Abound in Downtown Oakland
You don't need a ticket to see many of the best tourist sights in Oakland. New and old architectural treasures abound downtown, offering visitors and locals a chance to see a broad of historic and artistic styles, from the ornate Victorian to sleek modern designs. Whether you're going on your own or joining a walking tour group led by an expert, here are just a few of the areas you'll be sure and want to see:
Today, the area between 8th and 10th Streets and Clay and Washington and Clay and Broadway is known as Old Oakland, but in the late 1800s it was the heart of town, with block after block of hotels built to house people traveling from the East Coast on the Transcontinental Railroad. These buildings are among the finest examples of Victorian commercial architecture on the West Coast, and the area is now home to a unique collection of restaurants and shops, as well as theWashington Inn. Swan's Marketplace, which has been a major shopping destination in the Bay Area for over 60 years, was builtin several stages from 1917 to 1940s, and renovations repaired substantial damage caused by the Loma Prieta earthquake and restored the terra cotta and glazed brick exterior.
BROADWAY HISTORIC DISTRICT
In 1998, the National Register of Historic Districts designated the stretch between 11th and 17th along Broadway as The Downtown Oakland Historic District, noting the importance of the buildings constructed between1900-1949. The 21-story Tribune Tower was designed by local architect Edward R. Foulkes in Renaissance/Baroque style with Spanish and colonial influences. The beaux arts Broadway Building constructed in 1909 has gone through a major retrofit to bring it up to modern standards. When it was built, the Cathedral Building at Broadway and Telegraph was considered a skyscraper but today is best known for its Gothic Revival architecture. Examples of classic Art Deco style are visible all around town, but none is as grand as The Paramount Theatre which opened in 1931 with 3,000 seats. Around the corner, the neon sign and marquee of the Fox Theatre at Telegraph and 18th street has recently been restored.
Four blocks west of Broadway, 16 restored Victorian houses provide a glimpse into how Oakland residents lived years ago. The two landscaped blocks of the park include a 19th-century fountain and distinct domestic architectural styles, including examples of Italianate, Queen Anne, Shingle and Craftsman style. Inside the houses, Preservation Park is now home to 45 business and non-profit organizations, and includes five meeting rooms that can be rented for meetings or private parties.
Bold new buildings now shine in Oakland's modern skyline as well. The Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building has been lauded for its use of space and sense of place, with a dramatic lobby that is open to the public. And 555 City Center, Shorenstein's 21-story office tower has received praise for its beautiful architecture and environmental features. The rotating artwork displayed at Gallery 555, its public access gallery is curated by the Oakland Museum of California.
Free walking maps of downtown are available from the Oakland Convention & Visitors Bureau at 463 11st Street. Walking tours are offered by a number of Oakland groups, including the City of Oakland, the Oakland Heritage Alliance, and the Art Deco Society of California. For more information on tours, visit our "Tours & Itineraries" section or contact the organizers directly at:
You can learn more about historic Oakland in
Bill Caldwell's book "Oakland:
A photographic journey", which is for sale through the Oakland Convention
& Visitor Bureau.
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