Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The College of California

California Historical site plaque number 45 is located on the south-east corner of 13th and Franklin in downtown Oakland. It's on the side of the yellow parking garage opposite the Tribune Tower.

The plaque denotes the original site of the College of California, the predecessor of what would eventually become the University of California system. The College of California was started by Dr. Samuel H. Willey as a private educational enterprise in 1855, three years after the incorporation of the city of Oakland. The University of California was chartered on March 23rd, 1868, and continued to use the buildings owned by the College of California. Desiring a new location (the original site, bounded by 12th, 14th, Franklin and Harrison streets was considered too rowdy for legitimate study), the university purchased 160 acres of empty land in what would become the city of Berkeley in 1868. While the new university was under construction the University of California remained in downtown Oakland, officially transferring to the new location in September, 1873.

This site represents, to me at least, the continual re-purposing and re-development of land in the Bay Area to suit current needs. There are actually several sites for universities or historic institutions that have been completely leveled within the city limits of Oakland. The parking garage on top of the College of California is a great example, but there's also the car dealership that was built on top of the site of St. Mary's College, and the Alameda naval Air Base that stands where a whole bunch of other stuff used to be.

Getting There By Bike...
To be honest, there's not much to see here besides the plaques and the Tribune Tower, which is directly across the street. If you're going to ride through downtown Oakland during morning rush hour, be prepared for heavy traffic. The streets immediately surrounding the site are not the busiest in the area and there are lots of parking meters if you need to lock your bike up. If you're in the mood to make an afternoon of it, Preservation Park is just down the street,and Lake Merritt is close by as well.

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