History of Oakland, California

Step Back Through Time

When the Spanish arrived in late 18th-century Spain, the area was already inhabited by Costanoan Indians. Rancho San Antonio, a Spanish grant of land was granted to the area in 1820. The area was first settled for logging in the 1840s. It became an important transit hub during the California Gold Rush (1849). Moses Chase (a squatter) and his associates purchased land and leased it. They then built the city of Clinton, later named Brooklyn. Horace W. Carpentier established a trans-bay ferry to San Francisco in 1851. He also purchased a site to the west from Brooklyn and named it Oakland after the oak trees that dotted the plain. Carpentier, his friends extended the region and made it a city. It was incorporated in 1854 by Carpentier. Oakland and Brooklyn, separated by a slough which had been crossed in 1853. They were amalgamated in 1872.

Oakland was chosen as the Western terminus for the transcontinental railroad’s first (1869) and began building its harbour. It saw a significant increase in population after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, fire and subsequent reconstruction. San Francisco’s 13.2-mile (8.5-km) San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, which was opened in 1936 and included military and naval installations built in the 1940s, stimulated population growth. Notable during World War II was the large number of African Americans who sought work in the city’s factories.

However, by 1960 the city was already in decline. After reaching a population peak in 1950 at 385,000, the city’s population began to decline. The inner cities were plagued by crime, poverty and urban blight. Oakland’s African American population was stricken by racial tension. The revolutionary Black Panther Party, which became an influential force in Black power movements, was established in 1966. Bobby Seale was one of the members. In 1973, he lost his bid for mayor. Four years later, Lionel Wilson became Oakland’s first Black mayor.

The city was revitalized in the 1970s. This effort was aided by the 1972 completion of the Bay Area Rapid Transit, which is a light-rail connection to San Francisco. Many of the city’s core was rebuilt and many abandoned areas were revitalized over the following three decades. Oakland saw a rebound in population in 1980s, and it surpassed 1950 levels in 1990s. While African Americans were still the majority of Oakland’s population, they began to decrease in number and Hispanics made up more than half of it. Oakland’s revival was halted by a powerful earthquake on October 17, 1989. This caused major damage to the Bay Bridge, and caused part of the Bay Bridge (a large section) to fall. Repairs were made in the 1990s.

The Contemporary City

The economy of Oakland, California is highly diversified. While industry is vital (food processing and light manufacturing as well as high-tech), the majority of economic activity in Oakland is focused on services such business, transport, healthcare, and other services. Deepwater port is located on an estuary that runs between Alameda Island (on the Bay Shore) and covers 19 miles (31km) of waterfront with inner, middle and outer harbours. The bay is to the southwest from Metropolitan Oakland International Airport.