Anyone who’s come within 10 miles of Oakland knows the cranes. Other cities might call them an eyesore. But to us, they’re the best kind of public art — a link to Oakland’s industrial past, and to future industries not yet dreamed of. No matter what happens, we’ve got steel guardians on our shores, waiting, watching, and protecting our corner of the bay.
The Port of Oakland was the first major port on the Pacific coast to build terminals for container ships, and it’s still the fourth busiest container port in the United States. Back in the frontier days, the water off these shores was only 2 feet deep — the city’s first settlers dredged out tons of mud to make it deep enough for ships. Ever since, these pillars of industry have been greeting vessels from all over the world. Once a ship is docked and ready, these cranes can unload 15,000 containers in a matter of hours.
The cranes carry an extra load of mystery for people who live in their shadow. Some claim they were the inspiration for the fearsome AT-AT walkers in Star Wars (George Lucas denies this, but nobody’s convinced). Plus, every local kid has an opinion on which dinosaur they resemble.
Regardless of the myths, Oakland’s pillars of industry stand eternal. This is why we wear cranes on our chest, because they’ve been at the heart of Oakland for so long.