About Oakland Underfoot


This blog began in 2008 as a collection of sidewalk markings in the city of Oakland. It also includes marks by makers who did not date their work.

I’m Andrew Alden, hopefully better known as the operator of the Oakland Geology blog. I live in Oakland and decided that I need a new hobby. This is it.

This is not a complete documentation of Oakland’s sidewalk stamps, which would be very boring. It’s a collection of unique date-and-stamp combinations, analogous to a coin collection of unique date-and-mint-mark combinations. What I have here is less than 10 percent of the marks out there.

Between 2008 and late 2015, I surveyed every street in the city, both sides. Now I’m branching out to other interesting features underfoot. I’ll also be analyzing and annotating the approximately 2800 sidewalk-stamp photos shown here.

The image is a 1941 M. Cvetich mark on a sidewalk fragment on the Albany Bulb, known nowadays as Eastshore State Park.

45 Responses to “About Oakland Underfoot”

  1. Andrew Says:

    The banner image is from an old PG&E cover plate on Broadway near 51st Street (but you’ll see them everywhere). PG&E used to outsource their cover plates to Art Concrete Works, on Adeline Street in Oakland. Later PG&E cover plates, and those of other utilities, bear the names of other manufacturers.

  2. Andrew Says:

    It has been one year since I started this collection, which now includes more than 400 items. I’m still missing seven years from the 1900s, one year from the 1950s, three years from the 1960s, five years from the 1970s, eight years from the 1980s, six years from the 1990s and one year from the 2000s.

    Totals so far (this also includes marks set to drip through August 15):

    1900s: 8 items
    1910s: 72 items
    1920s: 91 items
    1930s: 129 items
    1940s: 76 items
    1950s: 28 items
    1960s: 9 items
    1970s: 5 items
    1980s: 2 items
    1990s: 7 items
    2000s: 13 items

    There are also approximately 60 makers who did not date their work, or for whom I have not yet found dated marks.

  3. Andrew Says:

    Last night I prepared a key to all the sidewalk stamps by their graphic type: all text, marks with outlines around them, and so on. My plan is to make a way for people (probably me more than anyone else) to identify weak, obscured or partial marks. In the coming days I’ll be adding links and images to the page.

  4. mike Says:

    This is great. I finally found someone who Loves these marks in the streets and sidewalks. Is it only California that has them? I never noticed any in Massachusetts.

    [I haven’t seen any yet in New York City, either. But look at the sites in my blogroll for marks in Toronto and Chicago, etc. — Andrew]

  5. mike Says:

    When I was a kid, my mother used to take us to old cemeteries, and with a piece of paper and a charcoal pencil, we’d take grave rubbings. I wonder if these are rubbable.

    [I’m sure they are, but I try not to stand out while I survey people’s sidewalks. Another thing about sidewalk marks is that they fill with dirt, unlike gravestone texts, so sometimes they need preparation. I bring along an umpire’s brush for sweeping sidewalks, and that’s all the equipment I use. — Andrew]

  6. Andrew Says:

    It’s a little over two years since I started this blog. It has 862 entries as of today. I’m still missing 4 dates from the 1900s, one date from the 1960s, four dates from the 1970s, six dates from the 1980s, three dates from the 1990s and one date from the 2000s. Nor have I found a 2010 mark yet.

    Totals so far:

    1900s: 28 items
    1910s: 91 items
    1920s: 155 items
    1930s: 245 items
    1940s: 119 items
    1950s: 60 items
    1960s: 20 items
    1970s: 7 items
    1980s: 4 items
    1990s: 10 items
    2000s: 17 items

    There are also approximately 70 makers who did not date their work, or for whom I have not yet found dated marks. I’ve found some 250 different sidewalk contractors so far who marked their work. Almost all are from Oakland, about a dozen are from Berkeley, and a handful are from other neighboring cities.

