Wooden Window

Craftsmanship making history.

Transbay Terminal, Oakland, CA

May 18, 2017
front view_side by side_today

Restoring the East Bay’s Electric Rail History

 

At Wooden Window, we do a lot of restoration for architecturally historic structures, but the chance to work close to home, and to recreate the 18-foot tall doors for a landmark of East Bay transportation history was something special–the Interurban Electric Railway Bridge Yard Shop.

If you’ve lived in the Bay Area for some time, you may know that public transportation needs in San Francisco and the East Bay, much like similar urban areas from Brooklyn to Denver, were once served by a robust and vibrant network of electric rail cars. The system maintained routes on both sides of the Bay, as well as commuter trains running across the Bay Bridge.

 

Electric cars passing over the Bay Bridge (c. 1940)

Electric cars passing over the Bay Bridge (c. 1940)

Construction on the Oakland Bay Bridge began in 1933 and cost an estimated $77 million to complete. By then, electric interurban railroads had existed on both sides of the bay since the turn of the century.

 

“They were the backbone of our mass transit system for nearly 100 years, with dozens of routes and hundreds of cars, and when they were discontinued in the late 1950s, almost all evidence of their reign was swept away.” (“When Trains Ruled the East Bay – Oakland Magazine – January 2008 – Oakland, California”, 2017)

 

For the whole story of the East Bay rail system and trains over the Bay Bridge click here.


The bridgeyard shop was erected in 1938 to provide maintenance and light repairs for the railway cars. Built as a long, unbroken vault bookended by sets of huge bi-fold doors, the shop was designed in the International Style for industrial buildings–focussing design considerations around the provision of expansive open spaces, clearstory banks of windows for light and attention to supporting the actual work to be done in the structure. Three tracks ran longitudinally through the building over inspection/work pits to provide access to traction motors, brake system and other operating components of the cars.

The Interurban Railway Shop in 1958

The Interurban Railway Shop in 1958

Over the years, the tracks were removed, the inspection pits were filled in and surfaced over, and the continuous original interior split up into 3 sections. Since the demise of Transbay electric train travel, the shops have been used for the equipment and supplies of the Bay Bridge painting crews.

As part of the new EAST Span Project for the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, the remaining shop was evaluated, included in The National Register of Historic Places and made eligible for rehabilitation to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.

 

The great bi-fold doors at either end of the bridgeyard shop had been repaired and modified multiple times over the years.

The great bi-fold doors at either end of the bridgeyard shop had been repaired and modified multiple times over the years.


At Wooden Window, our piece of the overall rehabilitation project was to restore and reuse components from the 1938 door sets to create 8 new doors, complete with hardware and steel window inserts, fabricating perfect-to-match new parts where necessary.

The first step was to bring the original doors into our shop, strip and restore the original wood, and survey them for all the engineering data necessary to create new parts where needed.

Of the historic 12 doors in the shop facade, 4 had been replaced by a roll-up door years ago.

The existing doors were salvaged for their original components to create 8 restored units.

Metal mullion inserts for the new doors were reclaimed from the 1938 sets and fitted with modern safety glass.

Restored doors ready for glazing

Restored doors ready for glazing

The massive strap hinges being installed

The massive strap hinges being installed

Metal window inserts

Metal window inserts


Setting the doors upright and bolting in the iron hardware

Setting the doors upright and bolting in the iron hardware

DSC08647

File_002

Forged steel knuckle.

The hinges and metal strapwork are forged steel with a hot dip galvanized finish.

Hardware was purchased from Crown Industrial in San Francisco, the same company that provided the original pieces in 1938.

Crown also supplied track parts of the original design.


From Scrap Wood to Masterpiece The Presidio Visitor’s Center
From Scrap Wood to Masterpiece
The Presidio Visitor’s Center

About the author: Wooden Window
Since 1980, Wooden Window has been constructing and restoring fine and custom-made wooden doors and windows for residences and commercial buildings throughout California. Whether a homeowner or building pro, you’ll appreciate our decades of experience and unique mix of craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology.

Reply

About Wooden Window

Since 1980, Wooden Window has been restoring and constructing fine wooden doors and windows for residences and commercial buildings throughout California.

Read About Wooden Window

Remodeling and Home Design
San Francisco Windows

Terms of Privacy and Use

Recent Blog Posts

It’s Only Proper

  The Hibernia building across the street, by the same architect The new Proper Hotel, on the corner of McAllister […]

Past Perfect-The San Francisco Presidio

Wooden Window is a company that restores historic doors and windows, and we could hardly be in a better position […]

Riding the Rails

Restoring the East Bay's Electric Rail History   At Wooden Window, we do a lot of restoration for architecturally historic […]

Bring the Carriage Around

America's carriage houses are among the most charming remnants of our architectural history, some dating back to colonial times. Created […]

Bye, Bye Betsy

Click to see Becky moving in It was a sad day, one recent Friday, as all of us at Wooden […]

Reviews From Our Clients

Wooden Window has done great restorative work on many 1920's era homes in my neighborhood. They are also very active in local community service, having hosted Pinewood Derby workshops at their facility for local scouting groups for many years. I'm ... (Read More)

Wooden Window is rated 5 stars over 26 reviews.
Map Of Location

Monday 
Tuesday 
Wednesday 
Thursday 
Friday 
Saturday By Appt. Only
Sunday Closed
Wooden Window | Craftsmanship making history.
Copyright © 2014 - Wooden Window - Site design by Social Media Ninjas
Paste your AdWords Remarketing code here