The East Bay is a commonly used, informal term for the lands on the eastern side of the San Francisco Bay, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Originally referring only to cities along the immediate northeast shore of the San Francisco Bay and the southeast shore of San Pablo Bay, the definition of the region described has grown with the expansion of the Bay Area's population and infrastructure to include all of Alameda and Contra Costa counties. With a 2010 population of roughly 2.5 million, it is the most populous subregion of the Bay Area.
Oakland is the largest city in the subregion and the third largest in the Bay Area. The city serves as a major transportation hub for the U.S. West Coast and its port is the largest in Northern California. Oakland was also traditionally the urban center of the East Bay, however increasing suburbanization and expansion has led to the sub-region lacking a true central city. A majority of the Bay Area's largest suburbs are located in the East Bay, some of which have developed urban and edge city characteristics, such as Fremont (the largest suburb in the Bay Area), Berkeley, Hayward and Concord.
Institutions serving the East Bay subregion include: the AC Transit (Alameda/Contra Costa Transit) bus system, the weekly East Bay Express newspaper, East Bay Regional Parks District, East Bay Municipal Utility District, the East Bay Green Corridor coalition, East Bay Athletic League, The East Bay Monthly newspaper and the East Bay Bicycle Coalition. Historic institutions include the East Bay Electric Lines and the Oakland Museum of California, which houses major collections and interpretation of development of the entire state.
The region is linked by numerous highways and the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) subway rail system. It is bounded to the south by the South Bay subregion, and to the north by the San Pablo Bay and North Bay subregion.
Although initial development in the larger Bay Area focused on San Francisco, the coastal East Bay came to prominence in the middle of the nineteenth century as the part of the Bay Area most accessible by land from the east. The Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1868 with its western terminus at the newly constructed Oakland Long Wharf, and the new city of Oakland rapidly developed into a significant seaport. Today the Port of Oakland is the Bay Area's largest port and the fifth largest container shipping port in the United States. In 1868, the University of California was formed from the private College of California and a new campus was built in what would become Berkeley. The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake saw a large number of refugees flee to the relatively undamaged East Bay, and the region continued to grow rapidly. As the East Bay grew, the push to connect it with a more permanent link than ferry service resulted in the completion of the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge in 1936.
The Bay Area saw further growth in the decades following World War II, with the population doubling between 1940 and 1960, and doubling again by 2000. The 1937 completion of the Caldecott Tunnel through the Berkeley Hills fueled growth further east, where there was undeveloped land. Cities in the Diablo Valley, including Concord and Walnut Creek, saw their populations increase tenfold or more between 1950 and 1970. The addition of the BART commuter rail system in 1972 further encouraged development in increasingly far-flung regions of the East Bay. Today, the valleys east of the Berkeley Hills contain large affluent suburban communities such as Walnut Creek, San Ramon and Dublin.
The East Bay is not a formally defined region, aside from its being described as a region inclusive of Alameda and Contra Costa counties. As development moves generally eastward, new areas are described as being part of the East Bay. In 1996, BART was extended from its terminus in Concord to a new station in Pittsburg, symbolically incorporating the newly expanded Delta communities of Pittsburg and Antioch as extended regions of the East Bay. Beyond the borders of Alameda County, the large population of Tracy is connected as a bedroom community housing commuters traveling through to or through the East Bay.
Except for some hills and ridges which exist as parklands or undeveloped land, and some farmland in eastern Contra Costa and Alameda Counties, the East Bay is highly urbanized. The East Bay shoreline is an urban corridor with several cities exceeding 100,000 residents, including Oakland, Hayward, Fremont, Richmond, and Berkeley. In the inland valleys on the east side of the Berkeley Hills, the land is mostly developed, particularly on the eastern fringe of Contra Costa county and the Tri-Valley area. In the inland valleys, the population density is less and the cities smaller. The only cities exceeding 100,000 residents in the inland valleys are Antioch and Concord.
East Bay cities include:
The East Bay has a free weekly newspaper, the East Bay Express, which has reported on the culture and politics of the East Bay for over 30 years, and has influenced the identification of the East Bay as a culturally defined region of the Bay Area. The free East Bay Monthly has been published since 1970. In the early years of the evolution of USA Today, during the early 1980s, they operated regional newspapers, with the region's paper entitled East Bay Today.
The East Bay is the birthplace of many musical acts, including Creedence Clearwater Revival, Counting Crows, Yesterday and Today, Digital Underground, Rancid, Green Day, Primus, Tower of Power (whose debut album is titled East Bay Grease), The Pointer Sisters, MC Hammer, Tony! Toni! Tone! Tupac Shakur, Too Short, Spice 1, en Vogue, Pete Escovedo and Sheila E, Keyshia Cole, and Mac Dre. The region is a major center for the development of rock, folk, funk, jazz, hip-hop, soul and women's music.
Bay Area thrash metal has centered strongly on the East Bay, including the bands Exodus and Metallica, among others. Possessed and Death, both considered the first death metal bands, have roots or connections in the East Bay: Possessed formed in El Sobrante, with Death debuting nationally while in Concord.
Major music (and sports) venues include the Oakland Oracle Arena, home arena of the Golden State Warriors; adjacent O.co Coliseum, home of the Oakland A's and the Oakland Raiders; the Oakland Paramount Theater, venue for the Oakland East Bay Symphony; the Fox Oakland Theatre, the UC Berkeley Greek Theater, the nonprofit The Freight and Salvage, and the Sleep Train Pavilion, formerly known as the Concord Pavilion.
The East Bay Regional Parks District operates over fifty parks, many consisting of significant acreage of wildlands, in the East Bay, many directly adjacent to urban centers. Tilden Regional Park, is one of the largest regional parks (2,000 acres (8.1 km2)) located directly adjacent to the urban center of Berkeley. Briones Regional Park, at 5,000 acres, is another large wildlands park near an urban center, Walnut Creek.
Highways within the East Bay include: Interstates 80, 580, 680, 880, 980, and 238; State Route 24; and State Route 4 are the main highways of the East Bay. Minor Highways include State Route 13, State Route 84, State Route 92, State Route 160, State Route 238, and State Route 242.
The East Bay's major rail transit service is Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART, which has an extensive route system linking all major population areas of the East Bay, as well as a link to San Francisco. Amtrak California and the Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) also operate rail services in the East Bay.
AC Transit is the major bus transit agency for the region, and provides bus service throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties, hence the "AC" moniker. County Connection, WestCAT, WHEELS, Tri-Delta Transit and Union City Transit also provide bus service in the East Bay.
Bicycle transportation is strongly promoted by city and county agencies, and by organizations like the East Bay Bicycle Coalition.
The East Bay has a mixed economy of services, manufacturing, and small and large businesses. The region is headquarters to a number of highly notable businesses, including Kaiser Permanente, Chevron, and Safeway, among others. The East Bay Economic Development Alliance was founded by Alameda County as the Economic Development Advisory Board in 1990 as a public/private partnership with the mission to promote the East Bay as an important region for development, with Contra Costa County joining in 1996, and the current name chosen in 2006.
The East Bay, as a part of the greater Bay Area, is a highly developed region, and is a major center for new and established economic ventures. Along with the county governments of Alameda and Contra Costa, the largest employers are:
Other major companies with headquarters in the East Bay include Clorox, Dreyer's, Pixar, and ANG Newspapers. Mervyn's headquarters were located in the East Bay until they declared bankruptcy. The New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI) automobile manufacturing plant employed about 5,100 employees at its peak. Tesla Motors has taken over part of the NUMMI plant, which is still the only automobile manufacturing plant in California.
The East Bay is served by a number of both public and private higher education institutions: