are found in both nearby San Francisco and San Jose. It is warmer than San Francisco and cooler than San Jose. While it does not abut the Pacific Ocean proper, its position on San Francisco Bay directly across from the Golden Gate means that the city gets significant cooling maritime fog during the summer. It is far enough inland, though, that the fog often burns off by midday, allowing it to have stereotypically sunny California days.

Official city


The city of Oakland stretches from the San Francisco Bay up into the East Bay Hills. The character of these neighborhoods continues to change as waves of migrants from within the United States and other countries relocate here. Also, the changing economy lures more technically skilled workers to Oakland.

The common large neighborhood divisions in the city are “Downtown Oakland,” “East Oakland,” “North Oakland,” and “West Oakland”. East Oakland actually encompasses more than half of Oakland’s area, stretching from Lake Merritt southeast to San Leandro. North Oakland encompasses the neighborhoods spread between Downtown and Berkeley and Emeryville. West Oakland is the area between Downtown and the Bay, partially surrounded by the Port of Oakland.

Another broad geographical distinction is between “The Hills” and “The Flatlands”. The Flatlands is located in the relatively flat areas closer to San Francisco Bay, and the Hills 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 communities in the East Bay’s urban core. Downtown and West Oakland are located entirely in the Flatlands, while North and East Oakland incorporate both Hills and Flatlands neighborhoods.

The Chinatown neighborhood in Oakland is frequently referred to as “Oakland Chinatown” in order to distinguish it from nearby San Francisco’s Chinatown. Oakland’s Chinatown is now a pan-Asian neighborhood which reflects Oakland’s diverse Asian American and Pacific Islander community of Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Filipino, Japanese, Cambodian, Laotian, Mien, Thai and others.

Old Oakland is a historic district in downtown Oakland, located on the northwest side of Broadway, between the City Center complex and the Jack London Square district, and across Broadway from Chinatown. A farmer’s market, one of the first neighborhood markets established in the 1980’s, is still held every Friday on 9th Street.

Oakland City Center is a mixed use complex in Downtown Oakland. It encompasses twelve city blocks, between Broadway and Martin Luther King Jr. Way. City Center was a product of the urban renewal policies of the mid to late twentieth century. A large section of the center of Downtown Oakland was appropriated by the city through the force of eminent domain and demolished to make way for an enclosed shopping mall, high-rise office buildings, a hotel, and a multi-level, above ground parking structure.

The first high-rise office building, at 14th and Broadway, opened in December of 1973. The first skyscraper, the Clorox Building, opened next door in 1976. Several new buildings were completed in 1990, including the retail complex, named City Square, and 1111 Broadway, the new headquarters of American President Lines.

Jack London Square is located at the south end of Broadway, across the Oakland Estuary from Alameda and is a popular attraction on the waterfront of Oakland. Named after author Jack London, it is the home of attractive stores, hotels, an Amtrak station, the (re-located) cabin Jack London lived in, and a movie complex. The farmer’s market is hosted among the retail shops on Sunday mornings. The name has also come to refer to the formerly industrial neighborhood surrounding Jack London Square proper, which has undergone a significant amount of loft conversion and new construction over the last decade. Website:

Adams Point is located on the northern shore of Lake Merritt, adjacent to Downtown Oakland and the Grand Lake district. Neighborhood landmarks include the gorgeous art deco Belleview-Staten Building and Lakeside Park, one of Oakland’s larger parks which also contains Children’s Fairyland. The
name Adams Point comes from one of the Oakland’s early landowners, Edson Adams.

The Lakeside District is a five-block area on the east side of Downtown Oakland, next to Lake Merritt, which was designated by the city as a historic neighborhood in the 1980s. This area is graced by several historically significant apartment buildings built in the 1920s. Some are in the art-deco style of the ’20s and are protected as official city landmarks. The neighborhood has seen a continued history of sustained residency in part because of its close proximity to Lake Merritt.

The Grand Lake District, is located near the northeast corner of Lake Merritt, where Grand and Lakeshore Avenues cross under Interstate 580. It borders Adams Point to the west, Trestle Glen to the east, and Piedmont to the north. It is a dense urban environment that hosts a diverse population of
peoples from many walks of life. There are two shopping areas in the Grand Lake District:

  • Grand Avenue, between Piedmont and Adams Point, the larger of the two. The historic Grand Lake Theater dominates the corner of Grand and Lake Park Avenue.

  • Lakeshore Avenue, between Lake Park Avenue and Mandana Blvd. The two streets are connected at their closest point by Lake Park Avenue and Splashpad Park, home of the neighborhood’s large Saturday farmers’ market.

