Archive for the ‘oakland stone’ Category

Woodminster Cascades

16 September 2011

Oakland is blessed with excellent stonework dating from the Depression-era Works Progress Administration or WPA. When the WPA got together with Park Superintendent William Mott to build Woodminster, in 1940, an experienced cadre of artisans built its elegant features with a sure hand.

woodminster

I should know more about the stone, but I don’t. It’s very similar to the stone used at Lake Temescal and the East Bay Botanic Garden in Tilden Park. It likely came from the Leona Quarry.

While you’re there, be sure to admire the amphitheater’s Deco concrete. And keep your eye open for WPA concrete in Oakland’s sidewalks and gutters. I’ve seen WPA marks from 1939, 1940 and 1941. This investment in public works has endured for more than 70 years.

Oakland stone landmarks: Middle Harbor Park’s replica training wall

5 July 2011

Even before I knew what it really was, this short pier at Middle Harbor Park stood out.

middle harbor pier

This is clearly not a typical groin or breakwater, something that is dumped into place, but a carefully laid work of drystone masonry. It feels absolutely solid to walk upon. And then there are the rocks in it, a rich assortment of large and pristine Bay area specimens. There are tuffs composed of volcanic pyroclastic flows,

tuff

colorfully metamorphosed volcanics,

metatuff

slickensided serpentinites,

serpentinite

and other metamorphics whose colors could inspire a fabric maker.

jacob's coat

Also sandstones and even a few ringers of Sierran granitic rocks, perhaps from the old quarries of the Rocklin area. But it’s not typical of a modern marine rockwork—those use stone trucked in from a single quarry to save money and control the quality.

An interpretive sign explains that it’s a replica of the old “training wall” on the north side of the shipping lane to Oakland Inner Harbor, where the signature gantries load and unload big freighters. Training walls are jetties designed to turn a shipping channel into a flume during ebb tide, keeping the bottom clear of mud. The walls were built around the 1880s, using shoreline quarries around the Bay and shipping the rock here by barge. That explains the unique variety and distinctive regionality of the material.

The north training wall was removed when the shipping lane was enlarged in 2001, but they saved some of the stones. Masons installed them over a core of rubble, and here they are. The south training wall remains in place.

Oakland stone landmarks: McElroy Fountain

29 June 2011

Oakland has not only rocks, but also stone to admire. The grand McElroy Fountain of Lakeside Park, newly refurbished and 100 years old this year, displays monumental marble to advantage.

mcelroy fountain

Here’s a page from Annalee Allen’s book Oakland about the fountain and its namesake, a Flickr page with some discussion of the project, and a set of closeups of the (wildly misinterpreted) bronze panels by Douglas Tilden around the fountain depicting stages of life.

I didn’t find any information about the stone, but this grade of marble was easily available from domestic and foreign sources in 1911. Oakland was a big stoneworking town with many skilled European craftsmen, a major regional cemetery, a booming construction industry and good freight service by rail and sea.


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