Views of Oakland, circa 1869-1876

12th & Broadway West - Ingersoll

These photographs, either taken or copied by William Gardiner, reveal an Oakland when oaks grew in and along unpaved streets, downtown consisted of various clusters of mostly modest wooden buildings & houses, and the hills were almost entirely undeveloped. Most of the prints in this series (many from a single scrapbook) suggest the work of a single photographer working in the area of Broadway and Telegraph. Some of them resemble published views by William B. Ingersoll, whose studio was at 12th & Broadway beginning in 1868 (see left for detail of building). The Oakland Museum of California has attributed several identical prints in their collection to a C.E. Wickman (presumably not the founder of Greyhound buslines, but no further information could be located).

Among the structures visible are City Hall, the Grand Central Hotel, and Dietz Opera House. There are signs for stoves, pianos, furniture, carpets, groceries, baked goods, and photography studios, reflecting the commercial interests of a rapidly expanding and domesticating town. A few are clearly reproductions of older prints or negatives. The majority are clear, good quality, and contain strong detail. Some have been published elsewhere, which has been noted when found below, but if these aren't the source they are certainly in better shape now.

Broadway looking North from 12th St. 1873
[Broadway looking North from 12th Street, 1873]

Broadway & 12th, View North

The date of 1873 come from a note on the back of one of the prints. However, there are at least two other sources for this image, both of which give the date 1870 instead; this one, from the Jesse Brown Cook collection at the Bancroft, which has a very slightly different cropping, and this one published in Frank Clinton Merritt's History of Alameda County, California (Chicago : S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1928).

The second image is another view from the same vantage point, likely taken around the same time (note the same cart on the right side of the street). The Oakland Museum credits Wickman. As for the Strong's Photoviews trailer, Joseph Dwight Strong is known to have taken photographs in the East Bay prior to his career as a painter. There's no listing for Strong in Pioneer Photographers of the Far West : A Biographical Dictionary, 1840-1865, but then again he would have been twelve in 1865.


12th + Broadway - 1863. Looking north

Broadway & 13th, View North

Although this was originally thought to be another variant of the above shots (it was labeled Broadway & 12th), it's actually the next block up Broadway. For one thing, Dalziel is listed at the northwest corner of Broadway & 13th in Bishop's Oakland Directory of 1877-78. Furthermore, this image was also published in the History of Alameda County as "Broadway, North from 13th, 1869," and it's placed there by Jesse Cook. Again, the Oakland Museum credits Wickman but with the interesting added information "Destroyed by fire, May 15th 1872."


12th + Broadway looking east. 1869. Dietz Opera House + Grand Central Hotel

Broadway & 12th, View East

On the north side of 12th Street between Franklin & Harrison we see various buildings from the College of California, which later became part of the University of California in Berkeley. The nearest tower is the University's College Hall (which remained until at least 1903) and one block up is Brayton Hall, built around 1860. It later became in remodeled and relocated form Oakland's first theater, Dietz Opera House (c.1874–1911).

The Oakland Museum has two copies online, one of which we determined (thanks to a lucky search on the Internet Archive) was a page from the East Bay Water Company's "Bubbles" magazine of April 1920, comparing it with 1919 vantage point. The Museum also has a very similar view credited to Wickman.

Other similar vantages include this Ingersoll ground-level stereoview of an 1869 Independence Day parade (there may be a few variations of this shot as well), and another of the Northeast corner of 12th & Broadway with College Hall just visible on the right. The Bancroft also offers a later view of Webster & 12th from their Oliver family collection, with the opera house in the foreground and College Hall down the block (here's another from the same angle) - apparently both buildings were moved across the street?!

A closer look reveals a sign for a "Sing Lee laundry" on the near corner (listed at 301 Webster in a later directory)

12th & Broadway East - Wing Lee CU

Views from College Hall, 1869

12th & Broadway 1869 Looking west from about Franklin
12th & Broadway 1869 Looking west from about Franklin
1869. Junction of Broadway & Telegraph Ave. in center. Franklin St. North of 14th in foreground
1869. Junction of Broadway & Telegraph Ave. in center. Franklin St. North of 14th in foreground
12th & Broadway 1869. 14th St. not through east of Broadway
12th & Broadway 1869. 14th St. not through east of Broadway

Various photographs taken from the College of California's College Hall tower.

