City Storiez

Town Bizness: Timeline of the Oakland Streets

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The Short Oakland Ghetto Story

The Oakland ghetto resides in Northern California’s most popular city located in the Bay Area and often referred as “The Town”.  Oakland is rich in black history as the urban community of the Town created the likes of the Black Panthers, the country’s first all-black labor unions with the Pullman Porters, and many iconic black figures.

West Oakland, the historical black community of the Bay Area shows the growth of the black population as the African Americans went from only residing in small sections of West Oakland to becoming the predominant racial group in the city, at least before gentrification began to take over.

West Oakland Black History

With the help of the railroads providing employment opportunities as black workers would work on trains as Pullman Porters, mainly servants assisting the passengers whenever needed, the community of West Oakland would be created.

With the city of Oakland being one of the last and first stops for the trains, many blacks decided to create their home in the Bay Area city with West Oakland becoming the main community for the Oakland black population.

North of Grand Avenue in the two communities of Clawson, also known as Dog Town, and Hoover-Foster, also known as Ghost Town, were the first areas that African Americans occupied before the 1940s.

west oakland ghetto

Today’s Hoover-Foster neighborhood, also known as Ghost Town.

With the United States entering World War II, the black population of Oakland grew as southerners relocated for wartime employment, either working in a factory or serving in the military.

Section of West Oakland were somewhat integrated with multiple racial groups, but with an increase of southerners relocating into the city tensions began to rise between the different demographics, which led to the city to segregate the housing complexes of West Oakland into being mainly for African Americans, while all-white housing was constructed in East Oakland.

Today’s Acorn housing complex, one of the last housing complexes of West Oakland ghetto

Today’s Acorn housing complex, one of the last housing complexes of West Oakland to be built.

Another reason for the West Oakland, and the town of Oakland, black population to increase was the displacement of African Americans from other East Bay communities in cities like Richmond as the wartime housing complexes were being demolished following the ending of World War II, forcing the relocation.

With the increase of West Oakland’s urban population, the community became very congested and compacted with African Americans, at least before the ending of segregation and white flight from East Oakland allowing black families to relocate into the East Side of Oakland.

Eventually, 7th Street of West Oakland became the mecca for the East Bay’s black population with resemblance to a Harlem or San Francisco’s Fillmore District as the area was filled with black owned businesses and local entertainment.

West Oakland from 1970s to Present Day

Despite being small, the West Oakland ghetto was a well reputable area in California with ‘hoods like the Acorn Projects, the Lower Bottoms, Cypress Village, Dog Town, Ghost Town and others.

While East Oakland was widely more known during the days of the Town’s crack era, street activity of West Oakland from the drugs to the pimps and prostitutes has been going around long before the white flight from the East Side.

Well into the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s the West Side of Oakland was much segregated, but not between racial groups and demographics, between different ‘hoods and sections with many have conflicts with one another.

Bloods and Crips never entered the streets of the Oakland ghetto, so the city never had a true gang problem, but local authorities would consider each neighborhood that had a few residents indulging into the street life as a gang.

The Lower Bottoms neighborhood.

West Oakland was at a point where every block was affiliated with a separate ‘hood from the next one, from the likes of housing complexes like 2-4 Village around 24th and Linden and Kane City (Acorn Projects) to small blocks like Milton Street.

Street activity in West Oakland calmed down as gentrification was entering the area, which began during the late 1990s and the early 2000s with the community being one of the Bay Area’s most sought after neighborhoods.

With the rise in rent and property values, the urban population of West Oakland has been decreasing as many are being forced to relocate with the fear that there will be no original West Oakland residents left in the neighborhoods.


oakland ghetto

Before gentrification, the community did experience something similar with urban renewal and the construction of the Interstate 80 highways, I-980, I-880, and I-580 and the construction of the Acorn projects during the 1960s, which removed some residential areas and single family homes from the West Oakland community.

Many fought to stop urban renewal during 1960s that would later displace hundreds of residents by razing and demolishing key parts of the black community, as previously stated.

Into present day, will the West Oakland ghetto still be West Oakland in five or ten years as the future seems to state that the total culture of the Town’s West Side will be totally changed from previous generations.

Short Story of Oakland CA Drug Kingpins

The culture of the Bay Area is very rich, on the positive side with the Black Panthers standing up for the community and on the negative side with the numerous pimps, hustlers, and gangsters that once roamed the major cities of the Bay Area.

As the Black Panther movement was slowly fading away, a new era of Oakland was becoming as many were turning to the streets. The dope game of the Bay Area started during the 1970s with heroin and escalated during the 1980s and into the 1990s with the introduction of crack and rival turf wars, especially in the city of Oakland.

