Oakland /ˈoʊklənd/ is a major West Coast port city in the U.S. state of California. The Port of Oakland is the busiest port for San Francisco Bay and all of Northern California. Oakland is the third largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area, the eighth-largest city in California, and the 45th-largest city in the U.S. with a population of 406,253 as of 2013. 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, six miles (9.7 km) east of San Francisco.
Oakland’s territory covers what was once a mosaic of 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. It continued to grow in the 20th century with its busy port, shipyards, and a thriving automobile manufacturing industry. Following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, many San Franciscans relocated to Oakland, enlarging the city’s population, increasing its housing stock and improving its infrastructure.
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.
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 $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 and Clorox, as well as the corporate headquarters for national brands such as 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.
As of 2013, the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward has a GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of $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.
According to the City’s 2010 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:
|#||Employer||# of Employees|
|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|
|9||Internal Revenue Service||2,500|
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).
Oakland has gained increasing appeal as a travel destination, both nationally and 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 combine 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 offers a wide variety of cuisine in restaurants and markets, often featuring locally grown produce and international foods 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.