Archive for the ‘ Special marks’ Category

2006 – B. R. Concrete (and Robin Hood)

16 May 2018

42 Calvert Place, Piedmont

Yesterday I finished surveying the last bit of Piedmont, the Appendix to my survey of Oakland, and so with this final sidewalk stamp my survey is complete.

I will not undertake to survey Emeryville, Berkeley or San Leandro. However, I’ll be keeping my eyes on the ground at all times and places for various reasons. One is to scavenge any missing dates of Oakland sidewalk makers. Another is to determine answers to some nagging questions that didn’t occur to me until I was well into my survey, so there are reasons to stay alert even in territory I’ve already covered. And, of course, I’ll continue to document new stamps as they appear in years yet to come.

I’ll also stay active in researching the different sidewalk makers. I feel like I’ve barely begun that part, although I’ve published 33 “Profiles” of them so far. It involves searching genealogies and old newspapers and directories, mainly. There’s also the whole larger topic of sidewalks as part of Oakland’s history, California’s history and the history of technology.

Part of that research involves you, my readers. The people who made our sidewalks lived here, and many of them have living descendants in the area. Hearing from them in the comments to these posts has been a real joy.

I stopped posting amateur concrete markings a couple years ago, but here’s one from my last outing yesterday that I couldn’t resist, from Blair Avenue in Piedmont.

Signs and signatures like this are persuasive evidence that Piedmont really is part of Oakland. Those of you who remember biology courses may think of Piedmont as an organelle inside Oakland, like the nucleus or the mitochondria of a living cell. As a geologist, I think of Piedmont as an inclusion in the crystal of Oakland. If you’re a geographer, you may think of Piedmont as one of eight enclave cities in California. It’s also a city that managed to sequester its natural store of wealth, back in 1907, by avoiding annexation to Oakland. For every stubborn accumulation of wealth, there are Robin Hoods bent upon redistributing it.

This is the kind of mark that the socialist Jack London, who spent time in both Piedmont and Oakland, could have made. That’s part of the energy within and between these two dynamic, fascinating cities.

Corners: 21st Avenue and E. 28th Street

16 April 2018

This sidewalk was laid by C. A. (Carl) Lindstrom. The dates on his marks extend only from 1923 to 1925.

“Master Concrete” holders III

16 February 2018

This mark, from Howard Avenue in Piedmont, documents two things. First, it shows that distinguished sidewalk maker Ed Doty held “Master Concrete” number 13, in addition to numbers 16 (1937-38) and 17 (1938-45).

Second, it shows that Doty switched from this stamp to the curved configuration, which incorporates the Master Concrete bug inside, some time between April and September 1937, when he used Master Concrete number 16.

“Master Concrete” holders I

“Master Concrete” holders II

American Brotherhood of Cement Workers

3 November 2017

I know I’ve talked about the A.B.C.W. before — read that post for the living connection to today — but this week’s post is just to record a splendid example of the sidewalk stamp, in Berkeley at the corner of Shasta and Tamalpais Roads.

The sidewalks paved by the Oakland Paving Company’s union workers, everywhere I’ve seen them, are second to none. A hundred years old and they’re strong as ever. And the design shows such pride. A hundred years from now the concrete being poured today might match this old stuff in strength, but the new sidewalks will never match the old ones in character.

In Dimond Canyon

16 June 2017

The Works Progress Administration employed hundreds of thousands of people during the Great Depression. A lot of those works involved concrete, and many well-made sidewalks and gutters around Oakland bear the “WPA” stamp from 1939, 1940 and 1941.

In Dimond Canyon, WPA projects were funded to remove landslides, build fire trails and run a sewer line down the bed of Sausal Creek. Finally, the WPA paid crews to put in a bunch of concrete channels and culverts for flood and erosion control. That was in 1939.

A lot of that work has been undermined by erosion. Eventually the stream will have its way again, unless the authorities find a need there and fill it again.

Old concrete in the West Bay

23 December 2016

Since this is a cleaning-up period at the end of the year, I’ll feature a couple of photos I’ve had for a long time and get them off my mind.

If you’ve been to the Quad at Stanford University, you may have noticed the excellent concrete walkways there. They date from the construction of the buildings in 1890 and were made by the same George Goodman, of San Francisco, whose lovely escutcheon stamp I featured here the other month.

goodmans

Goodman listed himself in the business directory as a specialist in the Schillinger Patent method, which wasn’t really about concrete per se but about making sidewalks in a way that would help keep them from breaking up. The next photo, though, is about concrete itself.

If you’ve been to the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, you must have noticed the vintage pavement there. Its age is uncertain, but probably from before 1900. The Granolithic Paving Company was listed in the 1887 business directory at 422 Montgomery Street, San Francisco.

granolithic

Peter Stuart, a Scot, invented granolithic concrete in the 1830s. It’s an extremely strong material, the Gorilla Glass of concrete, made by an ingenious method that lays down a surface layer, or screed, of concrete densely packed with finely crushed granite or similar rock. At the correct point in curing, an absorbent blanket is placed on the concrete to reduce the water content, raising its strength. (Low water content was one reason ancient Roman concrete was so strong.) Stuart’s granolithic method was patented in this country, as the stamp says, in 1882. The company that bore his name stayed in business until 2012.

While you’re there, walk south to John F. Kennedy Drive and visit the Alvord Lake Bridge, the first reinforced concrete bridge built in America.

“Master Concrete” holders II

25 November 2016

Lately I’ve found two more examples of “Master Concrete” bugs that I can add to the list. Gene Tribuzio was the holder of number 1, and there must be a story behind that.

masterconcrete1-g-tribuzio

And Angelo Marin held number 5.

masterconcrete5-a-j-marin

Here are the other ones I’ve documented. Between numbers 1 and 18, I’m now missing 3, 9, 10, 13 and 15. There may be more beyond 18. Must keep eyes peeled.