According to author Titus Lee Barnes, there were three main neighborhoods in the city that were contributing to much of the mayhem and were profiting the most from it, Funktown, 23rd and the 6-9 Mob (69th Ville).

The Funktown neighborhood, which is currently being gentrified, was based just blocks away from Oakland’s downtown and was the first neighborhood one would arrive in if they were to travel into East Oakland. A legendary area that had much of reputation as anywhere else in Oakland was allegedly recording thousands weekly, if not more, in profits during the 70s and 80s.

Now known as Lion Creek Crossing, the former 69 Ville housing complex was the once home of the well known 69 Mob. Some may claim that the rise of Felix Mitchel, aka Big Fee, is something that was never seen before and has yet to be duplicated. Some may also claim that Big Fee was the pioneer of the dope game as he and the 69 Mob, which also consisted of T. Black and Lil D who followed after Big Fee’s arrest, became very profitable while being hated among competition.

In an area with plenty of monikers, the Rollin’ 20s, Murder Dubbs, or the Twomps, the main rival of the 69 Mob was the Family, which were centered around 23rd. At the head was Mickey Mo, who along with others were involved in a very violent dispute with the Funktown neighborhood during the 1980s. The war between them was just the beginning of what would become of the town of Oakland during the 1980s and 1990s.

The Bay Area had plenty of legends who became millionaires, or close to it, from the streets, like Hollyrock of West Oakland’s Acorn Projects, Ant Flowers of East Oakland, Big Kev out of Vallejo, who was also accused of plotting to bomb the courthouse to destroy evidence, and J. Beasley, the biggest hustler to ever come out of San Francisco. Not until ’93, after his arrest, did authorities realize that R. Henderson was the one who truly made the most money out of everyone during that time.

Before the rise of the Bay Area’s true dope game, there was the Ward Brothers who were very diverse in their activities from pimping to hustling, mainly through the 1960s and 1970s, as the character from the film The Mack was based on them.

To be clear, the streets of Oakland never had a gang problem as Bloods and Crips dominated everywhere in the United States except for the Bay Area. The authorities many claim that there are gangs in the Bay Area, but in actuality their claim is just people claiming or being affiliated to a specific neighborhood.

Today’s street game is totally different, so the state of Oakland CA drug kingpins. With the streets being far removed from the highly profitable crack era and gentrification change the total makeup of numerous Bay Area urban neighborhoods, the streets have almost made a complete 180 change.

Outside of West Oakland (East and North Oakland)

While the original black community and urban population was based in the city’s West Oakland neighborhood, beginning around the late 1960s and 1970s white flight left many homes in Oakland communities of the North Side and East Side vacant.

With the vacancy, and a growth of Oakland’s urban population, many saw an opportunity to move into communities of East Oakland and North Oakland as somewhat a fresh start or moving into a better setting.

oakland ca drug kingpins oakland ghetto

The Seminary neighborhood of East Oakland.

The North Side, which is neighboring Berkeley’s urban community of South Berkeley, probably became the last side of Oakland to gain an urban population.  Nicknamed as Ice City or NSO (North Side Oakland), this small section would not have the reputation as the much larger East Oakland or not be as historic as West Oakland, but there is much respect for the North Side.

The respect of Oakland’s North Side comes with the help of Bushrod Park area around Shattuck Ave., or the Gaskill area as many North Oakland communities can be viewed as an extension of West Oakland, with Market Street leading directly into the heart of the North Side.

The largest section of Oakland is without a doubt East Oakland.  Divided into two sections, East Oakland and Deep East Oakland, which can be considered to begin around 73rd and continue as far as Sobrante Park.

A Deep East Oakland ghetto neighborhood located in the 70s.

As stated above, Oakland’s black population was once forbidden to reside in the communities of East Oakland, but all change by the 1970s as the black community made its way into the East Side of The Town.

With obviousness, East Oakland is the largest section of the city, which would later help bring to light some of California’s most reputable areas from the likes of the FunkTown neighborhood to the likes of the infamous 69th Street housing project, the former home of the 6-9 Mob.

Currently, the streets are much calmer than previous generations, especially as gentrification is taken over many of the Oakland East Side neighborhoods like the Funk Town community, while only leaving parts of the Deep East Oakland community, at least for the time being, which expands from Havenscourt Blvd. to 98th.

Oakland, California Related Topics:

*Note: All information is provided either through people of the community, outside sources, and/or research. Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.

Further Readings on Oakland CA Drug Kingpins:

Barnes, Titus Lee. Drug Lords of Oakland. Createspace. 2018.

Walker, Thaai. “Drug Kingpin’s Sentencing Ends Bloody Era in Oakland / Decades of turf wars over as citizens reclaim their city”. SF Gate. 16 February 1999.