Oakland Airport (North Field): Runways – Oakland CA


New Deal agencies were called upon several times to expand the runways at the growing Oakland Municipal Airport (now the North Field of the Oakland International Airport). In the early 1930s, this involved bringing in quarried stone for fill to expand the runway area, leveling the surface and finishing off crushed stone. Later in the decade, the runways would be surfaced with asphalt and concrete.

In early 1934, a team of 112 men from the Civil Works Administration (CWA) began work on the runways, laying 8500 cubic yards of rock (Minutes of January 8, 1934, p. 114).  When the CWA was cut short, the work stopped before completion.

Late in 1934, the Port of Oakland asked the State Emergency Relief Administration (SERA) – backed up by funds from the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) – to finish runway work began by the CWA (Minutes of May 28, 1934, p 266; Minutes of November 13, p 387). The federal government contributed $7,200 in labor and the port provided $2,300 in materials (Minutes of December 3, 1934, p 400).

The 1927 photo shows the landing area with no runways marked out. The photo taken c 1935 shows runways built by the CWA and SERA relief workers; but the runways are not yet paved.

In 1937, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) – which took over relief work from SERA in mid-1935 – approved $475,000 for paving and excavation work at the airport (Post-Enquirer 1937).  This project included extending and paving various runways, then adding flush lights.  Presumably, the funds also covered improvements to access roads. The work was reported to be completed by early 1940 (Tribune 1940).

The photograph from c 1941 shows the runways built by the WPA.

In mid-1941, another WPA grant was announced for $286,000 for drainage at the Naval Reserve (northern) end of the field and laying concrete for taxi strips for the Navy, among other things (Tribune, August 31).  That works shows up today in a satellite view of the airport (see project page on the Naval Reserve Base).

The WPA worked at the Oakland airport until the agency was terminated in mid-1942.


Source notes

Minutes of the Board of Commissioners of the Port of Oakland for 1934 https://www.portofoakland.com/pdf/about/meetings/archive/1935_minutes.pdf

"2 wharf projects approved by the WPA," Oakland Post-Enquirer, November 30, 1937.

"Development program for municipal airport told," Oakland Tribune, March 10, 1940, p.1.

"Oakland airport gets extra funds," Oakland Tribune, August 31, 1941, p. 34.

Project originally submitted by Richard A Walker on July 8, 2020.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

Earhart Road
Oakland, CA 94621

Coordinates: 37.7309, -122.215

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