Berkeley, Part 2

The mini-conference that brought me to Berkeley on Monday and Tuesday ended fairly early, and I took the opportunity to wander the streets up into the Berkeley hills. This is something I used to do all the time, but haven't in years.

I started out by heading out of the campus on Piedmont Ave., passing by the Greek Theatre, which I hereby dub the “scene of the crime” from end of my time here.

At the northeast corner of the campus, Piedmont becomes La Loma and heads up into the residential neighborhoods of the Berkeley hills, an area that is apparently called La Loma Park. I always enjoyed wandering through these streets, which start out very much like city residential blocks and get more and more sparse and wooded, yet somehow remaining “part of the city.” Again, that is a bit different from Santa Cruz, which feels like a town squeezed between the ocean and the mountains and redwoods. I do walk downtown and along the shore a lot, but the hills here just haven't seemed as interesting to explore. As I write this article, however, I will note that the sunsets here in Santa Cruz are better than they were in Berkeley apartment.

Beyond Cedar Street, the city-block feel ends and La Loma continues up a steep hillside with retaining walls on one side and rails to another.

It is a view I remember quite well. The first time I wandered up this way, I was simply curious to see where this ended up – indeed, I never really “planned” out these walks and simply relied on my strong sense of direction to get me home again. Around the corner, the road comes to the top of the steep canyon cut by the Codornices Creek, with spectular views of the bay.

]It is hard to get a sense of the canyon from a photograph, unless you place it in context, such as the houses built along the steep grades. What looks like a flat ranch from the top of the canyon turns out to be a five-story monster built into the hillside:

This view is from the street below, Shasta Road. Shasta and LaLoma aren't actually connected, but one can make use of the numerous public staircases throughout Berkeley. In this case, I took stairs descending from La Loma to Rose Street, which then connects to Shasta. At the bottom of the stairs, one can see the supports that hold up La Loma on the side of the hill:

Upon seeing the support structure, I was immediately reminded of the architecture of Gaudì at the Parc Gruel, which I visited in 2005.

Longtime readers have already seen some images of Gaudì's residential architecture, in the context of parabolas (indeed, both “parabola” and “Gaudì” are among the most popular search terms by which people reach this site). The connection to Gaudì is not one I would have made while I was still living in Berkeley, having not yet visited the Parc Gruel or Barcelona in person.

I eventually made my way back to campus via Euclide Ave and Scenic Ave. “Scenic” is a very bold name for a street, and more the most part it doesn't live up to its name, except for a couple of blocks near the Pacific School of Religion, whose main walkway I crossed often.

Driving out of Berkeley on Telegraph Ave. towards highway 24, one cannot help but notice the incredible contrasts between the neighborhoods in the hills and those in South Berkeley and northern Oakland. I still think that it all fits together, somehow.