Oakland (pronounced /ˈoʊklənd/) is the eighth-largest city in the U.S. state of California and a major West Coast port city, located on San Francisco Bay about eight miles east of the City of San Francisco. Oakland is a major hub city for the Bay Area subregion collectively called the East Bay, and it is the county seat of Alameda County. Based on United States Census Bureau estimates for 2008, Oakland is the 44th-largest city in the United States with a population of 420,183.
The area was inhabited by the Ohlone people for thousands of years before Spanish settlers displaced them in the 18th and 19th centuries. Spain expanded the Viceroyalty of New Spain and colonized Alta California to stop the advancement of Russia from Alaska. Much of the land that was to become Oakland was held by the Peralta family under the Rancho San Antonio (Peralta) land grant. New Spain became independent in 1821 under the name "Mexico." In 1846, the Territory of Alta California was conquered by American forces, becoming simply "California." Throughout the 1840s and 1850s, American squatters laid legal claim to the land held by the Peralta family, and in 1852 the California legislature incorporated the town of Oakland.
Oakland grew initially from having its hillside oak and redwood timber resources logged to build San Francisco, and Oakland's fertile flatland soils helped it become a prolific agricultural region. In the late 1860s, Oakland was selected as the western terminus of the Transcontinental Railroad. It continued to grow into the 20th century with its port, shipyards, and a thriving automobile industry. Following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, many San Franciscans left that city's destruction, and a great number of Oakland's homes were built during the 1910s and 1920s. An extensive streetcar network connected most of Oakland's neighborhoods to inter-city rail lines and to ferry lines.
During the 1940s, thousands of war-industry workers moved to Oakland from the Deep South, and the late twentieth century saw a steady influx of immigrants from around the globe. According to the 2000 U.S. census, Oakland is the second most ethnically diverse city in the United States, with many languages spoken.
Oakland has struggled with significant challenges, including high unemployment, widespread poverty, and an elevated rate of violent crime. Ruptures along the nearby San Andreas fault caused severe earth movement in 1906 and in 1989. During the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, Oakland suffered significant property damage, as well as many deaths and injuries. San Andreas quakes cause induced creep in the Hayward fault, which runs directly through Oakland. In 1991 an urban firestorm destroyed nearly 4,000 homes and killed 25 people in the Oakland hills; it was the worst such firestorm in American history.
Oakland is home to several major corporations including Kaiser Permanente and Clorox, as well as corporate headquarters for nationwide businesses like Dreyer's and Cost Plus World Markets.
Oakland is also the home of Rocky Road ice cream, and the Mai Tai cocktail. It has enjoyed a thriving West Coast blues scene, and can claim numerous prominent homegrown musicians representing genres such as rhythm and blues, funk, punk and hip hop. Recreational attractions include the Fox Theater, the Paramount Theater, Jack London Square, Lake Merritt, the Oakland Estuary, the Oakland Zoo, the Oakland Museum of California, the Chabot Space and Science Center, Oracle Arena, the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, the East Bay Regional Park District ridge line parks and preserves, and Chinatown.
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