Sunday, February 2, 2014

Oakland's City Hall turns 100

Oakland City Hall Construction, August 1912-February 1913


This majestic Beaux-Arts building was the first high-rise government building in the U.S.,
envisioned to symbolize the City as a growing metropolis. After winning a nation-wide competition in 1910, New York-based architecture firm Palmer & Hornbostel designed the building which resembles a “rectangular wedding cake” with three tiers and a 91-foot clock tower. At a height of 320 feet with 14 floors, it was the tallest building west of Chicago when it was completed in 1914.  When city hall first opened, it included a jail (complete with outside exercise area), a fire station, a police station, and a small hospital.

(Above digital composite/perspective correction by Bennett Hall, source files at Oakland Public Library-history room)

City Hall, 14th Street, Broadway, Oakland, c.1920,

--> The Lionel J. Wilson “Flatiron” building (Wells Fargo) is at the corner of Broadway on the right. -->
The Oakland City Hall was first government building designed as a skyscraper.  The railroad track being laid (foreground) is for the Western Pacific Passenger Service to Sacramento.
The Plaza was rededicated in 1996 to be Frank H. Ogawa Plaza.
Background: The building was designed by New York-based architecture firm Palmer & Hornbostel in 1910,  after winning a nation-wide design competition.[5] The building, constructed in the Beaux-Arts style, resembles a "rectangular wedding cake". The exterior is built using white granite and terra cotta, while the inside is built using white and black marble.[6] The building was nicknamed "Mayor Mott's wedding cake" after former Oakland Mayor Frank Kanning Mott, a key player in passing the bond to pay for the new City Hall, married the same year construction began


Old City Hall at 14th and Broadway c 1895
The Old City Hall building (condemned in 1899) was demolished
when the new City Hall was completed in 1914 to make City Hall Plaza,
now Frank H. Ogawa Plaza. 

The Original City Hall of Oakland


Oakland was incorporated by the California state legislature May 4, 1852. The original
settlement in what is now the downtown was called “Contra Costa” (Other Coast), and was part of
Contra Costa County until Alameda County was established in 1853.


Pictures digitally mastered by Bennett Hall,
Business Image Group from source images in the History Room of the Oakland Public Library

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