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Oakland stands out as an important industrial port city in California and as one of the most important American centers of African-American culture. With its large downtown area and its industrial charme, Oakland resembles somewhat older industrial cities in the East Coast, i.e., [[Pittsburgh]] or [[Baltimore]]. However, Oakland's diversity––it remains one of the most racially and ethnically diverse cities in America–– as well as its strikingly creative, and multiracial culture; its historically, often prescient, progressive politics; and its emerging status as one of America's leading culinary cities, all ensure the city's distinctness. In the wake of white flight between the 1950s and the 1990s, exacerbated by mid-twentieth century deindustrialization, Oakland became home and a defining political and cultural center to Northern California's African Americans. Infusions of Latinx latinos in the Post-War era helped reshape Oakland from a white, Republican, and deeply conservative city into a largely "minority" and progressive-leaning urban center, albeit one that white institutions of industry and financial investment largely abandoned in the same period. The resulting decline of the city's fortunes, economic opportunities, and quality of life led, in part, to its historical role as the birthplace of the Black Panther movement in the 60s and 70s. Oakland's post-industrial decline made it especially vulnerable in the crack epidemic during the 80s and early 90s, even as the city saw the first seeds of white influx gentrification in neighborhoods that are now among the Bay Area's most prized –– and expensive.
[[File:Flying into Oakland above the port.jpg|thumb|Reverse flight path landing at Oakland]]
Oakland is currently experiencing "hyper-gentrification," an especially fast and deep influx of monied whites (but also size-able numbers of affluent, educated African-American, Latinix, and Asian-American and other professionals and creatives of colour). This gentrification has improved Oakland's quality of life, restored blighted areas, lowered violent and property crimes, and expanded the city's already vibrant multiracial arts communities. Gentrification has also pushed Oakland's formidable local culinary scene into one of international reputation. Whereas tens of thousands of middle-class citizens fled Oakland between 1970 and the 1990s due to the city's decline and resulting high crime and neighborhood degradation, revitalization encouraged by mayors Lionel Wilson and Elihu Harris and aggressively expanded by then mayor Jerry Brown, has ensured that Oakland not only gained back but surpassed its former population high-water mark in the 1950s. In recent years, the international media have focused on Oakland's outstanding artistic, culinary, and creative arts; publications ranging from The New York Times, UK Guardian, Zagat to National Geographic Traveler have all placed Oakland in their prestigious annual top-cities-to-visit lists, transforming perceptions of Oakland from "Murder City" of "thugs" to the NYTimes' coined meme, "Brooklyn by the Bay," a city of multiracial creatives, hipsters, young star chefs, working-class bohemians, and eccentrics of the sort once associated with twentieth century San Francisco.
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