Monday, May 27, 2013

Heinold's First and Last Chance Saloon - Jack London Square, Oakland, CA

I was in Jack London Square tonight and I walked by Henold's First and Last Chance Saloon.  This bar was opened in 1883 by Johnny Heinold as J.M. Heinold's Saloon and looked much then as it does today.  During the 1920's, the ferry that ran between Alameda and Oakland stopped next to Heinold's, since Alameda was a dry city at the time, this bar was truly a commuter's first and last chance for a refreshment.  As the years wore on, many servicemen left for overseas from the Port of Oakland, and the First and Last tradition stuck, so the name of the saloon was officially changed to Heinold's First and Last Chance.

When Jack London was young he would write notes for The Sea Wolf and the Call of the Wild at the tables in the bar.  At age 17, he confided to John Heinold his ambition to go to the University of California and become a writer.  Johnny lent London the money for tuition and, although he never got beyond his first year, it was while studying in the saloon and listening to the stories of ships' mates and stevedores that he developed his thirst for adventure.  The theme of men bravely facing danger appears throughout the best of his works.  In fact, Johnny Heinold and The First and Last Chance Saloon are referenced  seventeen times in London's novel, John Barleycorn.  

The dimly lit bar uses its original gas lights and it is the only commercial operation in California that still uses them.  The stove is also original and was used as the only source of heat until 1989.  The mirror over the bar is over 100 years old along with the deer head that hangs next to it.


Heinold's First and Last Chance Saloon
Designated National Literary Landmark, January 12, 1998
48 Webster Street
Jack London Square
Oakland, CA  94607
(510) 839-6761

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