Skyscraper Index: Oakland Edition


Oakland, back in the yuppie ’80s or was it ’90s, was to have had erected a 30- or 80-story tower. Right at Broadway and 10th or 11th Streets, or some other street on the Oakland Chinatown village border. Asian money from Hong Kong or nearby was to have funded it.

And after reading about the Skyscraper Index am I ever glad that it didn’t get built! The least of our problems would have been a helpful nudge into Rush Hour II territory: yet more people belching forth onto Broadway, 12th Street BART platform and into shiny people-movers that maximally hold five American-sized adults (legally). But maybe Jackie and Chris would have made a cameo. Oakland should be so lucky.

Snapping back into the first person POV, I’m glad the newer “Uptown” developments aren’t much taller than four to five stories apiece.

Any taller would be unmanageable from a long-term mindset — or from what we know about history dating back to the Romans and Mayans. But Oakland still has skyscrapers.

What skyscrapers does Oakland have?

  • Kaiser center HQ
  • some lakefront condos
  • “Federal” building (that dellums labeled bi-pod near the city-busting 980 skewer)
  • rinky dink city hall
  • some office filing cabinets throughout downtown and medicaid-ville
  • NEW MEDICAL BILLINGS (ER BUILDINGS) near Webster and 30th Streets (aha!)
  • NEW PARKING GARAGE by 40th and Telegraph MacArthur BART station
  • a new “air-train to the air-port” (this is more “sideways” than vertical)
  • insane to maintain freeway jungle maze in the air around MLK and the 20s
  • more aerial insanity of Oakland BART rail tracks (North, West, South) which lead to that sub-zero tube below “tha” bay
  • additional aerial insanity of the new $6,400 million bay bridge east span (which is broken before first use and its opening is further delayed)
  • Jack London Square “market” – nice job shutting down Old Spaghetti Factory. (though with a shrinking middle class, it made sense to downsize to monthly food tents and bifurcate into insanely richly priced foodie storefronts instead)

Yes, most of these are not Oakland-created, but they’re Oakland-sited.

Am I missing any Oakland skyscrapers? The point is, some decades into the future, Oakland’s skyscrapers will start crumbling. Leaking sewer pipes. Cracked concrete. Rusty rebar. Homeless squalor. Falling glass and architecturally designed full building implosion — in case of earthquake. (Did I just describe OPD HQ? Mostly true story. 16th Street Rail Terminus? Check. The T-Tower condos in Chinatown, with falling concrete chunks? Yelp.)

Just like World Trade in the coming months, these sterile ‘man’uments will lose their shit and crash down THUD onto manmade pavement. And not in a neat little pile with three teen victims. It’ll make the twice-grand jury-indicted Oakland Building Department look boring. But in the meantime, every First Friday let’s get out and party like it’s 1999! (1929?) Great Goodness Gracious, Gatsby! (Next up: Apple/Google HQ remix.)

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