Oakland’s lid makers I: Best, Empire, Phoenix

This week I focused on utility-hole covers again, with an eye on the different foundries that manufactured them.


Best Steel Casting Company used to have a huge plant in farthest East Oakland, by the railroad tracks at 105th Avenue. I think this is on Broadway around 29th Street.


Empire Foundry was founded in 1905, but it seems to be defunct. Its last address was 1950 Embarcadero. It produced a great many lids in a wide range of designs. This example on Harrison Street, made for Western Union, is an unusual one for both companies. Perhaps it’s related to Empire Road, down south of Hegenberger.


And then there’s Phoenix Iron Works, in Oakland since 1901. Today it’s a shadow of its former self in a funky building in the 5th Avenue Marina, flying the Jolly Roger out front. See more of its work at the Oakland Wiki.

One Response to “Oakland’s lid makers I: Best, Empire, Phoenix”

  1. Phyllis Says:

    My father was the office manager for Empire Foundry for 20+ years until they closed the doors.

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