Zip Code: 94501
Even though it’s just a short journey under the water, or over the bridge, crossing into Alameda is like traveling through time. In a matter of moments, you feel as if you’re in a simpler era where calm and community preside. Alameda–which literally means “tree-lined street” is an island town that feels far away from the pressures of modern life, yet is only minutes from the best that The East Bay and San Francisco have to offer.
Don’t you worry, tho there are plenty of modern amenities in Alameda, from hot local bakeries and coffeehouses in the morning to cool bars and theaters at night. Locals flock to the Park Avenue District to visit Julie’s Coffee and Tea Garden and the Alameda Farmer’s Market on Haight and Webster. One of the many unique diversions is The Pacific Pinball Museum, where you can play classic arcade games all night long. Of course, let’s not forget the amazing waterfront and parks, plus the fact that Alameda is a paradise for both golfers and boaters alike. And, the views of San Francisco from its coastline cannot be beat.
But, what about Alameda real estate? What a lot of home buyers don’t realize is how robust the real estate market is in Alameda. Throughout market turmoil, Alameda homes have held their value well. This is due to many factors, including the great Alameda Schools, terrific architecture, diverse local businesses and especially the pride of ownership is evident throughout the community. Another interesting fact is that Alameda provides its own power, with 84% of its energy coming from renewable sources, such as geothermal, wind and solar.
To say that Alameda is a Victorian paradise would be an understatement. There are approximately 1,500 Victorian homes on the little island. We even recently saw a man casually riding his old-fashioned Victorian tricycle with a front tire that must have been over 8 feet tall! This is life in Alameda.
Even if you don’t have a giant old tricycle, there are plenty of ways to get around. Alameda is not only served by AC Transit, including the ever-popular Route 51 for a direct line through Oakland to Berkeley, but there is also ferry service across the bay to San Francisco. And, BART is a short jaunt across the channel. There are even two “casual carpool” locations to get morning commuters from home to downtown San Francisco in record time.
With this many great things going for it, Alameda is a tough place to ignore and you should do so at your own peril. Need more evidence? Okay, there is also the restored art deco movie theatre, the only Bay Area restaurant serving a menu from New Zealand, the USS Hornet, so many waterfront restaurants, the massive monthly antique and collectibles fair, and the Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge. The list goes on and on. What more could anyone want?
Zip Code: 94706
Albany is the small town that is close to everything in The East Bay. It is filled with adorable bungalows of many styles, from Mediterraneans to Macgregor split levels. And, thanks to the great schools, wonderful parks, stores and a city mission focused on maintaining that small town ambience, Albany’s real estate values have remained strong and steady through the ups and downs of the market.
Many people might know Albany from the distinctive Albany Hill, which towers over Highway 80 near the city’s Berkeley border. Don’t be alarmed, but the hill was a dynamite factory when the town was incorporated (by gun-toting women protesting Berkeley’s garbage policies!) in 1908, but today the Albany Hill is home to several residential neighborhoods and a park on its northern face full of hiking trails with great views and diverse flora and fauna. Albany has many wonderful parks, from the Ohlone Greenway to Memorial Park to the artsy Albany Bulb out by the Eastshore State Park.
With a remarkable Walkscore of 97, Albany is great for car-free living. There are many mom-and-pop stores and restaurants along Solano and San Pablo Avenues. The El Cerrito Plaza BART station is just north of town and AC Transit runs the 72 line along San Pablo Avenue. You can walk to the Albany Twin cinema and grab dinner at the acclaimed Fonda (or grab a sandwich at Zarri’s Deli, or a zesty Chile Relleno at Christopher’s Nothing Fancy Cafe). Each September, you can get out to meet your neighbors and make some new friends at the annual Solano Stroll.
With its small town vibe and old time districts, Albany is the perfect place for a retro night on the town. Start off by betting on the ponies at Golden Gate Fields, the only horse racing track in the Bay Area. Roll some strikes at Albany Bowl or end the night with some drinks and pool at the Hotsy Totsy Club.
Zip Code: 94530
Like many East Bay cities and neighborhoods, El Cerrito was founded by San Francisco residents after the 1906 earthquake. Formerly called Rust after the town’s first postmaster, the new residents voted to call it El Cerrito, which means, Little Hill. And, indeed El Cerrito has wonderful hills. The town stretches up from the commercial district along San Pablo Avenue to the hills of The Wildcat Canyon Region, where everyone can enjoy spectacular views of The Bay.
El Cerrito features simple, single family homes and condos closer to the commercial areas and larger, more modern homes up in the hills. The town is home to many people who want to live in The East Bay and enjoy all it has to offer, while living in a more affordable town. It’s also a commuters dream with a BART station at each end of town, and major bus lines running along San Pablo Avenue.
In addition to nearby Wildcat Canyon, El Cerrito is home to many local parks, including the 80-acre Hillside Natural Area, and The Ohlone Greenway, which runs along the BART tracks, providing easy trails for joggers, cyclists, dog walkers and more. Need some exercise on a rainy day? Then hit Bridges Rock Gym for some of the best indoor rock climbing in the world. Get healthy at the farmer’s market each Tuesday and Saturday at The El Cerrito Plaza.
On a musical note, The Fogerty brothers, Dan and John, started Creedence Clearwater Revival in El Cerrito. They later played the band’s final concert at an El Cerrito High reunion event.
If you’re looking for an affordable, accessible town with great arts and nature, then join the happy residents of the “little hills!”
Zip Code: 94608
The City of Emeryville is a master of reinvention, constantly adapting to the future to stay prosperous, exciting and vital. For centuries, that little stretch of land on the bay has been one of the most happening regions in the world.
No matter what you think of Emeryville, there is always a lot more going on than you can imagine. You may think of it as home to Pixar, but many other major companies are based in Emeryville, like Bayer, Leapfrog, Novartis and Peet’s Coffee. You may think of Emeryville as home to the big Ikea, but there is a lot of exciting shopping in Emeryville, such as the promenade at Bay Street, the Public Market, and many boutiques and studios. Emeryville is also emerging as a center for green technology, with many new eco-oriented companies sprouting up.
You also might think that Emeryville is just full of condos, and that would not be true either. The city is filled with many wonderful cottages, bungalows and craftsman homes built in the 1920s and 1930s. Emeryville’s housing department also runs one of the best Below Market Rate programs in the Bay Area, helping low-to-moderate earners afford their first home. Plus, the city has made a significant commitment to supporting artists and spreading public art throughout town. And, if sailing is your thing, Emeryville has one of the most modern marinas in the region.
One reason Emeryville has been so successful as a city for over 100 years is the fact that it is so convenient for commuters. It is nested between Oakland and Berkeley, so Emeryville residents get the best of three worlds. It is right on Highways 80, 580 and 24, providing easy access to San Francisco and beyond. Even better, the city runs Emery-Go-Round, a free public transit system connecting neighborhoods with shopping destinations and the nearby MacArthur BART station. Finally, the Amtrak station built in the wake of the Loma Prieta earthquake has become one of the busiest train stations in the nation.
While Emeryville’s history dates back to Native American inhabitants over 2000 years ago, the City of Emeryville keeps its vision firmly focused on the future. Who knows what might happen next? Call Emeryville home and you will be one of the first to find out!
Zip Code: 94707
With only one square mile of land and a population hovering around 5,000, you could easily pass through the tiny town of Kensington and not even know it. Nestled in the hills just northeast of Berkeley, just inside Contra Costa County, Kensington is a special little place.
Although it manages many of its own local services, such as police and parks, Kensington is technically not a town of its own, but an unincorporated “census-designated place.” Known for its collection of Nobel laureate citizens and great schools, among other things, Kensington is also well-liked for its low local taxes and assessments. Due its location and population, Kensington has many large, beautiful homes by famous architects, such as Bernard Maybeck. And, the views are to die for!
Kensington has easy access to beloved Tilden Park, but citizens also enjoy Blake Garden near the middle of town. A botanical garden, Blake Garden is the main teaching facility for the UC Berkeley landscape architecture program and is the official residence of the President of the UC System. Just want to play and picnic? Check out the Kensington Tot Lot!
With its gardens and green hills, many people compare Kensington to Ye Olde England. No wonder people love to spend time at the Circus Pub. Locals can enjoy French cuisine at Post Meridian. Do your shopping at the Colusa Market or Kensington Fine Foods. There is even a small farmer’s market on Sundays. Need a hammer or a houseplant? Drop in to Kensington Home and Hardware. And, keep up to date on all things Kensington by reading the monthly Kensington Outlook.
