With only two institutional records (Stanford & Yale), and virtually no historical presence on the antiquarian market, this pictorial map of Jack London District in Oakland, CA, seems to be quite rare. It was published in 1952, just months after the Square was formally dedicated to its famous one-time resident, American novelist Jack London (1876 – 1916).
The map was drawn by local graphic designer and newsman Alva “Ted” Hubbard, known for his authentic encapsulations of post-WWII life in the Bay Area. This particular work is skillfully-executed and features a tremendous wealth of detail. It depicts an industrial maritime neighborhood mixed with businesses, factories, warehouses, and entertainment establishments. Amidst supply companies, storage spaces and foodstuffs importers, we see Heinold’s First and Last Chance saloon, site of a place of drinking since 1865. The saloon survived the 1906 earthquake and had to be rebuild after a fire in the 1920s. Jack London spent time there as a youth and Jonny Heinold, who became owner in 1883, loaned London money to go to college. According to the SF Chronicle article cited in the references section below, the bar owns a photo that shows the writer at age 10, sitting at one of the bar’s three tables and reading from a large dictionary Heinold had bought for him.
Two of the area’s most famous restaurants, The Bow & Bell and The Sea Wolf, are illustrated along the on the waterfront. Nearby, another storied locale shown on the map is The Showboat, a converted paddlewheel steamboat named Petaluma, which arrived at the base of Broadway and dropped anchor in 1951. It was accessible from both land and water, and its circular bar was a favorite destination for visitors and locals alike.
These are just a few of the many wonderful illustrations that make up this rare and intriguing portrayal of the liveliness of the post-War era in Oakland’s most important waterfront district.