John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Rather than let a pub fall to developers, a community transplanted the whole thing.
It looks like the world's strangest heist: People convene at dawn around a creaky old bar, slowly pick it up, then lug it down the street like a bunch of ants carrying an apple. But this was actually the method used to relocate Oakland, California's Kingfish Pub, a former bait shop from the 1920s or '30s now famed for PBR tallboys and shuffleboard.
Developers have long eyed the space the bar occupied for a condo project. Emil Peinert, the pub's owner, has tried to get it landmark status based on cultural value; in a 2014 letter to the city, patrons praised its "tree fort" architecture and "interior decoration scheme ... [of] sports memorabilia randomly stapled to the walls and ceiling." But with wolves at the door, Peinert went super-proactive and transplanted the entire structure to a safer location.
In great news for lovers of cheap swill (meant in the best way), the operation was accomplished with only minor hitches. A house-moving crew braced the musty building with steel girders and wooden risers. They then lifted it in two parts onto a truck, slapped on an OVERSIZE LOAD banner, and were off to the races. Inside Scoop SF has this play-by-play of the "oft boring, occasionally nerve-wrecking" process:
Originally slated to take less than half an hour, workers struggled for two hours to ever so gently roll the front half of “The Fish” on wheels out of the Claremont Avenue plot where it has served as a local watering hole since the 1920s. But after numerous stops and starts, which included several frantic yells for the driver to stop pulling as ominous creaks emanated from the ramshackle former bait shop, the crew managed the rest of the move—down Claremont, right on Telegraph, and left into its new home next to the Temescal branch library—in relatively easy fashion.
The pub now lives for the foreseeable future about 100 feet away—cheers and beers to everyone involved. Here's more footage of the monumental job: