H26.156B

1877 and 1913
Oakland
Gift of Mayor Frank K. Mott
H26.156B


Pictures, History of Oakland.

The architectural competition to build a new Oakland City Hall was won by the firm of Palmer and Hornsbotel of New York. Oakland's City Hall was the first in the nation to be designed as a skyscraper. A $1.5 million bond measure passed in 1909 provided funds to build it. Mayor Frank K. Mott felt that it "would put Oakland in the front ranks of modern cities in the magnificence and attractiveness of its chief public building." Ground was broken in 1911 - the same year that Mayor Frank Mott married so the building has been called Mayor Mott's Wedding Cake. The building was completed in 1913,and the nearby older City Hall was demolished. Inside were city offices, a jail and a hospital at the top of the clock tower. It was the tallest building west of the Mississippi when it opened in 1913. The Beaux Arts derived design featured a three-story base occupying half a city block and oriented for the first time toward the plaza and Broadwayï¾€A tower eleven stories high rose from the base, topped with an ornate terra cotta clad clock tower. A reinforced steel frame supports white California granite veneer embellished with terra cotta ornamentation representing California's agricultural abundance: grapes, olives, wheat and figs. (Annalee Allen, Oakland Heritage Alliance News, Spring 1995)City Hall was badly damaged in the 1989 earthquake; a large X crack on the north side was visible from many points downtown. A City Hall Advisory Committee analyzed the damage to City Hall and developed restoration guidelines. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, any changes to City Hall required the approval of the State Office of Historic Preservation. By the Fall of 1991, FEMA had awarded $35.9 million for repair of City Hall; that amount was later raised to $53.7 million. The State awarded 18.1 million. The estimated total repair cost was $76.8 million. Repair of the clock tower and construction of the isolation base system began by the Fall of 1991. Elastomeric base isolators, a state of the art system designed to dissipate seismic energy, were installed in the basement. In effect, the building now sits on immense rubber pads. Additional steel bracing of the shaft and clock tower, new life safety systems, and upgraded mechanical and electrical systems have been installed as part of the general rehabilitation. City Hall reopened with council chambers as well as offices of the major, city manager, city council, and city attorney by the Summer of 1995.

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