Begun in 1911 and completed in 1914, this is Oakland's fifth City Hall. Its construction was funded with a $1.15 million bond issue passed in 1909. The Beaux Arts design was by the New York firm of Palmer and Hornbostel, winners of a national design competition for a building that would reflect Oakland's arrival as a major metropolis.
For many years the tallest building in Oakland, it was reputedly the first city hall in the United States to combine the ceremonial aspects of government with the modern high-rise office tower. Its three-tiered design earned it the nickname of "Mayor Mott's wedding cake." The ten-story office tower and a 91-foot ornamental clock tower and cupola rise above a three-story base with the council chambers, hearing rooms and mayor's offices.
The building is of steel frame construction clad in white California granite. Glazed terra cotta ornament represents the state's agricultural abundance: grapes, olives, figs, and wheat. Structurally damaged in the 1989 earthquake, City Hall was completely renovated and retrofitted with an innovative base isolation system, with assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It was rededicated by Mayor Elihu Harris on September 15, 1995.
City Hall was designated an Oakland City Landmark in 1979 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.