The Port of Oakland is the seat of Alameda County in west-central California. Lying on the eastern shores of San Francisco Bay, it is less than seven kilometers from the Port of San Francisco and some 375 nautical miles north of the Port of Los Angeles. The Port of Oakland is California's eighth largest city and an important port on the United States' West Coast. A busy hub for the East Bay sub-region, the Port of Oakland was home to some 397 thousand people in 2006, and it is part of the larger San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont metropolitan area that contains over four million souls.
In addition to its busy port, the Port of Oakland is home to major corporations like Kaiser Permanente, Clorox, Dreyer's, and Cost Plus World Markets. In the early 2000s, the Port of Oakland experienced a boom in land values and population. The Port of Oakland's great weather, central location, and hillside neighborhoods offered an alternative to its high cost neighbor, San Francisco. The Port of Oakland is undergoing a controversy over gentrification, and it is working hard to keep its long-time residents as developers push to displace people as they create new "village communities." Redevelopment supporters point to greater employment, better public facilities, and new affordable housing, while long-time residents worry about rising rents and home costs.
The Port of Oakland area was home to indigenous Costanoan peoples when Spaniards arrived there in the late 18th Century. Rancho San Antonio, a Spanish land grant, was established there in 1820.
In the 1940s, logging began in the Port of Oakland area, and the California Gold Rush made the town a busy center for the movement of people and goods. Mid-century, squatter Moses Chase bought farmland and began to plan the town of Clinton.
Horace Carpentier opened a ferry service across the bay from the to San Francisco in 1851 and established a town near the earlier Clinton, naming it Oakland for the trees that grew there. The Port of Oakland grew quickly and was incorporated as a city in 1854. By the early 1870s, the two towns had merged.
When the Port of Oakland was selected to be the western end of the first transcontinental railroad in 1869, the City of Oakland began to develop its port and harbor. The 1906 earthquake and fire in San Francisco created a population boom as refugees flooded the Port of Oakland.
When the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge opened in 1936 and new military bases were established in the early 1940s, the Port of Oakland underwent even greater growth. Diverse heavy industries moved to town. Many black Americans came to the Port of Oakland looking for work during World War II.
Despite decades of rapid growth, the Port of Oakland began to decline in the middle 20th Century. By 1950, the population reached a peak of 385 thousand and began to decline. The Port of Oakland was plagued with poverty and crime, and the city center fell victim to urban blight.
With a large African American population, racial tensions grew in the Port of Oakland during the United States' era of civil rights tensions and reforms. The Black Panther Party was founded in the Port of Oakland in 1966, and the city became a center for the Black Power Movement. The city gained its first black mayor in 1977.
In the 1970s, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) light rail system linked the Port of Oakland to San Francisco, and the city began to recover from its period of economic decline. Much of the inner city was refurbished and rebuilt, and dilapidated neighborhoods were improved. By the 1980s, the Port of Oakland's population had grown to the 1950s level, and it passed that level in the 1990s.
The black community in the Port of Oakland continued to be the largest single group in the city, although their population declined. The Port of Oakland's Latin American population began to grow. In 1989, a serious earthquake that damaged the Bay Bridge and the highway on the Bay created obstacles to the Port of Oakland's efforts to recover until the repairs were completed in the last years of the 20th Century.
Today's Port of Oakland has a diverse economy with an important industrial sector where light manufacturing, high technology, and food processing prevail. However, the modern and dominant forces of the Port of Oakland economy are business services, health care, and retail. The city is home to several colleges and universities.
The Port of Oakland is also home to Jack London Square, honoring the famous writer who lived there when he was a child. Located at the inner harbor of the Port of Oakland, the area contains restaurants, shops, and a bar London went to. The harbor also holds the USS Potomac, the "floating White House" used during the Franklin Roosevelt years.
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