What photographs reveal

Cameras capture so many details that are not always apparent when one is shooting a photo. Spending time reviewing each photograph can reveal so much that is lost on the naked eye. Here is a good example. I shot this photograph from the 7th floor of the building at 1111 Broadway in downtown Oakland. The photograph is of 13th Street, with the County Courthouse in the background. After viewing the photo, I saw what is left of an old sign painted on the side of the building. Zooming-in, I found that it was a sign for the Polytechnic College of Engineering.

So a few quick searches in Google told me that the downtown Polytechnic colleges (2 of them) were founded by Willis Gibson in 1898, and A.W. Smith was the architect (see more here).

Interestingly enough, a few years ago, the University of California built its administration building directly across the street from the former engineering college.

I found a scan of the original college, and I have posted it here. This was at 13th and Madison. I’m wondering if it was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake, because the magazine “The Architect and Engineer of California” January 1910 (which can be seen here) has this article: Work has begun on the new Polytechnic College of Engineering, at Thirteenth and Madison streets, Oakland. . .

All of this to say that off and on, I have been staring at that building for 22 years and I never noticed the painted sign until I shot a photo of it.

Curious.

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