Downtown Oakland

Downtown Oakland is the hub of jobs – from government offices to major corporations. But popular entertainment venues and historic sites also are arrayed near the BRT route.

Near the northern terminus of the route are the Paramount and Fox theaters, popular venues for touring shows and local celebrations.

Oakland’s City Hall at Frank Ogawa Plaza was the tallest building west of the Mississippi when it was completed in 1914. Nearby is the Pardee Home Museum, home of two Oakland mayors and one California governor in the early years of the 20th Century. And downtown is also home to the African-American History Museum and Library.


African American history on display in Oakland

To discover a unique side of the history of Oakland, the state and the West Coast, take the East Bay BRT to the African American Museum and Library (AAMLO) in downtown Oakland. This museum is the place where you can indulge in the cultural experiences of African Americans and learn something new about the neighborhood where you live.

The African American Museum is an extension of the Oakland Public Library located conveniently near the East Bay BRT on 14th Street. It was founded in 1946 by Eugene and Ruth Lasartemay and Jessie and Dr. Marcel Ford, who created a collection of artifacts and documents of African Americans in California. AAMLO has more than 160 collections that contain pieces from prominent families, churches, pioneers, and organizations that trace the development of California and the west coast.

The second floor museum hosts exhibitions that highlight the art, history, and culture of African Americans. Exhibits in 2014 have included “The Mood, The Music, The Passion of Art,” a display of works by visual artist Charles Blackwell. It showed how the influence of jazz accentuates his art pieces and the history of radio and culture in Oakland.

In the museum’s reference library, students, researchers and the public can explore topics as diverse as California history, genealogy, religion, the Black Panther Party, and the military. These are just a few of the archives that make up the 12,000 volumes of material on African Americans. To enhance the enjoyment of your research, the reference library has an extensive DVD and video collection that can be viewed on-site.

Want to read the old Black Panther Party newspapers on microfilm, or research a paper on Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights movement? Take East Bay BRT to the African American Museum and Library and discover the cultural history and experiences that make up California.

Step back in time at Pardee Home Museum

The East Bay’s Gold Rush past is on display at the Pardee Home Museum just a short walk from the BRT route in downtown Oakland.

A beautiful home with great architecture and exterior beauty resides on the corner of 11th and Castro Street in one of the historic neighborhoods in Oakland.

Midwest immigrant Enoch Pardee built the house during the Gold Rush era of the 19th Century. His family played a big role in the development of the East Bay. To preserve the Pardee legacy, the Oakland Preservation Park Historic District declared the home a landmark in the 1970s. Later, both the city and state designated the home as a landmark as well.

Today, the Pardee Home is run by volunteers who lead visitors on guided tours of the three-story home. For a $10 fee, visitors learn all about the furnishings and collections that make this a remarkable landmark in Oakland. Two floors of collections range from weapons from Africa to altar pieces from China.

The Pardee Home is also popular for its “Tea Time” and private tour, available by appointment for groups of four to 12 visitors. In the home’s elegant dinning room, you can enjoy a high tea menu with homemade savories and tartlets. The donation is $20 per person.

The Pardee Home hosts a variety of themed events, exhibits and even offers rental facilities for weddings, garden parties, memorial services and more. The garden landscape wraps the home with Japanese camellia, oak trees, antique roses, and even a vegetable garden.

Historic theatres light up Downtown Oakland

The Paramount and Fox Theatre are keeping alive Oakland’s well-earned reputation as a venue for live music and entertainment.

And the East Bay BRT line will bring you within a few steps of these two regional entertainment gems.

Paramount Theatre of the Arts

From symphony to soul, hip-hop to rock ‘n roll, The Paramount Theatre is one of the best seats in town to discover the arts in Oakland. Many Grammy award-winning artists and local legends have graced the stage of the largest multi-purpose theater on the West Coast.

Oakland’s Paramount Theatre was designed by renowned San Francisco architect Timothy L. Pflueger in 1931. After the building suffered through some hard times, the Oakland Symphony, the city of Oakland, and other donors saved the building and remodeled it to authentic perfection. It was then declared a national historic landmark in 1977, and got a full upgrade.

Guided tours are available to the public the first and third Saturdays of each month, highlighting the art deco architecture of the building.

Located on Broadway in downtown Oakland, this theatre seats 3,040 people in its balcony and orchestra levels. The box office is open daily.

Fox Theater

The Fox Theater serves as the renaissance of Oakland’s uptown entertainment district. Located on Telegraph Avenue, the theater grounds open out to a courtyard of trees, benches, and open sidewalks that provide an upscale yet inviting location for a red carpet experience.

Since the reopening in 2009, this uptown Oakland district location has been a popular perk of living in the East Bay. This wrap-around building is not only a place of entertainment but it’s also the home of a charter school dedicated to artistic and academic excellence, the Oakland School of the Arts.

You can hangout at The Den located on the side of the building before or after a show. If you purchase a ticket you can upgrade your experience to VIP and visit the Telegraph Room, which features a private bar, preferred viewing, and complimentary treats.

Whether it’s music, food, or art, The Fox Theater has an experience for everyone.