As the Cavaliers and the Warriors face off in the NBA Finals, we got to thinking: if it were a living competition between the cities, which would come out on top, Cleveland or Oakland?
Both are proud, working-class cities. Both have been considered the underdog and continue to try to prove doubters wrong. Both, obviously, have great sports teams and dedicated fan bases. But what sets them apart? How does The Cleve compare to Oaktown?
Size: As the eighth largest city in California, Oakland contains 413,775 people in 78 square miles. Cleveland is a bit less dense, at 388,072 in 82.5 miles, making it the second largest city in Ohio behind Columbus.
City and neighborhood ranking: According to city and neighborhood review site StreetAdvisor, Cleveland is the most favorite city in Ohio, with Detroit-Shoreway, Downtown, and Tremont as the top rated neighborhoods.
Oakland ranks 93rd in the much more populated state of California, with Lake Merritt, Piedmont, and Upper Laurel as the city’s favorite neighborhoods.
Real estate: Being part of the Bay Area, the median home value in Oakland is a valuable $604,300, according to Zillow. Around $300,000 will get you a small studio or one-bedroom condo near downtown, or a modest two-bedroom house south of town.
You get a lot more for your money in Cleveland, where the median home price stands at just $49,400, and $300,000 will get you a two-bedroom town home in downtown or a four-bedroom house just outside city limits.
Top attractions: Oakland’s Lake Merritt, with gondola boat rides and grassy community areas, consistently rates as a top sight for both tourists and locals. The Museum of California and Redwood Regional Park are also draws to the city.
Cleveland, on the other hand, attracts music lovers to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and kids of all ages to the Cedar Point Amusement Park. It’s also the home of the world class Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall, which is known as one of the “Big Five” American orchestras.
Weather: You might be surprised that Oakland, despite being on the sunny side of the San Francisco Bay in California, has an average high of just 71 in June, while Cleveland usually tops out at 79. Cleveland also experiences large seasonal changes, with low temperatures, snow, and nearby skiing in the winters. Meanwhile, Oakland stays at a relatively pleasant, if a bit monotone, 60-70 degrees year round. It also manages to escape much of San Francisco Bay’s notorious fog.
Most popular arts events: Cleveland is famous for an outstanding theater scene, with 9 theaters downtown in “Playhouse Square,” as well as the aforementioned orchestra. Oakland goes all out every first Friday of the month at the highly popular Murmur Art Walk with more than 40 galleries, a street festival, and food trucks, year-round.
Best parks: Cleveland’s Metroparks system is one of city’s proudest assets, with more than 23,000 acres of green space, and over 45 million visitors a year. Some of the most popular are the eight lakefront parks, giving the public access to Lake Erie.
Oakland, nestled between the Bay to the west and mountains to the east, has an abundance of outdoor recreation. Large regional parks host public hiking trails in the Oakland Hills just a few miles out of town. But one of the most popular outdoor spaces is Lake Merritt, where Oaklanders love to lounge and picnic.
Martha Burwell is a gender equity consultant in Seattle and writer for StreetAdvisor.