6.8 out of 10

Produce and Waterfront

Ranked 7th best neighborhood in Oakland
37.7917716334424 -122.264848519632
Great for
  • Public Transport
  • Nightlife
  • Cost of Living
  • Neighborly Spirit
  • Shopping Options
Not great for
  • Lack of Traffic
  • Schools
  • Parking
  • Peace & Quiet
  • Pest Free
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists

Reviews

3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 1/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
2yrs+

"A neighborhood in transition"

Situated between Holy Names University and highway 580, Upper Laurel is a middle to lower-class neighborhood with very little to offer. It spans about 0.5 square miles of unsafe, unglamorous terrain. The area only affords small, single-story shack houses that aren’t worth your time (or mine). For prospective residents, its racial makeup is a dense melting pot of ethnic residents with asian, black, white and hispanic sharing a sizable portion of the demographic. While some may call the area a multicultural neighborhood (which it is) with affordable living, I can assure you that they are grossly misleading you.

Upper Laurel’s residential terrain is nothing special at all. It is, for the most part, stocked with California Bungalow style homes, probably built within the mid-20th Century (sometimes having bars on the windows). These homes are small and situated on thin (yet deep) properties with only room for a very thin driveway that usually skirts the side of the house. Many of these properties are unattended to and, as a result, gritty and unkempt. Lots are a bit blemished, with cracked cement driveways (sometimes taking up the entire front yard). Most of its mildly attractive residents are concentrated towards the northern tip of the neighborhood, but don’t get your hopes up. As a whole, house values are around $400,000.

There are also a number of apartment complexes that pepper the district. They are aesthetically no different than the homes that they surround. You will see them popping up as gritty, bland, two-story apartment homes (that concentrate towards the center of the neighborhood, especially around Maybelle Avenue). These residences only afford about four to five rooms of living space, and that’s about it. They are, as you might expect, pretty cheap costing around $1,200 a month. Also, median household incomes are around $60,000/year.

For young families, students usually attend Laurel Elementary, American Indian Public Charter School or St. Lawrence O’Toole’s, all of which are within the neighborhood. The first two schools produce middle-of-the-road reputations with its local community, but O’Toole garners somewhat porous reviews. For their shopping, MacArthur Boulevard acts as the district’s main commercial strip, but doesn’t offer anything than your typical liquor store and varied blemished store fronts.
Pros
  • Great Entertainment
  • Great Restaurants
  • Great Transportation
Cons
  • Crime
  • Too Touristy
  • Traffic and Parking
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 4/5
2yrs+

"More Than Just the Squares in Jack London"

When talking about this area of Oakland, you must begin, of course, by mentioning Jack London Square, Oakland’s number one tourist attraction. I should begin by saying that I have always found Jack London Square to be more than a little bit over-rated—kind of a B grade Fisherman’s Wharf. The restaurants (notably Scott’s Seafood) there and the Barnes and Noble are okay, but I’ve never found them to be worth all the hub-bub. In fact, if all there was to this area was the waterfront Square, I doubt anyone from other areas of Oakland would spend too much time here.

It is actually the area slightly inland that makes this area really attractive.

There are, first of all, a number of different fish markets and produce centers here. When I used to work in the area I would sometimes come here early, when the area fills with wafting fishy smells, schools and schools of fishy smells. This is where Oakland restaurants come to get their fresh produce for their healthy menus. You can really hear the sounds of bustling city here, from the traffic on the freeway, to the fairly regular rumblings of the freight trains rumbling in to deliver exports and rumbling out to distribute imports. (Jack London Square also sits across from the Amtrak station where you can travel all the way to the East Coast should you desire to get out of town and a great way to commute to Sac as I used to do.)

This waterfront neighborhood, just across the isthmus from Alameda (this is the spots where the Webster and Harrison Street tubes are located), is also home to one of Oakland’s most renowned live jazz venues, Yoshi’s. It not only has great headlining jazz and blues groups, but it also has great sushi; now, that is what I call a great date spot.

If you love a good saloon style dive bar, you could do worse than Heinhold’s First and Last Chance Saloon, a place designed to make you feel as if you jumped back 150 years to when Oakland was just a little western backwater—or at least you would be transported there if weren’t for the fact that Heinhold’s sits under the shadow of the freeway and one of Oakland’s Downtown skyscrapers on one side and the towering harbor cranes on the other. Other similar local establishments include Beer Revolution, Warehouse, and Merchant’s Saloon, both worth a stop if you are bar hopping with a drinking buddy. Encuentra, a vegetarian winebar, is especially worth mention.

There are also great eateries here, as you would expect given its convenient location. Notable are Kincaids and Miss Pearl’s (a barbecue place).

In other words, this is a great place to come for movies, comedy clubs, bars and restaurants, even if you will have to brave the flocks of tourists.
Pros
  • Great Restaurants
  • Great Entertainment
  • Great Transportation
Cons
  • Crime
  • Too Touristy
  • Traffic and Parking
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish

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Unranked Streets in Produce and Waterfront

3rd St

3.5/5
"A mix of old and new"
37.7948726288045 -122.271062830671

Alice St

2.5/5
"A Noisy Street"
37.7951150835555 -122.271033265216

Fallon St

3.5/5
"Vibrant urban street very close to the art museum"
37.7935129240012 -122.266147955076

Oak St

3.5/5
"Nice Place for Singles to Live"
37.7937538331274 -122.267461670334

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