Lindgren & Hicks

9 January 2022

512 66th Street

This time of year is excellent for walking, not just because the light is good with the leaves down and not just because the temperature is moderate, but because the low sun brings out marks like no other season. To my knowledge, this is the only mark by this maker in Oakland.

The firm was founded in 1900, by Charles Lindgren and Lewis Hicks, and disbanded in 1908. Lindgren went on to found the company known today as Swinerton, Inc. (and represented in Oakland by a 1936 Lindgren & Swinerton mark).

Artesian Water Works

3 January 2022

35th Avenue at Foothill Boulevard

Artesian Water Works was a private water company started in 1879 by “Captain” R. R. Thompson, in Alameda. If that is the company that made this main cover, then the mystery is why it’s up in Oakland in Fruitvale.

The company was acquired in 1899 by the Contra Costa Water Company, originally founded by Anthony Chabot in 1866. East Bay MUD took it all over in the 1920s. It’s conceivable, then, that this piece of iron was deployed somewhere between 1880 and 1900, most likely late in that time span. In the 1890s the company’s water came from the Fitchburg wellfield, which was where the Coliseum is today, so it may have served this part of Fruitvale. It was unincorporated territory at the time and thus not subject to Oakland’s ruinously low water rates.

Corner: Canning Street and McAuley Street

18 December 2021

McAuley Street was previously named Rose Street and is shown thusly on the 1912 street map. It was apparently still Rose Street in 1929.

Corner: Canning Street and 59th Street

15 December 2021

Looks like I missed this the last time I was here, back in 2009. Granted, it was long ago and I wasn’t collecting corners then. The sidewalks here are around 110 years old.

Empire Foundry

11 November 2021

38th Avenue and Redding Street

An unusual configuration from Empire Foundry.

While I’m at it, here’s a street drain plate from Empire. Don’t know where this is, because I’ve had the photo lying around for a long time.

Pretty little things

4 July 2021

Every now and them, as I stroll the streets, I find a little something I can’t resist photographing. Then it sits in my master file, waiting to turn into a post. Here are three such things, petits fours of the street.

I started this blog on 9 July 2007 with a burst of 24 posts, leading off with a photo of a 1901 sidewalk stamp. (That remains the oldest date I’ve found in Oakland.) Soon enough I settled down to a once-daily rhythm that never let me relax for long, ensuring that I’d keep going out to survey a few more blocks. Eight years later I completed walking every block of every street in Oakland, finishing that initial series on 6 December 2015. It’s been easy going ever since. I’m having a great, low-key time.

This is the 3,000th post in Oakland Underfoot.

William D. Perine, Oakland’s first sidewalk maker

2 July 2021

William D. Perine was born to a farming family in Jackson, New York in 1827 and died in Oakland in 1895. He’s buried at Mountain View Cemetery in plot 13, lot 15; at Find A Grave an annotator notes, “He was among the first to introduce cement sidewalk laying in Oakland. He was involved in litigation over the patents for years and died a poor man.” He and his wife Elizabeth had three daughters and two sons; their first two children were born in Canada. Census records have him listed as a farmer in Half Moon Bay in 1870.

Perine first appeared in the 1877 city directory as a “manufacturer of cement walks.” In 1880 his business was listed under “Artificial Stone,” the going name for concrete at the time. Modern portland cement, the binding agent of concrete, had only recently been brought into common use; in the mid-1800s cement was made by roasting naturally occurring rocks of just the right composition, mixing clay and limestone. Concrete became a leading-edge technology in the late 19th century, and San Francisco’s Ernest Ransome (founder of San Leandro’s Ransome Company) gained nationwide fame with his innovations in reinforced concrete.

In 1877 Perine lived on the west side of Myrtle Street near 5th Street. In 1880, Perine’s business was located at 1002 Broadway; he lived at the northwest corner of 4th and Alice Streets. In the directories from 1884 to 1889 he was listed as living at 809 Oak Street. In 1889 and 1892 his business address was 457 Ninth Street. By the 1890s several other artificial stone firms were in business here whose work appears on Oakland sidewalks, including Gray Brothers and George Goodman.

I have found three sidewalk stamps by Perine, none of them dated. All of them bear the 809 Oak Street address, which puts their dates somewhere in the 1880s, unless he never updated his stamp. Two of them look like the mark at the top of this post; this is the third.

In the center of the mark are two digits, presumably from the 1800s. Whatever they are, I feel confident in saying that Perine was Oakland’s first hometown sidewalk maker.