Despite a history of extreme cultural relevance and economic influence, the city of Oakland is often overshadowed in a modern context by San Francisco within the Bay Area and by San Jose in the Silicon Valley. However, the Port of Oakland is still the busiest port in not just the San Francisco Bay area, but in all of Northern California. The City is also the county seat of Alameda County and the eighth largest city in all of California. Neighbors aside, Oakland is a city that continues to dominate the cultural and economic landscape.
Lay of the Land
Comprised of over 50 distinct neighborhoods, Oakland sits on approximately 78 square miles of land on the northeastern edge of the San Francisco Bay. Aside from being directly across the Bay from the City of San Francisco, Oakland is also bordered by Berkeley to the north, Alameda Island to the west, San Leandro to the south, and scenic California creeks and ridges to the east. Oakland has a large and diverse population, with the most recent census data placing the total population of the city at 406,253. The estimated median income ($54,394) and estimated median home value ($445,500) are both within the average range for the state of California.
The city of Oakland features all of the public transportation options available to every city within the Bay Area and Alameda County. These include Bay Area Rapid Transit and Alameda County Transit Authority services which provide a variety of commuter services designed to simplify regional travel. However, Oakland also benefits from several transportation options unique to it among the cities in Alameda County.
Owl Services is a bus line system designed to provide Oakland residents transportation options outside of the normal operating hours of the BART system. Additionally, the city provides numerous ferry services to the nearby city of San Francisco. This serves to provide residents with additional options via the San Francisco CalTrain commuter train station. Finally, the city also houses the Oakland International Airport.
While Oakland is known in the business world as a port of consequence it is often easy to understate its national and regional economic importance. The Port of Oakland handles 99% of all containerized goods moving through the region, accounting for 41 billion dollars worth of international trade. Further, the San Francisco-Hayward-Oakland metropolitan area had an approximate gross domestic product of 360 billion dollars in 2013. In addition to a powerful shipping base, Oakland is also a booming tourist region. According to the city of Oakland, in 2013 2.5 million people visited the city, introducing an estimated 1.3 billion dollars into the local economy.
Arts and Culture
As a city, Oakland has always existed as a cultural forerunner, both regionally and nationally. This is manifested in modern Oakland via a variety of mainstream artistic organizations and modern grass root artistic movements. The Oakland Art Murmur is a collection of local art galleries that have come together to provide support and events for the community. Educational Centers for the arts such as the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, Studio One Art Center, and the Digital Arts and Culinary Academy supplement publicly funded art classes. Finally, numerous venues, including the Uptown Art Park and the The Great Wall of Oakland, provide local members of the community with a public creative outlet.
Dining and Entertainment
As a city with a large and diverse population, Oakland features a wide range of dining options harnessing the rich culinary and cultural heritage of the city’s residents. These eateries include everything from local dive restaurants expressing regional fusion menus to modern dining locations operated by many of the nation\’s highest profile chefs and restaurant executives. Finding many of these locations is easy for visitors thanks to the Broadway Shuttle. The Broadway Shuttle is a local project designed to provide free connections from many of the main public transit locations to the downtown Oakland area, as well as to many of the most popular dining and shopping centers around the city.
The Uptown region of Oakland has reinvigorated the area with many popular live music venues including the beautifully renovated Fox Theatre. Many neighborhoods have specialty dining, and Jack London Square features restaurants, live music and an active marina as well.
Sports and Recreation
On a professional level, the city of Oakland is the home to the Oakland Raiders of the NFL, the Oakland Athletics of MLB, and the Golden State Warriors of the NBA. All three teams currently play their homes games in Oakland, with the Warriors playing at Oracle Arena and the Raiders and Athletics playing at the Oakland Coliseum, both facilities sharing a common parking facility.
The city is also home to numerous public athletic and recreational venues. These include dozens of local community centers, city operated parks, 6 public pools, and various golf courses. In addition to supporting a wide range of youth services and community activities the recreational centers are all generally available for public use and rental. In its 2013 ParkScore ranking, The Trust for Public Land ranked Oakland 18th out of the 50 most populous U.S. cities for the quality of its parks.