Archive for the ‘special marks’ Category

In Dimond Canyon

June 16, 2017

The Works Progress Administration employed hundreds of thousands of people during the Great Depression. A lot of those works involved concrete, and many well-made sidewalks and gutters around Oakland bear the “WPA” stamp from 1939, 1940 and 1941.

In Dimond Canyon, WPA projects were funded to remove landslides, build fire trails and run a sewer line down the bed of Sausal Creek. Finally, the WPA paid crews to put in a bunch of concrete channels and culverts for flood and erosion control. That was in 1939.

A lot of that work has been undermined by erosion. Eventually the stream will have its way again, unless the authorities find a need there and fill it again.

Old concrete in the West Bay

December 23, 2016

Since this is a cleaning-up period at the end of the year, I’ll feature a couple of photos I’ve had for a long time and get them off my mind.

If you’ve been to the Quad at Stanford University, you may have noticed the excellent concrete walkways there. They date from the construction of the buildings in 1890 and were made by the same George Goodman, of San Francisco, whose lovely escutcheon stamp I featured here the other month.

goodmans

Goodman listed himself in the business directory as a specialist in the Schillinger Patent method, which wasn’t really about concrete per se but about making sidewalks in a way that would help keep them from breaking up. The next photo, though, is about concrete itself.

If you’ve been to the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, you must have noticed the vintage pavement there. Its age is uncertain, but probably from before 1900. The Granolithic Paving Company was listed in the 1887 business directory at 422 Montgomery Street, San Francisco.

granolithic

Peter Stuart, a Scot, invented granolithic concrete in the 1830s. It’s an extremely strong material, the Gorilla Glass of concrete, made by an ingenious method that lays down a surface layer, or screed, of concrete densely packed with finely crushed granite or similar rock. At the correct point in curing, an absorbent blanket is placed on the concrete to reduce the water content, raising its strength. (Low water content was one reason ancient Roman concrete was so strong.) Stuart’s granolithic method was patented in this country, as the stamp says, in 1882. The company that bore his name stayed in business until 2012.

While you’re there, walk south to John F. Kennedy Drive and visit the Alvord Lake Bridge, the first reinforced concrete bridge built in America.

Special marks: “Master Concrete” holders II

November 25, 2016

Lately I’ve found two more examples of “Master Concrete” bugs that I can add to the list. Gene Tribuzio was the holder of number 1, and there must be a story behind that.

masterconcrete1-g-tribuzio

And Angelo Marin held number 5.

masterconcrete5-a-j-marin

Here are the other ones I’ve documented. Between numbers 1 and 18, I’m now missing 3, 9, 10, 13 and 15. There may be more beyond 18. Must keep eyes peeled.

Land and Water Conservation Fund plaque 2: Central Reservoir Park

September 9, 2016

centralreservoirparkplaque

When I featured a Land and Water Conservation Fund plaque here a few weeks ago, I had a nagging feeling I’d seen one elsewhere, and there it was in my photos from March 2013. Oakland’s second LWCF site is tucked away next to the covered Central Reservoir, which I wrote about a few years ago in Oakland Geology. With a total of $70,000 from the fund to acquire 4 acres and help develop it, the Central Reservoir project took shape in the early 1970s. That may account for the maturity of the palm allee leading in from East 29th Street — or more likely a suburban estate once occupied this spot.

centralreservoirparkallee

The park is small but well equipped for kids’ teams to play daytime softball and soccer. It also has picnic tables, bathrooms, a basketball court and views of the steel-roofed reservoir.

centralreservoirparkview

I’m glad they left a plaque behind. As the podcaster Roman Mars says, always read the plaque.

A Potter Built Home

September 2, 2016

potterbuilt

I came upon this mark by a house somewhere around 90th Avenue and Thermal Street last year. Gene Anderson, one of the ever-helpful guys behind the Oakland Wiki, sleuthed out the identity of Potter: Arthur W. Potter, who operated the California Mission Realty Co. in Oakland on High Street during the 1920s. In the 1923 directory he was listed as a carpenter living on 41st Avenue; in 1925 he had started the company and lived in Berkeley. By the 1950s he was in business with two of his sons, Irving and Harvey, in Castro Valley as A.W. Potter and Sons.

A 1926 advertisement referred to “Potter Built Homes,” built with “oodles of built-ins, hardwood floors throughout, tile sink and bath, the latest in home construction.” Buyers could pick their own paint, wallpaper and electrical fixtures while their house was being built. This custom sidewalk stamp is another sign of the pride and care Potter must have taken at the time, during Oakland’s wave of expansion after World War I.

This is the only such mark I’ve found in Oakland, and I’m not sure it still exists. Nor do I know if others survive in San Leandro or points south. Red concrete was in vogue during the 1920s and 1930s.

Land and Water Conservation Fund plaque: North Oakland Regional Sports Center

August 12, 2016

Land and Water Conservation Fund

This plaque sits discreetly by the entrance to the North Oakland Regional Sports Center at 6900 Broadway, where countless drivers pass on their way to jam up Route 24 or Tunnel Road.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a federal program that redirects offshore oil and gas revenues to other ends. Its website notes that it “was [my emphasis] a bipartisan commitment to safeguard natural areas, water resources and our cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities to all Americans.” Both of our Senators and 37 of our 53 Representatives signed this year’s “Dear Colleague” letter supporting the program. One of them was a Republican.

This land was acquired and developed using LWCF funds between 1977 and 1985. Let’s assume the plaque was installed in 1985.

Odds and ends

July 15, 2016

Here are a few add-ons for some previous posts on Oakland Underfoot.

I found a second variation of the utility-hole covers used by The Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company, predecessor of Pacific Bell, featured in my post of June 17. I’m quite taken with it.

tpt-n-tco

I found another concrete master number used by a member of OPCFIA local 594. As of now that makes 16 different numbers, but I’m sure there are a few more out there. Previous posts are here and here and here.

unionmade-natlena298

Finally, I located a fourth sidewalk maker who was a member of the Cement Contractors Association of Alameda County. The other three are here.

ccaac-ed-doty

My impression is that like the others, this mark dates from the late 1920s.