Located on the eastern edge of the San Francisco Bay Area, Hayward is the third largest city in Alameda County and the sixth largest in the entire Bay Area. Based on both its centralized location and reputation as an open and inviting community, Hayward is often referred to as the Heart of the Bay. Historically, Hayward was a city defined by its agricultural significance, as its fertile soil and ideal year round climate made it the perfect location for growing a variety of crops. While its time as the “Apricot City” has passed, the community still places a premium on preserving natural open spaces even as a modern Hayward continues to expand and cultivate a healthy business environment.
Lay of the Land
Hayward is a geographically diverse city, with acres of fertile, gently rolling former farmland on one edge of the city contrasted with a coastal region dominated by salt marshes. Located in the middle of the Bay Area, Hayward is flanked by Castro Valley to the north and Union City to the south, while Pleasanton sits on the eastern edge of the city. Despite being one of the largest cities in the region with a total population of approximately 151,000 residents, Hayward is a city in the midst of a transitionary period. This has resulted in a lower than average median household income of $59,269 and estimated median home values of $342,700.
Ground transportation for the city is available via interstate 880, State Route 92, and State Route 238. However, many residents choose to utilize public transportation or alternative forms of travel as the city struggles to update outdated infrastructure. Luckily, public transportation is available via the Bay Area Rapid Transit service as well as the Alameda-Contra Costa County transit service. These two services combine to provide access to a variety of locations within the immediate vicinity.
Hayward is a city with a rich history as an agricultural powerhouse and later as a major center for manufacturing in the region. Hayward also is home to California State University East Bay, formerly Cal State Hayward, a predominantly commuter-based school serving the educational needs of the immediate community. However, despite this history, it has struggled in some ways to transition into a modern economic center. While the city does feature several modern manufacturing complexes and technologically focused businesses, it has not enjoyed the same financial success of many of the other cities historically associated with the Bay Area and Silicon Valley.
The city has taken steps to address these issues through the creation of the Hayward Growth Management Strategy. This plan is designed to leverage Hayward’s location and existing manufacturing sector in order to maximize economic growth. However, the plan also serves to balance the need for economic expansion with the communities desire to maintain core values and preserve the natural landscape.
Luckily, Hayward is not behind in regards to retail shopping locations within the city. The city features numerous small scale shopping plazas designed to provides residents with access to a variety of retail locations and specialized services. It is also home to several larger centers, including the Southland Mall. Located on the western edge of the city, Southland offers access to several national retailers such as Sears and Macy’s, as well as numerous smaller stores housing other nationally recognized brands.
Finally, Hayward has always maintained a strong sense of community involvement and public support of initiatives designed to improve the overall quality of life within the city itself. This has manifested in modern Hayward via numerous programs designed to promote a more environmentally responsible and green city. These initiatives include numerous educational programs designed to increase community awareness regarding best environmental practices as well as initiatives designed to encourage cleanup and reclamation projects around the city.