Berkeley (/ˈbɜrkliː/ burk-lee) is a city on the east shore of San Francisco Bay in northern Alameda County, California. It is named after the eighteenth-century bishop and philosopher George Berkeley. It borders the cities of Oakland and Emeryville to the south and the city of Albany and unincorporated community of Kensington to the north. Its eastern border with Contra Costa County generally follows the ridge of the Berkeley Hills. Its population at the 2010 census was 112,580. It is one of the most politically liberal cities in the United States.
Berkeley is the site of the oldest campus in the University of California system – the University of California, Berkeley – and of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that the university manages and operates. It is also home to the Graduate Theological Union.
According to the city’s 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:
|#||Employer||# of Employees|
|1||University of California, Berkeley||14,245|
|2||Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory||4,200|
|3||Alta Bates Summit Medical Center||2,517|
|4||City of Berkeley||1,451|
|5||Berkeley Unified School District||1,166|
|10||Berkeley City College||260|
- Former employers of note include the State of California Health Department (900 in 1988, 600 in 2001), now the California Department of Public Health and the California Department of Health Care Services.
Berkeley is the location of a number of nationally prominent businesses, many of which have been pioneers in their areas of operation. Notable businesses include Chez Panisse, birthplace of California cuisine, Peet’s Coffee’s original store, the Claremont Resort, punk rock haven 924 Gilman, and Saul Zaentz’s Fantasy Studios. Notable former businesses include pioneer bookseller Cody’s Books, The Nature Company, and the Berkeley Co-op.
- Shattuck Avenue passes through several neighborhoods, including the downtown business district in Berkeley. It is named for Francis K. Shattuck, one of Berkeley’s earliest influential citizens.
- University Avenue runs from Berkeley’s bayshore and marina to the University of California campus.
- Ashby Avenue (Highway 13), which also runs from Berkeley’s bayshore to the hills, connects with the Warren Freeway and Highway 24 leading to the Caldecott Tunnel, named for a former Berkeley mayor.
- San Pablo Avenue (Highway 123) runs north–south through West Berkeley, connecting Oakland and Emeryville to the south and Albany to the north.
- Telegraph Avenue, which runs north-south from the university campus to Oakland, historically the site of much of the hippie culture of Berkeley.
- Martin Luther King Jr. Way, which until 1984 was called Grove St, runs north-south a few blocks west of Shattuck Avenue, connecting Oakland and the freeways to the south with the neighborhoods and other communities to the north.
- Solano Avenue, a major street for shopping and restaurants, runs east-west near the north end of Berkeley, continuing into Albany.
- The Eastshore Freeway (I-80 and I-580) runs along Berkeley’s bayshore with exits at Ashby Avenue, University Avenue and Gilman Street.
Bicycle and pedestrian paths
- Ohlone Greenway
- San Francisco Bay Trail
- Berkeley I-80 bridge – opened in 2002, an arch-suspension bridge spanning Interstate 80, for bicycles and pedestrians only, giving access from the city at the foot of Addison Street to the San Francisco Bay Trail, the Eastshore State Park and the Berkeley Marina.
- Berkeley’s Network of Historic Pathways – Berkeley has a network of historic pathways that link the winding neighborhoods found in the hills and offer panoramic lookouts over the East Bay. A complete guide to the pathways may be found at Berkeley Path Wanderers Association website.
- Maps of Berkeley’s network of bicycle routes can be accessed from the City of Berkeley web site.
Berkeley has a number of distinct neighborhoods.
Surrounding the University of California campus are the most densely populated parts of the city. West of the campus is Downtown Berkeley, the city’s traditional commercial core; home of the civic center, the city’s only public high school, the busiest BART station in Berkeley, as well as a major transfer point for AC Transit buses. South of the campus is the Southside neighborhood, mainly a student ghetto, where much of the university’s student housing is located. The busiest stretch of Telegraph Avenue is in this neighborhood. North of the campus is the quieter Northside neighborhood, the location of the Graduate Theological Union.
Further from the university campus, the influence of the university quickly becomes less visible. Most of Berkeley’s neighborhoods are primarily made up of detached houses, often with separate in-law units in the rear, although larger apartment buildings are also common in many neighborhoods. Commercial activities are concentrated along the major avenues and at important intersections.
In the southeastern corner of the city is the Claremont District, home to the Claremont Hotel; and the Elmwood District, with a small shopping area on College Avenue. West of Elmwood is South Berkeley, known for its weekend flea market at the Ashby Station.
West of (and including) San Pablo Avenue, a major commercial corridor, is West Berkeley, the historic commercial center of the city, and the former unincorporated town of Ocean View. West Berkeley contains the remnants of Berkeley’s industrial area, much of which has been replaced by retail and office uses, as well as residential live/work loft space, with the decline of manufacturing in the United States. The areas of South and West Berkeley are in the midst of redevelopment. Some residents have opposed redevelopment in this area. Along the shoreline of San Francisco Bay at the foot of University Avenue is the Berkeley Marina. Nearby is Berkeley’s Aquatic Park, featuring an artificial linear lagoon of San Francisco Bay.
