Creating the Cove
The transformation of the estuary from industrial harbor to recreational waterway is a major trend in Oakland's history. The change began at this spot. The Oakland Municipal Yacht Harbor - the city's first public marina - opened here in 1930. Developed by the Port of Oakland, the marina adjoined the moorage of the Oakland Yacht Club, founded in 1913 with Jack London as one of its early members. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Port redeveloped the shoreline of Brooklyn Basin as Embarcadero Cove, a linked series of marinas that included the one in front of you.
The Port's Embarcadero Cove project borrowed its name from a private development several hundred yards east of here. Opened in 1970, old Embarcadero Cove is notable for its collection of historic buildings which were moved to the site from elsewhere in the city and adapted to new uses. These include the Southern Pacific's East Oakland station, several Victorian houses, and Oakland's turn-of-the-century harbor lighthouse, which was brought by barge from West Oakland. The photograph depicts the lighthouse keeper's wife on the veranda.
During the Great Depression, in the winter of 1932-33, around 200 unemployed men lived here. The men made their homes in large concrete pipes in the storage yard of the American Concrete and Steel Pipe Company. Their community attracted widespread attention and was one of the inspirations for the novel Co-op by Upton Sinclair.
Pipe City elected its own mayor. A volunteer police force kept the peace. Drunkenness, uncleanliness, and political soapboxing were punishable by eviction. Cash from odd jobs and donations of food and clothing were shared equally among the men, who in turn helped needy families. Also known as Miseryville, due to the physical hardships, Pipe City disbanded early in the spring of 1933, when buyers were found for the concrete pipe. "There'll be no hunger marching", vowed Pipe City Mayor Dutch Jensen at the time. "Now warm weather's coming, and we'll be on our way."