Oakland Gaslight Co.

May 20, 2016


In Oakland, most of the metal underfoot is the product of a few companies, and I haven’t made a practice of documenting it. But on the 3600 block of Martin Luther King Way, this caught my eye. It’s surely well over a hundred years old.

Google turns up the most obscure things. The Annual Report of the Secretary to the Board of Regents, University of California, for 1883-84 records dozens of payments to this company. Other references pop up from the 1870s. The company changed names a few times, grew, merged, and eventually became part of today’s PG&E.

The Oakland Wiki has a little more about the company.

Had I known all this when I took the photo, I would have cleaned it up a bit first.

Union concrete masters III

May 13, 2016

I’ve rustled up a few more numbers in the OPCFIA union bug since the last batch I posted.




Not much to say about these. Hal Bennett’s marks (very few of which are dated) run from 1930 to 1950. L. B. Duffin marks run from 1944 to 1947. And the Fitzmaurice mark II runs from 1926 to 1941.

Some stamps from Berkeley 1

May 6, 2016

I’ve decided that since I’ve seen every bit of Oakland’s sidewalks, it’s now OK to fill in missing dates of Oakland’s sidewalk makers from out of town. Here’s the first installment.

1905 – Contra Costa Construction Co.


Arch Street, at The Berk (2311 Le Conte Avenue), Berkeley

There’s just one example of this mark in Oakland, from 1904.

1906 – Contra Costa Construction Co.


2107 Addison Street, Berkeley

This is in front of the Hot Cups Cafe. The building has a plaque on the front, on Shattuck Avenue, stating that it was the first site of the California Academy of Arts and Crafts (now CCA).

1907 – Hall & Nelsen


1876 Arch Street, Berkeley

There is only one example of this mark in Oakland, from 1918.

1910 – Blake & Bilger


1862 Arch Street, Berkeley

Blake & Bilger marks are rare and special, so I’m pleased to add a new year’s date from this iconic Oakland firm.

Sidewalk maker: Lazzero Banchero

April 29, 2016

Lazzero and Virginia Banchero lived at 2019 86th Avenue, in East Oakland, for many years while he ran his business. Although the 1925 directory lists him as a “cement worker,” the earliest mark I have from L. Banchero & Co. is a bizarre stamp from 1926 in the area, on Plymouth Street.

The Banchero home is still there, complete with a Banchero & Co. mark from 1928 on the sidewalk.


The earliest example of the standard stamp I have is from 1927. For the first few years of his practice, Banchero’s mark read “L. Banchero & Co.”


After 1933, he consistently wiped off the “Co.” (or chiseled it off his stamp). I don’t know why; probably he was just downsizing.


Banchero marks are scattered all over town, but they’re thick on the ground in East Oakland near his home base.

His marks continued until 1948, and possibly 1950. That’s a decent career.

The Bacon Block Building

April 22, 2016

The place now occupied by 1111 Broadway was once the Bacon Building, also known as the Bacon Block. It was named for Henry Douglas Bacon (1818-1893), “a pioneer capitalist of this city” who is also remembered at U.C. Berkeley as the benefactor behind the old Bacon Hall library building.

The Bacon Block or Bacon Building was the second structure here. The original Bacon Block, a wooden building that housed Smith’s Market and many other small businesses, burned on December 30, 1902. The newer steel and concrete structure housed many business offices as of 1906. At least four businesses in the Bacon Block/Building left their marks on Oakland’s sidewalks.


The Golden Gate Construction Company, “215 BACON BL’K”, was listed in the San Francisco directories of 1902 and 1907. It was listed in the 1910 Oakland directory at this address, but not in any other year. The listing also said, “Harry B Williams mngr.” Oakland has a handful of these hard-to-read marks, none of them with a date. I suspect this firm also left the G. G. C. Co. mark, of which I’ve seen maybe three examples.


Harry B. Williams succeeded Golden Gate in the same office. The firm is first listed in the 1912 directory, with Harry B. (not to be confused with the more prominent contractor Harry C. Williams) living at 905 61st Street. The 1913 and later directories have him living at 915 61st Street. The 1914 directory of Rotarians lists him. In 1921 the business was listed at 1106 Broadway, which was across the street in today’s Key System Building, and a garage is also mentioned out at 61st Street. I think he was probably using his second stamp at that time. His marks are thinly scattered in north and central Oakland, none with a date.


Ernest H. Sundberg, “308 Bacon Block”, is listed in the Bacon Building in the 1912 and 1913 directories and in the Oakland Savings Bank building (not sure where that was) in later years. He’s not listed in the 1921 directory. This mark is rare; I have one dated 1912.


I’m still researching this firm. “Bua” is a rare name, so I assume he’s the same person as M. Bua. Roberts may be related to the Roberts Brothers firm (Delore Roberts, president and Arthur Roberts, vice-president), which never had a Bacon Building address. I interpreted this date as 1922, though 1927 is just as likely, and a 1924 date is unequivocal. Vallejo Street has a mess of these marks but they’re scarce elsewhere.

Can anyone point me to pictures of the Bacon Block?

Sidewalk maker: Simon Aiassa

April 15, 2016


Simon Aiassa worked and lived on Apgar Street, in North Oakland, with his wife Clorinda and their daughter Caroline. I don’t have access to the 1929 directory, but they were listed in the 1930 directory. He was still there in the 1944 directory. This is the house at 963 Apgar Street today, thanks to Google Maps.


Aiassa is a rather rare Italian name, and Simon was the only one in the Oakland phone book. The 1940 Census says that Simon was born in Italy in about 1879, and Clorinda was born in Italy around 1887. The 1920 and 1930 censuses also list a daughter, Caroline, born about 1915. If there is uncertainty about her birth date, it may be because she was born in Italy, but the whole family used Americanized spelling for their names. Caroline went to Tech High and got a gold pin for high grades in 1932. Another handful of Aiassas came to California about the same time in Santa Clara County.

S. Aiassa marks are scattered throughout North Oakland, with a few more in Allendale. Few of them are dated, and the dates are always drawn by hand. I have marks from 1928-30, 1932, 1937, 1938, 1940 and 1943.

In other news, I collected another new sidewalk stamp, in two versions.

2015 – Rosas Brothers


Lee Street at Monticello Avenue

2015 – Rosas Brothers


307 Jayne Avenue

I’m not sure how this happens.

Sidewalk maker: William Andrade

April 8, 2016

7th Avenue, Oakland

William B. “Bill” Andrade (1924-2016) left marks on sidewalks all over Oakland. His obituary was in yesterday’s paper and a memorial page is up. He founded the Andrade Concrete Company in San Leandro with his father, August Andrade, shortly after World War II.

In Oakland, I’ve documented Andrade marks dated from 1946 to 1961 (missing 1954, 1957 and 1959). Presumably there are more in San Leandro, Castro Valley and Hayward. The mark above is the earliest I’ve found. Many marks from 1961, the latest year I have, are scattered around Jingletown. His work survives all over Oakland, which speaks to his success and to the quality of his work.

He used a distinctive escutcheon for this company, and also for a short-lived collaboration with Arthur Moniz of Oakland (the two examples I’ve found did not have dates).

23rd Avenue at E. 22nd Street

He is not to be confused with M. Andrade & Son, which was run by Manuel Andrade of Oakland.


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