Oakland Police Call Box History


Callbox History

 While the mention of a Police telegraph system start to appear on records as early as 1871 and were units attached adjacent to businesses in the core downtown and would transmit to the Telegraph office near 10th & Broadway. The first call boxes were documented in 1886 and listed at right. The early units were soon augmented with Telephone units and wet sell battery units. Improvements began post 1906 Earthquake, that created Oakland's own Fabrication and Instrument facilities. As a result of these improvements, Oakland started to develop its own Police and Fire Call boxes and poles. These first units were placed on the streets of Oakland in 1910 as pictured on the right. After the completion of the present Oakland facilities in 1914, the new City Hall housed the the Oakland Police Department and Dispartch and police signalling were created. On the Top of City hall, a Red Flashing beacon was installed to alert officers to call in.As the City expanded the need for additional alerting methods were needed , the White globes on the top of poles that contained Police Call boxes were replaced with a Red "flashlight" as pictured at right. During this same period, two police substations were created in the newly annexed North and East Oakland. They were known as Temescal and Fremont Stations, respectively. These substations were in existence until December of 1954, when the substations were closed and operations shifted to Central Police in 1955. This same move changed the look of the Oakland Call Boxes and from that change , the doors on the new call boxes were minus the work STATION. In 1969, Rotary dial phones were installed in the Call Boxes as the City Hall operator was eleiminated. The next change to the Oakland boxes occurred in 1989, when phones were installed that could transmit and receive calls and in 1991, The doors were changed to the "star" design, slimline phones were installed and the poles were shortened to "vehicle window" height. This allowed officers to drive up and bring the phone into the car and also allowed for modem connections for their laptop computers. With the polliferation of Cell phones, the need for call boxes faded and in 2005 the boxes were removed. 

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First style Call Boxes


This is representative of Oakland's first Police call boxes. These boxes were originally installed in 1880's and  remained in service until replaced by the smaller Oakland manufactured boxes

First Oakland Cast Box 1907


Oakland started to cast their first Police Call Boxes in 1907 after the 1906 Earthquake. These boxes were cast iron with outer brass hinges  these units had the distinctive diamond in the peak and stay this design until 1922

1922 Cast Iron box


This style was cast  in 1922 in Cast Iron. This style was later cast in 1924 in aluminum. Very few of this design remained in service when the cast iron units were removed in 1990

1924 Aluminum


This was the start of the aluminum cast call box. A stamped 27 appears at the top of the door and was the pattern number for these doors. This design remained until 1960

1960 Aluminum


the 1960 design was due to the closing of the Northern, Eastern and Central stations in 1955 and the consolidation of Police services into a consolidated headquarters. Note the word station has been removed. These were in service until 1991

1991 Star Box


The casting of the Star doors began in 1992 and started a new age of the call boxes that allowed direct dial phones and modem jacks. the boxes and pedestals were made to transition from walking beats to vehicles and laptops. These were in service until 2005