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16th Street station (Oakland) facts for kids

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Oakland 16th Street Station, main entrance, December 2007
Location 1601 Wood Street, Oakland, California
United States
Coordinates 37°48′56.1″N 122°17′48.3″W / 37.815583°N 122.296750°W / 37.815583; -122.296750
Owned by BUILD
Other information
Station code OAK
Opened 1912
Closed August 21, 1994
Former services
Preceding station BSicon LOGO Amtrak2.svg Amtrak Following station
Terminus California Zephyr Emeryville
toward Chicago
toward San Jose
toward Roseville
San Jose Coast Starlight Emeryville
toward Seattle
Terminus San Joaquins
toward Bakersfield
San Jose Spirit of California
toward Sacramento
Terminus San Francisco Zephyr Richmond
toward Chicago
Preceding station Southern Pacific Railroad Following station
Oakland Pier
Shasta Route Berkeley
toward Portland
Overland Route Berkeley
toward Ogden
San Joaquin Daylight Berkeley
City of San Francisco Ogden
toward Chicago
Invalid designation
Designated: 1984
Reference #: 81

16th Street station (Oakland Central) is a former Southern Pacific Railroad station in the Prescott neighborhood of Oakland, California, United States. The Beaux-Arts building was designed by architect Jarvis Hunt, a preeminent railroad station architect, and opened in 1912. The station has not been served by trains since 1994.


Southern Pacific

Sixteenth Street station 1910 postcard
The original station in 1910

The original 16th Street depot was a smaller wood structure, built when the tracks were on the shoreline of San Francisco Bay. Later the shoreline was filled and now lies nearly a mile west. It was replaced in 1912 by a Beaux-Arts building designed by architect Jarvis Hunt.

For decades the 16th Street station was the main Oakland station for Southern Pacific (SP) through trains, almost entirely replacing the 7th Street station. It was a companion (or "city station") for Oakland Pier, two miles away, where passengers could board ferries to San Francisco. (After 1958, the ferries were replaced by buses from 16th Street station to the SP's Third and Townsend Depot). The elevated platforms were used for the SP-owned East Bay Electric Lines commuter service (renamed Interurban Electric Railway or IER in 1938).

IER trains from Berkeley no longer stopped at 16th Street when railroad service over the Bay Bridge opened on January 15, 1939, as the junction from those lines to the bridge was north of the station. When the IER folded in July 1941, portions of some lines were sold to the competing Key System for use by their transbay trains; however, the Key System only served the station with a surface streetcar line on 16th Street, and did not use the elevated platforms.

Major long-distance trains from the station included the Oakland Lark (night train to Los Angeles) and the City of San Francisco (to Chicago).

Amtrak and replacement

Two Amtraks in Oakland, CA in December 1980 - 3 Photos (31244234655)
Amtrak trains at 16th Street station in 1980

The station also served as the main rail link for points north and east of the Bay Area. San Francisco-area passengers boarded ferries to Oakland Pier, and after 1958 boarded buses to 16th Street. Amtrak took over intercity passenger rail services in 1971, and decided to consolidate most Bay Area service in Oakland, leaving San Francisco as one of the largest cities without direct intercity rail service.

The station was severely damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, but continued serving trains at an adjacent building. Capitols and San Joaquins trains were shifted to the new Emeryville station on August 13, 1993, but long-distance trains continued to use Oakland Central while track work was completed at Emeryville. The Coast Starlight and California Zephyr began stopping at Emeryville on August 5, 1994; they last stopped at Oakland 16th Street on August 21. This left Emeryville as the only Oakland-area stop for Amtrak until the new Oakland–Jack London Square station opened on May 22, 1995.

Emeryville largely replaced 16th Street station as the connection point for Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach across the bay in San Francisco (for passengers heading northbound towards Seattle or eastbound towards Chicago, or passengers arriving from the north and east), as Emeryville is closer to the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge than Oakland–Jack London Square. However, Jack London Square serves as the San Francisco connection for the Coast Starlight (for southbound passengers from San Francisco and northbound passengers heading to San Francisco).

In the mid-1990s, the adjacent railroad tracks were moved west during the construction of Interstate 880 (to replace the earthquake-destroyed Cypress Street Viaduct), which isolated the station from the tracks. The station buildings are largely intact, including the interlocking tower and ironwork elevated platforms. The station was purchased in 2005 by BUILD, an affiliate of BRIDGE Housing, and is being restored as part of a local redevelopment project. In 2015, the station was used to stage a local opera company's production of Lulu. As of 2021, the station is being used as a rented space for private events.

In media

The station was used in films including Chu Chu and the Philly Flash, Funny Lady (as Cleveland station), RENT, and Hemingway & Gellhorn (as a stand-in for the Hotel Florida). Mumford & Sons filmed their music video for "Babel" in the station.

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