Expedition 9: Oldest Things

September 6. For this expedition, I visited the oldest _______ (fill in the blank). Some are just old; I couldn’t verify if they are actually the oldest. My first stop was 301 Broadway, the oldest building in Oakland, probably oldest in the East Bay, built in 1857! It was originally a wine shop, serving this bustling area near the waterfront. Not much to look at, but that iron post at the corner is still holding up the roof! 

Had to stop by Heinold’s, Oakland’s oldest bar, which opened in 1884 (although the building was finished in 1875, constructed from old paddle steamer lumber). As locals know, the floor is very slanted, supposedly an effect of the 1906 earthquake. 

Ratto’s Market opened in 1897 and moved to the current location in 1928. I’ve always loved their sign. Old Oakland could probably be an entire expedition! The Nicholls Block building was formerly The Arlington Hotel, built in 1877. Both qualify as some of the oldest east bay businesses. 

Time for lunch! The Shan Dong Restaurant is only 31 years old but qualifies as one of the oldest family run businesses in Chinatown and serves yummy salt and pepper fish. The Oakland Fortune Cookie Factory was unfortunately not open when I visited. Dating from 1957, it’s still a family-run business where they shape the cookies by hand. You can order custom cookies with your own fortunes in them!

I went to Berkeley next to visit East Bay Vivarium, the NATION’S largest and oldest reptile store, not just the East Bay’s. They have some very large reptiles here. These two guys were about three feet long. Nearby is the former Spenger’s Fish Grotto that I ate at quite a bit back in the late 80’s and 90’s. The exterior and decor are great but the food was kind of mediocre. It was Berkeley’s oldest restaurant, from the 1930’s. It began with Mr. Spenger selling clams and beer in the 1890’s. It’s closed now but I hope the new owners save the decor!

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