Oakland City Hall

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Oakland City Hall
Oakland City Hall (Oakland, CA) 2.JPG
Oakland City Hall is located in Oakland, California
Oakland City Hall
Oakland City Hall
Location within Oakland, California
Oakland City Hall is located in California
Oakland City Hall
Oakland City Hall
Oakland City Hall (California)
Oakland City Hall is located in the United States
Oakland City Hall
Oakland City Hall
Oakland City Hall (the United States)
General information
TypeGovernment offices
Location1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza
Oakland, California
Coordinates37°48′19″N 122°16′21″W / 37.8053°N 122.2725°W / 37.8053; -122.2725Coordinates: 37°48′19″N 122°16′21″W / 37.8053°N 122.2725°W / 37.8053; -122.2725
Construction started1910
OwnerOakland, California
Roof97.23 m (319.0 ft)
Technical details
Floor count18
Design and construction
ArchitectPalmer & Hornbostel
Oakland City Hall
Architectural styleBeaux-Arts
NRHP reference No.83001170
ODL No.28
Significant dates
Designated NRHPSeptember 15, 1983
Designated ODL1979

Oakland City Hall is the seat of government for the city of Oakland, California. The current building was completed in 1914, and replaced a prior building that stood on what is now Frank H. Ogawa Plaza. Standing at the height of 320 feet (98 m), it was the first high-rise government building in the United States.[5] At the time it was built, it was also the tallest building west of the Mississippi River.[6]

Oakland City Hall in 1917

The building was designed by New York-based architecture firm Palmer & Hornbostel in 1910, after winning a nationwide design competition.[5] The building, constructed in the Beaux-Arts style, resembles a "rectangular wedding cake".[5] It consists of three tiers. The bottom tier serves the foundation. It is three stories high and houses the mayor's office, the city council chamber, hearing rooms, and a police station with a firing range below in the basement. The thinner second tier follows; it is a ten-story office tower. The top floor of this section (the 12th floor) houses a 36-cell jail with an outdoor yard that has gone unused since the 1960s.[6] Above the second tier is the two-story podium with a clock tower on top.[5] The exterior is built of white granite and terra cotta, while the inside is built of white and black marble.[6] The building was nicknamed "Mayor Mott's wedding cake" after former Oakland Mayor Frank Kanning Mott, a key player in passing the bond to pay for the new City Hall, who was married the same year construction began.[5][6]

In 1983, the Oakland City Hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places.[4]

After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the building suffered from major structural damage and was immediately closed down. Instead of tearing it down and replacing it with a newer building, city leaders decided to retrofit it seismically. To do so, steel columns in the foundation were cut and they were replaced by rubber bearings. Steel beams were added to support the steel structure and concrete walls were added to support existing walls. The building can now move laterally 18-20 inches in an earthquake. The city hall was repaired along with the downtown revitalization project of building new office buildings. The repair project cost $85 million.[6]


  1. ^ Oakland City Hall at Emporis
  2. ^ "Oakland City Hall". SkyscraperPage.
  3. ^ Oakland City Hall at Structurae
  4. ^ a b "Oakland City Hall". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. October 15, 2009. Archived from the original on February 20, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d e Fromm, Dorit (January 4, 1998). "Oakland and San Francisco's civic structures reinvent urban centers". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved October 15, 2009.
  6. ^ a b c d e Burt, Cecily (October 15, 2009). "Oakland City Hall shines brighter after Loma Prieta earthquake". Oakland Tribune. Retrieved October 15, 2009.

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