Two abandoned warehouses sit in a fenced-in NE corner of the former Naval Air Station, which closed 15 years ago. Driving by a week ago I noticed the number of tractors and cranes at work tearing down the wooden roof and walls. As they did, the demolition exposed a bunch of graffiti on the concrete walls that remained. What caught my eye was “Swappy’s” giant iconic yellow horned-skull thing. I’ve seen his work in Detroit, New Orleans, Buffalo, Salton Sea, NYC, and all about the bay area. I had to get a snap of it.
I learned that this activity was set in motion when Alameda’s Planning Board approved the subdivision of the base parcel allowing actual building to start on a 10.2 acre pad (Parcel 1), which is the area where the warehouses are located. This was in order to make way for a new Target store and some housing. Wednesday July 18 marked the groundbreaking for first phase of the Alameda Landing development, and demolition of the warehouses began soon after. Amazing that after all these years of talk, there is activity on the base! But sad, as these vintage bldgs and urbex locations are disappearing… (Interesting too is that this parcel includes that base hospital which mysteriously burned down a few years ago, where the AFD responded to three separate calls to put out fires, all in the same night, finally letting last one go due to the “presence of accelerant” and crew safety issues. How convenient the developers don’t have to deal with all that asbestos and lead paint… but i digress).
So it appears that for at least the last 5 years or more artists have been sneaking in to paint the interiors with large works of art, aka burns. The graffiti inside these huge structures was wall to wall, floor to ceiling in most places, 2-3 stories high. The floor was littered with empty spray cans, disposable gloves, and dried up rollers. The volume of work was amazing, perhaps comparable to SF’s old Tuna Factory – which met with a similar fate.
Here are some images from a few day and night visits I made in the last week, hoping to capture as much as possible before it was all gone. Art on the wooden walls and giant sliding fire doors of the eastern-most warehouse were long gone, but i got most of what was left in the other bldg. See if you can read them. I’m sure this place had a real nickname. If you know, please share. Enjoy!
Sunday afternoon a 1947 Navion single engine plane crashed into a muddy bank of the San Leandro Bay, a little pocket of water between Alameda, Oakland Airport and the Coliseum. The pilot died on impact. It was reported in several papers , including the Merc News. It was not a plane from WWII as some noted, it had just recently been decorated in a U.S. Air Force paint scheme about a year and a half ago.
Monday morning, coming back from the Oakland Airport, I stopped by the site. Several TV trucks had parked along the road, and the plane wreckage was visible from Doolittle Drive. I pulled behind the vans and started snapping. Tried to get a good angle on the wreckage, but the water and police lines kept me from getting too close. My 300mm came in handy..
FAA lead investigator explained they were placing booms around the site in case of leakage, then they were going to remove the wreck and take it Sacramento (where they take all plane wreckage apparently). After the booms were in place, the FAA guys pulled a “Cher” by changing out of white jumpsuits and into green ones. Why? Dunno… During this helicopters from a news station and coast guard passed by to check out the action.
Then a different crew of four guys in jeans pulled up with the long trailer. They backed it onto the model airplane field, and set it on angle. Then moved truck up to crash site to start pulling the plane out of the mud using a winch. They wrapped lines around the fuselage and slowly started to pull it, till the tail flopped over. Then they got out a giant saws-all, sliced off the tail section and set on shore. I thought they’d take more care with the “evidence,” but the key investigation and photos where completed. They only needed to move it to storage until any follow-up investigations or law suits were completed, after which they would release the plane (parts).