Category: Neighborhood Profile

West Oakland

Neighborhood in Transition

The West Oakland neighborhood sits just west of downtown Oakland within the bounds of Interstate 580 to the north and Interstate 980 to the east. It is otherwise surrounded by Interstate 880 and by land owned by the Port of Oakland on the south and west ends.  This residential neighborhood with many historical Victorian homes is surrounded by industrial uses.

West Oakland has been the center of many transportation projects vital to the region, however detrimental to the neighborhood.

The building of the Cypress freeway in the 1950s created a divide to the neighborhood. After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, there was an opportunity to rebuild Interstate 880 along a different alignment. The previous Cypress Street freeway location was transformed into a wide landscaped median with a meandering pedestrian thoroughfare that is now known as Mandela Parkway.

BART construction in the 1970s created another division along 7th Street. The former Oakland 16th Street Amtrak station (closed in 1994) site is now being used as a community garden.

Newer apartment and condominium projects have been built recently and there has been greater interest in restoring some of the older housing stock. This predominantly African American neighborhood has been experiencing progressive gentrification and there is fear that longtime residents will be further displaced by higher housing costs. Many newer residents choose this neighborhood for easy access to San Francisco by BART or by car and proximity to downtown Oakland.

How to get to West Oakland:

  • By BART: The West Oakland BART Station is only one stop away on the San Francisco line.

mural commemorating Cypress freeway


former 16th Street Amtrak Station




housing along 7th Street


Guide by Dana Turréy and Jackie Yang

Photos by Jackie Yang


Arts Community

Jingletown, also known as the North Kennedy Tract, is a small arts community in Fruitvale, East Oakland, located adjacent to the Oakland Estuary and bordered by the Nimitz Freeway (Interstate 880) and the Park Street and Fruitvale bridges. Jingletown was the site of a Costanoan shellmound, and later grew up into a majority Portuguese and Azorean working-class neighborhood. According to local lore, the North Kennedy Tract was named “Jingletown” after the male Portuguese and Azorean immigrants who, previously impoverished, would walk the streets proudly jingling the coins they were able to earn and save due to the area’s industrial boom. They apparently kept their coins on their person because of their distrust toward banks. In the late 1950s and 1960s many of the Portuguese families began moving out of Jingletown and Chicano and Latino families, many who had relocated from West Oakland by urban renewal, began moving to Jingletown in significant numbers. Jingletown was also heavy in the Chicano Movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Today it is thriving as one of the fastest growing arts districts in the San Francisco bay area. It is home to the Institute of Mosaic Art and Green Day’s Jingletown Recording. An organization called the Jingletown Arts & Business Community (JABC) is the main representative of the art community.

How to get to Jingletown:

  • By BART and on foot: Take BART to the Fruitvale BART station, then walk along Fruitvale Avenue (10 minute walk).
  • By bicycle: Bike for 20 minutes along 10th and 12th Streets.

Former Institute of Mosaic Art


Oakland Riviera / Rue de Merde


Virgin of Guadalupe mosaic


Lizard mosaic


Guide and Photos by Kristin Maravilla


Convenient access to open space, community-driven revival

The Dimond is centered at the intersection of Fruitvale Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard. Before Interstate 580 was built, the borders were roughly School Street to the west, the Montclair Driving Range to the east, Park Avenue / City of Piedmont to the north and Lincoln Boulevard to the south. Today, this area is known as the Dimond and the Oakmore districts. The Dimond now primarily refers to the commercial district along Fruitvale and MacArthur between the freeway and Damuth Street.

The Dimond is closely related to the Fruitvale District in terms of its roots as an enclave of German settlers. The area became renown in the Bay Area for its orchards and beer gardens, and was a popular weekend destination for San Franciscans looking for a rural outing. The only remnants of this history are the Altenheim, a former retirement home for elderly Germans, and the large residential lots which hearken back to the small farms which used to be located here.

The commercial district has struggled in the past, but has recently experienced a revival due to joint efforts of the local businesses and residents. These efforts include murals in the district, volunteer gardeners to maintain planters and planted areas, and a litter pick-up crew comprised of local residents.

How to get to the Dimond:

  • By bus: Take AC Transit route NL from downtown Oakland.
  • By BART and bus: Take BART to the Fruitvale BART Station, then take AC Transit route 20 or 21 to Fruitvale and MacArthur. To get to Roberts Park, take AC Transit route 339 from the Fruitvale BART station.
  • By bicycle: Travel north on Broadway, turn right (south) on MacArthur, and bike approximately 3 miles to the intersection of Fruitvale and MacArthur. For those wanting a challenge, continue riding to Lincoln, turn left, and head up the steep road past State Route 13 to Roberts Park.

