Oakland California - San Francisco's East Bay

Oakland California...no beach but a lot of bay. It's hard to top the beauty of Oakland's Lake Merritt on a clear day. Lake Merritt is America's first state game refuge and only natural salt-water lake located in the heart of a city. It also holds the distinction of being the largest urban saltwater lake.


A "Necklace of Lights" rings the lake's 3.5-mile perimeter, restored in 1987 following over 40 years of darkness as a result of World War II blackouts. Every bit as pretty as Chicago's Lake Shore, joggers, kayakers, sailors and parents with kids can be seen strolling around the lake, feeding the ducks, playing at the colorful playgrounds or visiting Children's Fairlyland, the nation's first three-dimensional theme park for kids. Inspired by Children's Fairyland, Walt Disney went on to construct Disneyland.



The Popsicle was invented in Oakland in 1905 by Frank Epperson. It was invented by an 11-year-old boy who left his fruit flavored soda outside on the porch with a stir stick in it. The drink froze to the stick and tasted good. He originally named it Epsicle. 18 years later at the age of 29, Epperson applied for a patent in 1923 for a "frozen ice on a stick" called the Epsicle ice pop. His kids called it a Popsicle and the name stuck. In 1925, Frank Epperson sold his famous Popsicle to the Joe Lowe Company of New York. Good Humor now owns the rights to the Popsicle. Popsicle sticks were first made from Birch wood.


This San Francisco East Bay city of Oakland has many attractions and things to do for tourists seeking a weekend getaway or stopover for trips to Napa, Sonoma, Sacramento and other destinations north of Los Angeles. There's Jack London Square, a shopping complex on the bay with a marina and restaurants overlooking the water. Not far away is  China Town, a few block-area with authentic foods and stores.


Oakland has high rise buildings mixed with beautiful, preserved buildings with architecture from another era. The surroundings and scenes provide a feeling of home, of place that's been around for a long time and is settled. Tourist attractions in Oakland include the Oakland Museum of California, the Art Deco Paramount Theater, Chinatown, Jack London Square, Lake Merritt and Children's Fairyland.


Sports enthusiasts know Oakland for its ball teams. Oakland is the only city in California with three professional ball teams. Don't be surprised to see large street banners on light poles sporting Oakland's favorite teams. McAfee Coliseum, home to the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League, the Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball, and the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association are all part of the Oakland culture.


Lake Merritt is framed by the Oakland Hills and shares boundaries with Berkeley, home to the Cal Bears and University of California Berkeley. The largest city on the east side of San Francisco Bay in Northern California is south of Berkeley, home to the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. To its west stands San Francisco, across the Bay Bridge. To its south lies the island city of Alameda, and San Leandro lies to the southeast. Along the hills which run from north to east, Oakland borders five of the East Bay Regional Parks. In the center of Oakland, and completely surrounded by it is the wealthy Piedmont.

Oakland is the county seat of Alameda County and the third largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area after San Jose and San Francisco. It population is well under 500,000 and closer to 400,000. Following a devastating earthquake in 1873, the Alameda County seat was moved to Oakland where it has remained for the last 120 years.

Oakland was founded in 1852 and its beloved and award-winning newspaper, The Oakland Tribune, began in 1874. The Tribune Tower with a beautiful tower clock is one of Oakland's landmarks. The downtown Oakland shopping, business and entertainment district enjoys a wealth of historic buildings that include unique and ornate architecture. The first inhabitants to Oakland were a Huchiun tribe of the Ohlone- Miwok Indians. When Oakland incorporated in 1852, it became a major rail terminus. Originally comprising the area west of Lake Merritt which is now downtown and Chinatown, it annexed farmlands and grew rapidly. A seaport, shipping and tidal channel in 1902 formed nearby Alameda. The Port of Oakland is one of the five largest container ports in North America and one of the top 20 worldwide. The Port of Oakland controls over 19 miles of shoreline and owns the Oakland International Airport.

Oakland is served by several airports but Oakland International Airport is preferred over San Francisco by local travelers who live in the East Bay and by others who claim flights are cancelled less often in Oakland due to regional fog San Francisco is so famous for. Oakland International Airport served 13.5 million passengers and handled more than 600,000 metric tons of air cargo in one recent year alone.

The city's commercial and residential structures exhibit a great variety of styles, including Art Deco and Craftsman. Preservation Park, winner of the best restoration project in the West Gold Nugget Award, includes 16 refurbished Victorian homes that house nonprofit organizations.

Activities and attractions in Oakland include Jack London Square, Lake Merritt, Dunsmuir House,  Knowland State Park Arboretum and Oakland Zoo and William Joseph McInnes Botanic Garden and Campus Arboretum on the Mills College campus.



Children's Fairyland in Oakland, California

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