1 Harrison St, Oakland, CA 94607, USA
Our first stop is Jack London Square Marina. Beginning in the 1800s, this waterfront was the primary spot for shipping goods to and from the emerging city of Oakland. These days, the Marina is Oakland’s only mixed-use waterfront area. The large building on the north side of the Marina Lawn is Jack London Market, a small mall with plenty of restaurants and shopping options. The lawn itself is used as a venue for outdoor concerts, movie nights, and other events sponsored by the city. Water Street, the main walking path on the waterfront, is actually part of the larger San Francisco Bay Trail, the 500-mile multi-use walking and biking path that completely encircles the San Francisco Bay and its tributaries. Go ahead and start heading northwest along the street, and stop when you see Heinold’s on your right. Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon opened in 1833 and has been serving drinks to sailors, visitors, and Oaklanders ever since. Stepping inside instantly transports you to the past – it’s the only commercial building in California that is lit with its original gas lamps. The original potbelly stove still heats the place, and the mahogany bar has remained intact for almost two centuries. They even use the original glassware! The name reflects its importance to the port. It’s the first chance to drink after a long sea voyage, and the last chance to grab a pint before heading back out on the open water. The floor is slanted due to the upheaval of the infamous 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, and a clock in the corner marks that event, having stopped at 5:18 as the ground shook. See the log cabin just down the way? Head on over there and I’ll tell you all about its former inhabitant, the man for whom this whole area is now named.
1-199 Webster Street Tube, Oakland, CA 94607, USA
The small log cabin that was once home to literary giant Jack London has gone through some interesting changes in its hundred-year history. The famed novelist developed his signature style of Naturalism and Realism during the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890s, with the harsh truths of the frigid Yukon territory serving as the backdrop of his novels, poems, and short stories. The cabin itself was discovered by trappers on the banks of Henderson Creek, south of Dawson City, Yukon. London’s signature was found on the walls, proof that the author had lived there. In 1965, plans to move the cabin were put into place, and the decision was made to divide the structure in half, creating two identical reproductions with the original logs and planks. One cabin stands in Dawson City, while the other was sent here to Jack London’s hometown. London’s writing career began here in Oakland when he met Ina Coolbrith. Ina, a niece of Latter-Day Saints founder Joseph Smith, had left her Mormon community as a young woman and relocated to the Bay Area to pursue her writing career. It was while working as a librarian at the Oakland Public Library that she met and mentored 10-year-old Jack London. Coolbrith would go on to be named California’s first Poet Laureate, the first recipient of that honor from any American state. Jack London spent most of his formative years in Oakland using Heinold's First and Last Chance Saloon as his go-to study spot. London’s relationship with the bar’s owner, Heinold, was so strong that when London turned 17, Heinold lent London money for college tuition, allowing the young writer to follow his dreams. In later years when London returned to Oakland, he used his education and clout to become an activist in the community that helped build him. Just across the way from the Cabin, on the left side of Water Street, you’ll find Seabreeze On the Dock. Seabreeze is a casual seafood restaurant with an abundance of delicacies to offer. Customers rave about the Hawaiian lobster tail, lobster roll, and fresh calamari basket. For larger parties, Seabreeze has a full menu of seasonal and year-round shellfish and mussels ready to order by the pound, smothered in cajun seasoning or garlic butter. Okay! Let’s keep heading down Water Street to our next stop.
71 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607, USA
Welcome to our third stop, the Water St. Makers Market. This open-air market made its first appearance in 2017. This festival and street market happens every Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm. The market works in conjunction with the farmers’ market, transforming Jack London Square into a one-stop shop for foods, crafts, and gifts! In addition to produce vendors, the market hosts over 20 arts and crafts booths, providing local artists with a venue to exhibit and sell their work. The market is so well known that it attracts visitors and vendors from across the Bay Area. When the market isn’t going on, this stretch of Water Street still has plenty to see. Oakland supply company, on your left, is a fascinating boutique that sells local handcrafted jewelry and leather goods. You can also rent a kayak here and head out on the bay! If you’re looking for a bite to eat, try out Scott’s Seafood Grill and Bar. Scott’s first opened in 1976 as a seafood dinner house in the Marina district of San Francisco. Patrons’ love for the restaurant and its success led to the restaurant’s opening here in Oakland. Dining by the waterfront gives its patrons a fantastic bay view while enjoying a delicious meal. Across Water Street, on your right side, you’ll see Plank, a beer garden with tons of outdoor patio seating. Jack London Square is a Mecca for beer and cider lovers, and we’ll be seeing more than one brewery along the next leg of our walk. Keep heading one block farther down Water Street to Broadway Plaza.