Sausal Creek

Sausal Creek


Dimond mural

Guide and Photos by Beth Greene


Asian Diversity

Oakland Chinatown is just a few blocks away from Downtown Oakland and encompasses an area roughly between the 12th Street City Center and Lake Merritt BART Stations. Its boundaries are generally 12th Street to the north, Oak Street and Laney College to the east, I-880 to the south, and Broadway to the west. Although it is less dense than its San Francisco counterpart, Oakland Chinatown has a lot to offer with eclectic storefronts and numerous restaurants that reflect the diversity of the Bay Area’s Asian populations, from Chinese dim sum and Vietnamese beef noodle soup and authentic Cambodian specialties. It is not just a commercial district that caters to the tourist clientele or business professionals looking for delicious food options; Oakland Chinatown is home to residents who live, work, and shop entirely in this neighborhood.

When you are in Oakland Chinatown, watch your step as you are walking along the crowded open air markets as seniors pick out fresh produce. Transportation aficionados should check out this symbol of public safety, a pedestrian traffic signal scramble at 8th Street and Webster Street. A pedestrian fatality in 2002 galvanized the community to invest in a highly visible red and yellow crosswalk with Asian design motifs to alert motorists of this pedestrian zone. Only pedestrians can cross the intersection during the pedestrian phase of 23 seconds.

Despite the diversity in a bustling commercial center, Oakland Chinatown is also facing development pressures due to its proximity to not one, but two BART stations. For many years, urban planners and community members have worked on the Lake Merritt BART Station Specific Plan that calls for denser housing development on the underutilized site. It is currently an open plaza across from the two Bay Area Metropolitan Planning Organizations, both the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Given the ideal location, advocates and local residents are concerned that development at the Lake Merritt BART Station will have severe ramifications on the current demographic of low- to middle-income residents.

How to get to Chinatown:

  • On foot: Walking east on 11th Street from the Marriott leads you towards Franklin and Webster Streets, two main corridors of the neighborhood.

Traffic signal scramble at 9th Street and Webster

Shopping for groceries along Webster

Shopping for groceries along 8th Street

Chinese Garden Park

Guide and Photos by Jean Long


The Original Transit Village

Get your cameras ready, Rockridge is the Bay Area’s original transit village. You won’t find a TOD Master Plan or complicated redevelopment scheme here; this neighborhood has evolved organically for more than a century. Today, it is an Oakland showcase, beloved for its Craftsman bungalows, tony restaurants and food markets, funky cafes, and eclectic shops. Its main commercial street, College Avenue, is the quintessential “strolling street”. The Avenue is anchored by the California College of the Arts on the south end and the University of California (a mile beyond the city limits in Berkeley) to the north.

Rockridge takes its name from the rock outcroppings on the hilly slopes along the Hayward Fault, which runs just above the neighborhood. Much of its housing stock dates from the 1910s to the 1930s, when the area was home to several rock quarries. Construction of Highway 24 in the 1960s had a profoundly negative effect on the area, as the 10-lane freeway sliced the neighborhood in half. A decade later, the Rockridge BART station opened in the freeway median directly above College Avenue, turning a neighborhood divide into its central gathering point.

As Rockridge began to prosper, development pressures followed. In the late 1970s, Oakland adopted a special zoning district for College Avenue to preserve its eclectic charm. Strict height limits and ground floor commercial requirements were established. Neighbors formed the Rockridge Community Planning Council in 1985 to advocate for neighborhood preservation and sensible planning. Tough land use battles were fought as projects like the Dreyer’s Ice Cream corporate headquarters, the Market Hall Food Emporium, and Claremont Safeway expansion came forward. Meanwhile, the neighborhood rallied to create a new park along a daylighted creek (Frog Park) and a new public library.

This is the neighborhood to visit if you’re looking for slides for your next PowerPoint—you know, the one where you show that density is not a bad thing. Keep in mind that Rockridge has 11,000 residents in its one square mile, with almost no buildings over three stories tall.

How to get to Rockridge:

  • By bicycle: Ride up Broadway to College Avenue.
  • By bus: Take AC Transit route 51A up Broadway to College Avenue.
  • By BART: Take the Pittsburg Bay Point line from the 12th Street Station to the Rockridge Station.  It is just a 7 minute trip!
  • By car: Take Highway 24 to the Claremont Avenue exit, go left about a half mile to College Avenue.

Craftsman homes
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Outdoor dining at Crepevine
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Street life along College Avenue at Market Hall
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Shopping at Market Hall
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Guide and Photos by Barry Miller


Down and around in Uptown Oakland

Uptown, one of the thriving neighborhoods in the city, is located next to downtown in the entertainment district. It is bounded on the south by 16th Street, on the north by Grand Avenue, and on the west and east by San Pablo Avenue and Franklin Street. The main thoroughfares that connect to Uptown are Broadway, Telegraph Avenue and West Grand Avenue.

