Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Oakland's ultimate Deco building

This is the I. Magnin building at 20th and Broadway.  It housed a chic department store until its closing in 1995.  Now it has a cafe and dress shop on the ground floor and offices above.  It was built in 1930 and is made of green terra cotta tile and black serpentine.  Isn't it stunning?  Sorry to violate the one picture only rule, but I couldn't get just one photo to do it justice.  I like the way the black base creates a visual pedestal for the floors above, the way the big windows lighten the bulk of the building, the distinctly deco bas-reliefs, and most of all the color.  The varigated tile colors let the eye dance across the surface.  I read somewhere that there was a penthouse on top.  Wouldn't that be something to see.


  1. Yes! This is a fine example of the Art Deco style! «Louis» agrees with your analysis of why this design works. With Magnin closed, «Louis’ has been pleasantly surprised that the building has been so well-preserved on the exterior.

  2. This IS the finest in Oakland and I cannot imagine a finer deco building anywhere. The entire building, top to bottom, is a complete work of art, as you say. Bravo for the beautiful photos!

    (Do you take requests? Chinese New Year is coming and I've been dreaming of the Cantonese bakeries in Oakland Chinatown - not so far, around Webster... a nice bao stuffed with bbq or that custardy stuff... oh sorry, I didn't mean to drool on the electrons!)


    Three Rivers Daily Photo

  3. Impressive. Can't think of anything I've seen to match it for this style. The timbers in York can be around 500 years old. I don't know about individual buildings.

  4. Ooh! Absolutely stunning! I love everything about it too.

  5. It is stunning. Your photos really do this beauty justice. I Magnin was a favorite of mine when I could afford it. I was sad to see them close.

  6. Such a super capture of that gorgeous edifice!