Petition To Bring Oakland's 16th Street Station Back to Life

City Ventures

Background

Do you want the Bay Area's most magnificent train station restored? Join Oakland Heritage Alliance in petitioning developer City Ventures to restore this abandoned train station in West Oakland.

City Ventures has purchased the Station and surrounding land in order to build 90 homes. Its plans do not include rehabilitation of the damaged and deteriorating Station and would impair the overall visibility of the Station from the street.

Constructed in Beaux-Arts style, the 1912 station not only features tracks for long distance trains, but also elevated tracks for local electric trains, an early example of intermodal design. Significantly, the Station served as the western headquarters of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first Black union in the United States, spurring the civil rights movement and Black middle class.

The building is threatened with neglect, damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake and long vacant. Oakland Heritage Alliance is working to persuade City Ventures to invoke less-invasive site planning and sensitive restoration and reuse of the Station.

Below is our petition to City Ventures asking for its support of this effort.

Your signature on this petition would undoubtedly encourage City Ventures to bring the Station back to life. Please show your support and sign.

Learn more: https://www.oaklandheritage.org/16th-street-station.

PETITION

Dear City Ventures,

We are excited to work with you on the historic 16th Street Station and are happy that you plan to build housing in the neighborhood. Housing will bring needed investment and will activate the area. While you continue advancing plans for the site, we ask that you also prioritize preservation of the site’s history and collaborate with us to address our concerns.

A grand train station interior with arched windows and passengers.

Station Interior. Image Credit: California State Railroad Museum.

The current plans do not include rehabilitation of the Station. The plan is to build housing surrounding the Station, but to leave the Station vacant. We strongly urge City Ventures to draft a master plan encompassing the entire site, including new housing and Station restoration. A restored Station will enhance the site's livability and will create opportunities for reuse. Examples of reuse include: event space, community space, grocery store, restaurant, office space, etc. A master plan will result in a more integrated and, therefore, successful project.
Plans for the station area, which include housing, but no plans to restore the station.

The current plan is to build around the Station, but not to restore it. West Oakland deserves to have its Station brought back to life.

Isolating and blocking views of the Baggage Wing from Wood Street would disrespect the story of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and their role at the Station. West Oakland served as the West Coast Headquarters for the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first Black union in the United States. The Porters worked out of the Baggage Wing and were an essential part of the Station and its story. The current proposal plans to obstruct the view of the Baggage Wing from Wood Street. We urge you to amend your proposal to not block views of the Baggage Wing from Wood Street. Please design a plan to celebrate this history rather than conceal it.
The station's baggage wing on the left and a similar view on the right with the wing blocked by new development.

The current proposal plans to obstruct the view of the Baggage Wing from Wood Street. The Baggage Wing is as important in all respects as the rest of the Station, due to its association with the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

The project buildings unduly encroach upon the Main Hall of the Station, detracting from its stature and significance. The current plan is to construct new buildings in front of and around the Main Hall and Baggage Wing. The plan also isolates the Signal Tower from the rest of the Station complex. Please explore shifting housing units adjacent to the Station to the outer property boundaries. We encourage you to ensure a strong visual connection between the Station and Signal Tower.
An aerial view of the station property and the proposed project outline.

The current plan is to construct new buildings in front of and around the Main Hall and Baggage Wing.

We ask for your support in nominating the Station to the National Register of Historic Places. Oakland Heritage Alliance plans to move forward with the National Register of Historic Places Nomination to unlock new tax credit opportunities for the Station. Inclusion on the National Register will not place restrictions on the site, but will provide new funding opportunities. Please support this listing!
The restored Kansas City Union Station

Kansas City's Union Station, designed by the same architect as Oakland's Station, was put on the Register in 1972 and has been the centerpiece of the city. Listing on the Register will unlock tax credits to rehabilitate Oakland's Station.

By preserving and restoring the iconic 16th Street Station, you will demonstrate a unique commitment to respecting our rich history and culture. You will distinguish yourself as an organization that seeks to truly improve, rather than solely profit from, the great city of Oakland. Undoubtedly, the community, the city, and others will welcome and reciprocate your kind diligence in ensuring that such a pillar of our history is preserved for future generations. As you move towards construction, please prioritize the Station's cultural and historical significance, and please accommodate for it.
Children waiting behind the station to catch a Southern Pacific train.

Children waiting behind the Station to catch a Southern Pacific train. Image Credit: Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society (SPH&TS)

Please see Oakland Heritage Alliance's website for more information regarding the importance of the Station, Baggage Wing, Elevated Tracks, and Signal Tower: https://www.oaklandheritage.org/16th-street-station.

Sincerely,

Oakland Heritage Alliance and the signatories on this petition
Sponsored by

To: City Ventures
From: [Your Name]

I support the open petition to City Ventures regarding the 16th Street Station at https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/bring-the-16th-street-station-back-to-life