Archive for the ‘ Streetscape’ Category

Cook’s Oil Company

17 April 2022

312 Adams Street

Cook’s Oil Company, founded by Fred R. Cook, is listed in the city directories from 1922 into the 1940s. In 1924 its headquarters had moved from 1333 Market Street to 1350 Powell Street, presumably in Emeryville. As of 1938 its main office was at 2111 San Pablo Avenue. The Tribune records that they fielded a baseball team in the Golden Grains Cereal League in 1938.

Artesian Water Works

3 January 2022

35th Avenue at Foothill Boulevard

Artesian Water Works was a private water company started in 1879 by “Captain” R. R. Thompson, in Alameda. If that is the company that made this main cover, then the mystery is why it’s up in Oakland in Fruitvale.

The company was acquired in 1899 by the Contra Costa Water Company, originally founded by Anthony Chabot in 1866. East Bay MUD took it all over in the 1920s. It’s conceivable, then, that this piece of iron was deployed somewhere between 1880 and 1900, most likely late in that time span. In the 1890s the company’s water came from the Fitchburg wellfield, which was where the Coliseum is today, so it may have served this part of Fruitvale. It was unincorporated territory at the time and thus not subject to Oakland’s ruinously low water rates.

Empire Foundry

11 November 2021

38th Avenue and Redding Street

An unusual configuration from Empire Foundry.

While I’m at it, here’s a street drain plate from Empire. Don’t know where this is, because I’ve had the photo lying around for a long time.

Pretty little things

4 July 2021

Every now and them, as I stroll the streets, I find a little something I can’t resist photographing. Then it sits in my master file, waiting to turn into a post. Here are three such things, petits fours of the street.

I started this blog on 9 July 2007 with a burst of 24 posts, leading off with a photo of a 1901 sidewalk stamp. (That remains the oldest date I’ve found in Oakland.) Soon enough I settled down to a once-daily rhythm that never let me relax for long, ensuring that I’d keep going out to survey a few more blocks. Eight years later I completed walking every block of every street in Oakland, finishing that initial series on 6 December 2015. It’s been easy going ever since. I’m having a great, low-key time.

This is the 3,000th post in Oakland Underfoot.

Contra Costa Water Co.

31 August 2020

521 55th Street

This is a good example of Oakland’s oldest water infrastructure. The Contra Costa Water Company was founded in 1866 by Anthony Chabot, a name you may recognize. It was Oakland’s largest water provider until its demise in 1907, when it merged with the Oakland Water Company to form the People’s Water Company, marking the end of the city’s infamous water war.

This is the only piece of street hardware I’ve found that features the full name of the company. If you see any others, by all means post the location in a comment. These unsung bits of history grow scarcer every year.

Brass in the sidewalk

29 July 2020

1100 Broadway

The 1100 Broadway building, a splashy newcomer to downtown, has added a subtle touch of metal to the sidewalk out front in these thin strips of brass inserted between the pavement panels. Each one is a different length.

Vault lights, Old Oakland

19 June 2020

483 Ninth Street

When the 1870s-vintage buildings of Old Oakland were rescued and renovated, some updated versions of this 19th-century technology were installed to bring natural light into the subfloors on the west side of Ninth Street. These will probably not turn purple like the many antique examples around downtown/uptown like these and these.