Broadway Terrace Sewer Extension – Oakland CA

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In 1937, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) built an extension of the sanitary sewer up Broadway Terrace from Harbord Drive to Sheridan Road (just below the brow of the hills near Lake Temescal).  (Oakland Tribune 1937)

The current state of the sewer line is unknown. Broadway Terrace is a major artery with water, gas, telephone and internet lines, and the concrete roadbed has been repeatedly cut through and repaired.   Judging from the placement of manhole covers, there appears to be two sewer lines running parallel along this stretch of road and another, probably older, line in the old Broadway Terrace below the newer, wider roadbed.  Then, about halfway up, another line appears in the wooded divide between the new and old Broadway Terrace roadways.  

Further complicating things, there are both unmarked cast iron sewer covers (probably dating back to the WPA work) and others marked “Phoenix Iron Works, Oakland CA” (a major foundry of the mid-20th century).  The latter presumably indicate that a second sewer was built in the postwar era.  Flowing water can be heard through the holes of one line, but not the others, which may have been abandoned after the new one was built. Without records from the Public Works department of the City of Oakland, the exact position of the WPA sewer cannot be determined.

Subsequently, the city of Oakland extended the sewer through a tunnel toward the Montclair area.   In Spring 1938, the Oakland Tribune announced that two sewer lines were “about to be realized” by the WPA along Fernwood Street into the heart of Montclair Village in the Oakland Hills.   The project was a priority of the Montclair Improvement Club in order to serve several housing developments that had sprung up in the area.  Nevertheless, the Tribune reported a year later that the federal aid sought by the city of Oakland was not approved. In 1941, the Tribune reported that the Union Paving Company was completing the Montclair sewer – presumably without federal funds.



Source notes

"Oakland projects started by WPA," Oakland Tribune, Sept. 7, 1937, p. 3

Clair Beebe, "Work started on Montclair Recreation Project," Oakland Tribune, March 27, 1938

"Hearing set for sewer proposal," Oakland Tribune, May 3, 1939, p. 5.

Project originally submitted by Richard A Walker on June 3, 2020.

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Location Info

Broadway Terrace
Oakland, CA 94618

Coordinates: 37.8426, -122.233

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