History

The historic 16th Street Station was a significant force in Oakland’s development. Below are highlights of the key elements of the Station:

 

Main Hall

  • Designed by Jarvis Hunt, a Chicago architect who also designed several other railroad stations: Kansas City Union Terminal, Dallas Union Terminal and Joliet Union Terminal
  • Replacement for the old 1870 wooden station and built at the encouragement of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce
    • Oakland’s population significantly increased after the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco
    • Construction began in 1910
    • Opened August 1, 1912 and featured in Western Architect that year

 

Elevated Tracks

  • First elevated tracks west of the Mississippi
  • First electric trains, operated by Southern Pacific, began running on February 19, 1914 and continued for 26 years
    • These were first known as the East Bay Electric Lines
    • They became known as the Interurban Electric Railway in 1937 and were in competition with the Key Route System
    • The Big Red cars went over lower deck of Bay Bridge from 1939 to 1941
    • The demise of the electric trains was orchestrated by General Motors and U.S. Rubber to promote private car travel over public transportation

 

Baggage Wing and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP)

  • BSCP was founded in Harlem on August 25, 1925
  • In 1937, the union obtained recognition from the Pullman Company
  • Oakland was the West Coast organizing home of the BSCP, the first African American union in the country
  • C. L. Dellums was BSCP founder A. Phillip Randolph’s field agent in Oakland

 

Signal Tower

  • Built in 1913
  • More substantial than typical signal towers because it was twice the size and built of reinforced concrete instead of wood

 

Role of the Station

  • Made Oakland a major transportation hub in its early years
  • Southern Pacific was one of the largest employers in Oakland, even as recently at the 1950s
  • The Station was the place of disembarkation for African Americans who left the South, particularly Texas and Louisiana, in search of jobs
    • The shipyards offered wartime jobs to newly arriving African Americans
    • This emigration from the South to the North was called the Second Great Migration
 

  • Designed by Jarvis Hunt, a Chicago architect who also designed several other railroad stations: Kansas City Union Terminal, Dallas Union Terminal and Joliet Union Terminal

  • The Station made Oakland a major transportation hub in its early years

  • Southern Pacific was one of the largest employers in Oakland, even as recently at the 1950s

  • The Station was the place of disembarkation for African Americans who left the South, particularly Texas and Louisiana, in search of jobs

    • The shipyards offered wartime jobs to newly arriving African Americans

    • This emigration from the South to the North was called the Second Great Migration

  • Oakland’s population significantly increased after the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco

  • Construction began in 1910

  • Opened August 1, 1912 and featured in Western Architect that year

  • First elevated tracks west of the Mississippi

  • The Interurban Electric Railway (IER), operated by Southern Pacific, providing local transport, began running on February 19, 1914 and continued for 26 years

    • Went over lower deck of Bay Bridge from 1939 to 1941

  • The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, founded by A. Phillip Randolph in 1925, was the first African American union in this country

    • First contract signed in 1937

    • Oakland was the West Coast organizing home of the BSCP

    • C. L. Dellums was the west coast field agent based in Oakland

  • The Signal Tower was built in 1913 and was twice the size of the typical tower and ws built of reinforced concrete instead of wood