Royal York Apartments

This splendid apartment house on Bigelow Boulevard is a feast of Art Deco details; in fact, in a city that never adopted Art Deco as enthusiastically as many of its rivals, this is one of the most remarkable Art Deco buildings. Like many other apartment blocks in Oakland, it required some cleverness from the architect to adapt it to an unpromisingly irregular site.

Two Different Interpretations of Tudor in Oakland

The apartment building above, which faces Centre Avenue, is arranged as a kind of Tudor Renaissance palace. In defiance of its sloping site, it is a perfect rectangle arranged around an open courtyard. One can imagine Queen Elizabeth building herself a palace on this pattern.

Almost adjacent—in fact, directly adjacent in the rear parts—is the Schenley Arms, which sits in the narrow angle between Centre Avenue and Bigelow Boulevard.

Where the (unnamed, at least on its face) apartment building above is in the style of a Tudor palace, this is deliberately arranged in the ramshackle fashion of an old English inn. The deliberately haphazard shape takes advantage of a very irregular lot and gives the building an entirely different appearance from different angles.

Neither one of these buildings is a very accurate representation of real Tudor architecture: they are mostly put together from standard parts with Tudor accents added. But the Tudor accents are valuable. Especially in the Schenley Arms, they give the building an architectural reason for being an absurd mishmash of odd angles: it looks as though the building was supposed to be that way, rather than forced into its absurd shape by the constraints of an absurd property.

The Bellefield

An apartment building whose elaborately decorated upper floors make it look a bit top-heavy.

Entrance to the Gerber Apartments, Shadyside

Otherwise not remarkable among the many classically inspired apartment houses in Shadyside, this one has an entrance that certainly stands out. It makes a spectacle of itself, in fact. The capitals on the massive square columns are more or less Corinthian, but Corinthian is usually the lightest and airiest-looking of the classical orders, whereas this construction gives the impression that it outweighs the whole building behind it.

This picture was taken with what might be called a toy camera. It was a no-name digital camera with stated 18-megapixel resolution, but clearly those 18 megapixels are achieved by multiplying some much smaller number of pixels. It may amuse you to enlarge the picture to full size and examine the results.