Oakland/Golden Gate

Oakland/Golden Gate, Alameda County

East Bay Loop area, San Francisco Bay Area region

Golden Gate Branch Library
5606 San Pablo Avenue
Oakland, CA 94608

opened 1918
Public library from 1918-present
currently a public library

grant amount: $35,000
architectural style: Colonial Revival
architect: Donovan & Dickey


Four branch libraries in Oakland were constructed between 1916 and 1918, the result of a 1914 Carnegie grant of $140,000 obtained specifically for branch libraries by Oakland's city librarian Charles S. Greene. Oakland pioneered branch libraries, opening branch reading rooms as early as 1878, and later emphasizing neighborhood branches. Greene's branch request matched Andrew Carnegie's philosophy wherein more recent grants focused on small towns and on branches in metropolitan areas to bring books closer to the people where they lived. However, controversy surrounded the attempt to allocate the four sites evenly between established working class neighborhoods and newer middle class neighborhoods east of Lake Merritt. Today three serve as libraries, all of which have been recently retrofitted and restored.

Oakland's Golden Gate Branch, also designed by Donovan and Dickey, is a unique example among California Carnegies of Georgian Revival architecture. Located on the southeast corner of San Pablo Avenue and 56th Street, it faces on busy industrial and commercial San Pablo Avenue but is surrounded by residential neighborhoods. The library formerly housed the Northern California Center for Afro-American History and Life, which has been moved to the African American Museum and Library at Oakland (originally Oakland's Carnegie main library).