Keep Oakland Beautiful Point of Interest: Tribune Tower.

 Tribune Tower 08-03-14

Keep Oakland Beautiful Points of Interest remind us of how interesting and beautiful Oakland is and why we should care about protecting it.

One of our most distinguished landmarks is the Tribune Tower, at the corner of 13th and Franklin Streets, in downtown Oakland. Standing 305 feet tall, the 22-story building is reminiscent of the University of California Berkeley’s Sather Tower (the clock tower) and St. Mark’s Campanile in Venice.

The building was opened 90 years ago as the home of the Oakland Tribune. Initially, the building was a scant six-stories, when built in 1906. The tower was added later, being completed in 1923. The tower’s architecture is a mixture of French and Italian classical. To my untrained eye, the tower would appear at home on the Grand Canal, but I do see the French influence in the green copper mansard roof.

When the tower was built, it was intended to serve as a zeppelin mooring. The dirigible was to be tied to the flagpole at the top of the tower and the passengers were to climb down a rope ladder to the 20th floor walkway. Maybe Harry Houdini would attempt such a thing, but not me.

Speaking of Houdini (nice segue, huh?), did you know that the illusionist had himself suspended upside down, in a straitjacket, from the ninth floor of the Tribune Tower, just prior to its opening (the tower, not the straitjacket)? Houdini escaped from the jacket in five seconds, without plunging to his death.

Houdini in a Straitjacket


March 27, 1923. Harry Houdini being strapped into a straitjacket in Oakland.

Photo by Edward ‘Doc’ Rogers, Oakland Tribune

Houdini hanging from Tribune Tower

March 27, 2023. Houdini hangs like a bat from the ninth floor of the Tribune Tower.

Photo by Edward ‘Doc’ Rogers, Oakland Tribune.

The Oakland Tribune and the Tribune Tower were sold to the Gannett Company in 1979. The Tribune was subsequently sold to its editor and publisher, Robert Maynard, and his wife Nancy Hicks Maynard. Through this transaction, the Maynards became the first African-Americans to own a major daily newspaper in the US.

The tower was damaged by the Loma Preita earthquake in 1989 and the Tribune moved to a new Oakland location. Tribune Tower was renovated and sold again in 2011, this time to a call center, CallSocket. Today, the building, now the 11th-tallest in Oakland, serves as an office tower for a variety of businesses.

Tribune Tower Today

Tribune Tower today.

Photo by E. Saltmarsh

Tribune Tower is on the list of City of Oakland landmarks. While Tribune Tower no longer houses the city’s newspaper, it still proudly displays the paper’s name, high above the city skyline.

Keeping Oakland Beautiful is everybody’s business.

We encourage you to share your thoughts in the reply section. We welcome the dialogue and learning of others’ perspectives.

4 Responses to Keep Oakland Beautiful Point of Interest: Tribune Tower.

  1. executive coaching training October 2, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

    I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the page layout of
    your site? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.

    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.
    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or two images.
    Maybe you could space it out better?

  2. Eric Saltmarsh October 3, 2014 at 10:34 am #

    Thanks for your feedback. We’ll definitely consider ways to continue to improve our site and better connect with our readers.

    There’s a lot about Oakland to be proud of and we want people to feel a sense of civic pride and help to sustain and build upon it.

    Please come back and review our blogs, photo galleries, and events from time to time since we will continue to add new information, ideas, and events of interest.


  3. D Wilson October 14, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

    Hi there,

    Great posts.

    Slight mistake:

    “March 27, 2023. Harry Houdini being strapped into a straitjacket in Oakland.”

    2023 should be 1923 🙂

    • Eric Saltmarsh October 14, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

      Hi. Thanks for pointing out that mistake! I just fixed it. We hope you’ll continue to visit our site from time to time since we’ll keep refreshing it with new information, opinions, and ideas.

      Thanks again,


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