compass rose

 Accidental Cruiser in the West Indies

San Francisco Bay History of the port of Oakland  

Port of Oakland

Cranes at the Port of Oakland1851, Oakland was described as an “evil-smelling strip of muddy tidelands on one side and a flotsam-filled creek on the other.” A few scattered shacks inhabited by squatters on Don Luis Maria Peralta’s vast land grant and cattle ranch were beneath his notice, dismissed as mere gringos. The squatters didn't’t care about the Grandee either; they were interested in the Redwoods and Oaks they could cut and trade for gold. On May 4th 1852,   the State legislature approves incorporation of the town of Oakland. This hamlet of 75 people was previously known as Contra Costa. Immediately, construction of shipping wharves begins along Oakland’s Estuary. Most residents and the actual owner of the land, Don Perata, seem unaware of the change.

1854 Oakland is incorporated and Horace W. Carpentier is elected as the first mayor in an election whose 364 votes cast out-numbered the voting population of the town. Thirteen days later, Mayor Carpentier obtains exclusive use of the Waterfront for a period of thirty years.

1855 In reaction to Carpentier's land grab, he is expelled from office. A lengthy court battle ensues over ownership of the Waterfront.

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 agrees to deed his rights to the Oakland Waterfront Company. It is later discovered that Carpentier is 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.

1883    Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon opens and remains in continuous operation to the present. The bar was a favorite haunt of Jack London who references the bar seventeen times in his novel John Barleycorn. He is reported to have borrowed tuition from Heinold to attend Cal.

1910    Oakland’s population more than doubles in ten years from 66,960 to over 150,000 as people and businesses relocate from earthquake-ravaged San Francisco. Oakland regains control of the long-lost waterfront by final settlement of litigation which had lasted over half a century and cost several millions of dollars.

1927    With the organization of the Board of Port Commissioners, the municipal harbor enters a new era of development as the "Port of Oakland" including the opening of the 700-acre Oakland Municipal Airport. The first successful flight from the mainland to Hawaii leaves from Oakland.

1941    The Port of Oakland voluntarily turns over to the Armed Forces such facilities as would be needed for the war program. In the ensuing years, the port area becomes the site for such vital and extensive developments as the Oakland Army Base and the Naval Supply Base. Filling tidelands for these bases is spectacular. A hill is literally moved to the sea when thousands of yards of soil are hauled around-the-clock in heavy diesel trucks at the rate of one per minute.

1943    The Pacific Coast leads the nation in shipbuilding. Oakland leads other West Coast cities producing more than 35% of the entire Pacific Coast cargo ship output. Food packing is another major industry with 60% of total food stuffs coming from Oakland canneries. Oakland is truly an "arsenal of democracy".

Container Cranes at the Port of Oakland1962    Oakland becomes the first major port on the West Coast to build terminals for the then-revolutionary containerships, becoming the second largest port in the world in container tonnage in the late 1960s and second only to New York in its container terminal acreage. Because San Francisco lacked the land to store the containers and good access for the trucks and trains which move them, San Francisco is eclipsed as a port and goes into decline.

1977 George Lucas releases Star Wars. The container cranes were reported to be the inspiration for the Imperial Walkers.


Berkeley Pier

Berkeley PierBerkeley's first pier, Jacob's Landing, was built in 1853 by Captain James Jacobs, an immigrant from Denmark who transported freight between San Francisco, Sacramento and other shoreline communities. In 1874, a small municipal pier was built to provide a ferry service to San Francisco. These original piers are now buried under University Avenue. In 1926, the Golden Gate Ferry Company built another pier which allowed motorists to drive down University Avenue over three miles into the Bay and take a car ferry to San Francisco. It was reportedly so popular that the police encouraged drivers to maintain speeds of 60 MPH on the pier to keep the ferries full. The building of the Bay Bridge quickly killed the ferry business and storms, worms and rot have been working away at the pier ever since. The Army Corps of Engineers released a plan to fill in 2,000 acres of open water in the Bay by 2020. The original end of the pier marks the proposed shoreline. This plan spawned the "Save San Francisco Bay Association" which successfully scuttled the plan

©2002-6 Accidental Cruiser Home Islands Photo Journal • Cruising LogSailing Info Viewer's Comments Comment