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No more Oakland


In the summer of 1854, William Tecumseh Sherman described Oakland as:

a low sandy piece of ground on the San Antonio Creek directly opposite this city with oak trees beautifully distributed. The climate is much milder than [San Francisco] as the winds do not blow so hard and the fog scatters before it crosses the bay. The titles to land are not well settled, yet quite a town has grown up there and two steam ferry boats cross with considerable regularity.

Half a century later, Jack London grew up along the city’s waterfront. From his novel Valley of the Moon (1913):

‘No more Oakland. No more living in Oakland. I’ll die if I have to. It’s pull up stakes and get out.’
He digested this slowly.
‘Where?’ he asked finally.
‘Anywhere. Everywhere. Smoke a cigarette and think it over.’
He shook his head and studied her.
‘You mean that?’ he asked at length.
‘I do. I want to chuck Oakland just as hard as you wanted to chuck the beefsteak, the coffee, and the butter.’
She could see him brace himself. She could feel him brace his very body ere he answered.
‘All right then, if that’s what you want. We’ll quit Oakland. We’ll quit it cold. God damn it, anyway, it never done nothin’ for me, an’ I guess I’m husky enough to scratch for us both anywheres. An’ now that’s settled, just tell me what you got it in for Oakland for.’
And she told him all she had thought out, marshaled all the facts in her indictment of Oakland, omitting nothing.