Archive for the ‘ Undated marks’ Category


29 July 2022

Oscar’s Alley

We may never learn who this is, but whoever it is is certainly a professional.

Sorensen Bros & Williams

26 March 2022

59th and MacCall Streets

Thanks to Ken for spotting the pair of marks on this corner, which explains why the Williams and old Sorensen Bros stamps look the way they do. The partnership must have operated around 1910 because the Sorensen Bros stamp, made after the pair broke up, is from 1914.

Willie J. Frink

9 March 2022

1823 62nd Street, Berkeley

This is awesome: Frink (1930-2017) was the first Black millionaire contractor in Bakersfield, with quite a life story. An ambitious charter school there is named for him.

There must be a story behind this driveway in south Berkeley.

Lindgren & Hicks

9 January 2022

512 66th Street

This time of year is excellent for walking, not just because the light is good with the leaves down and not just because the temperature is moderate, but because the low sun brings out marks like no other season. To my knowledge, this is the only mark by this maker in Oakland.

The firm was founded in 1900, by Charles Lindgren and Lewis Hicks, and disbanded in 1908. Lindgren went on to found the company known today as Swinerton, Inc. (and represented in Oakland by a 1936 Lindgren & Swinerton mark).

Golden Bay Const. Inc.

5 March 2019

10 10th Street

You may recognize this address as the Oakland Civic Auditorium. The stamp is at the end next to the museum.

Some little lids and another sidewalk maker

20 January 2017

Here’s a roundup of some cute brass lids I’ve seen in our sidewalks.

M. Greenberg’s Sons, the San Francisco firm I’ve mentioned before, made this lid next to the old Fairfax Theater building, out on Foothill at Belvedere.


This pair of well-preserved covers made by the Hays company is on Piedmont Avenue. The Hays company still exists and is in the same business! Read all about it at



And this last one is from a company I haven’t featured here before. The Scott Company specialized in heating and ventilation systems, starting about 100 years ago.


They were headquartered at 381 11th Street. I haven’t done a big search, but I do know they lasted until at least 1938. There was another Scott Company, in San Leandro, founded in 1975, that folded after a contracting scandal in San Francisco a few years ago, but that was not these guys.

Then there’s this sidewalk maker.

John Nisalas


1299 Longridge Road

I haven’t been able to find out a thing about Mr. Nisalas. He must have been from outside Oakland.

Early concrete, or artificial stone

16 September 2016

The sidewalks of Oakland were not paved with concrete until the late 1800s. Before that, pedestrians were shielded from the dust and mud of the roadside with gravel paths or timber boardwalks, at best. It was a point of pride in Oakland, regularly mentioned in promotional literature, when the sidewalks began to be widely paved.

In some old sidewalk stamps you’ll see the abbreviation “A.S.P.”


That stands for “Artificial Stone Paving,” the early term of art for sidewalk concrete. Starting in 1887, the San Francisco directories had a classified section for artificial stone manufacturers. It included George F. and Harry N. Gray, the notorious Gray Brothers, at 316 Montgomery Street. The Grays operated three quarries in the city at 26th and Douglass streets (Diamond Heights), 29th and Castro streets (Corona Heights) and Green and Sansome streets (Telegraph Hill).

The same directory listed an Oakland firm, Oakland Artificial Stone Company, at 454 Ninth Street. If it ever produced sidewalks in this town, they do not survive.

You may wonder about the “Schillinger Patent.” It was a method, patented by John J. Schillinger in 1870, of making pavements that involved inserting tarpaper or similar materials between blocks of concrete. No less a person than Frederick Law Olmsted made the name famous among Supreme Court scholars when he designed some concrete paving for the U.S. Capitol grounds, specifying a technique of this type, and took the chance that Schillinger’s patent wouldn’t stand up in court. Schillinger sued the government in the federal Court of Claims, and in 1894 the Supreme Court ruled in Schillinger v. United States that because the offense was merely a tort the claims court had no jurisdiction.

Another San Francisco artificial stone manufacturer, George Goodman, was listed in the 1893 directory as a Schillinger Patent specialist.


One of his lovely marks survives here, at 1028 E. 17th Street.