Oakland Gaslight Co.


In Oakland, most of the metal underfoot is the product of a few companies, and I haven’t made a practice of documenting it. But on the 3600 block of Martin Luther King Way, this caught my eye. It’s surely well over a hundred years old.

Incorporated in 1866 as the Oakland Gas Light Company, this firm built its gasworks on the north side of Broadway, between 1st and 2nd Streets, and set up lamps along Broadway up to 14th Street and several blocks on each side. The city paid 22.5 cents per night for each lamp.

I found this ancient lid from the original “Gas Light Company” in Piedmont, at 250 Sheridan Avenue. It must be the oldest object in Piedmont.


The Annual Report of the Secretary to the Board of Regents, University of California, for 1883-84 records dozens of payments to this company. Other references pop up from the 1870s. The company changed names a few times, grew, merged, and eventually became part of today’s PG&E.

The Oakland Wiki has a little more about the company.

Had I known all this when I took the photo, I would have cleaned it up a bit first.

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