  7. Andrew Says:

    Hannah over at the Sidewalk Secrets blog has posted photos of the original brass stamp used by Mill Valley contractor Louis Lambretti. This is a rare opportunity to see one of the actual instruments used to make our beloved marks:


  8. Rich Pease Says:

    I found you concrete stamp collection fascinating. My son’s maternal grandfather was LJ Lorenzetti for whom I worked when I got out of service in 1970. My father-in-law learned his trade from Nat Lena who was his mother’s cousin. Nat Lena came to this country from Italy in the early 1900s. He started in the concrete business eventually becoming a general contractor. one of his buildings is Corpus Christi Catholic Church on Park Blvd in Oakland. Lino J Lorenzetti left Nat Lena’s employ in the early 1950s and worked out of Alameda. Lino was also born in Italy but came to the US with his parents when he was an infant. His father Giorgio worked for Nat until Lino became a contractor at which time he went to work for his son Lino. I believe that Angelo Sposetto also worked for Nat Lena at one time. another name that you will see in Oakland and in the East Bay is Jardine. George Jardine also learned his trade while working for Nat Lena. He too later became a concrete contractor and had his business in Alameda. Another Alameda contractor was Aldo (AJ) Ferraro. His real love was making cement sculptures. All these men knew each other, were good friends, and when needed would help each other with jobs. My father-in-law Lino called them “his friendly competitors.” i would be remiss if I did not mention the Apodaca Brothers who were also from Alameda. The one brother who had his contractors license had worked for the City of Alameda, and I believe that is where he learned the trade. Just one final thought – all sidewalks and flat concrete work on public property had to be stamped with the contractor’s name and the date the concrete was laid. That was generally the very last thing that was done. I worked with all the above individuals except the Apodaca brothers. I worked full-time with my father-in-law LJ Lorenzetti from 1970 – 1971. In 1971 I went to work for the Alameda Police Dept and became self-employed but still worked in the concrete business when I had the chance.

  9. Mike Fitz Says:

    Rich Pease, I love it! The recitation of the old masons names, the roll of honor. Here in Los Angeles, I see these names: THEO NOWAK ESER WIKHOLM ROBERT E. MILLSAP The long-gone guys who built the homes, shops, and roadways we use today. My brother, John Fitzgerald, is still in the business around Boston. After WWII, my father worked for Livio Ficcardi. When I was working for my brother, another mason in town was Pat Ferrera. He was 89 years old and still laying brick! And his hod-carrier was 77!

  10. Andrew Says:

    Rich, thanks so much for filling in so much information! It really enriches my experience of these marks. You may already know that I have marks from everyone you mentioned—if not, just use the Search box to find their names.

    Can you tell me more about the stamping requirement? In particular I’m interested in knowing when the requirement was dropped, and why.

    It occurs to me that if you ever placed the Lorenzetti mark on the jobs you worked on, those may still be out there waiting for me to find.

  11. Richard Pease Says:

    My father (Rich Pease), shared a link to your sight with me the other night and I finally got to follow it today. Your photos bring back many memories from my youth as I would hang out with my dad and my grandpa (L.J. Lorenzetti) at various jobs in Alameda and Oakland. I fondly remember riding around in my grandfather’s 1970 blue Chevy pickup seeing him work and learning a bit about his profession. I also remember many times walking around Alameda, seeing my grandfather’s name stamped in the concrete and knowing that you couldn’t find a street without sidewalks bearing his (and Nat’s) names. Thanks for documenting these and I must confess that I am quite proud of the fact that some of Lino’s work still exists and is visible today. He was a great man and the epitome of a loving grandfather.

  12. Andrew Says:

    I started this blog three years ago, and it has 1193 posts as of July 6. I’m still missing two dates from the 1900s, two dates from the 1970s, two dates from the 1980s and one date from the 2000s (and have nothing from 2011 yet). I record every mark I find from before 1910; all other posts have a unique combination of maker and year, with a few exceptions.

    Totals so far:

    1900s: 50 items
    1910s: 139 items
    1920s: 268 items
    1930s: 414 items
    1940s: 211 items
    1950s: 104 items
    1960s: 30 items
    1970s: 14 items
    1980s: 12 items
    1990s: 22 items
    2000s: 21 items

    It includes some 250 different makers, about 70 of whom did not date their work, or I haven’t found a date yet.

