Oakland Fire Alarm & Police Telegraph

25 April 2021

437 25th Street

The Fire Alarm Police Telegraph system was the cutting edge of public safety a century and a half ago. It was a wired system that connected battery-powered alarm boxes to transmit alarms instantly across a city. San Francisco had such a system in 1865, described in a history on the S.F. City Museum site. The 1906 earthquake led to complete upgrades in this system. San Francisco dedicated its new Central Fire Alarm Station in 1915, but Oakland was ahead of that city, having finished its fire alarm police telegraph system in 1911. A main building at 13th and Oak Streets was connected by underground cables to police stations and call boxes and fire stations across the city. “With its isolation, fire-proof construction and underground system of cables,” the Tribune reported, “the entire city might burn or be shaken to pieces by earthquake and the operation of the system would not be disturbed in the least.”

Presumably this access cover dates from that time and belonged to that system.

1943 – J. W. Roberts and E. J. Patrick

6 February 2021

4521 Telegraph Avenue

This mark is on concrete patches, not original paving, on both sides of the Kasper’s building. I have another hand-drawn J. W. Roberts mark from earlier in 1943. No idea who E. J. Patrick was.

J. A. Marshall

2 January 2021

Lee Avenue at Perkins Street

This pristine mark, one of two at this locality, is officially the best J. A. Marshall impression in all of Oakland.

Mr. Marshall may be the contractor whose relative, architect Leola Hall, accompanied him and learned the foundations of her trade. However, he may instead be John A. Marshall, listed as a “cementwkr” in the Berkeley directory in 1905.

1941 – Dan Doyle Concrete

31 December 2020

2556 Frances Street

This is a much more definitive version than my previous example. Dan Doyle Company stamps with dates are uncommon, and only three years (1940-1942) appear in Oakland.

1953 – Carl T. Petersen

15 December 2020

3439 Morcom Avenue

This extends the record of Carl Petersen one more year.

1930 – G. Tribuzio

23 September 2020

1600 Harmon Street, Berkeley

With this stamp I now have marks by Gene Tribuzio from every year in the 1930s.

1927 – T. A. Ryan

3 September 2020

2525 Church Street

Ryan put the full date on this mark, whereas my other example from this year featured only the month. His practices, as well as his stamps, varied over the years between 1925 and 1940.