Historically, right around the late 1940s, Uptown was the main center for shopping that included major department stores such as I. Magnin, Sears, J.J. Newberry, Kahn’s and Liberty House and was also a destination area where the Fox Theater, the Paramount Theatre and smaller live-music venues provided entertainment to local and regional residents into the late hours of the night. Due to demographic changes and suburban sprawl starting between the late 1950s and early 1980s, Oakland experienced a population decline that resulted in the closure of major department stores that later were converted into office space.

In the late 1990s, the Uptown district started to transform as new residential and small-scale commercial development attracted more people and businesses in the area. Within the last few years, Uptown has become denser and more attractive due to its nightlife entertainment and is considered one of the most popular neighborhoods in Oakland and in the Bay Area.

Uptown has a rich history, a strong art scene, good stock of historic buildings, diversity, upscale restaurants and trendy bars that have raised the image of the city. As newer residential and commercial projects are being developed or are underway, Uptown looks promising and has started to attract new businesses such as tech or start-up companies.

Uptown is a great destination district for anyone who seeks to venture out and experience music and comedy shows in small scale theaters, pop-up artworks in nearby warehouses, local galleries in alleys, custom manufacturing stores and occasionally wine or beer tasting within social events.

How to get to Uptown:

  • On foot or by bicycle: Head north on Broadway or Telegraph.
  • By bus: Take the free Broadway “B” Shuttle.

Uptown nightclub
Uptown nightclub

Fox Theater
Fox Theater










View down Telegraph Avenue
Telegraph uptown

Oaksterdam at 19th Street and Broadway
Oaksterdam at 19th and Broadway

Guide and Photos by Mike Rivera


Great food, unusual shops, fun vibe, urban renewal

The Temescal district is located between 40th and 51st Streets, and Highway 24/Martin Luther King Jr Way and Broadway.  Temescal is one of Oakland’s oldest neighborhoods, established in the 1870s and annexed into Oakland in 1897.  Much of the commercial district and the nearby residential neighborhoods date back to the turn of the 20th century.  The development of Highway 24 in the 1950s divided the neighborhood and the area experienced a slow, steady decline.  Its commercial district, located on Telegraph Avenue between 48th Street and 51st Street, became more of a thoroughfare than a destination.

The neighborhood started to turn around about ten years ago.  Local merchants established a business improvement district in 2004 to make the area more attractive to businesses and residents.  Over the past decade, the Temescal district has grown into one of the most popular neighborhoods in the East Bay.  Its attractive and (relatively) affordable housing, vibrant commercial district and San Francisco-convenient location attracted young homebuyers to the area.  It has been named the best old house neighborhood in California (This Old House magazine, 2009), and the best neighborhood in the East Bay (East Bay Express Readers Poll, 2014).  It has even been written up in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

The Temescal district is now known as a trendy shopping district with an edgy quality to it.  Probably for these reasons, it is also home to Oakland’s hipster population.  It has a wide variety of restaurants, and is often compared to the Gourmet Ghetto in Berkeley. If you choose to shop, be prepared for a selection of unique businesses offering everything from clothing to vintage furniture, religious icons to games.  Within the past three years, two alleys off of 49th Street (formerly stables for horses) have been redeveloped into a mini shopping district.  If you are looking for something different, the Temescal district is the place for you.

How to get to Temescal:

  • By bus: Take AC Transit route 1 or 1R North from Broadway and 14th Street, exit Telegraph Avenue and 49th Street (15 minutes).
  • By BART and on foot: Take the Richmond or Pittsburg/Bay Point lines to the MacArthur BART Station.  Walk north along Telegraph Avenue.

Telegraph storefronts
Telegraph Temescal

Temescal Alley
Temescal alley

Guide and Photos by Beth Greene


Come taste the spice of Oakland

The Fruitvale neighborhood is located at the foot of the Oakland Hills, bounded by Interstate 880 to the south and Interstate 580 to the north.  Two main arterials bisect the neighborhood: Fruitvale Avenue runs north/south connecting the neighborhood to the Laurel and Dimond District neighborhoods to the north and Jingletown to the south. International Boulevard runs west/east connecting the neighborhood to the San Antonio and Lake Merritt neighborhoods to the west and the Coliseum neighborhood to the east.

The name Fruitvale comes from the area’s history as home to vast acres of fruit orchards. During the 1960s and 1970s this neighborhood experienced an increase in population, in particular with Latino residents, and became a center for the Chicano Movement that was taking part throughout the Southwest. Since then Fruitvale has become a Latin cultural landmark in the City.

