Seal of the City of Oakland on Oakland Tech, c.1914
photo CC-A by Our Oakland

The Seal of the City of Oakland is an official seal that was created originally in 1853, then redesigned in 1916.

The Oakland Enquirer reported on November 18, 1916 that:

"City Hall has Place on Seal: Oakland's city hall occupies the middle foreground of the city's new official escutcheon designed by W.H. Foster and accepted by the council this morning. Industry and the meeting of rail and water are depicted in the right and left foregrounds. On one side of the city hall is a wharf to which is anchored a merchant vessel, while on the other railroad activity is evidenced. In the background is the Golden Gate surrounded by the setting sun."


  • Seal designed by Ambrose S. Hurlbutt and adopted on August 6, 1853 by Oakland trustees Barrell (Burrell), Staples, Moon and Adams, featuring Horace W. Carpentier's dog "Polo" 1
  • Resolution No. 13701 N.S was passed on October 16, 1916 to authorize the mayor to secure a seal design, with a budgeted amount of $40.
  • Resolution No. 13921 N.S. was passed November 17, 1917 to purchase the design.
  • Ordinance No. 1112 N.S. passed December 18, 1916, adopting the new design as the new corporate seal for the City of Oakland, effective January 1, 1917.

Various documents from the city close with the line "In witness whereof, I hereby set my hand and affix the official seal of the City of Oakland, this <date>."

It also appears on some historic buildings like Oakland Technical High School.

Official documents are stamped or embossed with the seal.

NB: a clipping file for the "Oakland - Seal" is available in the Oakland History Center and includes newspaper clippings and an actual embossed example of the 1916 seal.

[ Question: Other than the appearance in the 1874 directory, and on Oakland Tech c.1914, what was the story on that seal? The c.1916 articles reference the 1853 "giant dog" seal, and make no mention of the 1874 seal. Was it never approved? If not, how did it end up on the Oakland Tech building? ]

More Sightings

Original 1853 seal from 1874 directory 2 from a 1961 Oakland Public Library publication
photo CC-A by Our Oakland
from a 1972 Oakland Public Library publication
photo CC-A by Our Oakland
photo courtesy Latonda Simmons

Links and References

  1. Dog Larger Than a Ship Occupies the Foreground in Oakland's Ancient Seal Oakland Tribune July 18, 1909
  2. Bishop's 1874 Oakland Directory
  3. Oakland to Lose Dog; Also Acorns and Wharf; Seal of City Is Doomed Oakland Tribune October 17, 1916