Over the past few weeks, many residents of Oakland’s Fairfax District living near the Courtland Creek watershed along Courtland Avenue at San Carlos have come across Roberto Costa and his band of volunteer mosaic artists hard at work decorating the trashcan that sits at the corner.
“A young neighbor drove by in his car and showed appreciation by giving us some cold water during a hot morning of work. We also met Beto Bracho and his group of Fremont students that are doing clean up research in Courtland creek.” said Costa
The trash can, which sits beside a large sculpture honoring the Key System, is decorated with images representing street cars and a logo from the system. The monument beside the can is engraved with a series of lines depicting the system routes.
“The Key System was a network of streetcar lines and ferries serving Oakland at its core with lines stretching out across the entire East Bay. For 20 years between the 1930’s and 1950’s, the streetcars travelled across the Bay Bridge on the bottom deck, connecting both sides of the bay by rail long before BART was constructed,” said Zach Seal, City Planner and Oakland resident
Seal is knowledgeable about the system and has been involved with the mosaic project.
“The streetcar system was the economic and mobility lifeblood of the area and became so popular and beloved that the vehicles and the Key System logo – which can be seen on one of the panels of the trashcan mosaic -- became iconic symbols of the East Bay. Unfortunately, a consortium of General Motors, Firestone and Standard Oil conspired to purchase and then dismantle streetcar systems across the country -- and by the mid-1960’s, virtually every urban streetcar line in the U.S. had been shutdown,” said Seal. “I love the mosaic because it goes back in time to recapture the period when virtually every neighborhood and every major destination in Oakland was connected by a Key System streetcar.”
Karen Diffrumolo (North Oakland), Nancy Au (Dimond District), Nancy Heroux (Lakeshore), and Jesse Medina and Roberto Costa (Allendale Park) finished the Streetcar mosaic project this past Sunday afternoon. This Friday, Sumiko Saulson (Fairfax District) began painting an image of the A Line on the metal door on the fourth side of the can.