Wednesday, March 17, 2010

still tilting at windmills: Idora Park

Idora Park windmill
Or if you prefer: Windmills? In Oakland? MooOOOooo! I'd noticed this windmill years ago, but saw it again when I was in the area shooting the Steele's sign a while back. According to this post, it's the last remaining vestige of Idora Park. NOTE: According to the folks at Steele's and city historians, it was not part of Idora Park, but was a lemonade stand.

Idora Park was an amusement park, with rides, a baseball field, a zoo, and an opera house. It was built by the Realty Syndicate that also owned and operated what later became known as the Key System transit company, and lasted from 1903 to 1929. Oakland's own Jack London took his daughters there, riding the rollercoaster repeatedly until one was no longer afraid of it, because as he said, "No child of mine is ever going to be afraid - of anything!".

Check out this great collection of Idora Park postcards at and read more about Idora Park at Wikipedia.


Oakland Daily Photo said...

On the grounds of the Pardee House is a real windmill house but the "blades" are gone.

It seems we have indeed been walking the same streets. You won't believe this, but today I took a photo of the 353 Grand sign. The music scroll at the top is now lit. I plan to go back at night to see if anything else glows in the dark.

I scrolled all your sign photos. Very impressive array. Let me add one to your list: The Wesley Cleaners sign on the corner of Cleveland (and Merritt?) just above the lake. Sadly, it doesn't work any longer.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the pointer. The Wesley Cleaners sign is on my "to shoot" list (see the darker blue markers the map). I just haven't been in that area in the late afternoon when the light should be good.

Anonymous said...

I always wondered what that darned thing was doing there! thanks for the sleuthing... and I LOVE the old postcards!

Christine said...

Hi there,

Just want to note that I also thought the windmill was part of the original park, but found out that it's made of cast iron (read: very, very hard to move) and is in its original location. It was once a lemonade stand I believe. Found this out at one of Oakland Heritage Alliance's lectures.

Christine, resident of Idora Park