Story

Pipe City


In the winter of 1932-1933, the Bay, like the rest of the country, was deep in the Depression. In cities across America, the homeless gathered into encampments. Oakland's most famous was Pipe City also known as Miseryville. Roughly 200 men were allowed to lived in sections of unused sewer pipes by the American Concrete and Steel Pipe Company.

The camp had a kind of underground government headed by an elected mayor, Dutch Jensen, who administered the area, distributing food and work, and preventing drinking, fighting, and "political" talk. Pipe City became a model for Upton Sinclair's novel Co-Op: A Novel of Living Together and served as a launching pad for the Unemployed Exchange Association, a remarkable attempt to build a barter economy in Oakland.

At the end of the winter, the company who owned them found a buyer for the pipes, and the residents cleaned up, and dispersed.