Trestle Glen is located east of Lakeshore Avenue, a shopping street which it shares with the Grand Lake District. The streets are laid out in the curvilinear pattern of early 20th century garden suburbs. Many of the houses are nestled in the surrounding hills, and were built shortly before The Great Depression. The neighborhood is named after a railroad trestle that was torn down after automobiles began to replace trains as a common mode of transportation in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Crocker Highlands. This part of Oakland, formerly known as Indian Gulch, was in 1917 a laure - lined canyon and hillside known for its waterfall, streams and oak studded groves. The Olmstead Brothers, famous landscape architects of the time from Brookline, Massachusetts, were hired to help in preparing the subdivision maps laying out the streets and parcels in a manner which would follow, or compliment, the natural contours of the canyons, ridges and hillsides. Residents enjoy the governance of the Lakeshore Home Owners Association, the eight commonly-owned park squares and spaces, including a dog-walking trail, and the proximity to urban amenities and transportation.

Montclair is located in the hills east of Piedmont. The center of the neighborhood is a compact pedestrian oriented shopping district known as Montclair Village, which is located next to Highway 13. The hills of Montclair are heavily forested, and generally characterized by winding streets and large single-family houses. The neighborhood has some of the best public schools in Oakland - Montclair Elementary, Thornhill Elementary, Montera Middle School and Skyline High School. In the first half of the 20th century, the main line of the Sacramento Northern Railroad ran through the Montclair neighborhood. The tracks ran southward from Lake Temescal, then up Shepherd Canyon to a tunnel, the west portal of which was located immediately below Saroni Drive. Today, much of the old right-of-way in Shepherd Canyon is a pedestrian and bicycle path.

Piedmont Avenue is also the name of the neighborhood which surrounds the street. Piedmont Avenue, the street, stretches diagonally from Broadway to Ramona Avenue, one block above Pleasant Valley (51st Street), and the Piedmont Avenue neighborhood is generally considered to reach laterally from Broadway to Oakland Avenue and the border to the City of Piedmont.

There are several interesting landmarks in the neighborhood. The center of the Piedmont Avenue commercial strip, designed by Julia Morgan (c. 1916) is a red brick building, the Fred C. Turner Stores, which is between 41st and 40th streets. At the north end of Piedmont Avenue and Pleasant Valley is the hillside Mountain View Cemetery, which was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and contains the Julia Morgan designed Chapel of the Chimes.

One of the hidden jewels of the neighborhood is Glen Echo Creek, located one half block south of the avenue. Many local residents are not aware of the park’s existence, due to its quirky location and small size.

Piedmont Avenue’s namesake commercial strip boasts numerous locally owned small businesses, including unique shops, restaurants, an art house/independent movie theater, and more.

Fenton’s Creamery is perhaps the neighborhood “hot spot”. Fenton’s serves ice cream and sundaes made on the premises, as well as traditional lunch fare. Fenton’s has been on Piedmont Avenue since 1894.

The Claremont neighborhood straddles the city limits of Oakland and Berkeley. The main thoroughfares are Claremont and Ashby Avenues.

The name was given in the late 19th century by a real estate developer. Previously, the area was grazing land owned by a man named Harwood. Harwood’s name was given to the canyon and the creek running through the canyon. When a telegraph line was strung through this canyon, it was dubbed “Telegraph Canyon”. A stage coach line ran up the canyon and over the summit into Contra Costa County. This became an early auto route over the Berkeley Hills until the first auto tunnel opened up in the 1910’s at the top of Old Tunnel Road to the south of Claremont Canyon, above where the Caldecott Tunnel is today.

In the early 1900s real estate interests associated with the Key System built the Claremont Hotel at the mouth of Claremont Canyon. The Key System ran one of its commuter train lines directly to the hotel up Claremont Avenue. This train became the transbay “E” train upon completion of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Passengers could ride directly between the hotel and downtown San Francisco until service ended in 1958.

Rockridge, a very popular and thriving neighborhood is generally defined as the area east of Telegraph Avenue, south of the Berkeley city limits, west of the Oakland hills and north of the intersection of Pleasant Valley Avenue/ 51st Street and Broadway. The main street of Rockridge is College Avenue, home to many cafes and restaurants, upscale retail stores, and several bookstores. At the foot of College Avenue is the California College of the Arts. Highway 24 runs through the center of the district on its way east to Contra Costa County. The Rockridge BART station is located in the center of Rockridge, where College Avenue and Highway 24 cross. Website:

Private Schools in Oakland

Archway School - Grades: K - 8
250 41st Street, Oakland (K - 4 campus), 510.547.4747

