March 29, 1919 1March 30, 1919 2

"Nutty" Jack Williams, aka the "Human Fly", was a building climber in 1919. He caught the attention of many in Oakland when he climbed City Hall. For a warm up, he climbed the Tribune Building (NB: this was before the tower was added in 1923.)

Williams' business model was simple: travel from town to town, make some money with one or more climbs by splitting proceeds with a local charity (usually 70% for Williams, 30% for the charity), and then moving on. 4 In Oakland, the beneficiary was the Elks' Salvation Army Fund. Williams even climbed the 55-story Woolworth Building in New York. 3

At least one local merchant took advantage of the event to call attention to their ad.

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Links and References

  1. Thousands on Hand to View Ascent Oakland Tribune March 29, 1919
  2. Fly Perches on Top of Tribune Oakland Tribune March 30, 1919
  3. Human Fly to Climb to Top of City Hall Oakland Tribune March 25, 1919
  4. 'Nutty' Jack Medford Mail Tribune November 17, 2019