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Perhaps the only surviving example of W.F. Boardman's original manuscript plate map for the City of Oakland, California, which would become the first general Plan of Oakland, as adopted by City Ordinance 337.

Boardman's manuscript plan of Oakland extends as follows:

  • North to just beyond the City Charter line into 28th Street and Adams Point (unnamed), the northernmost part of Lake Merritt.
  • West to what would become Maritime Street, 7 blocks west of Peralta, with the planned land reclamation areas shown and the existing tidelands and creeks illustrated.
  • South to San Antonio Creek, with the unnamed north shore of part of Alameda Island shown.
  • East to the neighborhood immediately east of Lake Merritt.

Of great note is the overlay of the plan of the city onto the existing topographical features, including the tidelands and marshlands, which would, over the years, be reclaimed to enlarge the city of Oakland.

The annotations on the map suggest that this is the original of the map which accompanied the first city ordinance approving the street plan for Oakland. The original map was on a scale of 1 inch= 500 feet. Following approval of the ordinance, The Ordinance, in its entirety reads as follows:



The Council of the City of Oakland do ordain as follows:

Section 1. That the plan of streets herewith presented, prepared by W. F. Boardman, City Engineer, be and is hereby adopted as the general plan of streets for the City of Oakland.

Section 2. The City Engineer is hereby directed to prepare a map of the same upon a scale of two hundred feet to one inch, upon which said map shall be plainly indicated the name and width of each street, the number and size of each block, the position of all homesteads and location of all plazas and public grounds, together with the location of all grounds that have been dedicated for street or other public uses and position of all public buildings, and report the same at the earliest moment to the Council for ratification and adoption as the official map of the City of Oakland.

(Approved November 20, 1868. Vol. i, p. 342.) (For prior ordinances, see Vol. i, pp. 134 and 168.)

This manuscript plan is almost certainly the final version, which thereafter was converted into a printed map, published by Boardman and lithographed by Britton & Rey, in 1868, which also includes Alameda Island and extends further to the North and East, entitled Map of Oakland and Vicinity Showing Plan of Sts. As Established & Proposed From Official Surveys & Records of County. W.F. Boardman, City and County Surveyor. The 1868 Boardman / Britton & Rey map, on a scale of 1000 ft = 1 inch, is generally regarded as the first "modern" printed map of the City of Oakland.

The printed Boardman plan is very rare. OCLC notes 3 examples, Bancroft, Oakland Public Library and Stanford.

As noted in the September 15, 1974 edition of the Oakland Tribune at page 62.

William F. Boardman, the hardware salesman who educated himself as a civil engineer and became simultaneously Oakland city engineer and Alameda County surveyor. Boardman came to California in 1851 and spent seven years in the hardware business in San Francisco. [Later], he moved to Oakland where he lived until his death in 1906, at age 82. He held both the city engineer and county surveyor posts from 1864 to 1868 and assisted in the development of many public utilities and services in the area, including Contra Costa County Water Co.'s Lake Temescal Dam, San Leandro Dam and Central Pacific Railroad's main line, from the Sierra Summit to Truckee.

Boardman was responsible for platting (Oakland's) Broadway 100 feet wide--a move which brought considerable outcry from property owners who didn't think such a large artery would be needed--and he built a two-story frame building on the northwest corner of 12th and Broadway in 1865 and lived to see the day he could say "I told you so" to F.K. Shattuck, who told him he was crazy to build such a large structure in Oakland. His son, Clifford H. Boardman, so respected his father that he left high school to learn civil engineering under his father's tutelage. Clifford lived until his death at age 91, in 1956, and worked as a highly respected civil engineer right up to his demise of an apparent heart attack, while searching out information in the city engineer's office in Oakland City Hall.

The present manuscript map may in fact be unique. There is no indication it was deposited with the City or County and, as this is from Boardman's private collection, it is possible that the map was never deposited and was simply utilized as a base map, for the creation of the 200 ft = 1 inch mapping of the City, directed by Ordinance 337.


Condition Description
Unfolded. Stamps from an early private library.