The Oakland Long Wharf was one of the biggest and busiest wharfs in California during the late 19th-century. Located on Seventh Street in Oakland, it served a number of railroads that helped bring many new visitors to the western United States, helping to play a major role in the western expansion and in the growth of many well-known California cities, including San Francisco.
Bought in 1868 by the Central Pacific Railroad, the wharf was used to float large amounts of freight to San Francisco from 1871-1878. Many commuter trains in the area also used the wharf, helping build it into a major transportation hub. Eventually the wharf was used by the Pacific Railroad, which came to be known as the First Transcontinental Railroad. As the number of residents and visitors to the area grew, ferries began to serve both commuter passengers and long-distance ones as well, transporting them between the Oakland Long Wharf and San Francisco.
The Oakland Long Wharf continued to be a major part of area transportation until 1939, when commuter trains started bypassing it in order to use the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. By 1958 all ferry service to the wharf was discontinued, replaced instead by city buses that used the Bay Bridge to get people around the city. While the wharf was demolished between 1960-1965, it still holds a special place in the history of San Francisco.
Today, the only remaining part of it is the switchman’s tower, which was later moved to Middle Harbor Shoreline Park and restored to its original condition. However, the Oakland Long Wharf will continue to have a sense of immortality thanks to its appearance in the film Pal Joey. In the film the main character, played by Frank Sinatra, can be seen there making his way to a waiting ferry.