North of Downtown is the North Berkeley neighborhood, which has been nicknamed the “Gourmet Ghetto” because of the concentration of well-known restaurants and other food-related businesses. West of North Berkeley is Westbrae, a small neighborhood through which part of the Ohlone Greenway runs. Meanwhile, further north of North Berkeley are Northbrae, a master-planned subdivision from the early 20th century, and Thousand Oaks. Above these last three neighborhoods, in the northeastern part of Berkeley, are theBerkeley Hills. The neighborhoods of the Berkeley Hills such as Cragmont and La Loma Park are notable for their dramatic views, winding streets, and numerous public stairways and paths.
Points of interest
- University of California, Berkeley
- Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
- Berkeley Marina
- Berkeley History Center (1931 Center St.)
- Berkeley Public Library (Shattuck Avenue at Kittridge Street)
- Berkeley Repertory Theatre
- Berkeley Rose Garden
- Cloyne Court Hotel, a member of the Berkeley Student Cooperative
- Hearst Greek Theatre (home of the annual Berkeley Jazz Festival)
- Judah L. Magnes Museum
- Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
- Lawrence Hall of Science
- Regional Parks Botanic Garden
- Tilden Regional Park
- University of California Botanical Garden
- The Campanile (Sather Tower) in the University of California, Berkeley campus.
- Telegraph Avenue and People’s Park, both known as centers of the counterculture of the 1960s.
- The Berkeley Free Clinic, a free clinic operating since 1969.
- The Edible Schoolyard is a one acre garden at Martin Luther King Middle School (Berkeley)
Parks and recreation
The city has many parks, and promotes greenery and the environment. The city has planted trees for years and is a leader in the nationwide effort to re-tree urban areas. Tilden Regional Park, lies east of the city, occupying the upper extent of Wildcat Canyon between the Berkeley Hills and the San Pablo Ridge. The city is also heavily involved in creek restoration and wetlands restoration, including a planned daylighting of Strawberry Creek along Center Street. The Berkeley Marina and East Shore State Park flank its shoreline at San Francisco Bay and organizations like the Urban Creeks Council and Friends of the Five Creeks the former of which is headquartered in Berkeley support the riparian areas in the town and coastlines as well.César Chávez Park, near the Berkeley Marina, was built at the former site of the city dump.
Landmarks and historic districts
165 buildings in Berkeley are designated as local landmarks or local structures of merit. Of these, 49 are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, including:
- Berkeley High School (the city’s only public high school) and the Berkeley Community Theatre, which is on its campus.
- Berkeley Women’s City Club, now Berkeley City Club – Julia Morgan (1929–30)
- First Church of Christ, Scientist – Bernard Maybeck (1910)
- St. John’s Presbyterian Church – Julia Morgan (1910), now the Berkeley Playhouse
- Studio Building – architect not recorded, built for Frederick H. Dakin (1905)
- William R. Thorsen House, now Sigma Phi Society Chapter House – Charles Sumner Greene & Henry Mather Greene (1908–10)
Historic Districts listed in the National Register of Historic Places:
- George C. Edwards Stadium – Located at intersection of Bancroft Way and Fulton Street on University of California, Berkeley campus (80 acres (32 ha), 3 buildings, 4 structures, 3 objects; added 1993).
- Site of the Clark Kerr Campus, UC Berkeley – until 1980, this location housed the State Asylum for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind, also known as The California Schools for the Deaf and Blind – Bounded by Dwight Way, the city line, Derby Street, and Warring Street (500 acres (2.0 km2), 20 buildings; added 1982). The school was closed in 1980 and the Clark Kerr Campus was opened in 1986.
See List of Berkeley Landmarks, Structures of Merit, and Historic Districts
Arts and culture
Berkeley is home to the Chilean-American community’s La Peña Cultural Center, the largest cultural center for this community in the United States. The Freight and Salvage is the oldest established full-time folk and traditional music venue west of the Mississippi River.
- Jewish Music Festival – March
- Cal Day University of California, Berkeley Open House – April
- Berkeley Arts Festival – April and May
- Himalayan Fair – May
- Berkeley Juggling and Unicycling Festival – July or August
- Berkeley Kite Festival – July
- The Solano Avenue Stroll – Solano Avenue, Berkeley and Albany, September
Colleges and universities
University of California, Berkeley’s main campus is in the city limits.
The Graduate Theological Union, a consortium of nine independent theological schools, is located a block north of the University of California Berkeley’s main campus. The Graduate Theological Union has the largest number of students and faculty of any religious studies doctoral program in the United States. Wright Institute, a psychology graduate school, is located in Berkeley. In addition, Berkeley City College is a community college in the Peralta Community College District.
Primary and secondary schools
The Berkeley Unified School District operates public schools.
The first public school in Berkeley was the Ocean View School, now the site of the Berkeley Adult School located at Virginia Street and San Pablo Avenue. The public schools today are administered by the Berkeley Unified School District. In the 1960s, Berkeley was one of the earliest US cities to voluntarily desegregate, utilizing a system of buses, still in use. The city has one public high school, Berkeley High School (BHS). Established in 1880, BHS currently has over 3,000 students. The Berkeley High campus was designated a historic district by the National Register of Historic Places on January 7, 2008. Saint Mary’s College High School, a Catholic school, has its street address in Berkeley, although most of the grounds and buildings are actually in neighboring Albany. Berkeley has 11 elementary schools and three middle schools.
There is also the Bay Area Technology School, the only school in the whole Bay Area to offer a technology- and science-based curriculum, with connections to leading universities.
Berkeley Public Library serves as the municipal library. University of California, Berkeley Libraries operates the University of California Berkeley libraries.