Sidewalk maker: Ed Doty

Edwin “Ed” Doty was a major maker of Oakland and East Bay sidewalks, doing business with his son Abraham “Abe” for many years as Ed Doty & Son.

Doty was born in Canada in 1862 and became a naturalized U.S. citizen, but he gave conflicting information about his parents and the year he immigrated. Frank Merritt’s 1928 History of Alameda County has a long, colorful biography of him, recounting his years ranching in the Yellowstone country, managing ironworkers in Hawaii, an idle year in Guam, drilling wells at Point Richmond and finally joining the Cement Workers Union in San Francisco, where he was suffering with a freshly broken arm and fractured skull at the time the earthquake struck.

He married Lizzie Watlington in 1906 and they had one child, Abraham (1908-2003). Ed died in 1931.

The 1909 directory lists him at 1687 26th Avenue. In 1919 he built a new home at 2487 26th Avenue and moved there. It’s a nice place; I’ll show it to you farther down.

A glass paperweight made by Ed Doty & Son, recently listed on eBay, contains the text “Trademark of Concrete Since 1907” and the address 3481 26th Avenue.

I’ve found “Ed Doty” sidewalk stamps in Oakland dating from 1923 to 1945, in a variety of configurations. The original imprint looked like this:

From 1928 to 1931 the Doty stamp looked like this, with larger letters:

Or this, with a dot in the date instead of a dash.

Starting in 1932, they looked like this, distinguishable by the shape of the “E” and the “O”. I have examples all the way up to 1944.

At some time before June 1937 the firm switched to a new design that incorporated the “concrete master” number. It used number 16 from then until March 1938:

Starting in April 1938 it used number 17. I speculate that Abe Doty had to replace his master finisher for some reason and needed a new number.

All along, the firm also kept using the original stamp, but with hand-drawn dates:

Here’s the Doty house. Of course, Doty laid most of the concrete on the block, replacing work by the earlier generation like Stevenson.

The driveway is gorgeous, as concrete driveways go. There’s a little panel on the corner bearing a small child’s hand and foot prints. And here, in the entryway, are some more. These could not have been Abraham’s; perhaps there were grandchildren handy.

In writing this post, I realize that there are details about the stamps that I need to clarify, so look for updates in the comments every now and then.

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