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Alameda County is a county in the U.S. state of Californiamarker. It occupies most of the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Areamarker. As of the 2000 census it had a population of 1,443,741, making it the 7th largest county in the state, and by 2006 it was estimated 1,457,426. The county seat is Oaklandmarker.


The county was formed on March 25, 1853 from a large portion of Contra Costa Countymarker and a smaller portion of Santa Clara Countymarker.

The word 'alameda' means 'a place where poplar trees grow', a name which originally was given to the Arroyo de la Alameda (Poplar Grove Creek). The willow and sycamore trees along the banks of the river reminded the early explorers of a road lined with trees, also known as an 'alameda'.

The county seat at the time it was formed was located at Alvaradomarker; it was moved to San Leandromarker in 1856 where the county courthouse was destroyed by the devastating 1868 quake on the Hayward Fault. The county seat was then re-established in the town of Brooklyn from 1872-1875. Brooklyn is now part of Oaklandmarker, which has been the county seat since 1873.

Much of what is now considered an intensively urban region, with major cities, was developed as a trolley car suburb of San Franciscomarker in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The historical progression from native American tribal lands to Spanish, then Mexican ranches, thence to farms, ranches, and orchards, suburbs and eventually cities, is shared with the adjacent Contra Costa Countymarker (see that article for an extensive history applicable to this county).


The county is divided into five different districts. A Supervisor is elected in each district, with an election held every four years. This elected group is known as the Board of Supervisors. Currently, District 1 is represented by Supervisor Scott Haggerty; District 2, Supervisor Gail Steele; District 3, Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker; District 4, Supervisor Nate Miley; District 5, Supervisor Keith Carson. The Board elects a president who presides at all meetings of the Board and appoints committees to handle work involving the major programs of the County. If the president is absent for a meeting, the vice president shall be responsible. A Board election occurs every two years for these positions. Supervisor Lai-Bitker is serving currently as president; Supervisor Miley is vice president.

Board meetings are open to the public, and occur every Tuesday (with the exception of holidays and board retreats) at 9:00 AM in the County Administration Building in Oakland. Day-to-day administrative operations are handled by the County Administrator. This position is appointed by the Board of Supervisors, currently held by Susan Muranishi.

The county's law enforcement is overseen by an elected county sheriff and an elected district attorney. The sheriff supervises a force of deputies whose primary responsibilities include policing unincorporated areas of the county, and providing security for county buildings including courthouses, the county jail and other properties. The County Sheriff also serves as the officers of the court, serving various court writs and providing security for the courthouses.


The annual county fair is held at the Alameda County Fairgroundsmarker in Pleasantonmarker. The fair runs for 3 weekends from June to July. Attractions include horse racing, carnival rides, 4-H exhibits, and live bands.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 821 square miles (2,127 km²), of which, 738 square miles (1,910 km²) of it is land and 84 square miles (216 km²) of it (10.18%) is water.

The San Francisco Bay borders the county on the west, and the City and County of San Francisco, Californiamarker has a small land border with the city of Alameda due to land filling[12145]. The crest of the Berkeley Hillsmarker form part of the northeastern boundary, and reach into the center of the county. A coastal plain several miles wide lines the bay; it is home to Oakland and the most populous regions. Livermore Valley lies in the eastern part of the county.

The Hayward Fault, a major branch of the San Andreas Fault to the west, runs through the most populated parts of Alameda County, while the Calaveras Fault runs through the southeastern part of the county.

Incorporated cities

View of Berkeley and the San Francisco Bay at nightfall.

Unincorporated communities

Former townships

Map of Alameda County, 1878 (Six Townships)

  • Oakland Township - the northern portion subsequently became the cities of Berkeley and Albany
  • Alameda Township
  • Brooklyn Township
  • Eden Township
  • Washington Township
  • Murray Township

Adjacent counties

National protected area

Transportation infrastructure

Major highways

Mass transit

  • ACE train - commuter rail using existing railroad tracks; primarily brings commuters from San Joaquin County to Santa Clara County
  • AC Transit - local bus system in western Alameda County and west Contra Costa County, with additional service across the three bridges from Alameda County to downtown San Francisco, San Mateo, and Palo Alto
  • BART - commuter rail centered on northwest Oakland, primarily serving commuters to downtown San Francisco and downtown Oakland
  • Capitol Corridor - commuter rail using existing railroad tracks, extending from San Jose to Sacramento, running through western Alameda County
  • WHEELS - bus system in the cities of southeastern Alameda County
  • Union City Transit - local city bus service within Union Citymarker in addition to AC Transit
  • Emery-Go-Round - free bus service in Emeryvillemarker.
  • Alameda / Oakland Ferry and Harbor Bay Ferry - connect Oakland, Alameda, and Bay Farm Island with downtown San Francisco
  • San Joaquins - Amtrak route between Oakland and Bakersfield through Fresno and the Central Valley
  • VTA - commuter service between southern Alameda county and job centers in the Silicon Valley
  • Dumbarton Express - additional service across the Dumbarton Bridge between Fremont and Palo Alto


As of the census of 2000, there were 1,443,741 people, 523,366 households, and 339,141 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,957 people per square mile (756/km²). There were 540,183 housing units at an average density of 732 per square mile (283/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 48.79% White, 20.45% Asian, 14.93% Black or African American, 8.94% from other races, 5.63% from two or more races, 18.97% Hispanic or Latino of any race, 0.63% Native American, and 0.63% Pacific Islander. 5.0% were of Irish ancestry according to Census 2000. 63.2% spoke English, 14.3% Spanish, 5.0% Chinese or Mandarin, 3.5% Tagalog, 1.6% Vietnamese and Cantonese as their first language.