    In terms of territory, I’ve covered almost all of Oakland north of a line connecting Jack London Square, Laney College, Lake Merritt, Lakeshore, Piedmont and the Warren Freeway except deep West Oakland and part of Golden Gate. I’ve covered a half-dozen little islands elsewhere in the city. Just eyeballing the map, I should be at this another four or five years. Don’t ask me how many miles I’ve walked. The city says it has 1120 miles of linear sidewalk.

  13. Linda Hamilton Says:

    Hi Andrew,
    I thought I’d add a bit of history about Nat Lena. He appears in my book on the 100 year history of the Rotary Club of Oakland, the third oldest in the world (released Feb 2012). I hope you enjoy it!

    Born on a farm in Lucca, Italy in 1885, Nat emigrated to the U.S. in 1902 and worked in New York for a time, before trying caol mining in West Virginia. After a few years, he returned to New York on foot, a journey that took him thirty-six days. Back in the Big Apple, he began working in the concrete industry. He moved on to railroad tunnel construction in Ohio and construction of the World’s Fair grounds in St. Louis, Missouri. He arrived in San Francisco, California in 1907 with $7.50 in his pocket. In Alameda, he worked for Rotarian A. LaPlant as a concrete foreman until he entered business for himself in 1914, and ran his contracting business until retirement. His only formal education was three months of night school when he first arrived in New York. But Nat used to say that his business education began at age ten when he took a contract for farm plowing.

    Nat was a member of Oakland Rotary for 47 years (concurrently a member of the Alameda and North Oakland Rotary Clubs too).
    In 1978, following his death, Nat left $85,000 to the Club’s scholarship fund started with funds left by Sugar and Rice Manufacturer Al Saroni upon his death in 1961.

    By 2009, the Saroni-Lena Scholarship Fund provided one million dollars to over 600 Oakland teens to go to college.

    Linda Hamilton

  14. Andrew Says:

    Linda, thanks so much! You may know that Alex. LaPlant has marks all over Alameda’s sidewalks, and I’ve found one example from Oakland.

    Can you confirm for me that Lena & Helling is one of Nat Lena’s early marks?

    Another matter I would love more info about is the transition from “N. Lena” to “Nat Lena” in 1934.

    Is the Saroni-Lena fund still in operation?

  15. Andrew Says:

    Looks like I missed the traditional anniversary in August, but a year-end post is better anyway.

    As of today (plus six posts set to drip), there are 1743 posts published on this blog. I’m still missing the following dates: 1900, 1903, 1980 and 1982.

    Totals so far:

    1900s: 45 items
    1910s: 165 items
    1920s: 318 items
    1930s: 496 items
    1940s: 269 items
    1950s: 128 items
    1960s: 42 items
    1970s: 26 items
    1980s: 20 items
    1990s: 27 items
    2000s: 29 items
    2010s: 10 items

    Some of these are duplicates and variations; for instance, I have four different Rosas Brothers marks for 2011, and every now and then I find a better version of a mark.

    I have 178 items under “undated marks,” but for many of those, probably about 40, I have since found dated examples.

    The territory I’ve covered is almost everything north of a line connecting Broadway Terrace, route 13, Park Boulevard, Beaumont Street, and 19th Avenue. Just a little bit of West Oakland awaits my visit, but every time I think about going someone gets shot there. I’ve also covered Fruitvale west of Foothill Boulevard down to High Street and west to the bay.

  16. Andrew Says:

    As of today, there are 2,102 posts published on this blog. I’m still missing the following dates: 1900, 1903, 1980 and 1982—no change from a year ago.

    Totals so far:

    1900s: 45 items (nothing was older than 1911 this year)
    1910s: 206 items
    1920s: 384 items
    1930s: 577 items
    1940s: 322 items
    1950s: 151 items
    1960s: 53 items
    1970s: 35 items
    1980s: 29 items
    1990s: 34 items
    2000s: 36 items
    2010s: 14 items

    That count includes some duplicates (when I find a better version of a date or when a maker used more than one mark in one year) and variants (mostly hand-drawn marks versus stamped marks).