Left: the intersection of 12th & Broadway , looking west from 12th and Franklin, probably from College Hall (sometimes referred to as College Observatory). The building known as Broadway Block occupies the southwestern corner in the upper left, with William B. Ingersoll's photography studio advertised prominently. According to Palmquist & Kailburn, he was active at this location (1069 Broadway) beginning in November 1868. Here is a very similar photograph of his; so close, in fact, that it's arguably the same shot. The patterns of the trees match, but it's hard to tell if that's the same horse in the street. At any rate, it's safe to say they were taken around the same time. And could that be Yerba Buena Island and Marin in the distance?

Middle: Franklin Street north of 14th in foreground, the junction of Broadway & Telegraph Avenue in center (with Broadway running parallel to Franklin). Again, there is a very similar Ingersoll stereoview; note the same house under construction with ladders against the windows. In fact the only discernable variation is a horse cart, possibly the same one, in a different place on 14th.

Right: the brand new City Hall at 14th Street and Franklin and the surrounding area. Related Ingersoll images include "From Observatory, 12th & Franklin, St, N.N.W" (many matching details, but not identical) and "General view from College Observatory, looking W. N. W." (not quite the same angle, obviously).

14th & Harrison St. 1869
14th & Harrison St. 1869
14th & Alice, 1869. Lake Merritt in the distance
14th & Alice, 1869. Lake Merritt in the distance

Two views of 14th Street, neither of which seem to have any readily accessible corollaries online. It appears to be more residential this direction, and Lake Merritt is visible in the second image. Further study might identify some of the other buildings visible in the distance.


Grand Central Hotel. 12th + Webster. Burnt 2:30 am March 9, 1880

Grand Central Hotel

The Grand Central Hotel was built in 1872 and burned down only eight years later, so we have a pretty close window for dating this photograph. A different copy of this image in the collection bears the following inscription: "The Grand Central Hotel on the line of the Oakland, Brooklyn & Fruitvale R.R., located on 12th St. This hotel occupied the entire block, bounded by 12th, Harrison, 11th, and Webster Streets." The Oakland Museum of California shares a couple versions of this same image, both of which are almost certainly copies. William Ingersoll has a stereoview from his "Views of Oakland and vicinity" series from the same vantage point, as does Carleton Watkins, who took (or published) at least two very similar views of the hotel - one stereoview and one giant plate photo.


14th & Broadway, showing track of San Pablo Ave. R.R. near sidewalk. Dentist whose sign appears on building is father of Franklin K. Lane
14th & Broadway, showing track of San Pablo Ave. R.R. near sidewalk. Dentist whose sign appears on building is father of Franklin K. Lane
14th & Broadway, showing track of San Pablo Ave. R.R. near sidewalk. Dentist whose sign appears on building is father of Franklin K. Lane
14th & Broadway, showing track of San Pablo Ave. R.R. near sidewalk. Dentist whose sign appears on building is father of Franklin K. Lane

Two very similar views of the Playter Block on the corner of 14th Street and Broadway, with the San Pablo Avenue Railroad tracks running off to the left in the second photo.

According to the captions for these photos, the dentist was Christopher Lane (1838-1910), father of politician Franklin Knight Lane. The Lane family moved to Oakland in 1876, so these photos must post-date that. The 1887 Oakland, Alameda and Berkeley city directory lists a C.S. Lane, dentist at 1209 Broadway. Here's a related view from a bit later captioned "San Pablo & Broadway" from the photo book "Picturesque Oakland, 1889." The Cook collection also has an illustration of the Block, which apparently was still intact around 1930.


Looking south on Broadway 1869
Broadway looking South from 13th St. 1873

South on Broadway

Two related views down Broadway, the first from 12th Street (a sharper, less-cropped version is online at the Oakland Museum, credited to Wickman) and the second one from 13th about four years later (Wickman version). One may just make out a sign for Ingersoll Photograph Studio in the upper right, above the stable sign.


Alice St., South from 12th St. 1873
12th St. Looking West from Broadway 1869
SE corner of 12th & Broadway, 1873. Curve of Tubbs Line, Oakland Rail Road horse car line

Vicinity of 12th Street

First photo is Alice Street looking south from 12th in 1873 (here's Oakland Museum's copy, credited to Wickman). There are a few other versions out there, some of which are dated 1900. This might approximate the same view as of 2019.

Second photo is of 12th looking west from Broadway in 1869. An 1874 newspaper advertises "Bowen Brothers' grocery, Twelfth Street, between Broadway and Washington." This has also been attributed to Wickman, and is apparently from the same photo album.

Finally we see activity including a horse car line at the corner of 12th & Broadway in 1873. The same building is visible from another angle in the above photo "12th & Broadway 1869 Looking west from about Franklin." This print is uncharacteristically blurred, but no copies have been located elsewhere.