Zip Code: 94611
Completely surrounded geographically by the city of Oakland, Piedmont was incorporated in 1907, having grown ten times in population following the 1906 earthquake. In the 1920s, Piedmont became known as the “City of Millionaires,” and many grand mansions were built. Today, Piedmont still has many mansions and large homes, with some of the highest home prices in the Bay Area.
About 11,000 Piedmont residents enjoy the benefits of the city’s highly rated schools. Although widely regarded as one of the best school districts around, most people, nationwide know Piedmont thanks to the district’s bird calling competition. The winners of which are often featured on late night talk shows. The city also features a well-rounded adult education program, offering everything from photography and writing to French and Spanish.
In addition to fine schools, Piedmont also boasts many impressive parks. Piedmont Park is the crown jewel, with a community center, Exedra Plaza, tennis courts and a creek on 15 acres. Dracena Quarry Park has a fun “tot lot” and dog run. Coaches Field features areas for soccer and softball, plus a skate park. The city runs many after school sports and activity programs at these and other parks throughout town. Piedmont is also known for its spirited 4th of July Parade and annual Harvest Festival.
The downtown center features the popular Mulberry’s Market, and several gas stations and banks. However, most Piedmonters travel just over the border to Oakland’s Piedmont Avenue District, Grand/Lakeshore neighborhood or Rockridge for shopping and dining. For commuters, try AC Transit’s SF Express Bus or the Casual Carpool program.
Zip Code: 94577
San Leandro is a community just south of Oakland full of diverse, well-defined neighborhoods stocked with ranch-style post-war homes. The city has several adorable commercial districts along its main corridors of Estudillo, East 14th and San Leandro Boulevard, as well as vivid Spanish-style architecture for the city buildings in the center of town. Each year, San Leandro residents gather for celebrations, like the 100-year old Cherry Festival and the always popular Sausage and Suds Music Festival. And, they can enjoy the weekly Farmer’s Market each Wednesday evening.
There are many reasons people are drawn to San Leandro. The city has over 20 parks of all shapes and sizes, offering swimming pools plus fields and courts for almost every sport you can think of. The main draw is the San Leandro Shoreline Recreation Area and the San Leandro Marina, with over 450 berths, a free boat launch, two yacht clubs, and several restaurants. Just next door is the waterfront golf course at the Marina Bay Golf Club, which includes two Scottish-style links courses.
San Leandro is also an important business center. The city is home to several major corporations, including backpack maker Jansport, outdoor apparel company The North Face, and–surprise–Ghirardelli Chocolate. In addition to its downtown commercial districts, San Leandro is home to several malls, including the Marina Square outlet mall and the popular Bayfair Shopping Center. Bayfair is also home to San Leandro’s BART station, making commuting a cinch for its residents. Or, they can take AC Transit bus lines all over the East Bay.
From miles away, people can see Berkeley, thanks to the Campanile tower on the UC Berkeley campus, rising 13 stories above the city. But, to know Berkeley you have to more than look admiringly at the tower. To know Berkeley, you have walk the streets and meet the people that make Berkeley one of the most unique and exciting cities on the planet.
The campus came first, when the University of California was created in 1868. It soon became one of leading universities in the world and the flagship of the entire UC system. In addition to the traditional programs, UC Berkeley is also home to Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories, which sit on the hill above the campus doing research for the US Department of Energy. Just north of the campus is the Graduate Theological Union, an interfaith consortium of independent seminaries and theology schools.
Despite its reputation as an academic center, Berkeley does have more to offer than just dormitory housing. In fact, Berkeley has a rich architectural history, offering many homes from such important names as Julia Morgan and Bernard Maybeck. From the Arts & Crafts and Mediterranean bungalows in North Berkeley to the Craftsman homes in Elmwood, Berkeley probably has the perfect home for almost anyone. And, if you need help, the city’s terrific website offers easy-to-use guidance on almost everything, including permit histories, rent board issues, and even their unique “golden duplex” rule.
The City of Berkeley really stepped onto the world stage during the turbulent sixties and seventies, when revolutions were emanating from the town. Berkeley was the site of many anti-war, civil rights and free speech events, establishing a rich political tradition that drew a more liberal and educated populace. When not engaging in political discourse, Berkeley citizens needed food and art, so a cultural revolution was ignited. Chez Panisse changed the world of food, the late Whole Earth Access changed the way we shop, and there were bookstores on almost every corner. The cultural dominance continues, as Berkeley Rep sends show after to show to a national audience and 924 Gilman introduces new bands to the world.
When you want to return to your college days, you can always visit the street vendors on Telegraph Avenue and the hangouts on Shattuck in downtown Berkeley, or watch Cal defeat Stanford at the Big Game. And, there is a lot to do away from the campus, as well. Berkeley is home to many parks, from big Tilden Park up in the hills to the gorgeous marina and waterfront. Shop and eat your way through the day on Solano Avenue or in the Gourmet Ghetto. It is easy to get around town, using BART, AC Transit, or the city’s many bicycle pathways.
Whether you want to get an education, start a revolution or just be yourself, Berkeley has a way of life for everyone.
4th Street / Ocean View
The roots of the Fourth Street shopping area began in the mid 1960’s with a vision to develop the area into an Industrial Park; thus, a redevelopment area was declared by the City of Berkeley. The area is bound by Cedar Street, Sixth Street, University Avenue and Frontage Road. As many as eighty old homes were moved or destroyed in the process. In time, the redevelopment agency’s vision failed to attract industry. Berkeley’s business image was so tarnished during the ’60’s by the endless news accounts of political turmoil and activism that businesses just passed on Berkeley’s new industrial park.
For over 15 years, nothing happened. However, many businesses thrived within and around the Fourth Street area for decades and continue to do so now. Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto has served the public for almost 100 years. Truitt & White Lumber Company has been in business for over 60 years and Brennan’s is still famous for it’s Irish Coffee.
By 1976 there was a request to development a small parcel on Fourth Street. Abrams/Millikan & Kent, a small design firm, proposed a concept of a Building Design Center – a place to cater to home owners. The businesses specialized in furniture, stained glass, solar power, hot tubs, lighting, textiles and interior design. Along with the craft shops a few restaurants opened and by 1981 a shopping neighborhood, with a regional clientele, was born. Meanwhile, apartments were being built and the surrounding neighborhoods thrived.
When you live in the hills above the Claremont Resort and Spa, it’s not so easy to answer the simple question “Where do you live?” Most of the addresses are technically in Oakland and pay Oakland taxes, but have Berkeley mailing addresses. One answer is to say you live in Claremont/Uplands, and leave it at that. Another option is to say, “I live in one of the best neighborhoods in the East Bay!”
The Claremont/Uplands neighborhood is full of wooded hills and pathways, perfect for discovering terrific views of The Bay while getting a nice aerobic workout. Tilden Park’s southern tip is at the top of the hill. This area was greatly affected by the 1991 Oakland Hills firestorm, and the neighborhood is very vigilant about fire prevention. Since that event, a wide variety of custom-made contemporary architecture has sprung up, making it a mecca for modernist architecture buffs.
Of course, the iconic landmark of the neighborhood is the Claremont Resort and Spa, which opened in 1915 and enjoyed a colorful history. Yes, the property has changed owners, thanks to a high-stakes checkers game, and yes, a female UC student earned free drinks for life after proving the bar was outside of an alcohol-free zone in 1936. Thanks to the efforts of both, you can enjoy drinks with spectacular views at The Meritage Restaurant. When not tipping over, you can work-up a sweat at Berkeley Tennis Club and cool down with some of the Claremont’s legendary spa services.
Claremont/Uplands is one of those terrific neighborhoods that feel so far from the world, yet still close to everything. At the bottom of the hill’ you’ll find two delightful commercial districts. Just outside the Claremont Resort, there is a triangle of shops, including the delicious Rick & Ann’s Restaurant, Left Coast Cyclery, and several unique boutiques. Just down Claremont Avenue, Star Grocery anchors a number of interesting shops, including Afikomen, and Dark Carnival Bookstore. Rockridge and Elmwood are also just minutes away. Or, you can sneak over the hill to visit Orinda quite easily.
Even though it seems so far, commuting is a cinch. There is quick and easy access to highway 24 by driving up Tunnel Road, zooming down Claremont Avenue, or even winding over Fish Ranch. Rockridge Bart is at the bottom of the hill, and there are several “casual carpool” locations nearby. Get away from it all the blink of an eye by calling Claremont/Uplands home.