    There are about 138 makers of sidewalk stamps for whom I have not seen any dates (“undated marks”), and about 61 marks for which I have found dated examples subsequent to my posting them (now called “undated examples”).

    The territory I’ve completely covered includes everything north of a line connecting 98th Avenue, 880, Hegenberger, San Leandro Street, Seminary, International, 48th Avenue, Foothill, 35th Avenue, 580, Coolidge, 13 and Snake. I think I have three years to go.

    I’ve given some thought to the question of whether there are streets that could be considered “heritage sidewalk streets.” I think upper Broadway (from Broadway Terrace to Lawton) comes closest, and the area between Claremont, College and 49th Street is also worthy. However, there are still pockets of old streets in East Oakland that I haven’t seen yet.

  17. Andrew Says:

    As of today, there are 2,467 posts published on this blog. I’m still missing marks from 1900 and 1903. I don’t expect to find them in the remainder of Oakland that I haven’t surveyed yet. Perhaps there are survivors that I missed in North and West Oakland, so I won’t give up. But I think those years are gone.

    Totals so far:

    1900s: 48 items
    1910s: 230 items
    1920s: 455 items
    1930s: 801 items
    1940s: 378 items
    1950s: 177 items
    1960s: 70 items
    1970s: 45 items
    1980s: 52 items
    1990s: 47 items
    2000s: 43 items
    2010s: 23 items

    That count includes some duplicates (when I find a better version of a date or when a maker used more than one mark in one year) and variants (mostly hand-drawn marks versus stamped marks). And amateurs, of course.

    There are about 140 makers of sidewalk stamps for whom I have not seen any dates (“undated marks”), and about 75 marks for which I have found dated examples subsequent to my posting them (now called “undated examples”).

    The territory I’ve completely covered includes everything north of a line connecting 98th Avenue, 880, Hegenberger, MacArthur, Seminary, 13, Mountain Boulevard and Shepherd Canyon Road, plus several islands of East Oakland to the south. I think I have less than two years to go.

    I believe I’ve exhausted all pre-1910 marks in the city. It was a surprise to find a 1909 mark by Fremont High School this year. There may be some pockets left in historic parts of Elmhurst.

  18. Scott Says:

    Outside our home on Briggs Ave. in Alameda, there is a LaPlant 1923 stamp on the concrete curb :)

  19. Rhian Says:

    Thank you for enlightening me on the meaning of the 1952 R G Wolfe stamp outside of my home on El Monte. You already have a picture of it :)

  20. roncozapatero Says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Greetings from a Spaniard leaving in Brussels, Belgium. I too decided that I should have a hobby. So I am photographing things that display a year (in Brussels). You will notice that most of the pictures are of architects signatures displaying the year when the house was built.

    Great blog yours!.

    You will find mine here:



  21. James Li Says:

    I love your blog and really enjoy learning about the names of people I have been wondering about since my childhood in Oakland.

    Have you seen the Germans who are turning artistic manhole covers into T-shirts? I think that you and they would have a special connection.

  22. Annette Freel Says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I was doing some research and came across your blog. Thank you for sharing what you do and preserving some of the past. I found my father’s stamp, Harold W. Smith, in one of them. My father did a lot of concrete work in Alameda and Contra Costa County. He came to California from Kansas, riding the rails as a young teenage during the Great Depression. He got his cement contracting license in the mid to late 1930s. He’d used the stamps mostly in his earlier work. It was a real treat to find it.

  23. Charles Chapman Says:

    Hello. I discovered your terrific site by googling Fugel after coming across a photo today of JP Fugel and his Fugel Construction Co. building a sidewalk, in what is probably Oakland though it doesn’t say. If you e-mail me at [redacted] I’ll reply with a copy of the shot I took on my iPhone. I found the picture in the garage of an open house.

  24. Andrew Says:

    When I upgraded this site on WordPress a few years ago, I reserved two domain names. One was oaklandsidewalks.com, because that’s the name I started this site under back in 2008. The other is oaklandunderfoot.com, which is now this site’s permanent name (and subject). As of today, oaklandsidewalks.com has expired. If any visitors have been using that URL, please change to the other one.

