Downtown Oakland is the central business district of Oakland, California, United States; roughly bounded by both the Oakland Estuary and Interstate 880 on the southwest, Interstate 980 on the northwest, Grand Avenue on the northeast, and Lake Merritt on the east.
The Downtown area is sometimes expanded to refer to the industrial and residential Jack London Square and Jack London warehouse district areas, the Lakeside Apartments District, which are a largely residential neighborhood on the west side of Lake Merritt, the Civic Center district, Chinatown, and the south end of Oakland's Broadway Auto Row, an area along Broadway which has historically been used by car dealers and other automotive service businesses. While many consider these areas outside of downtown proper, they are generally considered more geographically proximate to Downtown Oakland than to East Oakland, North Oakland or to West Oakland and are thus sometimes associated with Downtown Oakland.
Downtown Oakland hosts the only celebration of its kind in the nation in memory of the black cowboys who helped settle the American West. The annual parade typically begins on an early October weekend at DeFremery Park in West Oakland en route to Frank H. Ogawa Plaza where judging booths are set up. After an awards ceremony, the parade returns to DeFremery Park, for a celebration.
Downtown Oakland is home to apartment and condominium dwellers, numerous retail businesses, tall modern office buildings, shorter mixed-use historic buildings, the hubs of AC Transit and BART, which has three underground stations, the city's official Entertainment District which includes the historic Paramount and Fox Theatres, nightclubs, and restaurants, the headquarters of Clorox, City Center, a portion of Old Oakland, and a portion of Chinatown.
Downtown includes a portion of the oldest part of the city. The area from the Oakland Estuary inland to 14th Street between West Street and the Lake Merritt Channel was the original site of Oakland, and there are several 19th century houses scattered around the edges of downtown and in Chinatown. The Oakland Museum is located on Oak Street near the southeastern edge of Downtown.
Laney College, with more than 12,000 students, is located on Fallon Street near the Lake Merritt BART station. Other educational institutions include Lincoln University, a small business school catering mainly to international students, and a downtown office of Cal State East Bay. Oaksterdam University, a business college which prepares students for medical cannabis work, is located on 15th Street in an area referred to as "Oaksterdam".
Lincoln Elementary School, one of the few public elementary schools in the downtown of a major US city, is on the edge of downtown, near the center of Chinatown. The Oakland School for the Arts, a charter school, is building a new facility surrounding the Fox Oakland Theatre in Oakland's Uptown Oakland.
City Hall Plaza is a city park and a "pedestrian plaza" which includes what was once the terminus of San Pablo Avenue where it met Broadway at 14th Street. It also includes 15th Street, which once ran through what is now "Kahn's Alley," past 250 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza building, across Clay Street, through what is now a glass windowed lobby of the California State office building, connecting with Jefferson Street on the building's west side entrance. Motor vehicle traffic has also been excluded from where former city streets, Washington street and 13th street, were once aligned through what is now the Oakland City Center development. Today the area features an outdoor retail mall with pedestrian streets laid out to replicate the original street grid.
Several routes operated by AC Transit pass by or end at Downtown Oakland. These include:
All-Nighter Routes (all routes meet at Broadway and 14th Street)
Transit passengers traveling in and out of Downtown are serviced by AC Transit's downtown bus station at 14th and Broadway, and Uptown Regional Transit Center bus mall on nearby Thomas L. Berkeley Way (20th Street) is now in full farebox service, and features multiple bus shelters with seating, NextBus arrival prediction signs, local and Rapid Bus service to Oakland's streetcar suburbs. These stations host local service, Rapid service, Transbay Express, and All Nighter service. A Translink Add Value Machine is located at AC Transit Headquarters on Franklin Street.
The "1" line which connects to East Oakland and San Leandro via International Blvd. and California State Route 185 and terminates at the San Leandro BART station, runs through downtown along 12th Street. The transformation of the "1" line into a full scale bus rapid transit corridor is years into the planning process. The most substantial planning alternative proposed for this system would feature articulated buses with five to six doors at boarding platform level, a separated bus-only lane, center median platforms in many areas with proof-of-payment ticket machines to speed boarding, and signalization priority to allow bus drivers to change traffic lights in passengers favor.
The Downtown Oakland  and Lake Merritt/Uptown District Associations are community benefit districts that were formed in February 2009. Property owners in both Downtown Oakland and the Lake Merritt/Uptown Districts voted by a margin of almost 8 to 1 to support a voluntary property tax to fund services that would improve the quality of life in their respective communities. The associations meet and function jointly. Services funded by these Districts include maintaining cleanliness and order in the public rights of way, improving district identity and advocating on behalf of the area's property owners, business owners and residents. In June 2013, the districts were recognized by the International Downtown Association (IDA) and named the IDA's June Downtown of the Month.
The district boards have three organizational committees, including the DISI (District Identity and Street Improvement) Committee, the SOBO (Sidewalk Operations, Beautification & Order) Committee and the Joint ORG (Organization) Committee. The DISI Committee promotes the identity of the districts, encourages economic development and works to createa vibrant downtown through public relations, marketing, and special events. The SOBO Committee oversees cleanliness and order in the public rights of way and manages service providers in keeping with the expectations of our organization and the needs of the community. Through diligent planning and thoughtful allocation of resources, the SOBO committee executes projects that effectively beautify and enhance the safety of the districts for the long term, creating vibrant and celebrated public spaces. And lastly, the Joint Organization Committee oversees the general administration of the corporations, ensures the effective operationsof the board, acts as the coordinating framework through which the other committees function efficiently, and works to increase involvement and supportfor the organizations.
The districts have helped fund several neighborhood beautification/improvement projects & initiatives including: The Latham Square pedestrian plaza, back of BART planter boxes, hanging flower baskets & banners and median landscaping projects, to name a few.
The Downtown Oakland Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. The listing included 43 contributing buildings, one contributing site and one contributing object.
Other historic districts have been designated in Old Oakland: the Lakeside Apartments district, Preservation Park, and the Waterfront Warehouse district.