Suppose you are looking for a home and cannot decide between Oakland’s Rockridge District and Berkeley. Well, the perfect compromise is Elmwood, nestled in a corner of Berkeley, just past Rockridge. Also situated around College Avenue, Elmwood has a similar feel to Rockridge, but with all the trappings and history of Berkeley.
Bounded by Telegraph to the west and the Claremont resort to the East, The Elmwood district is home to some of the most desirable real estate in the East Bay. Many of the homeowners have deep roots in the neighborhood, and new listings in the neighborhood seem a bit more rare in Elmwood than surrounding neighborhoods. In addition to the traditional East Bay Craftsman, you will also see arts and crafts style homes and classic brown shingles, along with a sprinkling of Victorians.
The neighborhood has some impressive culture to the enjoyed. The Julia Morgan Theater, which started life as a church, was Ms. Morgan’s first East Bay commission. The structure is now a popular theater that is home to several local theatre troupes. The Magnes Museum on Russell Avenue is dedicated to the collection and preservation of the Jewish experience, especially in the American West. And, if you just want to catch a flick, there is the recently renovated Elmwood Theatre. For books, check out Mrs. Dalloway’s Bookstore or maybe even the branch library.
The Elmwood district offers so many sumptuous options for eating that we often don’t know where to start or when to stop! One could have breakfast at Dream Fluff donuts and Espresso Roma, then have a mid morning snack at the Nabolom Bakery collective. We might have to eat two lunches so that we can compare the contested burritos at both Gordo Taqueria and La Cascada. Afternoon snacks at La Mediterranee would be great, followed by dinner at King Yen or perhaps Fillippo’s. And, everyone in Elmwood knows that dessert has to be the unique ice cream offerings at Ici, whether you are in the mood for vanilla, peach habenero sorbet, or sweet corn ice cream.
Keep going up College north from Elmwood, and you will pass Willard Park and end up at UC Berkeley. But, with all this to offer, why would you ever need to leave Elmwood?
North Berkeley / Gourmet Ghetto
When most people think of North Berkeley, aka Gourmet Ghetto, they think of just one thing: Chez Panisse. Alice Waters started a revolution almost 40 years ago at 1517 Shattuck Avenue, but if you are only thinking about Chez Panisse, then you are missing out on so much more in this vibrant neighborhood.
North Berkeley isn’t nicknamed Gourmet Ghetto just for one restaurant! There is the original Peet’s Coffee on the corner of Vine and Walnut. And, how about those lines at The Cheeseboard Collective? And so many great little places, like Soop and the specialty food stands at the Epicurious Garden. You can just go shopping at Andronico’s or the Farmer’s Market and make your own gourmet meal. Still can’t decide? Sample it all the annual Spice of Life Festival.
One can’t live on the finest foods available, so you need to go move those muscles. Romp and play and sweat at nearby Codornices Park or hike your way up the hill to the expansive Tilden Park, which has something for everyone. With a neighborhood WalkScore of 94, North Berkeley gives you plenty of reasons to get those legs moving.
The North Berkeley neighborhood, which sits just north of the UC Berkeley campus, has long attracted professors, administrators and students from the campus, as well as the Graduate Theological Union, which is also in the district. The area is populated with many Arts & Crafts homes. With its easy commute options, from the North Berkeley BART station to several key AC Transit bus lines, North Berkeley is also home to all kinds of professionals looking for a wonderful neighborhood close to everything they need, such as world class restaurants like Chez Panisse.
The Northbrae neighborhood made the American Planning Association’s list of Great Places to live in America in 2011. This may have been due to the views of the San Francisco Bay, mixed land use and Eco-conscious design. Northbrae was designed as a residential park and is nestled into the Berkeley hillside, protected from the heat of summer and cold winters. This area features beautiful views of The Bay, five rock gardens and a natural landscape that flows with its surroundings.
The homes in Northbrae range from period revival to Craftsman bungalows. It is an active community with many gathering spots for residents, including; Peralta Community Garden and Cedar Rose Park. There are public tennis courts, a swimming pool and a branch library housed in a Julia Morgan building.
When people say that Berkeley’s Thousand Oaks district rocks, they really mean it rocks. The neighborhood was planned over one hundred years ago around the natural geographic features and rock outcroppings of the neighborhood. To live in Thousand Oaks is to enjoy a calming blend of nature and modern conveniences in an active community.
The best place to experience how Thousand Oaks rocks is at Indian Rock Park, just above Arlington Avenue. There, residents can scramble and climb over the large boulders, and even try some amateur rock climbing. At day’s end, enjoy the setting sun and relax to the grand views of the bay from atop the rocks. On nearby Indian Trail, you can see the last remaining decorative urns, dozens of which used to populate the Thousand Oaks district.
In addition to the natural beauty of the rocks, Thousand Oaks is home to some beautiful architecture. The neighborhood is filled with Craftsman and Spanish-style bungalows. The neighbors have banded together to form a very active community group that supports local businesses and raises money to preserve the urns, among other activities.
The major local event is the annual Solano Avenue Stroll, along the neighborhood’s main commercial district. The neighborhood is anchored by two long-standing beloved institutions: The Oaks Theatre, a pristine art-moderne cinema built in 1925. Solano Avenue is filled with many top-ranked restaurants and local businesses, where Thousand Oaks residents congregate and socialize.
Westbrae is in the northern part of Berkeley centered at the intersection of Santa Fe Avenue and Gilman Street. The neighborhood is mainly residential, with a small commercial section along Gilman. In the past, businesses consisted of liquor and grocery stores, but now there are small restaurants, a natural food store, bakeries and a nursery. The elevated tracks of the BART Richmond line cut diagonally across Westbrae, crossing over Gilman in the commercial section. Until 1979, the tracks of the Santa Fe railroad ran beside where the BART elevated and underground lines are today. The Ohlone Greenway, a bicycle and pedestrian path, follows the old right-of-way.
There are so very many reasons to love Oakland! Where do we start? There is the culture and diversity, the climate, the history, the industry and the geography. Everyone has there own reasons to “hella love” Oakland. What will yours be?
Oakland began its rise into prominence in the 1800s, when it was a vital provider of timber and agriculture for the entire Bay Area. The city exploded after San Francisco residents moved in after the 1906 earthquake and fire. Throughout the 1900s, Oakland grew substantially as it became a major industrial center, thanks to World War II and Oakland’s large port. The city was transformed once again by the double whammy of the Loma Prieta earthquake and Oakland Hills firestorm. Today, Oakland is a constantly evolving and vibrant major city, home to over 400,000 people.
Centered around Lake Merritt, Oakland offers many different neighborhoods, from the hip urban life of Jack London Square and Uptown, to the craftsmen homes of Rockridge, to the charming bungalows of Glenview and Laurel, and to the architecturally impressive houses in Crocker Highlands and throughout the Oakland Hills. The City of Oakland also offers a variety of homebuyer assistance programs, especially for first time homebuyers.
Located so centrally in the Bay Area, Oakland is a commuter’s paradise, with BART and several major highways taking you anywhere you need to be, plus AC Transit to get you across town. The clever “casual carpool” program has pick-up spots in almost every part of Oakland. Need to escape? Be at the easy and convenient Oakland Airport in minutes. Or, just stay home, since most neighborhoods offer a broad choice of parks, activities, local stores, restaurants and farmers markets.
Oakland is full of so many things to do that many new residents are surprised how little they frequent that big city across the bay after settling into Oakland. In addition to Lake Merritt, there are dozens of parks throughout town and community gardens run by the city. Visit the Oakland Zoo, which is well known for its emphasis on natural habitats. No matter what your favorite sport is, there are teams to cheer, from the Oakland A’s, Raiders to the Golden State Warriors. See the inspiration for the happiest place on earth at Children’s Fairyland, or create a fun educational experience at the Chabot Science Center. Take advantage of Oakland’s thriving music scene at Yoshi’s, or the newly renovated Fox Theatre. In addition to countless venues featuring up-and-coming musicians, Oakland is also home to a burgeoning restaurant scene drawing foodies from all corners of The Bay AreaMake Oakland your home and you’ll soon realize how much “there” there is in Oakland. You are bound to “hecka love” Oakland, too.
For the full Lake Merritt experience, the neighborhood to live in is Adams Point, a wonderful community on the gentle hill north of the lake. From there, residents can easily enjoy everything Lake Merritt has to offer, and so much more.
