Port History

Port History

Port of Oakland

The Port of Oakland (Port) was established in 1927 as an independent department of the City of Oakland. The Port serves as the trustee of Port lands and manages them on behalf of all Californians. The Port’s major business lines are aviation, commercial real estate and maritime.

Robert Bernardo

Director of Communications

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Oakland Seaport

The Gold Rush and rail development in the latter half of the 1800’s set the foundation for an international port coming to life in Oakland. With trade booming in California in the 1920’s, the Port became an official Oakland department in 1927. Commercial shipping trade continued to move through Oakland until World War II, when the Port became one of the nation’s busiest military depots. Following WWII, the Port transformed again and became a pioneer in large scale, containerized maritime operations in the 1960’s. Today the Oakland Seaport handles 99% of containerized cargo for Northern California.

The Market Street Pier, Port of Oakland, as it appeared in 1928.

San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport

Oakland was an active center for aircraft aviation at the start of the 20th century. The Airport was constructed in 1927 and completed by the fall of 1929. A history-making army flight from Oakland to Hawaii established the Airport’s importance in the nation. Commercial flights flourished until WWII, when the US military took over airport operations. Charter flights initially highlighted post WWII aircraft activities.

In 1962 the 600-acre Oakland International Airport (OAK) was completed, ushering in the era of the jetliner. Terminal 2 opened in 1985, adding capacity to meet public demand for flying. The Airport was also developed as a major cargo hub for Northern California since the mid-1980’s. Since that time, OAK has continued to undergo infrastructure improvements.

The Dole Race was held at Oakland Airport on August 16, 1927. Aviators were challenged to fly nonstop to Honolulu.

Commercial Real Estate (CRE)

The Port of Oakland is steward to more than 875 acres of waterfront property that includes hundreds of acres of parks and open space. Jack London Square (Square) is the epicenter of the Port’s commercial holdings, which extends along the waterfront between Broadway and Webster streets. The Square’s most historic establishment is Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon, which has catered to sailors, writers and locals since 1884.

The Square was first built in the 1950s, upgraded in the 1980s and more recently enhanced with renovations, new adjacent residential structures and new restaurants in the 2010’s and early 2020’s. Today, the area is a mix of restaurants, retail stores, offices, hotels and entertainment venues.

Heinold's First and Last Chance is a waterfront saloon opened by John (Johnny) M. Heinold in 1883 in Oakland, California. The establishment continues to operate today in Jack London Square.