  25. kellyddickens Says:

    Andrew, while visiting my son in Berkeley, I was excited to see all the old concrete marks. When I began to research some names, my search led me here. I have a similar hobby to yours, but focused on sidewalks and curbs in my home of Austin, Texas, and some of the history around their construction. Here’s a link:


    I would be happy if you would include my blog in your blogroll.

    [DONE! — Andrew]

    Best wishes!

  26. James Li Says:

    Interesting to see the contrast between the Bay Area marks and those in Austin. I particularly love the vertical stamps on the edges of the Austin curbs. I’ll be paying more attention when I travel to other parts of the country.

  27. Ana Says:

    I’ve been an avid concrete marking observer ever since I’ve been in Oakland. Haha and I thought there’s got to be someone as interested as me and here you are! I find them nostalgic and give a neighborhood a sense of place. Every time I find a new one, I come here to see if there is any information. Yesterday it was ‘Doty’ and yep, you had the info. Thank you for all your posts and work.

  28. Laura Says:

    Wonderful site and documentation! thank you for this!

  29. Sarah Miller Says:

    I love this labor of love. Thank you! I live near broadway btw Lawton and broadway terrace. I will check this special area out.
    Sarah Miller

  30. Dave Garrett Says:

    Very excited to find this resource! I’ve recently started “stamp collecting” on my walks around my mid-Berkeley neighborhood. In little less than a month I’ve sighted and cataloged 174 different stamp locations. (Earliest: 1899 Latest: 1991.)

  31. Ken Says:

    Great website! Thanks for posting all of this information – this is a wonderful reference. I was first introduced to sidewalk contractor stamps over 40 years ago, but hadn’t started purposely looking for them until the past few months, mostly in the Adams Point neighborhood and more recently a bit beyond that. I haven’t been very methodical about it, but I’ve photographed many of the stamps, and your site (and the docspopuli one) has been very helpful in identifying ones that were not easy to read or were partially obscured. Just in my relatively small area I’ve found stamps of over 100 different contractors, not counting variations in the stamps for some of them. The oldest dated ones I’ve found have been a couple from 1907. A fun hobby!

  32. Ken Says:

    Hi Andrew, I was looking around for sidewalk paving marks on Dana Street north of Alcatraz Avenue this morning and came upon one I haven not been able to fully identify since the top of it has been cut off by the concrete curb. It’s just north of the city boundary so it’s actually just in Berkeley, near Woolsey. There are curving top and bottom text, and the bottom is “Taylor”. It looks like the first letter in the upper text is an “M” but everything else has been cut off. In the middle is smaller straight line text that says “Oakland & Berkeley”. I realize that you wouldn’t have included this mark in your survey since it’s in Berkeley, but I wondered whether you’ve ever run across it on your walks and could fill in the full text of this mark. What’s visible on this mark is very nice and well-preserved, and it appears to be pretty old. Any idea whose mark this might be? Thanks!

  33. Andrew Alden Says:

    Interesting! There’s no mark like it in Oakland. The “Oakland & Berkeley” line is unique, I think. I took a close look at the 1904 and 1906 directories (find them here) but came up empty, but any date from ten years before or after might offer clues.

    Funny, I was quite near there just the other day.

  34. Ken Zinns Says:

    Here’s the mystery sidewalk mark on Dana just north of Woolsey. The initial at upper left initially looked like an R to me but on closer look I’m pretty sure it’s an M.


    On Fri, Jan 7, 2022 at 9:59 AM Oakland Underfoot wrote:

    > Andrew Alden commented: “Interesting! There’s no mark like it in Oakland. > The “Oakland & Berkeley” line is unique, I think. I took a close look at > the 1904 and 1906 directories (find them here) but came up empty, but any > date from ten years before or after might offer clues. ” >

  35. Ken Says:

    I tried to send along a photo of that mystery sidewalk mark but it doesn’t look like it went through. I’ll probably head back that way sometime this weekend to take another look, get the exact address where it’s located, and take a short walk around the area to see if I can find any more of them. The lettering looks like an older style, serif font and a period after “Taylor”.

  36. Ken Says:

    Took another look at that mystery sidewalk mark on Dana Street again today. It’s just opposite of the entry to 3055 Dana, just north of Woolsey. The mark is not very large and is right by the curb. The curb must have been added later and cut off the top of the mark. Almost sure the first letter of the upper text is an “M” and the last lettr might be an “N”.but it’s tougher to see. I didn’t have time today to do much walking around the area to see if there might be additional marks of this type.

  37. Ken Says:

    I believe I found the name of the mystery paving contractor whose mark I saw on Dana just north of Woolsey a couple of months ago. Pretty sure it’s McKibben & Taylor. They have an ad in Western Architect and Engineer Vol. 37 from 1912 as a cement and concrete contractor and it mentions locations at the Builder’s Exchange in Oakland and at 2125 Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley. The principals’ names were Samuel J. Taylor and Herbert D. McKibben. The information seems to fit what’s visible in the stamp on Dana perfectly.

  38. henrystockcc Says:

    I found a 7-12-37 J ANDERSON stamp on Athol near 18th (I can go and get the exact address if need be. Here are links to the stamp and the location provided by the gps coordinates in the iPhone.


  39. Andrew Alden Says:

    Thanks for keeping your eyes on the ground! I posted a 1937 Anderson mark a few years ago at https://oaklandunderfoot.com/2010/06/26/1937-19/

  40. Andrew Alden Says:

    I’ve created a new category, “Gone,” for stamps that have been wiped out.

  41. Ken Says:

    You can add the 1907 Peterson & Adler mark on Orange Street to the “Gone” category. It’s right in my neighborhood and a small portion of the sidewalk where this was located was repaved just a few months ago, and this mark is now gone.
    There are a few others that you’ve documented in Adams Point that are now gone as well.

  42. Ken Says:

    There have been quite a few times when I’ve looked for a mark you’ve documented and found that substantial areas there had been repaved, but I’ve never made any sort of list for these. However, there are three in particular I remember that I can add to your new “Gone” category. They’re all ones documented for Euclid Avenue that I’d looked for late last year and thought the spots where they must have been had been repaved – I walked down Euclid this afternoon and confirmed it.

    I know all of these marks are relatively large and hard to miss so I’m confident that they’re no longer there. There is one Aaron Dahlquist mark near 348 Euclid but I know that many times these were in pairs and that only one has the year marking – the one remaining mark there has no year included. All three addresses clearly have had their driveways repaved in recent years, and a few parts of the sidewalks there have been repaved as well.

    Also in my neighborhood, you’d already noted that this one is gone:

    As many times as I’ve walked around Adams Point, I still find a new (to me) paving mark now and then. Just this afternoon I spotted a well-worn but clearly identifiable undated Frank Lopes mark in a driveway on Adams Street.

  43. Ken Says:

    I spotted a mystery sidewalk paving stamp today and wanted to see if you might be able to shed any light on what it might be. It’s on 45th street near Broadway, next to the Kaiser employee parking lot and across from the high school. It’s near the curb and parallel to it, on a small portion of older paving – it looks like the rest of the sidewalk along there was repaved at some point in the past though probably not recently – so it may be just a fragment. It’s a single line of straight text, with stamped letters that read “JOHN T I” or possibly “JOHN T 1”. There may have been more text following “T I” – it’s possible there is something faint to the right of the “I” next to the adjacent concrete joint but it’s hard to tell. The “T I” letters are spaced more widely than those in “JOHN” but it could well be that the “T” and “I” were not meant to be separate. I imagine that you’ve seen this but I didn’t find a reference to it here – any idea what it could be? Thanks!

  44. libsaredeviants Says:

    You are a wonderful Oakland historian. Thank you.
    Please continue w/ all of your “hobbies”.

  45. Ken Says:

    Unfortunately the Kevin Collins Flickr page on Alameda paving marks is no longer there. I’ve recently been checking out paving marks in a few places in Alameda and I’ve found a couple of them that I haven’t yet been able to decipher. I’ll have to keep looking to see if I can find more legible examples.

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