City Hall

Nicknamed “Mott’s Wedding Cake” by reporters at the time, Oakland’s city hall building was completed in 1914.

Clay Building

Diagonally across the intersection is the Clay Building. Like many things in Oakland and the Bay Area, the building has ties with earthquakes. But this one has ties with two. Following the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, tens of thousands of people fled the city, and many ended up in Oakland—the population of Oakland almost […]

Washington Inn

The Washington Inn is relatively new, but the building dates back to 1913. For many years it was the Hotel Ray, which like many other hotels in at the time, was a both a regular hotel and a residential hotel where people lived for longer periods of time. If the lobby is open, head inside […]

Swan’s Market

Swan’s Market is newer than many of the other buildings in Old Oakland, but has been no less important to the fabric of the neighborhood. The building was constructed in phases from 1917 to 1940, and encompasses most of the entire block. Originally a “supermarket” of shops in an age of separate stores, it now […]

Delger Block

The Delger Block is one of several buildings constructed by businessman Frederick Delger; this one was built in 1883. Notable tenants in the building have included the law firm of Metcalf & Metcalf, a partnership between George Metcalf, and later congressman and U.S. cabinet member, Victor H. Metcalf. (Remember learning about Teddy Roosevelt sending the “Great […]

Arlington Hotel

Across the street is a large brick building with numerous bay windows labeled Nicholl Block. The Nicholl Block was built in 1877 by John Nicholl, an immigrant from Ireland. He had great success as a farmer in Alameda County, and was able to finance what was noted as “the first brick block on Washington Street.” […]

Ratto’s Market and Deli

The building that currently houses Ratto’s was constructed in 1876 for the Winsor Hotel, primarily a residential hotel. This drawing from 1896 also shows a dome on top of the building which is no longer there, and Theodore Gier Co., a prominent wine merchant, as a ground level tenant. Ratto’s was founded in 1897 by […]

Old Oakland Tour

Welcome to the walking tour of the Old Oakland neighborhood. Although this is not the oldest part of Oakland, it does have many of the oldest buildings still standing in Oakland. The town of Oakland was incorporated in 1852, and started mostly with buildings near the waterfront. It became a city in 1854, and rapidly […]