Oakland City was established in 1890 and officially incorporated in 1894. The land surrounding the Oakland City was acquired from the Creek Indians in 1821 and remained rural farmland for decades because although railroads passed through, no terminals were constructed. Significant development began along a trolley line in the 1890s after the completion of Fort McPherson, and Oakland City incorporated as a municipality in 1894. Significant development began along a trolley line in the 1890s after the completion of Fort McPherson, and Oakland City incorporated as a municipality in 1894. The City of Atlanta annexed Oakland City in 1910, and industrial jobs and a new rail line fueled heavy suburban development in the 1920s.
The area remained primarily white working-class until WWII, when large numbers of African Americans moved to the city in search of employment, and white households and investment rapidly moved out. The area became economically distressed beginning in the 1950s and early 1960s.”
Bush Mountain is the only area of Oakland City where Black families could originally live in the early 1900’s. In 1913, Mayor Woodward signed a statute requiring residential segregation and several Oakland City subdivision plats from this time period state that property was for whites only. A small black community was established immediately west of Oakland Drive along what is today Plaza Avenue (formerly known as Bush Mountain Avenue), Ladd St, Bridges Avenue, and Ingram Street.
The Oakland City Historic District was designated on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003 in order to preserve Oakland City’s historic collection of early-mid 20th Century residential and community landmark structures. The Outdoor Activity Center is home to a practice field for the Atlanta Black Crackers, a former Negro Baseball League team. Much of the West End neighborhood immediately north Oakland City neighborhood is included in the West End Historic District, also on the National Register. This area was a center of African American culture for decades and has many historically preserved homes.
Residential architectural styles in the Oakland City Historic District (designated in 2003) included Queen Anne, Shingle, Folk Victorian, Colonial Revival, English Vernacular Revival, Minimal Traditional and Craftsmen. Examples of the Craftsman are the most numerous and reflect Oakland City’s biggest period of development in the 1920’s. Bungalows with front and side gables outnumber those with hipped and cross gables.
Starting in 1976, Congressman Andrew Young initiated a program called “urban homesteading,” which sold dilapidated houses for $1 to individuals that would renovate them and help prevent land speculation. In 1971 the City of Atlanta approved a proposal for a $1.4 billion mass transit system with 64 miles of rail and bus way lines with 41 stations and park-and-ride facilities for 30,000 vehicles. The proposal included a rail station in Oakland City, on the line to Hartsfield International Airport, estimated to be completed by mid-1977. The line was not completed until 1984, however, and failed to bring about the intended revitalization.
In 1987; the Sandtown and Oakland City Community Development Group was organized by concerned neighbors. By the fall of 1992; the group decided to go their separate way since each community had issues that needed to be addressed by individual communities. OCCO held its first organizational meeting in 1992 and incorporated in 2000. Oakland City Community Organization, Inc. was designated as a tax-exempt organization by the Internal Revenue Service in 2001.
Presently, Oakland City is comprised of mostly black residents at 91% and whites who make up 6%, while the mix of other races, ethnicities/nationalities is 6%.
Read more about Oakland City in the 2012 Revitalization plan for Atlanta’s Oakland City neighborhood.