Archive for the ‘ Special marks’ Category

“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.


And Angelo Marin held number 5.


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.

Land and Water Conservation Fund plaque 2: Central Reservoir Park

9 September 2016


When I featured a Land and Water Conservation Fund plaque here a few weeks ago, I had a nagging feeling I’d seen one elsewhere, and there it was in my photos from March 2013. Oakland’s second LWCF site is tucked away next to the covered Central Reservoir, which I wrote about a few years ago in Oakland Geology. With a total of $70,000 from the fund to acquire 4 acres and help develop it, the Central Reservoir project took shape in the early 1970s. That may account for the maturity of the palm allee leading in from East 29th Street — or more likely a suburban estate once occupied this spot.


The park is small but well equipped for kids’ teams to play daytime softball and soccer. It also has picnic tables, bathrooms, a basketball court and views of the steel-roofed reservoir.


I’m glad they left a plaque behind. As the podcaster Roman Mars says, always read the plaque.

A Potter Built Home

2 September 2016


I came upon this mark by a house somewhere around 90th Avenue and Thermal Street last year. Gene Anderson, one of the ever-helpful guys behind the Oakland Wiki, sleuthed out the identity of Potter: Arthur W. Potter, who operated the California Mission Realty Co. in Oakland on High Street during the 1920s. In the 1923 directory he was listed as a carpenter living on 41st Avenue; in 1925 he had started the company and lived in Berkeley. By the 1950s he was in business with two of his sons, Irving and Harvey, in Castro Valley as A.W. Potter and Sons.

A 1926 advertisement referred to “Potter Built Homes,” built with “oodles of built-ins, hardwood floors throughout, tile sink and bath, the latest in home construction.” Buyers could pick their own paint, wallpaper and electrical fixtures while their house was being built. This custom sidewalk stamp is another sign of the pride and care Potter must have taken at the time, during Oakland’s wave of expansion after World War I.

This is the only such mark I’ve found in Oakland, and I’m not sure it still exists. Nor do I know if others survive in San Leandro or points south. Red concrete was in vogue during the 1920s and 1930s.

Land and Water Conservation Fund plaque: North Oakland Regional Sports Center

12 August 2016

Land and Water Conservation Fund

This plaque sits discreetly by the entrance to the North Oakland Regional Sports Center at 6900 Broadway, where countless drivers pass on their way to jam up Route 24 or Tunnel Road.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a federal program that redirects offshore oil and gas revenues to other ends. Its website notes that it “was [my emphasis] a bipartisan commitment to safeguard natural areas, water resources and our cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities to all Americans.” Both of our Senators and 37 of our 53 Representatives signed this year’s “Dear Colleague” letter supporting the program. One of them was a Republican.

This land was acquired and developed using LWCF funds between 1977 and 1985. Let’s assume the plaque was installed in 1985.

Odds and ends

15 July 2016

Here are a few add-ons for some previous posts on Oakland Underfoot.

I found a second variation of the utility-hole covers used by The Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company, predecessor of Pacific Bell, featured in my post of June 17. I’m quite taken with it.


I found another concrete master number used by a member of OPCFIA local 594. As of now that makes 16 different numbers, but I’m sure there are a few more out there. Previous posts are here and here and here.


Finally, I located a fourth sidewalk maker who was a member of the Cement Contractors Association of Alameda County. The other three are here.


My impression is that like the others, this mark dates from the late 1920s.

Jackson’s Device and other delights

4 March 2016

Poking around Oakland’s old downtown has yielded some more overlooked old things. Take P. H. Jackson’s Device for Plentiful Ventilation, on Harrison south of 14th Street.


Somehow I don’t think it’s functioning any more. This is the same Jackson I featured two weeks ago. I found another configuration of ventilator from the Jackson company, this one with a patent date of 1893.


And as I suspected when I finished the big citywide survey, marks would continue to appear that I’d missed the first time through.

1923 – N. J. Lindstrom


722 Washington Street

At this time N. J. Lindstrom was using both this straight mark and a racetrack mark. That tiny little “S” also appears in his mark from 1922.

1995 – J.R.’s Landscaping


202 Webster Street

It’s no surprise I missed this one before. Presumably I decided it was indecipherable, but that isn’t true.

Corners: Alice and Fourth Streets


This makes the 12th corner I’ve documented with names stamped in the concrete. Notice that while the street signs on 4th Street spell it “4th,” this says “Fourth.”

Bay City Iron Works

26 February 2016


Oakland has many old businesses that have left their mark on the pavement. This marker for Bay City Iron Works is at 475 4th Street, a building that houses Ion Cars today. But the marker says, “Since 1885.” Perhaps this was its first home.

If you look up the company’s name today, Google points you to an empty lot at 2897 Chapman Street, in Jingletown. But the company’s earlier home was near the docks, at the corner of 3rd and Washington Streets (221 Washington). See this family biography of Harry Melville Thornally, who used to work there, for photos and letterhead of the place. In The Iron Age issue of October 3, 1901, the firm is reported to be in the process of building it. Today the sign on the building says “Parker Electric Mfg. Co.” I’m not sure what this website has to do with it, but check it out.

Alameda County, the Eden of the Pacific; the Flower Garden of California (Oakland Tribune, 1898) says of the firm, “The enterprise is located at 521 to 525 Third Street. It turns out all kinds of agricultural work, general jobbing in machine work, threshers, machine engines with straw-burning boilers, and irrigating pumps of the M. B. Schutzell design.”