Bay City Iron Works


Oakland has many old businesses that have left their mark on the pavement. This marker for Bay City Iron Works is at 475 4th Street, a building that houses Ion Cars today. But the marker says, “Since 1885.” Perhaps this was its first home.

If you look up the company’s name today, Google points you to an empty lot at 2897 Chapman Street, in Jingletown. But the company’s earlier home was near the docks, at the corner of 3rd and Washington Streets (221 Washington). See this family biography of Harry Melville Thornally, who used to work there, for photos and letterhead of the place. In The Iron Age issue of October 3, 1901, the firm is reported to be in the process of building it. Today the sign on the building says “Parker Electric Mfg. Co.” I’m not sure what this website has to do with it, but check it out.

Alameda County, the Eden of the Pacific; the Flower Garden of California (Oakland Tribune, 1898) says of the firm, “The enterprise is located at 521 to 525 Third Street. It turns out all kinds of agricultural work, general jobbing in machine work, threshers, machine engines with straw-burning boilers, and irrigating pumps of the M. B. Schutzell design.”

3 Responses to “Bay City Iron Works”

  1. D Davis Says:

    I worked for BCIW in 1990/91. I absolutely loved it.

  2. Andrew Alden Says:

    Cool! I see now that this address, 475 4th Street, is where the firm was listed in the 1967 and 1969 phone book. But in the 1941 phone book it was listed at 320 Washington Street.

  3. D Davis Says:

    We occupied almost the entire block of 4th, between Washington and Broadway. The large Green shop on the corner of Washington and 4th, with the large bay doors was all machine shop. The center bulding on 4th, that now says Ion Cars, that was our sales, business office. The bulding to the left of that, with the small parking area and one garage door, was our Fab shop.

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