At the Eat Real Festival in Jack London Square (source)

The Jack London Square neighborhood (also called Produce and Waterfront) is one of the oldest neighborhoods of Oakland. The neighborhood was named after Jack London who was raised in Oakland, though that name didn't come about until 1951. 2 He spent much of his childhood in the Jack London Square area, where there is now a bronze statue of the childhood Jack London created by artist Cedric Wentworth. He also spent time at Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon. Today, there is a part of a cabin he lived in during his time in the Yukon in the plaza right outside the saloon.

JLS map from


Jack London Square was (and is) home to a wholesale produce market which first started at 11th and Washington but got pushed lower to Franklin between 1st and 4th streets. 

In 1877, Warren Rouse opened a produce business near 11th and Washington and by 1903 when a fire destroyed the Bacon Building, there were several other grocers there with him. When they rebuilt, they moved South a few blocks to 11th between Webster and Harrison. It appears that they moved into a block owned by the wife of Borax Smith called the "Produce Exchange" that included 46 stores. (The "Exchange" didn't make it.)

In 1916, City Council limited the area where produce could be displayed on sidewalks to the area between Broadway, Fallon, 7th and the waterfront. Between 1916-1917 the produce sellers incorporated the Fruit and Produce Realty companied, purchased 38 lots along Franklin between 1st and 4th and built market buildings designed by architect Charles McCall. This allowed them to be closer to both the waterfront and the railway station.  These produce men were primarily Italians. One business, Western Produce, was owned by a Chinese man.

McCall's buildings are among the best surviving examples of this kind of produce market in the US. 1

The area between Broadway, Webster, First Street (Embarcadero) and the estuary was named Jack London Square in 1951. 2 The Port of Oakland announced the decision in 1950, and on May 1, 1951, the area was formally dedicated and a plaque placed at the foot of Broadway. 3


  • San Francisco Bay Ferry ferry dock
  • Amtrak station
  • Ironworks Building (1882): Currently includes Bed, Bath & Beyond.


photo CC-A by HiMYSYeD

  • Bronze wolf tracks in the sidewalk in different areas of Jack London Square correlate to historic locations and lead the casual walker on a Jack London History Walk. The walk starts at Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon and ends at the Presidential Yacht Potomac. Members of the public can apparently purchase individual bronze wolf tracks. For more info about the walk and the purchasing, check out the official Jack London Square site or call (510) 645-9292.
  • Yachting, rowing, kayaking, canoeing
  • Walking on the boardwalk
  • Attend a special event, including Pedalfest, Family Fun on the Fourth, Dancing Under the Stars, Jack's Night Market, or the Eat Real Festival, 
  • Enjoying the tranquility of a mostly empty development project
  • Looking at Alameda
  • Watching a movie (there's a movie theater, and free outdoor movies in the summer)
  • Enjoying some water and boats
  • Getting the ferry
  • Taking Amtrak somewhere
  • Silent memorials for the closed down Barnes and Noble
  • Pondering the mysteries of the Native-American-style statue

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Links and References

  1. Mailman, Erika. Oakland's Neighborhoods. Oakland: Mailman Press, 2005
  2. Wharf Center Development Set Oakland Tribune December 5, 1950
  3. London Square Dedicated to Noted Author Oakland Tribune May 1, 1951