Of course, you can walk the full 3.3 miles (5K) around the lake, which is the nation’s oldest wildlife refuge, but most of the action is on the Adams Point section of the lake. There you’ll find Lakeside Park, the recently refurbished Lake Merritt Boating Center and Children’s Fairyland. The Lakeside Park features picnic spots and jogging paths, along with a science center dedicated to wildlife preservation efforts. The boating center offers sailing and a variety of different boating classes, plus rentals of all kinds. And, of course, Children’s Fairyland was visited once, many years ago by a man called Walt Disney, who was inspired to open a little park of his own.
Adams Point is also a haven for lovers of organic food. The Saturday farmer’s market on the east end of the neighborhood, and Whole Foods Market to the west end, make preparing fresh meals easy. Don’t want to cook? Check out the longtime favorite Zza’s Trattoria right there on Grand. With its close proximity to Uptown, Downtown, Lakeshore and Piedmont Avenues, everything you need is minutes away.
The Adams Point neighborhood is filled with wonderful art deco apartment and condo buildings and many single family homes. The Bellevue Club is an excellent example of the neighborhood, featuring a restaurant and boutique hotel.
Transportation in the neighborhood is a snap, with many options (though the boats are restricted to the lake!) Zip into San Francisco for work using the “casual carpool” or walk to any of the downtown BART stations. There is quick easy access to highways 580, 880 and 24, plus many AC Transit options, including a transbay express bus.
From Lake Merritt to great architecture, Adams Point has always been a great Oakland neighborhood to live in.
Oakland’s Chinatown is a bustling center of activity, the open-air markets display everything from live fish to imported ceramics. In just sixteen square blocks, visitors can explore the offerings of much of Asia. Visitors to this downtown neighborhood will find dozens of fascinating, eclectic stores that carry fresh, high-quality produce, live seafood, healing herbs, and a plethora of retail goods – everything from chopsticks and stress relievers to fine china and porcelain.
The hub of Chinatown is the Pacific Renaissance Plaza, a multi-storied residential and commercial complex, housing an underground parking garage and two levels of shops and restaurants. You’ll also find, The Oakland Asian Cultural Center and the Asian branch of The Oakland Public Library.
Despite its name, Chinatown is home not only to ethnic Chinese. Its businesses and residents hail from all corners of Asia with the majority from Vietnam and Korea, as well as China. In recent years, the area has developed more cultural offerings for visitors and residents, from food to shops to services.
Chinatown’s proximity to Downtown Oakland, Old Oakland, Jack London Square and Lake Merritt make it an exciting and convenient place to live.
Crocker Highlands has long been one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Oakland. Beloved for its gorgeous homes, winding laurel-lined streets and excellent public school, Crocker Highlands is a great example of the best that Oakland has to offer.
Also known as Trestle Glen, due to the streetcars that used to run through the neighborhood many decades ago, Crocker Highlands retains its beauty and order due to the Lakeshore Homes Association, the second oldest neighborhood group west of the Mississippi. The community is filled with impressive Craftsman homes, cute Tudors, Prairie-style houses, and Mediterranean estates.
A great way to learn about the homes and history of Crocker Highlands, which was once called Indian Gulch since the area was cultivated by the Ohlone tribe, is to take the annual Shades of Green tour, which benefits the neighborhood’s Crocker Highlands Elementary School. When not relaxing or entertaining at home, Crocker Highlands commuters can use the “casual carpool” system, hop on Highway 580, or take AC Transit to the downtown BART stations.
Crocker Highlands is conveniently close to town of Piedmont, the Lakeshore shopping district and Glenview. Just the other side of Longridge columns lies the Lakeshore district, which includes a new Trader Joe’s, as well as local favorite Arizmendi Bakery, good ole Spettro, and Lanesplitter Pizza.
Claremont Pines is located just above Lower Rockridge and adjacent to the Claremont Country Club. The neighborhood features beautiful homes with well-manicured landscapes. Many of the properties have stunning views of The San Francisco Bay, as well. It is one of the most exquisite neighborhoods in Oakland, and the entire Bay Area.
Claremont Pines is a short drive from the Rockridge shopping district where you’ll find restaurants, shops, cafe’s and more. It’s hillside location offers short jaunts to hiking trails and sits near The Temescal Regional Recreation Area which boasts a small, swimmable lake and lovely surrounding park, perfect for a picnic or a day of lounging in the beautiful California sunshine.
The Dimond District (pronounced ˈdaɪ-mənd) is a neighborhood centered on the intersection of MacArthur Blvd and Fruitvale Avenue in Oakland. It is located about two miles east of Lake Merritt where the hills meet the flatlands. It’s a unique melting pot of cultures and people. An area with a number of points of interest. The hub is where you’ll find Farmer Joe’s Market, Peet’s Coffee and LaFarine Bakery. There is a branch of the Oakland Public Library and other conveniences; several banks, shops, restaurants and cafe’s. The Dimond Recreation Center is a popular spot. They have a large swimming pool, access to hiking trails and picnic and BBQ areas. They also have an on-site preschool and offer programs for school children.
The Dimond District is located near the 580 freeway, giving you easy access to Downtown Oakland, San Francisco, Emeryville and beyond.
Dogtown is a neighborhood in West Oakland. The boundaries and source of the name are in dispute. Most say the name came from dogs guarding junkyards in the neighborhood, suggesting there were more dogs than people. Others say cops dubbed it Dogtown because of the sheer numbers of stray pooches roaming the ‘hood. A third opinion for the name, “Dogtown” was that it started in the late 60s. Apparently, two young men who often played basketball in the neighborhood would know when it was dinner time when the dogs started to take over the streets. Everyone put their dog out during dinner so that they wouldn’t beg and as a result, around dinner time, it became “Dogtown time.”
The boundaries are also in dispute. Some say the neighborhood is bounded by 34th, Hollis and 32nd Streets and Mandela Parkway. Other say the northern boundary is the MacArthur Freeway, the eastern boundary is Adeline Street, and the southern boundary is 28th Street.
Several developers have come to Dogtown and built new, contemporary homes and lofts. Others have refurbished older homes. Known as a hip and diverse place to live, you’ll be very centrally located near Emeryville, Downtown Oakland and freeways that will take you all over The Bay Area.
Downtown Oakland is easily thought of as three distinct districts: Jack London Square, Chinatown and Old Oakland. But venture north of 12th Street around City Center and you have definitely gone Uptown. Stay downtown and enjoy one of the most diverse regions in all of Oakland.
Historic Jack London Square is home to a thriving dining and entertainment district, which only promises to get better with the opening of the Jack London Market Hall in Spring 2010. Among the hip work-live loft and condo projects throughout the neighborhood, you will find some of the most acclaimed new restaurants in the East Bay, such as Chop Bar, alongside old favorites like Kincaid’s and Yoshi’s jazz club. Foodies from all over throng to the large farmer’s market held each Sunday, and everyone enjoys the annual Art & Soul Festival. With an excellent WalkScore rating of 95, commuters love Jack London Square for its ferry to San Francisco and close proximity to two BART stations.
You will find Chinatown just other side of highway 880 and south of Broadway. The neighborhood saw its first Chinese immigrants in the 1850s, and has grown to be one of the largest Chinatown districts in North America. Today, Chinatown is also home to residents of all Asian ancestries, as well as people from all over the world. Amongst the condo buildings and detached Victorians, you will find a plethora of Asian boutiques and restaurants in Chinatown, which is also a major destination for lovers of dim sum. The southern end of the neighborhood is home to Laney College, and the Asian Branch Library holds an enormous collection of Asian language texts and media. Chinatown is also book-ended by two easily accessible BART stations, giving the district an amazing WalkScore of 97. That makes it quite easy to visit for the annual StreetFest and Lunar New Year Bazaar.
Cross Broadway and you will end up in Old Oakland, which was the main downtown district in the early 1900s and the terminus of the Central Pacific Railroad’s intercontinental line. Old Oakland is a dream district for lovers of Victorian architecture, especially the group of homes in Preservation Park. It is also a great place to shop for international and ethnic food, from Ratto’s Deli and the venerable Housewives Market to the weekly farmer’s market. Old Oakland is also home to several favorite restaurants of Oaklanders old and young: Le Cheval and Mexicali Rose. You can even stay in the neighborhood for your arts and culture by visiting the Oakland Library’s Bookmark Bookstore, The Museum of Children’s Art, or grab a rare ale at The Trappist. And, if for some reason you need to leave Old Oakland, the 12th Street BART station is right there, or you can stroll over to ferry from Jack London Square to San Francisco.