In 2005 Alameda County had a population that was 38.0% non-Hispanic whites. African-Americans constituted 13.8% of the population. Asians were 24.2% of the population. Hispanics came in at 20.8%, while both Native Americans and Pacific Islanders came in at 0.7% of the population.

In 2000 there were 523,366 households, out of which 32.60% had children under the age of 18 living within them, 47.00% married couples living together, 13.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.20% were non-families. 26.00% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.71 and the average family size was 3.31.

In the county the population was spread out with 24.60% under the age of 18, 9.60% from 18 to 24, 33.90% from 25 to 44, 21.70% from 45 to 64, and 10.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 96.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.00 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $55,946, and the median income for a family was $65,857 (these figures had risen to $66,430 and $81,341 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). Males had a median income of $47,425 versus $36,921 for females. The per capita income for the county was $26,680. About 7.70% of families and 11.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.50% of those under age 18 and 8.10% of those age 65 or over.

There is a major Portuguese community, from where Tom Hanks' mother came and where Lyndsy Fonseca was raised for some time.


Alameda County is a stronghold of the Democratic Party. It has not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1956, when Dwight Eisenhower carried the county. Historically, the county was Republican until the 1958 defeat of William F. Knowland. Even when Ronald Reagan won the national popular vote by an 18.3% margin in 1984, Walter Mondale won Alameda County by a slightly larger margin. In 2004 it voted for John Kerry by a margin of over 50%. Every city and town voted Democratic. In the House of Representatives, all of the 9thmarker district, parts of the 10th and 11th districts, and most of the 13thmarker district are in the county. All four districts are held by Democrats: Barbara Lee, John Garamendi, Jerry McNerney, and Pete Stark, respectively.

In the State Assembly, parts of the 14th and 15th districts, all of the 16th and 18th districts, and most of the 20th district are in the county. All of its five legislators are Democrats: Nancy Skinner of the 14th district, Sandré Swanson of the 16th district, Mary Hayashi of the 18th district, and Alberto Torrico of the 20th district, and Joan Buchanan of the 15th district. In the State Senate, most of the 9th and 10th districts are in the county and are both represented by Democrats: Loni Hancock and Ellen Corbett, respectively.

According to the California Secretary of State, there are 709,414 registered voters in Alameda County. 401,847 (56.6%) are registered Democrats, 116,864 (16.5%) are registered Republicans, 33,689 (4.8%) are registered to minor political parties, and 157,014 (22.1%) declined to answer. This means Democrats have a 40.1% registration advantage over Republicans. Every city, town, and unincorporated area in Alameda County has more registered Democrats than Republicans.
Alameda County Court House in Oakland at 12th & Fallon Streets

Presidential election results
Year DEM GOP Others
2008 78.9% 489,106 19.3% 119,554 1.8% 11,724
2004 75.2% 422,585 23.3% 130,911 1.5% 8,594
2000 69.4% 342,889 24.1% 119,279 6.5% 32,168
1996 65.8% 303,903 23.1% 106,581 11.2% 51,560
1992 63.0% 334,224 20.6% 109,292 16.3% 86,629
1988 64.8% 310,283 34.0% 162,815 1.2% 5,899
1984 58.7% 282,041 40.0% 192,408 1.3% 6,425
1980 48.3% 201,720 38.0% 158,531 13.7% 57,366
1976 57.9% 235,988 38.1% 155,280 4.0% 16,413
1972 55.0% 259,254 42.8% 201,862 2.1% 10,079
1968 53.9% 219,545 37.6% 153,285 8.5% 34,519
1964 66.4% 283,833 33.5% 142,998 0.1% 509
1960 54.0% 217,172 45.6% 183,354 0.4% 1,474

On Nov. 4, 2008 Alameda County voted 62.0 % against Proposition 8 which amended the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages. They were in a distinct minority, because California voted for it in most counties.



The following sports teams play in Alameda County.
Club Sport Founded League Venue
California Golden Bears NCAA 1868 NCAA: Pac-10 California Memorial Stadiummarker (Football), Haas Pavilionmarker (Basketball), Evans Diamondmarker (Baseball)
Oakland Athletics Baseball 1901 (in Oakland since 1968) Major League Baseball: American League Oakland-Alameda County Coliseummarker
Oakland Raiders American Football 1960 (in Los Angelesmarker from 1982–1994) National Football League: American Conference. AFC West Oakland-Alameda County Coliseummarker
Golden State Warriors Basketball 1946 (In Oakland since 1971) National Basketball Association: Western Conference. Oracle Arenamarker

Interesting places to visit

See also

External links


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