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Oakland Tales: Part 2

What's it like to live in one of the most quickly changing cities in America?

Last week, Curbed explored some of the many facets of a rapidly changing Oakland. In response, many Oaklanders shared their stories of living in the city and watching it transform; here's more of what they had to say (lightly edited for readability). Read part one here.


Been here 8 years in what’s now called Uptown, but I’ve been news aware of Oakland since the Ebonics/OUSD uproar in the 90’s. Over the years it became clear to me Oakland’s constantly fighting against marginalization by business interests in SF, but today that imbalance seems to be waning.

I think Oakland’s a city that takes two steps forward and then one step back -steps usually taken years apart. My neighborhood has not gentrified in the usual sense as it was mostly parking lots before the recent housing developments came along. The first wave of new residents that arrived ~2009 have definitely been priced out of much of the new market rate housing at The Uptown.

However there’s been a massive amount of affordable housing built here, too -something the black/white/good/evil media ignores completely. The older market rate housing is overwhelmingly still housing the same people. Eight years ago my block was about 50% Asian, 30% Black, 10% Hispanic and 10% Caucasian -and it still is! Most notable change in the last three years is seeing my neighbors outside their homes more. Seems like neighbors also invite friends and family more often. Neighbors I used to see only walking up to their home I now see walking with others, I presume to the all the new places to eat or drink nearby. Eight years ago I could walk from 980 to Lake Merritt and not pass a single human being! So to me the changes have been awesome and I hope to see it all continue.


I bought in West Oakland at the depths of the market crash in 2008. The neighborhood was pretty rough back then, the house across the street had a squatter who was selling drugs and guns, eventually an ATF raid fixed that, the sound of guns was not uncommon, and I’d see drive-by shootings.

After all the foreclosures were bought up, little things started to change, you’d see a house get repainted, maybe another fixed up and divided into condos. The crack house across the street was renovated by a young couple, then it seemed as though new construction would go up overnight. Now the demographic is quickly changing. It used to be a mostly Black neighborhood, now it’s very mixed.

One thing that is crazy to me is how Wood Street went from an industrial backwater into a homeless camp that could rival any in SF.

I hope this boom can keep up the momentum to get the neighborhood a proper supermarket.


The price of my house doubled in a few short years. Cashing in and moving to cheaper pastures.

Read more: Oakland Now, Oakland Tales: Part 1