Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Celebrating Oakland's rich Waterfront Heritage

The vitality of our community's development owes a great debt of gratitude to the men and women who have dedicated their lives and careers here.  This series of images has been organized out of respect to their longstanding service. Our future in a multitude of ways depends on success of our Port and how it continues to evolve both in its traditional role for the movement of freight but the evolving public access and development that are presently on the drawing boards.

Ships Loading Lumber, Oakland Estuary, c.1870

The Oakland hills were covered with a vast redwood forest known as the San Antonio Redwood, which had some of the largest trees on earth. Between 1842 and 1853 this forest was logged extensively to supply San Francisco with lumber. The area’s first steam sawmill was built on the edge of Montclair in 1850. A logging road from the mill, later Park Blvd., connecting to the wharf at the foot of 13th Avenue, where ships transported lumber to San Francisco from this estuary. This forest was gone by 1860.

Long Wharf, Oakland
Yerba Buena Island in background c.1870

 This massive railroad wharf and ferry pier, located at the foot of Seventh Street, was acquired and extended by the Central Pacific Railroad in 1868 to transport freight to San Francisco. It served as the western terminus of the first Transcontinental railroad when it was completed in 1869. The Long Wharf connected to ferries that carried commuters and cargo to and from San Francisco.  Local commuter trains also used the pier, while trains of the Pacific Railroad (aka the "First Transcontinental Railroad") used another wharf in Alameda for briefly in 1869, after which the Oakland Long Wharf became the western terminus of the Pacific Railroad as well. Part of the wharf was filled in between 1879 and 1882, creating a mole. It remained in service until 1958.

–courtesy of Oakland History Room, Oakland Public Library

Long Wharf, Oakland  c. 1870

In 1868, the possibility that Oakland might be selected as the western terminus for the transcontinental railroad brings the dispute with Carpentier to a head. Carpentier agreed to deed his rights to the Oakland Waterfront Company, however,  later it was discovered that Carpentier was in fact the President of the Oakland Waterfront Company.  The Central Pacific constructed the Oakland Long Wharf at Oakland Point, the site of today's Port of Oakland. The Long Wharf served as both the terminus of the Transcontinental Railroad as well as the local commuter trains of the Central (later, Southern) Pacific. The Central Pacific also established one of its largest rail yards and servicing facilities in West Oakland which continued to be a major local employer under the Southern Pacific well into the 20th century.

Wiki of the Mayor's of Oakland - and... there are dozens and dozens of them even before 1900!

Brooklyn Basin, Oakland Harbor, 
Viewing North from Alameda, c.1890


Booming commerce in the late 19th century led to the need for the expansion of shipping facilities in both Oakland and Alameda. A shipping and tidal channel was dredged between them in 1902, extending and deepening the natural estuary joining Oakland’s harbor with the San Leandro Bay. Consequently, Alameda became an “island” as well as an important shipping port. Most of the excavated soil was used to fill sections of the nearby marsh land.

Brooklyn Basin is now the site of largest development on the Oakland/East Bay Waterfront, with billions of dollars being invested in this area become a major neighborhood and commercial center.

Contra Costa Times News Story on the Ground breaking

“San Francisco” Ferry at Oakland Mole
Key Route Pier, c.1920

The Mole was a dock halfway out Oakland’s Long Wharf used by Southern Pacific ferries
to connect with the Key System. The Key System, formed in 1903, was a network of commuter rail and bus lines connecting cities and neighborhoods in the East Bay to
San Francisco by way of the Mole. After completion of the Bay Bridge, use of the Mole declined but continued until about 1957. It was demolished in the mid-1960s to allow
for an expansion of the Port of Oakland cargo facilities.

–collection of Bennett Hall/California Images

Paul Robeson Sings National Anthem
Moore Dry Dock Co., 1942


Moore Dry Dock Co. was an Oakland shipbuilding and repair company which boomed
during WWII, building over 100 ships for the U.S. Navy and Merchant Marines. The yard
was noted for employing several thousand African Americans in both skilled and unskilled
positions. Paul Robeson (1898-1976) was an internationally renowned actor and singer,
and a forerunner of the civil rights movement.

–Courtesy of San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
Source: Unless otherwise indicated, these images were sourced from the Oakland History Room, Oakland Public Library, and have been digitally mastered by San Francisco Images / Business Image Group.  You can acquire copies of these images framed and unframed through our World Wide Archive Web Galleries. A portion of all sales will be donated to the History Room to assist them with their work preserving local history and to maintain their collections.

Pictures digitally mastered by Bennett Hall, Business Image Group from
source images in the History Room of the Oakland Public Library
If you like what you see and would like to help support local history, please become a member of the Oakland Public Library History Room

To order prints of Oakland History:
Oakland Historical Photographs for your home of office 

Flickr Collection on Port of Oakland

Notes on the Port of Oakland

Articles and stories in this post are © Bennett Hall / San Francisco Images / Business Image Group

No comments: