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Home» Oakland » Chinatown



Chinatown is an important landmark in Oakland, California. It is also a popular tourist destination in the state of California. Chinatown is named so because of its pan-Asian population.

The Chinatown area in Oakland is characterized by its pan-Asian population. The area boasts the varied Asian American society in Oakland. It is often denoted as Oakland Chinatown for the purpose of differentiating it from the close by Chinatown in San Francisco, California. The altitude of Chinatown is 12 meters or 39 feet from sea surface.

Among the Asians, the Chinese were the first to come to Oakland, followed by Japanese, Koreans and Filipinos. People from Southeast Asia started to come to Oakland at the time of the Vietnam War. As a result of this, there are various Asian dialects and languages spoken in Chinatown.

Chinatown is situated in downtown Oakland. The heart of Chinatown is Webster Street and 8th Street. The northern end of Chinatown is known as 12th Street and the southern end is I-880 (situated around 6th Street). It extends from Broadway on the west to the southern end of Lake Merritt to the east.

Culture and People of Chinatown

The inhabitants of Chinatown in Oakland include the following:
  • Vietnamese
  • Chinese
  • Filipino
  • Korean
  • Cambodian
  • Japanese
  • Mien
  • Laotian
  • Samoan
  • Thai

    Accordingly, the languages and dialects spoken in the area include the following:
  • Chiu-Chow
  • Cantonese
  • Japanese
  • Ilocano
  • Khmu
  • Khmer
  • Lao
  • Korean
  • Mandarin
  • Malay
  • Tagalog
  • Mien
  • Thai
  • Taiwanese
  • Vietnamese
  • Toishan

  • Fairs and Cultural Events Taking Place at Chinatown

    The popular fairs and cultural events taking place at Chinatown every year include the following:

  • Dragon boat races are organized every year at Treasure Island or Jack London Square, California
  • Chinese New Year (also referred to as Vietnamese Têt or Lunar New Year).
  • Mid-Autumn Festival (also referred to as Vietnamese Tết Trung Thu or Moon Festival).
  • The Oakland Chinatown StreetFest has been hosted on the 4th weekend of August every year from 1988.

    Performing Arts in Chinatown

    Chinese Opera is one of various conventional types of performing arts in Oakland. The first Chinese theater was set up in Oakland in 1907. At present, there are 3 forms of Chinese opera in the city and they are as follows:
  • Beijing Opera
  • Cantonese Opera
  • Kunqu

    Libraries in Chinatown

    The Asian Branch Library is a division of the Oakland Public Library. Books are available in languages like Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Cambodian, Thai, Laotian and Tagalog. The library was established in 1975.

    Famous Inhabitants of Chinatown

    Given below are the names of some of the famous people in Chinatown:

  • Fred Korematsu - He protested the mandatory confinement of Japanese Americans at the time of World War II
  • Bruce Lee – Actor, martial artist
  • Amy Tan - Writer
  • Rodney Yee - Yoga trainer
  • Dr. Charles Goodall Lee (1881–1973) – dentist. He was the first accredited Chinese dentist in Oakland
  • Dong Kingman (1911–2000), painter, made paintings for The World of Suzie Wong and Flower Drum Song
  • Frank Chin - Author
  • Lew Hing (1858–1934), business mogul
  • Matt Fong, politician
  • March Fong Eu, politician
  • Maxine Hong Kingston, author of China Men and The Woman Warrior
  • Ben Fong-Torres - writer, columnist, radio celebrity
  • William Wong, columnist and writer
  • Wendy Yoshimura, painter

    Geography of Chinatown

    Chinatown is situated in Downtown Oakland between 12th Street to the north, Interstate 880 to the south, Oak Street and Laney College to the east and Broadway to the west. The Chinatown area can be split into two regions and they are the commercial region and the residential area.

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