Aurora Academy - Grades: K - 5
40 Dulwich Road, Oakland, 510.428.2606

Beacon School - Grades: 9 - 12
2101 Livingston Street, Oakland, 510. 652.0111

Bishop O’Dowd High School
- (Catholic)Grades: 9 - 12
9500 Stearns Avenue, Oakland, 510.577.9100

College Preparatory School
- Grades: 9 - 12
6100 Broadway, Oakland, 510.652.0111

Grand Lake Montessori School - Grades: PK - 5
466 Chetwood Street, Oakland, 510.836.4313

Head-Royce School - Grades: K - 12
4315 Lincoln Avenue, Oakland, 510.531.1300

Holy Names High School - (Catholic; all girls) Grades: 9 - 12
4660 Harbord Drive, Oakland, 510.450.1110

Julia Morgan School for Girls -Grades: 6 - 8
3510 Mountain Boulevard, Oakland, 510.463.1400

Northern Light School - Grades: PK - 8
4500 Redwood Road, Oakland, 510.530.9366

Oakland Hebrew Day School - Grades: K - 8
215 Ridgeway Avenue, Oakland, 510.652.4324

Park Day School - Grades: K - 8
370 43rd Street, Oakland, 510.653.0317

Redwood Day School - Grades: PK - 8
3245 Sheffield Avenue, Oakland, 510.534.0800

St. Paul’s Episcopal School - Grades: PK - 8
116 Montecito Avenue, Oakland, 510.287.9600

St. Theresa School - (Catholic) Grades: K - 8
4850 Clarewood Drive, Oakland, 510.547.3146

The Renaissance School - Grades: PK - 6
3668 Dimond Avenue, Oakland, 510.531.8566

Colleges and Universities

California College of Arts & Crafts, Oakland, 510.653.8118,

Holy Names College, Oakland, 510.436.1000,

Laney Community College, Oakland, 510.843.5740,

Merritt Community College, Oakland, 510.531.4911,

Mills College, Oakland, 510.430.2255,


Arts and Cultural Activities

Cultural Arts Division, 510.238.2103,

Oakland's 24-hour Arts & Entertainment Hotline.

Museum of Children's Art, 510.465.8770,

Features children's artwork in all media.

Oakland East Bay Symphony, 510.444.0801,

Woodminster Amphitheater, 510.531.9597,

Semi -professional outdoor musicals performed during the summer months.

Cinemas, Theaters and Stadium

Grand Lake Theatre, 510.452.3556,

Jack London Cinema, 510.433.1320,

Landmark Piedmont Theater, 510.464.5980,


Oracle Arena & Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, 510.569.2121,

Paramount Theatre, 510.465.6400,

Woodminster Amphitheater, 510.531.9597,

Libraries and Museums

Oakland Public Library, 510.238.3134,

Chabot Observatory & Science Center, 510.336.7300,

Dunsmuir House & Gardens, 510.562.0328,

Elegant turn-of-the-century mansion on 40 acres of hills and gardens.

Museum of Children's Art, 510.465.8770,


Oakland Museum, 510.238.2200,

Museum of California art, history and natural science.

Pardee Home Museum, 510.444.2187,

19th century historic Italianate villa, barn and watertower.

Oakland Aviation Museum, 510.638.7100,
Aeronautical artifacts, aircraft library and gift shop.

Recreational Activities

Chabot Regional Park, Oakland, 510.639.4751,
Equestrian center, hiking, jogging and camping area.

Children's Fairyland, Oakland, 510.238.6876,

A theme park recreating nursery rhymes, fairy tales and legends.

East Bay Regional Park District, Oakland, 510.635.0135
More than 60,000 acres in 46 parks and recreation areas.

East Bay Skyline National Trail, Oakland, 510.635.0135
31 mile regional

Jack London Square, Oakland, 510.645.9292
Charming waterfront area with restaurants and specialty shops.

Joaquin Miller Park, Oakland, 510. 635.0135,
Ten trails featuring Bay views.

Lake Chabot Golf Course, Oakland, 510.351.5812,

Lakeside Park and Lake Merritt Boat House, Oakland, 510.238.2196

Rotary Nature Center, Oakland, 510.238.3739
One of the world's most beautiful municipal parks and manmade lake with 3.18 mile shoreline surrounded by the Necklace of Lights.

Montclair Golf Club, Oakland, 510.482.0422

Oakland Ice Center, Oakland, 510.268.9000,

Ice skating and hockey.

Oakland Parks and Recreation,510.238.FUNN,

Oakland Zoo, Oakland, 510.632.9523,

Oakland Certified Farmers Market, 800.949.3276,
Largest Farmers Market in Alameda County.

Temescal Regional Recreation Area, Oakland, 510.635.0135,
Swimming, fishing, picnicking and

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