The town of Elmhurst was incorporated into The City of Oakland on December 8, 1909. Elmhurst is a large district in East Oakland, on the border of San Leandro.
A mostly flat area and a little further from Downtown, Elmhurst was cheaper than in other parts of Oakland, allowing workers in Oakland’s canneries and factories the ability to enter into the middle class and live in a more suburban environment. During WWII, Elmhurst expanded as the population of workers moving to Oakland grew. Brookfield Village (west of the railroad tracks at 98th Ave) was developed in WWII as a planned community for defense workers. It included a shopping center, schools and a park in addition to housing.
From the ’40s to the ’60s, Elmhurst was home to many canneries, glass manufacturing plants, and die-casting businesses. After WWII, many of these plants closed or relocated to cheaper areas, resulting in significant unemployment in the area.
From the ’60s to the ’80s, many residents from West Oakland who were displaced by Urban Renewal Projects (such as the Main Post Office and Grove Shafter Freeway) moved to Elmhurst. This increased the area’s African American population. The area has a number of neighborhoods with close-knit communities.
Many grassroots groups such as Beautiful Elmhurst Development, Urban Housing Institute of Oakland, East Oakland Community Corporation, East Oakland Youth Development Center, Allen Temple, Center of Hope, and others have organized residents to lobby for change from the City and County while offering services for community members.
The Latino population grew in Elmhurst from the late ’80s and continued into 2000. Latinos leaving the Fruitvale District or central part of East Oakland began moving to Elmhurst. Recent Immigrants from Mexico and Central America also began moving here. Today half of Elmhurst’s population is Latino.
Oakland’s Fruitvale district, named for the apricot and cherry orchards that filled the region in the 1800’s, is one of the city’s oldest and most diverse neighborhoods.
Laid out along the eastern side of Highway 580 between Fruitvale Avenue and 35th, the Fruitvale district is anchored by the Fruitvale BART station and the transit village that has flourished around it. The transit village includes condos with dozens of local businesses, all within a convenient distance of the BART station. The newest addition to the neighborhood is the Plaza Del Sol marketplace, where you can get great local food or arts and crafts.
Fruitvale originally exploded as a neighborhood after the 1906 earthquake, which sent San Franciscans across the bay in search of new homes. Oakland’s Latino and Asian communities have deep roots in the Fruitvale district, and are well represented by the active Unity Council. The district has recently seen an influx of artists and those in search of an affordable bohemian-style lifestyle. In addition to the Transit Village condos, there are warehouse style lofts and charming bungalows from the 1920 and 1930’s throughout the neighborhood.
Fruitvale residents come out in force for the many events in the neighborhood. The Cinco De Mayo parade is one of the biggest celebrations of Latino culture in the Bay Area each year, as is the annual Dia De Los Muertos festival on November 1st. On a weekly basis, you can hit the Farmer’s Market, especially if you are in search of those apricots and cherries of yesteryear!
With the diverse cultures and proximity to great public transportation, Fruitvale is a very fruitful place to live!
When people use the words “charming” and “Oakland” in the same sentence, they are probably talking about Glenview, a neighborhood with a vibrant past, a thriving present, and a brilliant future.
The Glenview neighborhood was once ranchland at the turn of the last century, before becoming a mid-century “streetcar suburb”—cozy homes close to transit lines. At that time, the Glenview, Oakland neighborhood was known as Fourth Avenue Heights, but the district evolved as the transit systems changed (Goodbye Streetcars! Hello BART!).
The neighborhood is full of cute bungalows, many of them restored by loving homeowners. And there is still great transit in the neighborhood, with the AC Transit 18 line taking passengers from Montclair, through Glenview, to downtown Oakland and Berkeley. And, Fruitvale BART is nearby, plus the Casual Carpool program. WalkScore.com proclaims Glenview a “very walkable” neighborhood, perhaps because the several surprising off-street pedestrian paths, like Elsinore Walk, providing shortcuts and fun discoveries.
The district’s main thoroughfare is Park Boulevard, which also serves as the northern boundary, with Highway 580 to the west, the Leimert bridge to the East, and Fruitvale and Lyman to the South. The Sausal Creek also runs through the area on its way from the Oakland Hills down to the Bay. Get a good look at the creek from Dimond Park.
Glenview’s future may include being Oakland’s new “Gourmet Ghetto,” as new restaurants along Park Blvd. garner growing accolades from food critics. The pizzeria Marzano is the hot new kid on the block, but you will also find plenty of great food at Bellanico, the Blackberry Bistro, and the Thai restaurant Banana Blossom. All the goods and services you need can be found along the 1920’s style commercial district along Park.
The Golden Gate District in North Oakland welcomes nearby neighbors from Berkeley and Emeryville with a shining example of the best this city has to offer. Anchored by the architecturally impressive Golden Gate Library, this Oakland neighborhood proudly shows off its eclectic diversity.
Stretched along San Pablo Avenue, connecting Emeryville and Berkeley, the Golden Gate District is full of classic Victorians, Craftsmans and bungalows from the early 1900s. Back then, the area was a town called Klinknerville, before becoming the town of Golden Gate, which was annexed by Oakland. And, the Golden Gate Library has stood impressively through all those changes. Originally established in 1899, the current branch was built back in 1918 with funding from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation. Its remarkable Georgian Revival style has drawn in readers and neighbors for nearly 100 years. The library is a true community center, offering many services and events and serving as a meeting place for the many residents of the neighborhood.
The San Pablo commercial area between 53rd Street and 67th Street is designated by colorful concrete pylons welcoming you to the Golden Gate District. The neighborhood’s diversity is reflected by longtime businesses like Amber Flooring alongside a variety of yoga and meditation studios. And, if you need your motorcycle worked on while getting a tattoo and gorging on all-you-can-eat waffles, then Godspeed is the place for you.
The Golden Gate District is a great location for commuters, with its easy access to highways 80, 580 and 24, plus close proximity to the MacArthur BART station. AC Transit Line 72 will whisk you up and down San Pablo Avenue. And, if you just need to get around Emeryville, then hop on the Emery-Go-Round.
As it continues to grow and evolve, the Golden Gate District certainly appears to have a golden future.
Just East of the venerable Lake Merritt lays the popular Grand/Lakeshore district, where Grand Avenue and Lakeshore Avenue almost come together, each offering dozens of dining, shopping and entertainment options. The neighborhood is at the center of many East Bay neighborhoods, including Crocker Highlands, Adams Point, and the City of Piedmont.
The anchor of the neighborhood is the Grand Lake Theatre, standing tall over the neighborhood for over 80 years with its eye-catching illuminated sign. The theatre’s large main auditorium features a mighty Wurlitzer organ and shows an eclectic mix of popular and independent films. With three smaller screens in the building, there is always something for everyone to see at the Grand Lake. On Saturday’s you can also find the Lake Merritt Farmer’s Market just across from the theatre at Splash Pad Park.
In addition to the Grand Lake Theatre, there are many unique Oakland businesses along Grand Avenue, many of which have been in the neighborhood for decades. Want to read the book that movie was based on? Stop in to Walden Pond Books. Grab a great breakfast at Lynn and Lu’s Escapade Café or just a nosh at the Grand Bakery. Get a head start on that home improvement project at the always-helpful Ace Hardware. Fine dining on Grand Avenue can be found at Camino. And, end the night at The Alley, especially if good ole Rod Dibble is tickling the ivories.
Around the bend lies the Lakeshore district, which includes a new Trader Joe’s, as well as local favorite Arizmendi Bakery, L’Amyx Tea Bar, spicy Italian pizza joint Spettro, and hip newcomer Lanesplitter Pizza.
And, of course, just the other side of Highway 580, is Lake Merritt itself. You can walk the full 3.4 miles around the lake, which is the nation’s oldest wildlife refuge. Lakeside Park features picnic spots and jogging paths, along with a science center dedicated to wildlife preservation efforts. The boating center offers sailing classes and rentals of all kinds. And, of course, Children’s Fairyland was visited once many years ago by a man named Walt Disney, who was inspired to open a little park of his own.
Transportation in the neighborhood is a snap, with many options. Zip into San Francisco for work using the “casual carpool” or just head over to the downtown BART stations. There is quick easy access to highways 580 and 24, plus many AC Transit options, including a transbay express bus.
Haddon Hill is a neighborhood within Cleveland Heights. It began as an exclusive development by Wickham Havens, Inc. It is home to the Haddon Hill Stairs and various large, luxurious houses including the Kaiser House. Many of the lots in the area are unusually wide and shallow; this was by design: “This is in accord with the new theory of the proper arrangement of home parks.”
Haddon Hill is positioned just above Lake Merritt with many homes offering charming views of Oakland’s jewel. There is easy access to walk to the lake’s side and enjoy it’s many parks and bird sanctuary.
The Lakeshore shopping district is moments away and you’ll find everything from a super market, coffee shops, local boutiques to the Saturday Farmer’s market.
Great location close to Downtown, Uptown, freeways and BART.
Hiller Highlands was begun as a project by inventor Stanley Hiller, Sr. In the 1950’s Hiller divided his hillside property into 27 lots with underground utilities. P. G. & E. refused to connect utilities to the lots so Hiller was unable to sell them until 1963.
The Hiller Highlands Homes Association was incorporated in 1960 with the first 27 houses. The entire Hiller Highlands neighborhood was destroyed by the Oakland Firestorm of 1991 in a matter of minutes, and the neighborhood was somewhat reshaped when the town homes were rebuilt after the fire.
The homes in Hiller Highlands are mostly constructed after the fire. Many are designed in contemporary style, and some are rather extravagant.
Idora Park was a 17.5-acre Victorian era trolley park in North Oakland constructed in 1904 on the site of an informal park setting called Ayala Park on the north banks of Temescal Creek. What began as a pleasure ground in a rural setting for Sunday picnics evolved over time into the finest amusement park in the East Bay. The popularity of the park declined after the advent of the automobile and in 1929, Idora Park was razed.
Jingletown is a pocket arts community adjacent to the Oakland Estuary, bounded by the Park Street and Fruitvale Bridges which connect Oakland to the City of Alameda. Jingle town is part of Fruitvale (formerly, Brays and Fruit Vale) in East Oakland. Many working artists live in the converted lofts predominating the area.
Jingletown is thriving. It’s one of the fastest growing arts districts in the San Francisco Bay Area. An organization called the Jingletown Arts & Business Community (JABC) represents the art community here. In 2003 a building boom began in Jingletown, with several local developers building about 150 condos, lofts and town homes near the Estuary waterfront. The neighborhood is home to the Institute of Mosaic Art, too and a variety of mosaics can be seen on buildings throughout the neighborhood. Jingletown is also the location of Green Day’s JingleTown Recording.
Lake Merritt is a large tidal lagoon in the center of Oakland, just east of Downtown. Yes, it’s actually a lagoon! It is surrounded by parkland and city neighborhoods and is historically significant as the United States’ first official wildlife refuge, designated in 1870. It has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1966. The lake features grassy shores, artificial islands intended as bird refuges, The Rotary Nature Center, the newly remodeled boating center where you can rent sailboats, canoes and rowboats, and Children’s Fairyland. A popular walking and jogging path runs along its perimeter. Lake Merritt and its was recently refurbished by the The City of Oakland.
The lake has many picnic spots and several parks along its banks. Along with a exercise spots, The Cleveland Cascade, a new amphitheater and The Lake Chalet Restaurant.
The Laurel District, just east of highway 580 between High Street and 35th, is one of the most neighborly and involved communities you will find in Oakland. This thriving neighborhood is filled with many locally-owned businesses and active community groups. The neighborhood is full of longtime residents and first-time homeowners alike, all making their cottage-style homes beautiful on streets lined with laurel trees, naturally. Just look for the Laurel arch on MacArthur, and you will be in the center of all the activity.
Every August, the Laurel District Association puts on the Laurel Street Fair, filled with music, food and fun for all ages. The Association also organizes and promotes the many local businesses, including making sure the main streets look great for visitors and passers-by. The Laurel Village Association has many projects, from music festivals to environmental enhancements to the neighborhood. And, of course, there is an active Yahoo! community group with over 600 members.
In addition to the weekly farmer’s market, there are many beloved local stores, such as Farmer Joe’s, the Laurel Book Store, World Ground Café, and Africa By the Bay. Mills College is also nearby, just on the other side of the highway. If you need wander farther for your shopping and restaurant outings, just hop on the 580 or 13 to get to Montlcair, Glenview, or Rockridge. There is Casual Carpool for commuters, and easy access to Fruitvale BART.
There is so much happening in the Laurel District you regularly read the MacArthur Metro newspaper, which has been growing strong for over 20 years!
Maxwell Park is one of the most architecturally diverse neighborhoods in Oakland. The community was created in the 1920s, just west of Mills College below Highway 580. The architecture is a charming mix of period bungalows and single-family homes with old world touches. But, there is a wide mix of architectural styles, thanks to developer John Maxwell’s mandate that the new homes “must bear the stamp of artistic individuality.” Additionally, thanks to the rolling hills, many of the homes have beautiful views of the bay.
Maxwell Park is also a very motivated and organized community, thanks to the Maxwell Park Neighborhood Council. The group organizes beautification projects, neighborhood walks, the annual Day in the Park Festival. The helpful website also has everything you need to know about the neighborhood, along with great article about the history of Maxwell Park.
In addition to being so close to Mills College, Maxwell Park is also convenient to the Fruitvale, Laurel, and Glenview districts for great restaurants and shopping. AC Transit Line 14 will take you right to Fruitvale BART for easy commuting. And, if your commute takes you up in the air, Oakland Airport is just minutes away.
One of the more colorful parts of Maxwell Park history is the fact that martial arts superstar Bruce Lee called the neighborhood home for a couple of years in the 1960s. He lived on Monticello Avenue with his family and ran a martial arts school with his partner, where they developed the Jeet Kune Do style that made him famous.
Millsmont was originally a bedroom, almost resort community around the turn of the century. Millsmont was built up as a place to get away from the faster pace of San Francisco. Being heavily wooded, it was ideal to buy land to escape to on the weekends. Quarter-acre plots were available, including building plans and materials. Four standard plans were used to build quaint, one-bedroom dwellings. An original, unaltered house may be seen on the NE corner of Edgemoor and Sunnymere. Many Millsmont homes have panoramic views to Alameda and San Francisco to the west and the Oakland hills to the east.
After the earthquake of 1906, many individuals who had been left homeless and penniless settled in their small properties in the Millsmont neighborhood. Additions were built, and the landscape gradually changed.
Today, Millsmont is an eclectic neighborhood, with first-time homeowners; older, established residents (a significant number of families having owned their homes for over 40 years); and students and faculty/staff associated with Mills College
Montclair is such an escape from the regular world, with its rustic village setting up in the woods above Highway 13, that you might think you are living in the Sierras or near the banks of Lake Tahoe. But, you are only minutes from the urban excitement of Oakland and San Francisco.
What is now Montclair was once a logging community. In fact, Thornill Road, the neighborhood’s main street taking you up to the hilltops, was once a major logging channel. Because of its mountainous feel, Montclair is reminiscent of an old European village out of a fairy tale. Just look at the firehouse, designed by Julia Morgan to look like a storybook house, with faux snow on its rooftop. This “Hansel and Gretel” style of home can be found throughout the district, along with more modern and eclectic architecture.
Montclair is centered around the Montclair shopping district, which sits mostly along Mountain Boulevard just above Highway 13. There are many mom-and-pop stores and services here, like Montclair Village Hardware (since 1948), Raimondi’s Paint (since 1954). Ken Betts auto repair (circa 1970s) and Le Bonbon Chocolates (since 1977). Plus the restaurants in Montclair will take you around the world, from the US (Crogan’s) to Mexico (El Agavero) to India (Flavors) to Japan (Toshi Sushi) and the best of Europe (Montclair Bistro).
Given the neighborhood’s strong sense of community, it is no surprise that there are many events to enjoy. There is a farmer’s market each Sunday and arts festivals throughout the year. The big event is the annual Montclair Wine and Jazz Festival each September. There are also many parks to enjoy and the nearby Chabot Space and Science Center, a local observatory and science education center for over 125 years!
While it may sound far, Montclair is actually quite convenient to the Rockridge BART station and many highways, plus AC Transit line 689 will whisk you almost anywhere. And, Walkscore.com calls Montclair Village “Very Walkable” But, with so much to offer, your Montclair Village home may also be your mountain vacation getaway!
People are keenly interested in making sure their neighborhood has a name. But what about those streets that could be Rockridge or Temescal? Try calling it Baja Rockridge! And those boundaries between the Golden Gate and Santa Fe districts can be hard to define. For those who live between downtown Oakland and Berkeley and just want to avoid the debate, you can just proudly proclaim that you live in North Oakland.