450 Embarcadero West, Oakland, CA 94607, USA
Broadway Plaza is an open space at the intersection of the walkable Water Street and the area’s main drag. We’ll be turning right and heading up Broadway to get a look at the many restaurants and galleries that lie just off the waterfront, but first, let’s talk about this spot. The Waterfront Hotel dominates this open square with its lighthouse-inspired design. This luxury hotel features nautically-themed rooms with bay views and amenities like a heated outdoor pool and a smart business center. It’s pet-friendly, too, so your furry friends can accompany you on your Oakland vacations. The Waterfront Cafe is located in the front of the hotel and is one of Oakland’s most popular grab-and-go breakfast restaurants. They are open daily from 6 am to 2 pm, perfect for grabbing a bite before catching a ferry or taking a kayak out onto the Bay, or refueling after a morning spent taking in the sights and shops. Their beverages are made with Oakland local Red Bay Coffee, voted number one on Oakland’s list of top roasters. Water Street continues past the hotel to the ferry terminal, where you can catch transportation to San Francisco and the many bay islands. For now, however, we’ll make a right turn up Broadway and head away from the water.
450 Embarcadero West, Oakland, CA 94607, USA
Crossing Embarcadero West, you can really get a feel for why people call Jack London Square the “Brooklyn of the West.” The hip restaurants and renovated lofts and apartments occupy warehouses and former industrial spaces. That, coupled with its location across a famous bridge from the financial districts of San Francisco, it’s easy to draw comparisons between Jack London Square and revitalized Brooklyn neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Dumbo. Before we head down Broadway to see the various shops, bars, and restaurants that litter the next few blocks, I’d like to mention one famous spot located to your left, about a block and a half down Embarcadero West. Yoshi’s is the East Bay’s hottest Jazz club, which moved to its current location in 1997. Originally opened as a Japanese restaurant in Berkeley back in the ‘70s, Yoshi’s’ reputation for high-quality sushi and live music from the likes of Tito Puente, Dave Brubeck, and Max Roach makes it a must-visit venue for foodies and music lovers alike. The next few blocks are going to showcase the bars and restaurants that make this area so intriguing for young professionals. Let’s start right here on the corner with Home of Chicken and Waffles. This late-night hot spot specializes in soul food staples, prominently featuring their namesake dish. They have tons of combinations featuring different cuts and preparations of chicken with different flavors of freshly made waffles. If you’re not a waffle fan, check out the fan-favorite dish they call Brother Darroll – two pieces of classic fried chicken with a biscuit, smothered in delicious gravy and onions. Continue up Broadway to find Everett and Jones Barbeque on the right. This Barbeque outpost serves up loaded plates with a down-to-earth atmosphere. Everett and Jones was founded in 1973 by Dorthy Everett, her eight daughters, son, and son-in-law. Dorthy was born in Alabama and brought her southern recipes with her when she and her husband moved to California. Preserving the comfortable qualities of a family-owned business, they offer lunch portions until 4 pm daily with potato salad and wheat bread. Whether you’re in the mood for sliced brisket or their homemade beef sausage links, This barbecue joint is a great place to enjoy a meal, and even catch live music on weekend nights. If you’re a lover of traditional pub fare, you need only look across the street to find Sláinte Irish Pub. This comfortable tavern offers traditional Irish dishes and drinks in a relaxed and homey environment. A whiskey destination, they offer malts and blends from every corner of the Emerald Isle. Just around the corner from Sláinte, you’ll find James and the Giant Cupcake, a sweet shop voted Best in the East Bay in 2012, 2014, and 2016. Eurydice Manning founded James and the Giant Cupcake in 2008, and since then the cupcakery has provided delicious and beautiful treats to satisfy Oakland’s sweet tooth. Keep heading up Broadway to see what the next block has in store.
