Key System Building
photo from Our Oakland

The stretch of Broadway between 11th and 12th Street has the historic Key System Building on the 11th Street corner and a hole in the ground (commonly called "1100 Broadway") on the 12th Street corner.

Key System Building

The Key System Building (aka "Security Bank and Trust Building") has a striking Beaux Arts façade and interior which was designed by San Francisco architects Frederick H. Meyer and Walter Reed. 5 Built in 1911 for the Security Bank and Trust, in 1943 the building became the headquarters for the Key System transit line.1 The building is located at 1100-10 Broadway / 436-46 Eleventh Street, Oakland, California.

In 1910, the lot was sold by J. S. Myers and his wife to the Security Bank and Trust Company for $150,000. The building was constructed in 1911 and completed in 1912. The construction was done by the Percy J. Walker Company. 6

Placed on the list of the National Register of Historic Places, the 1100 Broadway Building was also designated an Oakland Landmark, under Zoning Case #LM 83-425 on January 31, 1984.

The Oct. 17, 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake transported it to that interesting limbo-state common to many historic Oakland buildings: too unsafe to use (and too expensive to retrofit), yet too historic to raze. Accordingly, it has sat empty ever since, with only the occasional visit from an intrepid urban explorer to give the rest of us an idea what’s up.

The ground floor is currently protected by plywood, which is covered with the Key Route mural.

1100 Broadway

In the early 2000s, a developer was granted approval to construct a hotel on the adjacent parcel that would also rehabilitate and reuse the Key System Building, and the buildings on that parcel, including a 1924 annex. Piles for the proposed hotel project were installed (driving workers in neighboring offices somewhat crazy), but the hotel project lost its financing. In 2007, SKS Investments was granted approval for an office building project on the adjacent parcel, that would again incorporate the Key System Building. As of 2013, this project is still slated to be built, but the developer is waiting for the market to improve.2

The project's official site (with proposed renderings) is at

Downtown Oakland Historic District contributor

The builders of the 1924 addition were P. J. Walker and the Bank of Italy.

"This building is a seven story steel frame and brick Beaux Arts bank and office building on a corner lot, with a small matching two story 1924 addition to the north Above the first story, the building plan is a broad U-shape, opening onto 11th Street. The one story base is surfaced with artificial stone labeled "plaster" on the blueprints The four story shaft is cream colored pressed brick with terra cotta trim and spandrel panels. The two story capital is clad in terracotta with a wide metal cornice. The corners are rounded. Though taller than its historic neighbors, the building is ornamented only on the two street facades, and the off street sides are common brick. The two story base is articulated by a giant order of flat piers culminating in a frieze of swags The shaft has brick piers framing double hung windows, and the capital has round arched window bays framed by an ornate pilaster order. The monumental entry and ground floor windows have been remodeled. The building was vacant after the& 1989 earthquake." 3

"This is the southernmost of the series of southwest facing skyscrapers admired by Hegemann, and represents the post 1906 building and financial boom. It marked the line between the "old" downtown around 9th and 10th Streets, and the rapidly developing Downtown around 14th and Broadway. The Security Bank and Trust Company was founded in 1903, headed by H. C. Capwell. In 1917 the Bank of Italy absorbed Security Bank, and in 1924 built the two story addition. In 1929 the Bank of Italy became Bank of America, and after absorbing the Oakland Bank, moved into the Oakland Bank building at 1200 Broadway. Later the Key System transit company and its successor the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District occupied 1100 Broadway, from 1943 into the 1960s. The building is a fine example of its type, by an important San Francisco firm, and is individually listed on the National Register." 3

This historic building is #1 on the list of District Contributors for the Downtown Oakland Historic District Registration Form.


Links and References

  1. Historic Oakland Key System building deteriorates (BATN/message/13248
  2. January 25, 2013, Business Times article
  3. National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Downtown Oakland Historic District (note the erroneous reference to 1000 Broadway)
  4. Valuable Corner is Sold for Large Sum San Francisco Call February 1, 1910
  5. Architects Chosen for Bank Building San Francisco Call December 4, 1910
  6. Autoist Killed; Californians Hurt& San Francisco Call October 26, 1911