Cranes the New Symbol of a City on the Rise

Press Release

For Immediate Release
December 9, 2014

Port of Oakland Cranes the New Symbol of a City on the Rise

They didn’t inspire ‘Star Wars,’ but artists still drawn to the cargo-handling giants

Click here for 2-minute video:


Oakland, CA – Dec. 9, 2014 – Things are looking up in Oakland–all the way up to the top of the port’s 36 container shipping cranes. Port of Oakland cranes – some of them 240-feet tall – have become symbols of a city on the rise.

“I think there’s a great sense of pride in Oakland,” says Port spokeswoman Marilyn Sandifur. “We’re glad people think our cranes are cool.”

Long the city’s most powerful economic engine, the Port of Oakland has become the muse of artistic expression. Murals, apparel and storefronts now adopt its cranes as design elements. Here are a few of the places you can find folk art portraying the Port’s cranes in Oakland’s business district:

  • On the wall outside Oakland Grill, a venerable produce district coffee shop serving truckers, forklift drivers and newly arrived hipsters;
  • Cat Town Cafe, the nation’s first coffee house/pet adoption center;
  • Screen-printed tote bags and sweatshirts at LuckyLo Art Gallery;
  • Beast Oakland, the boutique that has sold 5,000 crane T-shirts;
  • Street art murals.

You can see artistic expressions of the Port of Oakland cranes on the YouTube video here:

Port of Oakland cranes handle 2.3 million shipping containers every year. For a city swelling with new restaurants, new digital-age companies and new spirit – they’re a reminder: old-school economics centered on trade can still be the foundation for Oakland’s future.

Global trade moving through the Port is valued at $40 billion a year. The Port supports 73,000 jobs in the Bay Area. Exporters from as far away as the Central Valley and Reno use it as their gateway to markets in Asia. Oakland’s shipping cranes put a local face on international business.

“They’re urban, they’re gritty, they’re industrial, says Loretta Nguyen, owner of LuckyLo at the Port’s Jack London Square. “People just like them — they say something unique about Oakland.”

There may be another reason, as well. It seems residents generally feel good about the Port of Oakland. In an independent survey of 1,200 Oakland voters last May, 79% said the Port is a positive presence in the community. They expressed strong belief that the Port generates significant job and economic activity for the region.

Legend holds that Oakland’s cranes inspired the giant, robotic walkers in “Star War” movies. Revisionist pop culture now credits hydraulic-lift trucks as the model. Regardless, the Port’s giant workhorses are inspiring a new era of Oakland pride.

They’re a hit in neighboring Alameda, too. The cranes feature in a Port of Oakland fourth hole at Subpar Miniature Golf.

About the Port of Oakland
The Port of Oakland oversees the Oakland seaport and Oakland International Airport. The Port’s jurisdiction includes 20 miles of waterfront from the Bay Bridge through Oakland International Airport. The Oakland seaport is the fifth busiest container port in the U.S.; Oakland International Airport is the second largest San Francisco Bay Area airport offering over 300 daily passenger and cargo flights; and the Port’s real estate includes commercial developments such as Jack London Square and hundreds of acres of public parks and conservation areas. Together, through Port operations and those of its tenants and users, the Port supports more than 73,000 jobs in the region and nearly 827,000 jobs across the United States. The Port of Oakland was established in 1927 and is an independent department of the City of Oakland. Connect with the Port of Oakland and Oakland International Airport through Facebook, or with the Port on Twitter, YouTube, and at

Media Contact:

Roberto Bernardo,
Communications Manager
Port of Oakland
(510) 627-1401
Click here to contact Robert Bernardo

Marilyn Sandifur
Port Spokesperson
Port of Oakland
(510) 627-1193
Click here to contact Marilyn Sandifur

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