144 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612, USA
Up ahead on the right you’ll find Crooked City, a Cider Tap House with a laid-back atmosphere. They get rave reviews over their outstanding service and have been noted as “a candy store for cider lovers.” Their draft list consists of 35 different taps of cider and beer, with ciders of varying sweetness and dryness ensuring everyone finds something to their taste. Crooked City has a beautiful patio where dogs and supervised children are allowed. They host a variety of events including stand-up comedy, trivia nights, and even “Drink and Draw”, a collaboration with the Oakland Art Library where patrons sketch and paint together over a cold glass of cider. Across the street on your left is Buttercup, an all-day comfort food destination. They first opened their doors in 1988 when the owners, David and Debbie, were first starting their family, and they carry the tradition of a family-owned restaurant with them to this day. Buttercup is known for its omelets and steaks. Customers love the homey atmosphere and rave over the crispness of their bacon. They’re open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You haven’t really been to Buttercup until you’ve tried a slice of one of their signature pies. Check out their sign – any guesses why that P at the end is capitalized? That’s right: P stands for pie, emphasizing their love of those sweet baked slices. Cross Third Street up ahead to check out the next block.
Broadway:3rd St, Oakland, CA 94607, USA
Just down Third street to your right, you’ll catch a glimpse of Federation Brewing. This laid-back neighborhood tasting room and Tavern is a staple of the community. Their friendly service and a vast selection of in-house beers make this a great spot for meeting up with people on the weekends or after work. Their outdoor patio celebrates the port history of the area, being made from a recycled shipping container, and they welcome outside food from any of the spots in the area. Across Broadway to your left, you’ll see Souley Vegan, creating Louisiana-style soul food with a plant-based twist. The owner and chef, Tamearra Dyson, has been making her vegan dishes since she was 18, and her care shows throughout her eatery. Customers rave about the music, culture, and friendly service that combine to create a vibe that keeps people coming back for more. Whether you’re a lifelong Vegan or want to go plant-based for a night, Souley Vegan is the place to grab a sizzling skillet of Mac & Cheeze or classic, crispy southern fried okra. Next door to Souley is Ginza, a welcoming Japanese restaurant serving fresh-caught sushi and other Japanese favorites. Further down the block, you’ll spot Nation’s Giant Hamburgers & Great Pies. This Bay Area chain is a local favorite, serving oversized burgers and all-day breakfast. In 1952 Nation’s started out as a hotdog stand. The founder, Rus Harvey, traded in his 1948 Buick for the opportunity to sell hot dogs at a 10-foot-wide counter with only six stools. His restaurant was going so well that he decided to expand his menu, creating the giant hamburger the eatery is known for today. People loved the variety of toppings and the low price tag, and those traditions can be found in over 20 locations throughout Alameda County, Contra Costa County, and beyond. At the end of the block on the left side, you’ll find La Santa Torta. They are known for their delicious tacos with both meat and vegetarian options, as well as crispy fried noodles. This street food spot is a perfect place to grab-and-go, and a particularly popular spot for patrons of Federation Brewing to pick up dinner.
449 4th St, Oakland, CA 94607, USA
Directly ahead of you, Broadway crosses the Nimitz Freeway and enters Oakland’s Chinatown. Much like San Francisco's famous Chinese district, this area was settled by Chinese immigrants as early as the 1850s. Although they were given little credit, East Asian immigrants are largely responsible for the development of the Bay Area. The western sections of the Transcontinental Railroad that first linked California to the east were built by Chinese laborers, as was the Temescal Dam that provides water to multiple cities in the East Bay. If you’re interested in Chinatown’s food, culture, and architecture, I recommend swinging back this way after the tour. Nearby, on the southern shore of Lake Merritt, you’ll also find the Oakland Museum of California and Peralta Park. For now, however, take a right here at the corner and head down 4th street. We’re making a clockwise loop around the district, and all your turns will be right turns from here on out. Keep heading down 4th street for two blocks.
350 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94607, USA
The few blocks in this section of the neighborhood are rife with art galleries, which we’ll be seeing a lot of in the next few minutes, but first I want to turn your attention across the way to another bar and restaurant. Seawolf is a low-key neighborhood gastropub that prides itself on good beer and great food. Seawolf is a great place to watch your favorite sports teams with other fans. It’s not a sports bar, but you won’t feel out of place. The maritime aesthetic adds to the establishment’s charm, taking inspiration from the neighborhood’s two-hundred-year history. Ahead on the right, we come to our first artistic space, Ben Krantz Studio. This photography studio specializes in acting headshots and corporate images but is available by appointment for any kind of professional photography. This block is also home to design studio Double Six and architectural photographer Russell Abraham. The repurposing of the neighborhood into an artistically-driven area has been the focus of much of Jack London Square’s recent development, which you can see showcased at the community center up ahead.