North Oakland is the macro neighborhood name for the northern portion of Oakland, and includes such well-known neighborhoods as Rockridge, Piedmont Avenue, Temescal and Golden Gate. There are some neighborhoods that are so specific, like Idora Park, that the public at large isn’t even aware of them.
What is great about using North Oakland is that catches the best of each of those neighborhoods, and all the good stuff that falls in between. North Oakland includes such unique places as green sustainable Nomad Café on Shattuck, the wonderfully eclectic Ace Ellis Hardware on Martin Luther King, and the White Horse Inn on Telegraph, which is the second oldest LGBT bar in the country. Plus, there are street fairs and farmers markets galore!
A great way to keep up with everything going on in North Oakland is to bookmark OaklandNorth.net, a project of the journalism school at UC Berkeley. Their up-to-the-minute coverage often rivals the major dailies, especially on stories of great interest to North Oaklanders.
From its Mediterranean climate, with warm days cooled off by bay breezes, North Oakland is situated perfectly within the Bay Area. Not only is it close to Berkeley and Emeryville, but San Francisco is a quick BART ride away. And Highways 580, 80 and 24 point you in the right direction when you need to get out of town. North Oakland is quite flat in most areas, making it very bike-friendly, and there are car-sharing programs when your bike-basket isn’t big enough.
Why not call North Oakland home? Many of us at Lawton Associates do!
Oakmore is located east of Park Boulevard and north of Dimond Park. This neighborhood was built in the ’20s and ’30s for people who worked in San Francisco and took the Key Route to work. The Key System was a primary user of the Leimert Bridge, which connects Oakmore to Park Boulevard.
Oakmore is hilly, featuring large, architecturally outstanding estates and homes. Many have earned multimillion-dollar listings and rival the homes found in Crocker Highlands, Montclair-Piedmont Pines and upper Rockridge/Claremont Pines.
Old Oakland is a historic district in downtown Oakland. It’s located on the northwest side of Broadway, between the City Center complex and the Jack London Square, across Broadway from Chinatown.
Old Oakland was the “original” downtown during the 1860s after The Central Pacific Railroad constructed a terminus on 7th Street. By the 1870s, elegant Victorian hotels were being built to accommodate travelers. The ground floor of the hotels were designed as a series of narrow shops so pedestrians would pass by many of them while walking down the street. The architectural styles of the time featured tall, cast-iron columns and large plate-glass windows.
Downtown went into decline after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, when the shopping district began to move north of 14th Street.
In the 1970s and 1980s developers rehabilitated and restored a block along 9th Street between Washington Street and Broadway, known as “Victorian Row,” including The 1878 Nicholl Block building.
The neighborhood continues to attract bars and restaurants. District is a popular spot for happy hour and is hopping on Saturday night. Bistros and boutiques have cropped-up, too as more market-rate condominiums have been constructed nearby.
For those of you reading this who do not live in the East Bay, you should know up front that the Piedmont Avenue district is not part of the nearby City of Piedmont. They are close to each other, but worlds apart.
The Piedmont Avenue district is a lovely stretch up Oakland’s Piedmont Avenue from MacArthur Boulevard up past Pleasant Valley Avenue to the historic Mountain View Cemetery, bounded by Broadway to the north and Oakland Avenue to the south. But don’t worry; the cemetery is not the neighborhood’s main industry and employer. Ironically, that honor would probably go to the flagship Kaiser medical center, newly remodeled and modernized.
Along the avenue is a beloved collection of shops and restaurants, many in the neighborhood for generations. While there almost any need to can be met retail-wise on this street, from bikes to babies and from yarn to yoga, there is a good number of stops for the reader in all of us. Longtime favorite Black Swan Books has many rare items, Spectator Books has something for everyone, and Dr. Comics and Mr. Games is heaven for comic book fans. And, don’t forget the great local branch library!
Would you be surprised that there are about 4 dozen places to eat in the neighborhood? Classics like Bay Wolf, Cato’s Ale House and Fenton’s Creamery (as seen in the Pixar animated hit Up!) continue to pack them in, along with hot newcomers Dopo for great Italian, Adesso for one of the best happy hours in the east bay. Or, indulge your inner gourmet and go shopping at the venerable Piedmont Grocery and cook your own fest at home.
Recreation is a kick in the Piedmont Avenue district. Believe it or not, the cemetery offers great architecture by Frederick Law Olmstead and Julia Morgan, plus excellent hiking opportunities and some of the best views of the bay you can find. Go discover Glen Echo Creek, peacefully hidden just on the other side of MacArthur, or wander the Oakland Morcom Rose Garden. Finally, catch a flick at the nearly 100-years-old Piedmont Theatre, featuring the newest independent and foreign films.
Pill Hill is a neighborhood of Oakland and derives its name from the fact that there are a number of medical institutions in the area. Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, among them. It was known as Academy Hill in the past because of the large number of schools there and before that it was “Blackstone Hill” because of the large number of attorneys who lived there.
Pill Hill was once the site of Rev. Edward Brown Walsworth’s Pacific Female College, a post-Civil War military academy for boys and St. Mary’s College. The modern-day evolution began with the turn-of-the-century construction of Samuel Merritt Hospital. In addition to hospital buildings, there were clusters of independent pharmacies and doctors’ offices in the surrounding neighborhood. It made the area Oakland’s original medical mecca.
This is a small neighborhood and doesn’t have a whole lot of places to live, but it is centrally located not far from Downtown Oakland, Piedmont Avenue and The Temescal District.
This area was originally part of what was called Oakland Point. An area that became isolated from the rest of West Oakland, after the construction of the Cypress Freeway in the ’50s. It was originally a residential area of Victorian homes, many of which still stand today. They are beautiful! Some are in disrepair while others have undergone rehabilitation.
Seventh Street was the African-American cultural center of Oakland from the 1940s to the 1960s. Many nightclubs were strewn along 7th Street, including; Slim Jenkins’ Place, Esther’s Orbit Room and The Lincoln Theater. Top blues and jazz performers from across the United States flocked to perform here. The area was sometimes referred to as “The Harlem of the West.” The decline of Seventh Street has been blamed on the construction of the Cypress Freeway, the Oakland Main Post Office and subsequent BART elevated track lines which took up much of the street.
Several community organizations are based also based here; The Lower Bottoms Neighborhood Association, The Prescott-Joseph Center, UNIA, Alliance for West Oakland Development and The Prescott-Oakland Point Neighborhood Association. Commercial outlets like City Slicker Farms, Revolution Cafe, Bikes 4 Life, and Mo Better Foods serve the community. In 2006, a locally owned cooperative grocery store named Mandela Foods Cooperative opened in Lower Bottoms, providing residents access to fresh produce, nutritional education and affordable, locally grown food.
Many newer loft developments have gone up in the last several years, and plenty of folks have come here to rehab old homes. The proximity to the West Oakland BART station makes it a desirable locale or communities to San Francisco.
Redwood Heights is a diverse residential neighborhood in the hills of Oakland. It is centered on Redwood Road, once a logging road. Currently, Redwood Road is the designation for 35th Avenue starting about a mile north of MacArthur Boulevard between Victor Avenue and the Highway 13.
The homes in Redwood Heights were built from the ’20s – ’50s and vary greatly in style, from craftsman, to “storybook,” to ranch; the first development in the area was Avenue Terrace. There is a large rock/stone “obelisk” on the corner of 35th Ave and Victor that says “Avenue Terrace.” It may have once been a marker for the development.
Redwood Heights is one of Oakland’s most ethnically diverse neighborhoods. The 2010 Census reflects the primary zip code for the neighborhood as having about 23,200 residents, with caucasians making up about 29.9% of the population, African Americans 26.2%, Asians 22%, and Latinos 16.1%, with other races forming the remaining 5.8%.
The Redwood Heights Neighborhood Association (est. 1944) is one of Oakland’s oldest neighborhood associations.
I think we can all agree that Rockridge is one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the all of the Bay Area? But, why do so many people flock to Rockridge? What makes it so special?
Rockridge stretches along College Avenue from Broadway up to the Berkeley border at Alcatraz (where you will find us here at Lawton Associates, by the way). The neighborhood stretches west to spoon with Temescal and eastward up the hills for magnificent views of the bay. Whether you reside in a Craftsman on Cavour or a chalet on Chabot, you are never far from the action on College Avenue.
