unhelpful sign CC SA-BY Our OaklandEast Oakland loosely describes a large part of southeastern Oakland and includes a number of neighborhoods.

This is a very difficult area to define because everyone has a different opinion! And, it's an important issue because there are a lot of implications when calling something "East Oakland."

Where is it?

Many have tried to answer the question "Where is East Oakland?" There are lots of ways we can try and answer it.


What is described as "East" Oakland is in fact southern Oakland. Directionally, Oakland is much longer North-South than East-West. The widest part of the city is just south of the Bay Bridge, and cuts across straight through Oakland pretty much 1/3 of the way South of the city.


Historically, the city of Oakland started west of Lake Merritt in Downtown, Old Oakland and Jack London Square. Over the years it annexed other towns like Brooklyn (1872) and unincorporated areas to grow into its present boundaries. Many of those annexed towns (like Brooklyn) were to the east of Lake Merritt. Even early on, newspapers and regular people referred to areas southeast of Lake Merritt as "East Oakland" (if they didn't fall back to the historical names.) The oldest East Oakland reference found is from October 1872 in the Oakland Daily Transcript.

1869 E.C. Sessions map1889 Vandercook map

Using the Media

Check it out.

Some Current Definitions

Many people, perhaps the majority of residents and outsiders, think that anything East of Lake Merritt is East Oakland. This would mean that anything with "Avenue" in the street name or East followed by a number (e.g. East 22nd or East 14th (now called International Blvd)) is East Oakland. This is a huge, diverse swath of territory: literally from 1st Avenue on the shore of Lake Merritt past 109th Avenue at San Leandro. Running over 100 blocks North-South (see above) and from the flats to the hills and encompassing the majority of 5 of 7 City Council districts, this hardly seems appropriate. Certain neighborhoods would certainly object if it were portrayed this starkly (meaning: they don't want to be "East Oakland"!). Maybe East Oakland would only be described as City Council Districts 5, 6 and 7, and the Southeast portions of Districts 2& and 4. This would eliminate the "stigma" of being in "East Oakland" from neighborhoods such as Crocker Highlands, Montclair, Glenview and even Eastlake.Many also don't consider any of the hill or foothills east of Lake Merritt to be East Oakland many consider only the flatlands to be "East Oakland"

The lack of a clear definition, and broad definitions like "everything east of Lake Merritt" have led some people to describe parts of Oakland as "Deep East". As in, "you're not really from East Oakland unless you're from Deep East."

The Future!

We are defining what East Oakland is all about on Oakland Wiki! Help improve this entry...what do you think people should know about East Oakland?

  • East Oakland Culture More and more artists and musicians are moving to East Oakland and putting on live music events there. Collectives like NIMBY and studios in Jingletown have been around a while, but with the latest tech boom ex SF and even Oakland creatives with waiters' salaries have been fleeing to the Fruitvale BART station area at an accelerated pace. Let's hope gentrification doesn't follow too quickly!

What does it mean to call something "East Oakland"?

"East Oakland" is often synonymous in public language both in- and outside of Oakland as "the ghetto." The Our Oakland blog has a great piece showing how articles about crime use the "East Oakland" name to talk about "areas with a lot of crime." But the name once had no stigma, and perceptions can change. Maybe if people stopped backing away, in effect seceding from East Oakland, its reputation might recover.

Calling something "East Oakland" has real consequences: many people will not travel to somewhere that is considered "East Oakland" because it's considered dangerous. One might argue that the surge in gentrification in places like Old Oakland, Uptown and Temescal could not have happened in "East Oakland" because the downtown and North Oakland names did not carry such a stigma. Sure, they were empty and people from Oakland know that West Oakland has it's own share of problems, but there's nothing like the gangster, lost-cause feeling of East Oakland. This, in turn, leads to a vicious cycle: dollars aren't spent in "East Oakland" so businesses stay away from East Oakland. People don't move to East Oakland because there are so many empty houses and so few services. "East Oakland" the geographic area spreads as "East Oakland" the implied cultural problem self-reinforces.

Is this even a helpful question to try and answer?

It may be impossible to actually answer the question "Where is East Oakland?" Also, it may be helpful to ask why we always want to put things into categories in the first place :) What if "East Oakland" is just too large of a category to be meaningful? Maybe we should try to abandon it entirely in favor of using neighborhood names that give a better sense of where things are.

Using the wiki to approximate some vague boundaries

Maybe we can take a bottom-up approach to defining what East Oakland is. If we look at the entries (businesses, events, neighborhoods) that people have tagged with the "East Oakland" tag and then look at the map that this generates, maybe this will help us get a picture for where East Oakland is?

We can also try to keep track of what MSM calls "East Oakland." Use this page to document news stories of incidents in the news.

Here is everything in the wiki tagged "East Oakland":

Add new "East Oakland"

Storify of a recent twitter conversation.

Where do YOU think East Oakland is?

Maybe we can all come up with something that we can all agree on if we add what we think of as East Oakland. Put your username or nickname or whatever after any definitions that you like or don't like!

  • Everything east of Lake Merritt (the historical definition)
  • East of 14th Ave, south of 580
  • Everything East of 14th Ave.
  • East of Highland Hospital and south of Highway 580.
  • East of Fruitvale Blvd and south of 580? Foothill?
    • Upvotes: greenkozi (not sure about south boundary);
    • Downvotes: dvcjrnal
  • East of 35th Ave, south of 580
    • Upvotes: greenkozi
    • Downvotes: Yehoshua (35th Ave. runs more E/W than N/S (35th is where the up/down streets turn. it's the NS equiv of Fruitvale/14th for that spot in Oakland))
  • Everything East of Park Blvd below 580