International Boulevard is considered Fruitvale’s “main street”.  Throughout the year one can find various community festivities on this street, ranging from Cinco de Mayo and Easter in the spring, and Mexican Independence Day and Dia de Los Muertos in the fall.

Over the last few decades, the Fruitvale neighborhood has undergone many changes as redevelopment and revitalization efforts have been put in place. As mentioned above, International Boulevard has become the main stage for this neighborhood. Originally E. 14th Street, this arterial underwent rebranding and major street improvements to make it a more pedestrian friendly and welcoming corridor.

Another big change to highlight is Fruitvale Village, one of the first true transit oriented development projects in the Bay Area.  Fruitvale Village was spearheaded by the Unity Council, a local community organization.  The Fruitvale Transit Village houses a bike station, day care center, the Cesar Chavez branch of the Oakland Public Library, ARISE charter school, several retail and service businesses and residential apartments (with a percentage allocated towards affordable housing).  Across the Fruitvale Village is the Fruitvale Public Market, which complements the TOD with additional retail uses and a large public plaza where a weekly farmers market takes place.

How to get to Fruitvale:

  • By bus: AC Transit (1R, 1, 51A, 14)
  • By BART: Take the Fremont or Dublin / Pleasanton line and exit Fruitvale Station.
  • By car: Exit Fruitvale Avenue from I-880 or I-580.

Street festival
Fruitvale street festival

Street vending
street vendor 1

Street vending
street vendor 2

St. Elizabeth’s Church
St Elizabeth's Church

Guide and Photos by Cindy Ma

East Lake

Where International Boulevard Begins/Ends

The East Lake neighborhood is located east of Lake Merritt, spanning from 1st Avenue all way west towards the Fruitvale District. It is part of the San Antonio District and also known to many locals as “New Chinatown”.  This nickname can be attributed to the number of Asian grocery stories, cafes, and businesses in the area. Outside of Chinatown, come to East Lake to find what you need in way of Asian produce and items!

Primarily a commercial neighborhood, East Lake also includes a variety of other uses such as residential and institutional that make it an eclectic area. The main spine of this district is International Boulevard (formerly E. 14th Street) and 12th Street.

The East Lake neighborhood has a diverse ethnic population ranging from Asian to Latino to African American.  Walking and driving around, the neighborhood may seem like a hodge podge of uses as you will find auto shops next to hole in the wall restaurants, barber shops and grocery stores and cafes all mixed with residential in true mixed use live work conditions.

Outside the International Boulevard spine of the neighborhood are residential neighborhoods where there remains sprinkled throughout some Victorian homes on large lots that provide a glimpse into the history of the area.

How to get to East Lake:

  • By bicycle: Ride down 14th Street and follow the bike path along Lake Merritt to connect up to International Boulevard.
  • By bus: AC Transit (1R, 1, 62, 40)
  • By BART: Take the Fremont or Dublin / Pleasanton line and exit Lake Merritt Station.
  • By car: Coming from the east, exit 5th Avenue from I-880, coming from the west, exit Jackson Street from I-880. Exit Park Avenue from I-580.

Looking westward along E 12th Street
E 12th St and 5th Ave

Clinton Park
Clinton Park

International Boulevard storefront
International Blvd storefronts

East Lake street life
East Lake sidewalk

Guide and Photos by Cindy Ma

Grand Lake / Lakeshore

See where Oaklanders come together

Located on the northeast end of Lake Merritt north of Interstate 580, the Grand Lake district includes the commercial streets of Grand, Lake Park, and Lakeshore Avenues.  These streets are home to many cafes and restaurants and small shops.  Lakeshore Avenue has more chain stores interspersed with small businesses.  This neighborhood really comes alive on Saturdays with the weekly farmers market at Splash Pad Park, located along Lake Park Avenue.  Craftsman homes and some condominium and apartment buildings are nestled behind these two main streets.

How to get to Grand Lake / Lakeshore:

  • By bus: Take the AC Transit 12 route northbound on Broadway directly to the neighborhood.
  • On foot: Alternatively, this route can be a leisurely 2 mile walk along Broadway and Grand Avenue.
  • By bus: Broadway can also be traveled using the free Broadway “B” Shuttle.
  • On foot: For a more scenic route, walk toward Lake Merritt along 14th Street and follow the Necklace of Lights around the lake along Oak Street, Lakeside Drive, and Grand Avenue.

Saturday farmers market
Grand Lake farmers market


Grand Lake Theatre
Grand Lake Theatre


Arizmendi Bakery pizza special
Arizmendi pizza special


Guide and Photos by Jackie Yang