And by action on College Avenue, we mean some of the hottest shops and restaurants in the Bay Area. Has the foodie press stopped raving about Wood Tavern? No, they have not, but they’re also busy touting A Cote, Oliveto and of course Zachary’s – the best pizza you will ever eat. If you aren’t getting your freshly made pasta, organic produce, butchered meat and piping hot pastries from Market Hall…well, you should be. When you’re ready to relax and watch the world go by, you can hang with cool cats at Cole Coffee, possibly the best roast this side of the bay.
This longtime working class neighborhood really came into its own in the 1970s when the BART station opened and the Caldecott Tunnel provided better access to Walnut Creek and beyond.
In addition to BART, there are so many public transportation options, you may never get in your car again. AC Transit has the uber-handy 51 line taking you from downtown Oakland to Berkeley, plus 4 other key routes. The “casual carpool” has several neighborhood pick-up spots, as do car-sharing services City Car Share and ZipCar. And, of course, the neighborhood is perfect for walking, strolling, rolling, biking, hopping, crawling and every other motion you can think of, except skiing.
The people of Rockridge are heartily committed to community building, as evidenced each year at the Rockridge Out & About Street Fair. The foodies come out weekly for the nearby Temescal Farmers Market and annually for the annual Kitchen Tour. And, everyone stays in touch via the must-read Rockridge News.
Sheffield Village is a community nestled in the foothills in the south-eastern corner of Oakland. A quaint neighborhood with charming homes and well-manicured lawns. It also has a very active neighborhood community organization.
When we picked up a friend from San Francisco at the MacArthur BART station recently, we asked her if she wanted to grab some lunch in the neighborhood, the neighborhood known as Temescal. “Yeah!” she exclaimed. “I hear everything cool in the East Bay is happening in Temescal!”
That very well may be. If you are from San Francisco, like our friend, think of Temescal as similar to the Valencia Street corridor: cool restaurants, fascinating boutiques and galleries, vibrant culture, a dizzyingly diverse group of people, and just a lot of fun.
Temescal radiates out from the intersection of Telegraph and 51st Street in North Oakland, just south of the Berkeley border. Right at that corner is Bakesale Betty, one of the eateries most associated with the recent Temescal revival. Perhaps it was their sinfully delicious fried chicken sandwich that started the revolution? If the line is too long, try the lines at Dona Tomas, Pizzaiolo or Genova Deli before those lines get too long. Not in the mood for food? Check out the recently renovated Studio One Arts Center. A great way to sample the neighborhood is at the annual Temescal Street Fair each June.
The neighborhood originally sprang up around the Temescal Creek in the mid twentieth century, when it evolved from a working class Italian neighborhood into the eclectic celebration of diversity and culture that it is today. Maybe this is why This Old House just called Temescal one of the best “old house” neighborhoods in the country! Because of its background, the area is populated with adorable single-family bungalows, mostly in the Craftsman style. Due to its close proximity to Rockridge, Berkeley and BART, the Temescal neighborhood has held its real estate values well.
Speaking of BART, Temescal is a very pedestrian-friendly neighborhood, thanks to being smack dab in the middle of two convenient BART stations. There is also the Telegraph Avenue RAPID bus line, among other offerings from AC Transit. Plus, there are bike lanes galore and it is very flat and walkable. You would be surprised how close you are to everything in Temescal!
Are we saving the best for last? Perhaps. Some people consider the Temescal Farmer’s Market to be the best one in the area (yes, even better than that big one in the City at the Ferry building). Yet, some of you in the audience think that the Temescal Pool is the best thing in the neighborhood, especially with Temescal’s warmer micro-climate. Let’s enjoy them both and decide later.
(PS. Are you looking for Lake Temescal? You’ll have to look in Upper Rockridge. Go ahead, link on over and check it out!)
Doesn’t that sound nice? Rockridge, but higher up! Well, it is quite nice, and just a few blocks up the hills from the bucolic community of Rockridge. But what else? Oh, more than you can imagine!
First of all, the Broadway corridor is what separates Upper Rockridge from the main vein of Rockridge that is College Avenue. Starting at the California College of Arts and Crafts at the corner of Broadway and College, Upper Rockridge then stretches up above the Claremont Country Club up towards Lake Temescal, and turns south past Broadway Terrace towards Montclair and Piedmont. If you pass Moraga, you’ve gone too far! Throw in the little pocket neighborhoods around Chabot on the other side of Highway 24, and you’ve got Upper Rockridge.
The real estate in Upper Rockridge also tends be like Rockridge, but just a little “upper.” There are similar craftsman-style homes, but they are usually bigger and on larger lots. And, many of the homes offer spectacular views. There are also a good number of newer homes, built after that Oakland Hills Fire of 1991 providing a diverse blend of new and old architectural styles.
Lake Temescal is the main attraction in the neighborhood. What started as a reservoir for drinking water in the early 1900s is now a good ole swimmin’ n’ fishin’ hole. There is an impressive stone Beach House, which can be reserved for weddings or parties. There are also several hiking trails where you can work up a sweat before jumping into the cool lake. For golf and tennis, we recommend the nearby Claremont Country Club.
The main destination for shopping, supplies and dinner is down on College Ave, or perhaps up to Montclair. However, if you aren’t in the mood to leave the neighborhood, there is the friendly Village Market at the corner of Broadway Terrace and Harbord.
So, if you want all the benefits of Rockridge, but with views and many recreation options, then Upper Rockridge might be the neighborhood for you.
When people outside of Oakland speak of Oakland they often speak of the highly touted “Oakland revival.” Well, they may not know it, but a big revival is going on right now near downtown, only we call it Uptown.
Uptown occupies the north end of Downtown Oakland, between the city center and Grand Avenue along the diverging thoroughfares of Broadway and Telegraph. From the ’20s to the ’50s, this area was the main commercial district in Oakland, and you can tell by the impressive and well-preserved Art Deco buildings.
The best evidence of the Uptown revival is the nightlife, especially the newly renovated Fox Theatre and the venerable Paramount Theatre. Don’t miss smaller clubs like The Uptown or The Den. There is also a gourmet renaissance in the neighborhood, with hot spots Luka’s Tap Room and Café Van Kleef alongside longtime favorites like Pho 84. We could do a whole article just on great new restaurants! Uptown has become a nexus for the arts in the East Bay, with many art galleries and studios popping up in the district, such as The Crucible’s showroom and the Rock Paper Scissors Collective.
With so much to do, Uptown is also becoming a great place to call home. The neighborhood is dominated by several new condo projects, like The Uptown and the Broadway Grand. Don’t worry, there are normal things in the neighborhood, too, in addition to the hip nightclubs and restaurants. Whole Foods is nearby, there is even the wonderful Oakland Ice Center and Lake Merritt is just a few blocks away. And, commuting couldn’t be easier with the 19th Street BART station right there under your feet.
Now that Uptown has been unveiled and the world knows how vibrant Oakland can be, Uptown is the place to be!
West Oakland is one of the most historically important regions of the city, and continues to be one of the most eclectic and interesting parts of town. Situated between Downtown Oakland and the Bay Bridge, West Oakland has been the center of Oakland’s industry for more than a century, serving the nation via rail cars and the world through its port.
Through much of the 1900’s, the city’s power and culture rested in the West Oakland region, but everything changed with the construction of the Cypress Freeway, which essentially cut the neighborhood off from the rest of the city. During this time, the Black Panther movement was born. After the freeway’s destruction in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake and the closing of the Oakland Army Base, West Oakland began a path of redevelopment that continue to this day.
Filled with many condos and warehouse lofts, West Oakland has pockets of historic Victorians that will amaze you. Many well known businesses have made West Oakland home, from Lonely Planet travel books to world-renowned Blue Bottle Coffee, which many people wrongly assume is a San Francisco phenomenon. Local businesses thrive as well, such as the Linden Street Brewery and Brown Sugar Kitchen, which serves up one of the best brunches in The Bay Area.
Artists have been attracted to the open possibilities of West Oakland. The Crucible is a star of the arts and crafts world for its groundbreaking work with metal and glass. Get in shape like they do in the circus at Trapeze Arts. Amateur and professional photographers alike can snap stellar shots of the bay at Middle Harbor Shoreline Park way out on the water, offering views you cannot get anywhere else.
While the neighborhood may seem far from life to some people, don’t forget that you can quickly get almost anywhere you want on BART, thanks to the centrally located West Oakland BART station. There is also easy access to the Bay Bridge and the “casual carpool” program. West Oakland residents are minutes from San Francisco, Downtown Oakland and Emeryville.