Scenes of the City: Atop the Oakland Tribune Tower With Burning Man Cofounder John Law


For this week’s Scenes of the City, Burning Man cofounder John Law, who referred to himself as the "Quasimodo” of the Tribune Tower, takes us to the top of downtown Oakland's 305-foot Tribune Tower, which is steeped in history and mystery. 

At 22 stories, the 1906 Tribune Tower stood as Oakland's tallest building throughout the 1920s. Its architecture was inspired by St. Mark's Campanile in Venice, and was originally designed as a zeppelin docking station. Harry Houdini once escaped from a straight jacket while dangling from the tower's ninth floor. 

That's just the tip of the building's long and storied history: It has stood as an Oakland landmark through the Loma Prieta earthquake, multiple owners, and more. After the Oakland Tribune newspaper moved out, it was bought for $11 million by San Francisco Regional Center's CEO, Oakland native Tom Henderson; CallSocket, a customer service company, now occupies many of its floors. The current management group intends to continue the upkeep and preservation of the iconic tower. 

Perhaps no one today is more intimate with the building than Burning Man and Cacophony Society cofounder John Law, who now offices in the very top of the tower. The longtime culture jammer, who is no stranger to scaling such insurmountable heights as the Golden Gate Bridge, showed us around the place: behind the clock face, the flag deck, and more.

Enjoy the photos. 


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