299 4th St, Oakland, CA 94607, USA
Radiance Oak is Jack London Square’s Community Center. Radiance believes that creating a healthy environment first starts with the community. They encourage local positive change by facilitating nonprofit community activities within their space. Radiance supports several neighborhood events ranging from live entertainment to neighborhood watch meetings. The building itself contains meeting spaces, an art gallery, and a music venue. Next door is Original Pattern Brewing, an award-winning employee-owned brewery and tasting room. Original Pattern was voted one of the Top 10 Best New Breweries in the U.S. by Today Magazine. They also won a Bronze Medal at the 2021 Great American Beer Festival in New Zealand. They have a variety of beers ranging from IPAs to Lagers and Sours. They host several don’t-miss events, like free Live Jazz every Friday. Continuing on, you’ll pass Gyroscope, an award-winning studio of creative designers, on your right .The location works with its clients to help with developing creative, innovative learning environments. They design and create interactive exhibits and architectural services for museums, libraries, visitor centers, and cultural institutions around the world! If you’ve ever had a blast at a Children’s Museum, chances are you’ve interacted with a Gyroscope exhibit. Keep heading two blocks further down fourth, where we’ll find some more exciting shops and restaurants.
201 4th St APT 102, Oakland, CA 94607, USA
Before you take a right on Jackson Street, look across the street to find Buck Wild Brewing and Taproom. This is California’s only gluten-free brewery, with a full menu of food and beer perfect for the gluten intolerant. A menu favorite is their beer-battered fish and chips, a dish almost never made gluten-free anywhere else. Diagonally across the intersection, you’ll find Chop Bar, a rustic-chic gastropub with a cozy cabin-like dining room. With filling portions, it’s an excellent choice for a meal after a day of adventuring. Chop has indoor and patio seating. Owners Chris and Lev are dedicated to giving back to their community, and Chop is known for pitching in to make Jack London Square a tight-knit environment. Now, turn right and head to the end of the block. Across the street you’ll find Tiger’s Taproom, another beer-centric pub with plenty of rotating taps, so you’ll always have something new to taste. They’re particularly popular for cyclists looking to stop in for a brew after a long day biking the Bay Trail, which I mentioned earlier. Since the trail is also popular for dog walkers, Tiger’s is pet friendly, providing the neighborhood with a great place to stop in after a day in the sun. Head one more block up to the corner, where I’ll tell you about a couple more places before we wrap up our tour.
200 2nd St, Oakland, CA 94607, USA
Now onto the last part of our tour, 2nd street. Let’s start at Brooklyn West Winery, right here on the corner. Taking its name from the neighborhood’s nickname, Brooklyn West’s tasting room is located in the heart of the Bay Area. Their wines, however, are crafted in small batches at their vineyards in the Alexander Valley, near Sonoma. The famous terroir of the region has brought forth some of Northern California’s finest wines, and the quality can be tasted in every bottle. Further down the road, you’ll see the central transit station for the area, and one of the first big projects of Jack London Square’s redevelopment. Finished in 1995, the Jack London Square Amtrak station was intended to replace Oakland’s 16th Street Station, which had been dealt irreparable damage by a 1989 earthquake. With this glass facility now serving as the gateway to the city for all new train arrivals, it was only a matter of time before this sleepy post-industrial part of town transformed into the vibrant community it is today, with shops and restaurants radiating out from this central station. Just a block past the station, on your right, you’ll see the Bloc15 Event Venue. Bloc15 hosts many events and festivals but keeps its fresh modern charm. The spacious 10,000-square-foot venue is mostly known for hosting art festivals, and functions as a co-working space between events. They have a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen and an impressive Bose sound system, allowing them to easily handle banquets and EDM concerts alike. Sharing a building with Bloc15 is Oakland United Beerworks, an excellent place with a variety of drinks and simple but delicious food. Yet another pet-friendly environment, they may even give you a few extra dog treats to take home, so your furry friends have as fun a night out as you do. Locals love their hazy IPAs, and enjoying them outside by the firepit is a great way to cap a long day. Heading up to the intersection with Webster Street and turning left will take you back to the Marina, where we started our walk today. And with that, Our tour is complete! I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know this unique and vibrant Oakland neighborhood. Today’s tour was brought to you by Barbara Brodrick, an expert Realtor dedicated to helping clients find their perfect home in the East Bay area. Whether you’re looking in Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, or anywhere else in Alameda or Contra Costa Counties, Barbara has you covered! Just call 925-403-1213 or email firstname.lastname@example.org! If you want more opportunities to learn about the communities of the East Bay Area, check out Barbara’s UCPlaces profile for a whole host of tours of Northern California’s best places to live. Until next time, this is Stephen with UCPlaces signing off. Have a wonderful day!